Sins of the Sons

by CandySith

Summary: A study on the pitfalls of attachment and appetite in three men, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Anakin.

Note: Story is Obi-Wan/OC-centric, yes I know very scary, but I don't write my OCs as annoying goddesses and I tend not to describe them for the easy self-insert of the reader if they're into that sort of thing. Ignores Siri and Tahl storylines and retells the events after Order 66. Why? For my dark, evil pleasure.

Note2: The story comes in three phases for the three men, and each has a song associated with the mood. Qui-Gon - Jacob's Theme (Eclipse) by Howard Shore. Obi-Wan - Sixth Sense Main Theme - James Newton Howard. Anakin - The Prince's Tale (Deathly Hallows) - Alexandre Desplat.

oOo

Qui-Gon

The morning rays of the sun seemed hard pressed to lay their greeting caress upon the Jedi Temple this day. Rain was not a thing allowed on Coruscant. The planetary climate control system prevented violent weather, instead lightly misting the planet in such a way as to be unseen to the casual eye and at the same time allowing the planet to remain a perfectly comfortable temperature (an average of the home temperatures of Coruscant's most likely population at any given time). It did this on the upper surface and almost nearly so at ground level. Thus, at worst a day on Coruscant could be gray and cloudy. Today seemed geared to have a good go of it, too.

In the quarters he shared with his apprentice, Qui-Gon Jinn sat alone meditating on the cup of caf he held as he gazed easily out the window at the sky. Such a simple, meaningless thing for a Jedi Knight to focus on, but forced him into a state of relaxation and let him forget cares, lessons, missions, expectations, duty and a small ache in his knee that certainly had nothing to do with age. The cup was smooth and a dull beige, and the drink inside warm. The rich, earthy taste glided over the tongue like a spice waterfall on Aridus. It bit the taster in a pleasing way and left behind a malted, sweet aftereffect that rewarded patience. The warmth hugged the body and the gentle stimulant prodded the mind. And the color...

A persistent beep interrupted his observations. Qui-Gon swallowed and set his cup down to answer his comlink. "This better be good," he said by way of reply, fully expecting his sixteen-year-old charge to be reporting in on where he was at so early a time. The gruffness of the master's voice was only affected to keep the younger man on his toes, not any indicator of true ire.

"You can be quite assured that most of my communications have due cause," a similar gruff tone of voice drawled ironically. Mace Windu.

Qui-Gon chuckled at his mistake. "Apologies. I seem to be short an apprentice this morning. I thought perhaps he had finally lowered himself to let me know of his whereabouts."

A thoughtful grunt came over the link. "He and a group of padawans left the dining hall early this morning. They had the look of a body of teenagers getting ready to prove a point, most likely by way of lightsaber competition..."

"...Probably because they were just that."

Windu elected to ignore that. "At any rate, the politics of youth are hardly why I called. Yoda and I would like a word with you in the Council Chamber in the next half hour, if you would."

At this Jinn knit his brows. He had no scheduled missions, nor had there been any indicators of a rising need. Nevertheless, he was obliged to respond with all the alacrity his time allowed. The morning caf would have to wait for further analysis. "Of course. On my way."

The link went dead and Qui-Gon took a parting swig from his cup, donned his robe and proceeded from the room. As he walked he stretched out a curious probe through the bond he shared with his apprentice and felt adrenaline, excitement, enjoyment. The master had the distinct feeling he was going to be regaled with a blow-by-blow tale of skill later on. Ah, to be young again. Not that the older ones didn't have their own play sessions, Qui-Gon recalled wryly of his last practice session with Master Plo Koon. And they still apparently had lessons to learn.

He wended his quiet way through the halls, replacing coffee with the repetition of a well-known path to gear his mind back into a peaceful mode, greeting those that would greet him and taking in the calm of the Temple. The Council Chamber was empty save for Windu and Yoda, he could sense, when he came to it. Inferring a low-key meeting from this, Qui-Gon entered and found the two senior masters conferring. Both turned to him with the ever mild expression of wisdom, but there was something amiss in the Force.

"Offers peace freely, the Temple does," Yoda said, his green eyes seeing through to the soul, as always. "Yet true peace is in the mind of the Master, no matter his surroundings."

Folding his arms into the sleeves of his robe, Qui-Gon nodded without question. "Of course, my Master. And I sense that tenet is about to be tested in me. Am I right?"

