Chapter 1: The Exile of Yoda…
Beyond the transparent crystal of the observation dome on the airless crags of Polis Massa, the galaxy wheeled in a spray of hard, cold pinpricks through the veil of infinite night.
Beneath that dome sat one diminutive ancient Grandmaster of the Jedi Order.
Now former Grandmaster of the now former Jedi order.
This little green man was known to the galaxy as Yoda.
Yoda did not look at the stars above him as he would have yesterday. No, his ears sagged close to his head and he sat a very long time. Even after nearly nine hundred years, the road to self-knowledge was rugged enough to leave even a legendary figure such as him bruised and bleeding. He spoke softly, but not to himself. Though no one was with him, he better than anyone knew that he was never alone.
This was especially true at the moment.
"My failure, this was… Failed the Jedi, I did…" his words were of a broken man, but he was not yet broken. Yoda spoke to the Force. And the Force answered him.
"Do not blame yourself, my old friend…" As it sometimes had these past thirteen years, when the Force spoke to him, it spoke in the voice of the radical maverick Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn.
"Too old I was," Yoda voiced to the Force again, his head bowed in humility and one-part sorrow. But not sorrow for himself, for Yoda had none to give over to self when he could still feel his brothers and sisters becoming one with the Force all across the galaxy, "Too rigid. Too arrogant to see that the old way, the only way it was not. These Jedi, I trained to become the Jedi who had trained me, long centuries ago—but those ancient Jedi, of a different time they were. Changed, has the galaxy. But changed… the Order did not… Because let it change, this Yoda did not…"
"More easily said than done, my friend." The Force voiced to him with a small amount of amusement. Yoda felt there was no humor left after what had occurred this day.
"An infinite mystery is the Force," Yoda lifted his head and turned his gaze out into the wheel of stars. He stared into the void of space without sight, "Much to learn, there still is."
"And you will have time to learn it." The voice of Qui-Gon Jinn sounded around Yoda, through him, and inside the intimacy of his mind.
"Infinite knowledge…" Yoda shook his head, disturbing the wisp of few white hairs that rested atop it, "Infinite time, does that require. Infinite time, there is not."
"With my help, you can learn to join with the Force, yet retain consciousness. You can join your light to it forever. Perhaps, in time, even your physical self." The voice of Qui-Gon spoke with a certain amount of confidence, as though it knew the course of the future. Yoda felt a small part of himself want to remind the unconventional youth that no one knew the future, and that one could only be mindful of its path.
Yet, he remembered immediately that Qui-Gon Jinn was no longer one. He was one with the Force. And the Force knew all secrets, all truths, and all paths.
Yoda did not move a single centimeter while these thoughts passed through him. He knew before thinking that Qui-Gon knew him. The soft chuckle that penetrated his mind's ear told him this better than any knowledge of his former brother in the old Jedi Order.
"Eternal life, hmm…" that had been the ultimate goal of the Sith, yet they could never achieve it. Yoda felt it for himself as Qui-Gon supplied him with the more intimate whispers of the Force. Such power could only come by the release of self, not the acclamation of self. It came through compassion, not greed.
Love was the only answer to the darkness.
Yoda saw this now, and felt his heart warm with the caress of this knowledge from the Force. From Qui-Gon Jinn.
"Become one with the Force, yet influence still to have..." Yoda mused quietly to himself and to the ever comforting presence that bonded him to all of the galaxy around him, "A power greater than all, it is. Such a power, I deserve not to be granted."
"It cannot be granted; it can only be taught," Qui-Gon's voice, the mouthpiece that the Force wished to speak to him through, held wisdom beyond Yoda's own mundane comprehension of the word, "It is yours to learn, if you wish it."
And a boon from the Force, so freely and openly given would never be turned down by those who felt it. Especially not Yoda.
Slowly, ever so slowly that it was like the gentle breeze through a green pasture, did Yoda nod to the unseen presence of the Force.
"A very great Jedi Master you have become, Qui-Gon Jinn. A very great Jedi Master you always were, but too blind I was to see this." Yoda rose gracefully in his old age, and folded his hands before him. He inclined his head in the Jedi bow of respect.
The bow of the student, in the presence of the Master.
"Your apprentice, I gratefully become."
Yoda was well into his first lesson when the hatch cycled open behind him. Yoda turned slowly and deliberately toward the only entrance and exit of the small room. In the corridor beyond the open hatch stood Bail Organa.
The man looked stricken.