The two exchanged a pleased look at his immediate grasp of the situation they were about to lay before him. Windu nodded solemnly as he looked back into Jinn's gaze. "A situation has arisen. One that requires your personal expertise. You may be aware that Master Elren has been abroad for some time."

Qui-Gon nodded slowly. Elren was a master with whom he had little contact, but he was aware of his existence, and that of his padawan. "He was sent on a mission recently, as I recall. To the outer rim?" A rescue mission, then? Qui-Gon wasn't so sure.

"Yes. Around a month ago, in fact, he was sent to investigate strange rumors on Bal'demnic." A sober pause accented by a sigh tipped Qui-Gon off that things had probably gone awry. It was the only emotion Windu outwardly offered, a general sense of sorrow colored his aura. "A recon team has been sent on an anonymous tip that a lightsaber was seen on a neighboring world and traded on the black market. We get no sense from him in the Force. We believe him to be dead."

A thrill of surprise passed through Qui-Gon, a flash of anger at the death of a comrade, then he schooled himself into that rhythm of peace he achieved earlier. "That's unfortunate. Was his padawan with him?"

"Too dangerous, we felt," Yoda provided gravely. "Here she remained and it is for her you are called to serve."

Of course. His familiarity with her world of origin would make him a logical servant, if there was a need, but of course they would not ask him to serve as master to her if she had lost her own. He had a padawan to whom he was bound and well-attuned, and while Obi-Wan was poised to become a Jedi Knight of surpassing quality, at sixteen he was not ready for the trials.

His raised eyebrow drew Windu's attention. "Unfortunately for his padawan, it seems her fate is going to be stranger than even her people intended for her. On top of this burden, she has been called for the Transference."

Now that did give Jinn something to pause over. His hands reflexively went to his hips, a sure sign of his confusion. "The Transference? She's too young for that." She was only Obi-Wan's age.

Windu gave an assenting nod. "Yes, but nevertheless she is called. And per our agreement with her people, she must be escorted to Xhal. That is where you and Obi-Wan come in. Your familiarity with her home world and predecessor make you ideal. And it is understood you have cultivated a friendship with her predecessor. It will give you a chance to make peace with what must be."

If there was ever a time for Jedi silence, now was not it. "What peace must I make?" he asked a little sharply, though he suspected he already understood the truth. It disrupted his tranquility, made him vulnerable to his emotions.

It was Yoda who replied, and his gentility was disarming. "Dying, the Lady Xedryn is. Becoming One with the Force, as we all must do. No details were we given. Only the summons."

Qui-Gon was stunned, to say the least. It had been close to seven years since he had seen Melyssi Xedryn, but it seemed almost as yesterday. His padawan called him a collector of strange friends, and she was no less strange than most. She had called for a Jedi to come to her world and he had been chosen to thread through the darkness there for the purpose of accepting a child for the Jedi Order. It was a usual sort of duty for a Jedi, but wholly unprecedented when one became aware of the circumstances. It was through this process he had come to appreciate the people of Xhal, different as they were, and to appreciate her for she was even more different still. And now she was dying. It would not be age that killed her, he knew, and that troubled him.

Master Windu picked up where Yoda left off. "In the stead of Master Elren, you will escort Padawan Lyra to Xhal for the Transference. It is our hope that by the time your mission is complete, we will have word of Elren's fate. As it is, we have a padawan without a master. It is the consensus of the Council that given the uncertainty of her fitness for the trials after the Transference she will not be elevated to Knighthood yet. But we acknowledge the process will change her in such a way that her knowledge of life, skills, and the Force, will be altered. Therefore, we have elected to allow that she finish her training with a general education provided by many masters instead of one replacement."

It was not unheard of, but unusual for one still years away from the trials. The two senior masters exchanged uncertain glances, but Qui-Gon sensed their plan was set in stone. Yoda continued, "Yet a need, I feel, for one master to oversee her training and decide when ready, she is, for Knighthood."

"You understand the Transference and the Xhali better than any of us. Therefore you will serve as steward of her education and will be called upon to make any important decisions concerning her future." Windu leaned forward in his chair and steepled his fingers thoughtfully. "We foresee no undue hardship in this position, nor any interference with your own apprentice. The bulk of her remaining education will, as stated, be spread among the available masters until she is fit for Knighting. Do you accept this commission?"

A child raised by an entire village, Qui-Gon mused to himself. If it weren't for the Transference adding to her knowledge he wasn't so sure he would agree she should be taught by so many. Granted, all padawans learned lessons from various teachers, but it was the intimacy of the master and padawan relationship that truly made a Jedi. For her sake, he wished Elren would be found alive. By reputation he was a very good and wise teacher.

As it was, he saw little reason to say no. It was a duty of evaluation, nothing more, and he had little doubt she would complete her training without incident, as most Jedi padawans did. And so he nodded once and the matter was settled. The duty of escort, that was one he could do without, but in that he was given no choice.

It was ordered that he, Obi-Wan and Padawan Lyra would leave within the hour, as Lady Xedryn was being kept alive strictly for the ceremony. He would not for any world hasten her to her doom, but neither would he leave any friend to linger on in pain or sorrow. In the lift back to his quarters, Qui-Gon contacted his apprentice to order his preparation. Once there the master himself started packing a light bag for the journey, thinking solemn thoughts within the confines of his small bedroom.

He trusted Obi-Wan to be able to face most situations with calm, determination and propriety. Yet the idea of taking him to Xhal unnerved the master. Xhal was a dark world, steeped in the Darkside of the Force. He did not like that his padawan would walk there, where the very Living Force was heavy with black aspirations and veiled temptations. It would be a harsh test of his resolve.

When Obi-Wan entered their quarters he was mildly breathless, but putting up a pretty solid effort to appear collected. Qui-Gon gave him a brief, acknowledging look. "I'm sorry I wasn't here when you were summoned," the younger man apologized as he went into his own bedroom across the hall.

Qui-Gon Jinn was a man aware of the intricacies of padawans at play. His former master would attest to that vehemently. "You have a few minutes to shower and pack. I've only just come from the meeting myself." Across the way he saw Obi-Wan halt putting a pair of clothes into his bag and throw it into the refresher instead. It tugged at one corner of the older man's lips. "We've been asked to escort a padawan to her home of origin in her master's stead, in accordance with an agreement the Jedi made with her people."

"Oh? Who?"

"Lyra Xedryn. She's your own age. Do you know of her?"

The younger man paused at his door, scratching his cheek thoughtfully. "Isn't she the one with the eyes?"

"The one with the eyes?" Jinn repeated in gentle admonishment. "I should hope they all have eyes, my young apprentice."

At least Obi-Wan had the humility to look sheepish as he went into the 'fresher. "She frightens the younglings, the ones that have seen her in the map room, anyway." The water started running. "Where are we going?" It would be a shower debriefing. Qui-Gon hated having to compete with the noise of the spout.

"A place called Xhal. It's a loosely held protectorate in the outer rim. In fact, one could say it's only by virtue of being in some database that the planet is affiliated with the Republic at all. They have no seat in the Senate and very little contact with outsiders."

"Will we be in any danger, being outside the law?" Obi-Wan asked from behind the partition.

Finished packing, the master leaned against his own door frame to project his voice, but within a respectful distance of the 'fresher. He folded his arms comfortably and thought of that steaming cup of caf he'd been called away from. "No. The Xhali have a deep reverence for Force users. We will be treated with the utmost respect, despite...certain ideological differences."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Qui-Gon had already mentally laid out an overview, but he had a feeling his straight-laced padawan was about to erupt into a bevy of questions. He had had much the same reaction upon first learning of Xhal. "Theirs is a tri-class system of government, service industry and a special class of Force users called 'Xara'. That name also serves as a title; Xara in the feminine, Xar in the masculine. They are the true decision makers on the planet, but only rarely exercise power outside their own circles, intent instead upon their studies of the Force." By then Obi-Wan had shut the water off and started dressing, so the master could now lower his voice. "It is those studies from which our differences spring. The Xara study all aspects of the Force, including the Darkside. Perhaps especially the Darkside."

It was for this reason Qui-Gon found himself hesitant to bring Obi-Wan or even the young padawan who belonged there, if truth be told. It was not a place for the untried to be tested. His apprentice was no fresh learner, but the idea painted a look of surprise on his face. The younger man exited the refresher, started hastily throwing things into his bag."Why would the Jedi have dealings with such a people?" he asked.