"Obi-Wan is asking for you at the surgical theater," he said with a pale face and shaking hands. Yoda did not have to reach through the Force in order to feel the man's nerves rattling within him. "It's Padme. She… she's dying." Yoda closed his eyes briefly, seeing without mortal sight that Obi-Wan sat beside the birthing woman, holding one cold, still hand in both of his.
Even as Yoda rose and followed the Senator into the corridor, he could still see into that room.
"Don't give up, Padme." Obi-Wan was using the Force to let his emotions leave him. Yoda felt the emptiness in Obi-Wan's presence in a new way. It felt wrong now that he could only see Obi-Wan like a transparent specter groping at Padme's fully present form.
Was this truly how he had blatantly ignored his Jedi, Yoda pondered as he ambled slowly beside Senator Bail. He knew it was wonderful to be the glass in which the Force filled with knowledge and clarity, but when they as sentient beings became only shadows of themselves to a higher power…
Yes, Yoda shook his head and redoubled his efforts to reach the surgery, he still had much to learn from the Force and much to reevaluate…
"Is it…" Padme's eyes rolled blindly, "It's a girl. Anakin thinks it's a girl."
Yoda reached the surgery theatre in time to catch Obi-Wan's response in person, "We don't know yet. In a minute, though… You have to stay with us."
Below the opaque tent that shrouded her from chest down, a pair of surgical droids assisted with her labor. A general medical droid fussed and tinkered among the clutter of scanners and equipment.
"If it's… a girl—oh, oh, oh no…"
Obi-Wan cast an appeal toward the medical droid, "Can't you do something?"
"All organic damage has been repaired." the droid checked another readout, "This systemic failure cannot be explained."
Not physically, Obi-Wan thought. He squeezed Padme's hand as though he could keep life within her body by simple pressure.
"Padme, you have to hold on."
"If it's a girl," she gasped, "name her… name her Leia…"
One of the surgical droids circled out from behind the tent, cradling in its padded arms a tiny infant, already swabbed clean and breathing, but without even the hint of tears. The baby was quiet and serene as the droid announced softly, "It is a boy."
Padme reached for her first born son with her trembling free hand, but she had no strength to take him. Obi-Wan watched with detached fascination as the woman summoned strength enough from within herself to reach forward, touching her fingers to the baby's forehead like that of a religious silent blessing.
Padme smiled weakly, "Luke… My baby boy…"
The other droid now rounded the tent as well, with another clean, quietly solemn infant, "… and a girl," Obi-Wan caught Padme as her vitality drained from her. The new mother groped feebly at the air in front of her, so Obi-Wan took the girl and let her do her strange ritual wither as well, naming the child Leia before she fell back against her pillow.
"Padme, you have twins," Obi-Wan said desperately as he felt her life force flicker in and out of the Force with his hand once again enclosing her own, "They need you—please hang on."
"Anakin… is not here, Padme," he said softly at her ear, though he was not sure if she could hear him even so close while in her distraught state of emotion.
"Anakin, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry… Anakin, please, forgive… I love you, Anakin…"
In the Force, Obi-Wan felt Yoda's approach into the room. He looked up to see the ancient Master with Bail Organa steps behind him, both staring the same grave question toward him as they approached the dying woman and himself. The only answer Obi-Wan had for either was the helpless shake of his head. Padme reached across with her free hand, with the hand she had laid upon the brow of her firstborn son and her daughter, and pressed something into Obi-Wan's palm.
For a moment, her eyes cleared, and she knew him just in time for Yoda to stand atop a chair on the other side of her and Bail to settle himself in a solemn stance behind Obi-Wan's own seat.
"Obi-Wan…" she said suddenly, her hand gripping his with a tremble as though he were the only thing teetering her to this plane of existence, "There is… There is still good in him. I know there is… still…" she glanced around, turning her eyes through the room as though she knew not where she was, but could feel the people around her. Her eyes landed on Master Yoda, who sagged with his age as he reached forward and stroked her damp her from her forehead. She mumbled the same desperate words to him, trying hard with her last breaths of life to convince them of Anakin's redemption. Obi-Wan could only sit and watch as Master Yoda took her words in stride. The diminutive green man soothed her with his ancient whispers and bid her to rest now. Obi-Wan felt wholly surreal as he watched Yoda mollify the fresh mother into a peaceful sleep with statements Obi-Wan felt were entirely dishonest. Words that she would see her children. That she would survive her broken heart. That Anakin would one day see the error of his ways.
Words that Obi-Wan could not in all good conscious give to the girl, but words that Yoda appeared to have no trouble dishing out with his wisdom into things Obi-Wan would need another lifetime to learn.