Qui-Gon shrugged. "They gave us one of their own. Any life is worth the risk." Obi-Wan had his pack done in the span of a few minutes and together shouldered them, ready for the mission. They stepped out of their quarters and headed towards the nearest lift. Absolutism was not a tenet of the Jedi Code, but it seemed common sense that there was little room for accommodation between Jedi and those whose methodologies sprung from the Darkside of the Force. Still, if one could return and convince many...

"There is an agreement between us and them," he told his apprentice. "They have sworn their studies remain self-contained; they seek no power outside of their world. If they aren't interfering with conditions in the galaxy at large, the Jedi have no cause to interfere with them. This arrangement is older than Yoda, even, though Lyra Xedryn is the first among them to be trained as a Jedi. They have historically turned their backs on any that break the agreement, even going so far as to provide us with names. At this point I think we are both comfortable in the silence."

"But isn't there danger in complacency?" Obi-Wan asked, rightfully so.

The older master nodded, pleased by his apprentice. "Always. That is why we remain aware, if silent. As it is..."

They came to the main lift just then, and before he could continue the door opened. A Jedi youngling Drall exited and bowed to his elders, then paused to look at Obi-Wan quizzically with his dark eyes. "Do not let it hit you," he said finally.

"What?" Obi-Wan asked with a raised eyebrow.

The furry youngling looked to Qui-Gon imploringly. "Master? What is a word meaning cold, white circle?"

"Snowball?" the master suggested, hiding a smile beneath a well placed smoothing of his mustache. It looked thoughtful and concealed much, that gesture.

The youngling replied with a deep bow. "That must be it. I thank you, Wise Master." He turned back to Obi-Wan, whiskers twitching. "If it hits you, it will hurt. Your brain will go cloudy forever."

With another bow, the child turned and left them bewildered as they entered the lift. Obi-Wan looked at his master. "Forever is a long time."

At that, Qui-Gon laughed out loud. "No doubt. You'd better be careful. The seasons on Xhal are snowy for 8 months of the standard year. I'd hate to see you acquire some sort of brain damage there." Obi-Wan rolled his eyes at his master, who added, "Forever is a long time." He put levity aside as the lift carried them closer to the shuttle bay adjoining the Temple. For this the Jedi would have to provide a ship, for there were no modes of public transit to Xhal. Qui-Gon returned back to a more serious manner with his apprentice. "Obi-Wan, there is a more serious danger I feel you should prepare yourself for. Because of the aspects of the Force that the Xara study, the planet is a place that is permeated in the Darkside. When we land you will feel it begin to work on you. You must be mindful of your emotions and motivations. All of your baser traits will be prone to...amplification, let us say. Xhal is a cold place where dark instincts try to take over."

That sobered his apprentice. Obi-Wan had yet to feel true darkness creeping into his thoughts; spiderlike and silken fingers that started clawing at the surface until blood was drawn and a festering wound could start the decay which saw all beings as naught but prey and playthings. Qui-Gon shook off the momentary darkness that filled his own memory. He would have to keep a sharp eye on the learners during this trip. Perhaps even include a meditation exercise that would focus them on each other, all three, so that they would be more open to his senses.

When they exited the lift and approached the shuttle bay they found her waiting.

oOo

She was in the shadow of a shuttle and those eyes of hers were shining. It gave Obi-Wan a chill to look at her that way, like she was some forest creature stalking the night. Usually in nature it was the nocturnal carnivores that had reflective eyeshine. Somehow it didn't surprise him that her planet was mired in the Darkside. An unfair stereotyping, but he was human after all. He didn't actively believe she was evil, she just looked that way.

Obi-Wan sighed inwardly, knowing Qui-Gon would probably throw the brain damaging snowball himself if he could hear his padawan think sometimes. He had never actively avoided her in classes. They simply had different friends. He knew very little about her, except that she was often a quiet observer and, well, scared human younglings. Her master, Elren, had taught a basic medical course that Obi-Wan had done little better than average in. The man had been taciturn and probably thought his art too subtle for the likes of young apprentices who would rather be learning lightsaber drills. Maybe the eyes bothered him, too. Night after night...

She bowed to the two of them in greeting and Obi-Wan shook himself from his childish musings, intent on being fair and reserving judgment. His master was unmoved by her appearance. Qui-Gon Jinn was nothing if not cordial to the weird. "I am Qui-Gon Jinn and this is my apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Are you ready?" he asked her in a gentle voice. He eyed his master, wondering where he had packed away the stern taskmaster.

"Lyra Xedryn. I am ready." She appeared resolute, but there was a faint trace of apprehension to her aura. Perhaps that was why the gentility. Qui-Gon would have picked up on her emotional state before Obi-Wan, being attuned as he was to the Living Force.

Jinn nodded and peered at the shuttle behind her. "Then let us board. We have a bit of a journey ahead of us."

They did. Within there was a small kitchenette, four bunks, a refresher and the cockpit. Another luxurious adventure courtesy Jedi Skies, Obi-Wan thought with a half smile as his master motioned him into the pilot's seat. He threw his bag onto the bunk above the one his master had selected and reported for his inevitable duty for liftoff. He hated flying. The problem was, so did Qui-Gon.

In the cockpit his master sat beside him as copilot, which generally meant he did very little involving flight and more to do with meditation, study or enjoying a cup of caf. In this he claimed he was the very image of his former master, Dooku, who had taught his padawan the finer points of delegation. Obi-Wan's only compensation would be that someday he would have a padawan to whom the flight responsibilities would happily pass. Until then, he started the preflight calculations.

There was a two-chair row behind them and this was where their charge seated herself, behind Obi-Wan and in view of Qui-Gon, who said, "Do you know anything about why you have been summoned so young?"

It occurred to Obi-Wan then that he had no real idea why they were flying a young padawan to her home world. Usually that would only occur if a young Jedi were leaving the order. That situation did not match with his master's question. Her voice seemed vulnerable as she answered, "I received a letter from my aunt, my predecessor, several days ago. She explained that she has been ill with the Stillness for a few months and that she wanted me to come before she could no longer speak or comprehend."

The Stillness was a chilling disease to anyone who had heard of it. It was a humanoid neuro-degenerative disease that severed the connections between conscious thought and virtually all other parts of the brain, leaving its victims awake in the darkness of their own mind. Even the areas that regulated sleep failed to shut down the conscious mind. When his master repeated, "The Stillness?" in a dark tone he could well understand why. A few moments passed. He felt his master trying to collect his thoughts. "Is there a history of this condition in your family?"

Her answer was a stark, "No, Master."

When the silence grew uncomfortable, Obi-Wan found himself say softly, "I'm so sorry." The calculations were finished and he maneuvered the ship into liftoff. Coruscant was cloudy today. "Did you know her well?" It seemed like such an un-Jedi question to ask concerning biological family. In cases like these it was usually a blessing for the attachments of blood to be severed young.

It showed in Lyra Xedryn. Her tone was subdued, but clearly masking a confusing mix of alien emotions as she said, "I've been allowed to speak with her once per year since childhood. I... I would not say I know her well yet, but she has always been a part of my life. I find it strange that soon I will know her as well as I know myself." He wouldn't swear to it, but she sounded like she were resigning herself to certain doom. It puzzled him given the context he was aware of.

They left the atmosphere and the older man input the coordinates for their destination into the navcomputer. Obi-Wan cocked an eyebrow and looked at his master for an answer to that last comment. Qui-Gon let out an expansive breath. "I haven't briefed Obi-Wan on the Transference yet. There's a lot of the story I haven't had time to share. Let me see if I can briefly explain." He turned a bit so he could see them both. "Xhal was colonized long ago by human scientists seeking to genetically alter humans to have ability with the Force."

The idea made Obi-Wan blink. He knew the Force had a strong heritability—Mace Windu's people were a prime example. But to engineer it? As far as anyone knew it couldn't be done. There was nothing in the human genome of Force users that seemed to code for higher midi-chlorian concentration. "I thought the only way you could control the Force that way was selective breeding," he interjected.

"That's how it's been done for millenia now," Lyra replied. "There haven't been any genetic alterations since the first 100 years of colonization."

Qui-Gon nodded in agreement. "At any rate, they achieved their goal and created the Xara. The same engineers were also responsible for those eyes that so frighten you, Obi-Wan."

The apprentice gave his master a pointed look at that, getting only a sly grin in return. Trust Qui-Gon to make his lessons about snap judgments awkward. "I did not say they frightened me," he assured his fellow padawan, giving her an apologetic look over his shoulder. "I only used them as an identifying marker when I asked who we were escorting."