Padme's voice faded to an empty sigh, and she sagged back against the pillow once more. Half a dozen different scanners had been buzzing moments before with conflicting alarms, but now they eased into a steady rhythm of beeps. When she appeared stable, the medical droids shooed the three men from the room. Obi-Wan stood in the hall outside, looking down at what Padme had pressed into his hand during her last conscious moments. It was a pendant of some kind, an amulet. Unfamiliar sigils were carved into some sort of organic material, strung on a loop of leather. In the Force, he could feel traces of the touch of her skin. When Yoda and Bail joined him outside the room with the hatch shutting behind them, he was still standing there, staring at it.
"She put this in my hand…" For what seemed the dozenth time this day, he found himself blinking back tears, "and I don't even know what it is."
"Precious to her, it must have been," Yoda said slowly, in the same tone he had shushed the dying woman into the gentle embrace of slumber, "Given to one of the children, perhaps it should be."
Obi-Wan looked down at the simple, child-like symbols carved into it, and felt from it in the Force soaring echoes of transcendent love. Yet, at the same time, he could also feel the bleak, black despair of unendurable heartbreak. But still, he would not argue with the ancient Master.
"Yes," he said at last, "Yes. Perhaps that would be best."
"Master Yoda," Bail broke into the conversation with a nervous air, "If you don't mind my asking… What exactly did you do back there?"
Obi-Wan looked up, and then down toward Master Yoda. He too wished to know how the hundreds year-old Jedi Master had stopped a woman who was so intent to die with a broken heart.
"Broken, she was." Yoda began with half-lidded eyes and barely parting lips, "Yet, her time, this was not. Used the Force, I did, to save her life. Her children. Need her, they will. Sense, I do, the future will need her. A coma… Yes, a coma, I placed her in. A coma, she will stay… Until she has strength. Strength enough to stand… Hmm, yes… To stand…"
So many things were said but went unsaid in Yoda's words that Obi-Wan and Bail found themselves leaning heavily onto the cold metallic walls of the corridor. Obi-Wan wanted to protest that Yoda had broken so many rules— so many laws— within the Jedi Order, but he froze. Was there even still an Order to follow? Were those laws even still relevant after what had occurred on Coruscant and was still proceeding across the galaxy?
Obi-Wan's eyes glided to Yoda, whose ears were sagged and his age showing on his face. Yoda, in that moment, did not seem to think so. Yoda, as he was now, must have felt a hint of regret from breaking such a long held tradition that he had been taught and had reinforced for so long himself.
Yet, in that next moment, Yoda sighed wearily and began to amble away from the room with his gnarled gimer stick.
"Come," he spoke without slowing in his sedated pace, "Much to discuss. Little time. Come."
And the two taller men followed their elder at his order.
Around a conference table on Tantive IV, Bail Organa, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda met to decide the fate of the galaxy.
"To Naboo, we shall say her body was sent…" Yoda stretched his head high, as though tasting a current in the Force, "A body, we will recover. Pregnant, it must still appear. Hidden, safe, the children must be kept. Foundation of the new Jedi Order, they will be."
"We should split them up," Obi-Wan put forward his opinion, his arms crossed as he kept in his own aching heart and emotions from bleeding onto the table, "Even if the Sith find one, the other may yet survive. I can take the boy, Master Yoda, and you take the girl. We can hide them away, keep them safe. Train them, even. Train them as Anakin should have been trained—"
"No." with that one word, the ancient Master lowered his head again, closing his eyes, resting his chin on his hands that were folded over the head of his gimer stick. Obi-Wan looked uncertain.
"But how are they to learn the self-discipline a Jedi needs? How are they to master skills of the Force?"
"Know now that Jedi training, the sole source of self-discipline it is not. When right is the time for skills to be taught, to us the Living Force will bring them. Until then, wait we will. Watch, we will. Learn, we will."
"I can…" Bail Organa stopped, flushing slightly in the presence of the two great Jedi Knights, "I'm sorry to interrupt, Masters; I know little about the Force, but I do know something of love. The Queen and myself… Well, we've always talked of adopting a child. A girl, to be exact. If you have no objection, I would like to take young Leia with me to Alderaan, and raise her… as my own daughter. As our daughter. She would be loved with us." Yoda and Obi-Wan exchanged a look. Yoda tilted his head, his eyes half-lidded as he drank in the image of Bail Oragana. The Force sung happily at the man's flustered request.