At least she laughed. "Don't worry. I have a pesky Jedi Master, too." Then there was a sudden silence. Obi-Wan searched his thoughts, reminded himself of the whispers around the temple that a Jedi Master had gone missing. It wasn't, was it? She continued, her voice dimmed by pain. "Well, I understand. They like to challenge us. And my eyes are a bit different to normal humans. Xhal is a dark world. Midday there is like Coruscant just before the sky turns pink with sunset. Eyes that see well in the dark are important there."

Obi-Wan again shot his master a reproving glance. Qui-Gon already seemed to regret allowing the conversation to steer them into discomfort. "One more trait was passed on to the Xara, and it is for this we go to Xhal. The Transference."

"What's the Transference?" Obi-Wan asked.

It was Lyra who said, "Memories."

"The transfer of memories, to be exact. From one host to another," his master clarified.

"The erasure of who I am." So this was why she was afraid.

Qui-Gon turned, shook his head at her. "That doesn't happen."

"Are you certain?" She wanted to believe. She would on Qui-Gon's word, Obi-Wan guessed, because that's just how badly she wanted to believe it.

It was good that Qui-Gon's word was as near absolute truth as any man could get, no softening and no misleading. "You will still be who you are. You will know many more things, have memories of places you've never been and recall faces that haven't lived for thousands of years. But I promise you will still be Lyra Xedryn, Jedi Padawan. Or do you change your mind? You can at any time, you know. I will personally guarantee your right to that."

Obi-Wan wondered why she didn't waver. "I'll go." Duty? Her only true duty was to the Temple. Family? Blood? There were times when life seemed to taunt him with the reality that despite his complaints at times he really had it easy. This was one of those times.

His master seemed unsurprised by her choice. "Lyra, I know your aunt well. We were friends from the very day I came to your world to discuss her desire for her heir to become a Jedi. She explained to me the reality of life as a Xara and I'm sure she has also explained it to you." There was a pause. Obi-Wan imagined the young girl was nodding. "I can assure you she did not lead you astray. Which brings me to another point. We are little more than strangers now, you and I. When you obtain her memories that will change. I don't think it will be too difficult for you in maintaining our roles as a Jedi Master and Jedi Apprentice, but nevertheless I feel I should prepare you beforehand so it doesn't come as a surprise."

"Does this mean I'll have to suffer in-jokes I don't understand?" Obi-Wan asked, feeling a need to lighten the conversation up a bit.

Qui-Gon laughed at that. "I wasn't aware you understood the ones you and I share."

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. He could hear Lyra snicker behind him and was glad she felt some relief from her burdens. "I suppose I can suffer it. If she were getting Master Yoda's memories, on the other hand..."

"Master Yoda as a child," she suggested with a snort.

Obi-Wan grimaced. "Master Yoda as a teenager."

"File those under things that never happened. I believe Yoda was always at least 500, even at birth," Qui-Gon countered with an absolutely straight face as he got up from his chair. "As for me, I think it's time I reunite myself with the cup of caf I had to give up this morning. Keep the ship together, my young apprentice."

Shaking his head, Obi-Wan motioned her to the empty seat. "Won't he return?" she asked him.

"The shuttle's on auto-pilot," he replied easily. He looked back, saw Qui-Gon rummaging for cups. "He'll sit at the table over there and pretend he's supervising."

"I am supervising," the master called, peering into a white mug, then setting it on the small counter.

"I said that loudly on purpose," Obi-Wan assured his master. "Making sure you weren't backsliding!"

Lyra moved from the back to the front and gave Obi-Wan the first smile he had seen. Her eyes weren't shining and that looked weird to him. "This should be a very interesting trip," she said and he nodded.

The bouquet of brewing caf filled the small shuttle.

oOo

It was halfway through the journey when Obi-Wan asked her about her master. They were sitting at the small table in the kitchenette while Master Jinn meditated on his bunk. Kenobi lazily stirred sugar into his tea while she breakfasted on rations. Not a very satisfying meal. "So Master Elren enjoyed medicine, didn't he?"

A surprised smirk crossed her lips. "What gave you that idea?"

His expression was confused. She found herself enjoying that look, as it was so easy to obtain if you could figure him out. "Well, I mean he taught it..."

Lyra laughed at that. "He didn't like teaching it. He would have rather taught something active, like swordsmanship, but Master Yoda said he could stand to explore the quieter side of the Force for a while." She sighed at that. "I guess he was right."