"No happier fate could any child ask for. With our blessing, and that of the Force, let Leia be your child." Bail stood at Yoda's final words, a little jerkily, as though he simply could no longer keep his seat. His flush had turned from embarrassment to pure uncomplicated joy.
"Thank you, Masters. I don't know what else to say. Thank you, that's all. What of the boy?"
"Cliegg Lars still lives on Tatooine," Obi-Wan supplied this information, "And Anakin's stepbrother… Owen, that's it, and his wife, Beru, still work the moisture farm outside Mos Eisley…"
"As close to family as the boy can go," Yoda hummed approvingly, "But Tatooine, not like Alderaan it is. Deep in the Outer Rim, a wild and dangerous planet. Sure of this, you are?"
"Anakin survived it," Obi-Wan stated strongly. Perhaps a little too strongly. "Luke can survive it, too. And I can… Well, I could take him there, and watch over him. Protect him from the worst of the planet's dangers, until he can learn to protect himself."
Yoda's half-lidded eyes opened, sharping as they landed on Obi-Wan, who did not flinch away from such a cutting look as he might have in years passed. As he would have if it were even yesterday. "Like a father you wish to be, young Obi-Wan?" Yoda asked with his underlining question clear.
"More an… eccentric old uncle, I think. It is a part I can play very well. To keep watch over Anakin's son." Obi-Wan sighed as he settled back into his chair, finally allowing his face to register a suggestion of his old gentle smile. He would not be ashamed, not now when there was so little to smile about. Yoda hummed again, his sharp gaze softening as if it were a trick of light. "I can't imagine a better way to spend the rest of my life."
Yoda nodded and stamped his stick once along his hover chair, "Settled it is, then. To Tatooine, you will take him."
Bail moved toward the door as soon as a comfortable silence settled over them. "If you'll excuse me, Masters, I have to call the Queen…" but then, Bail stopped in the doorway, looking back, "Master Yoda, do you think Padme's twins will be able to defeat Palpatine?"
"Hmm… Strong, does the Force run, in the Skywalker line. Only hope, we can. Until the time is right, disappear we will. Disappear we must."
Bail nodded to these words, knowing that it was perhaps their only course of action. He needed to slip into the background of activity while they had to leave the scene completely. Less they all suffer death, or fates worst still.
"And I must do the same," he felt he needed to say these words even though they all knew it without the words being spoken, "metaphorically, at least. You may hear… disturbing things… about what I do in the Senate. I must appear to support the new Empire, and my comrades with me. It was… Padme's wish, and she was a shrewder political mind than I'll ever be. Please trust that what we do is only a cover for our true task. We will never betray the legacy of the Jedi. I will never surrender the real Republic to the Sith."
"Trust in this, we always will. Go now; for happy news, your Queen is waiting." Bail Organa bowed, and vanished into the corridor.
When Obi-Wan moved to follow, Yoda's gimer stick barred his way.
"A moment, Master Kenobi. In your solitude on Tatooine, training I have for you. Myself and my new Master." Obi-Wan blinked in astonishment at Yoda's words.
"Your new Master?" he felt himself ask while his mind was still wrapping around what Yoda had said.
"Yes." Yoda smiled up at him mysteriously, "And you're old one…"
"But Master Yoda," Obi-Wan let go of the thoughts of training and the memories that Yoda's last words brought to forefront in order to gain another type of insight, "while I am on Tatooine with Luke, and Senator Organa is on Alderaan raising Leia, where… where will you be, Master?"
"Master, I am no longer," and once again did Yoda's ear flop low to his head, "Failed, I have. Into exile, I must go. Far into exile, I must flee…"
Obi-Wan did not know what words to say in the face of this side of the Grandmaster. He only hung his head in the silence that once again settled over them. And then, he felt Master Yoda stand from his chair and hop off, walking nearer toward him. Yoda placed something into his lap, a small data-pad upon which a planet was displayed.
"Master Yoda, is this…?"
Yoda nodded ever slowly, "If have need of me, you ever will… Here, I can be found in my exile. Come and sit, or in distant contact you may reach me. But reach out, you will be able."
With those final words, Yoda ambled away from the unsteady Obi-Wan Kenobi. The only sound left was the gimer stick striking the ground as Yoda departed and the hatch cycling open to usher the now former Grandmaster of the millennia old Jedi Order into the first steps of his exile.
When he was alone, Obi-Wan whispered only fourteen words to himself before departing the conference room to his own exile, "May the Force be with you, Master Yoda… May the Force be with you…"