"I'm sure the team sent to look will find something," he replied kindly. He lifted his tea and sipped. "The Council would probably make Qui-Gon do the same if he knew anything about healing." Those blue eyes looked far off, sardonic. "Personally, I think he does. He just pretends so I have to do it."

Giving the master in question a sidelong glance, Lyra shook her head with a grin. "You'd better behave or you'll get assigned to something worse."

The other padawan sighed mournfully. "I've done it all." He gave his master a fond look. "He's a good master. Wise and understanding. Even if he is a bit, ah, recalcitrant at times."

"Using big words does not make the meaning any less disrespectful," Qui-Gon replied without opening his eyes.

Obi-Wan looked chastened. "I'm sorry, Master. I didn't intend any disrespect. I'm quite fond of your recalcitrance."

Jinn offered a mild look to show there was no real harm done. "No doubt why you mirror it." He went back to his meditations. "You might consider brewing me some tea in about a half an hour."

"My pleasure, Master," Kenobi agreed with a genuine smile. Their interplay made Lyra think painfully of her own master. Elren was different from Qui-Gon Jinn in many ways, but the affection was just the same. She missed it. Taking another sip, Kenobi eyed her. "I might have exaggerated his lack of knowledge about healing."

She smirked. "Am I intended to be surprised?"

He shrugged at that and went on. "There was this time when we were sent into the Coruscant lower levels to find a woman who had sold deathsticks to the son of the Senator of Umbara and killed him. The deathsticks had been laced with a chemical that poisoned the teenager, so we were called in because the Senator feared it was a murder set up by his political enemies. He had very good reason to believe it so. We found where she had set up shop and captured her. She swore she hadn't known about the chemical and after some investigation, we came to believe her. Her supplier was next on our target list. His home was a complete jungle of traps and weapons," he shook his head as he relieved the disbelief, "...I've never seen any single man so utterly armed."

"Were one of you injured by the traps?" she asked, following the story from his comment on Qui-Gon's healing skill.

Surprisingly, Kenobi laughed softly and rubbed the back of his neck. "You would think that, but no. The apartment was empty, so we left out the back to see if we could find a trail. I was a bit eager to continue the chase. There were a small group of stairs leading from his door to the platform level. One of them was chipped by the wearing of time. I hit it wrong and fell, cutting myself on a sharp piece of scrap at the bottom." His smile was self-effacing. "There weren't any med facilities nearby and I had this eight inch long cut down the left side of my back. My master was quite skillful with a needle and thread a poor old woman brought out. He minimized the pain with the Force, stitched the wound and wrapped it with my belt and pieces of my torn shirt, and we were able to question a few neighbors."

Lyra winced at the idea of being stitched. "I've always hated the thought of what the poor beneath Coruscant have to suffer in the absence of the riches above."

Obi-Wan nodded knowingly. "I had to suffer a few hours. I can't imaging having to live days and weeks with some of the remedies they have to put up with. I know there are charity missions in the underground, but it's definitely not enough to serve everyone. And the Senate drones on and on." He stood up and headed over to the brewer to start on his master's tea.

"And the supplier?"

He sighed and pulled out a mug from a cabinet. "It turns out there was no murder plot, at least not one directed at anyone personally. The supplier was an untreated, mentally ill psychopath who just wanted to hurt people as much as he was hurting." A beep announced the water was now boiling. He poured and threw in some tea leaves. "Not one of my favorite missions."

Qui-Gon got up from his bunk right on time without prompting. "Nor mine," he agreed, accepting his cup. "Thank you, Padawan." He looked through the ration cabinet mournfully, selected a sweet energy bar and sat down. When he dipped it in his tea both padawans scrunched their faces and he pretended not to notice. "But the story has an important lesson in it."

"Watch your feet," Obi-Wan replied wryly.

His master shook his head. "The lesson is that attachment is blinding. You cannot fault the Senator for loving his son and wanting the child to be well-adjusted. The key word there is 'wanting'. But in the absence of what we want we must be mindful of what is. In this case the Senator sought to shield himself from the truth of an unhappy, substance addicted child. We cannot know the dynamics of that child's home life, but we can use the story to remind ourselves to see what is and solve problems that need solving directly. Failure to see prevents action, allows trouble to fester."

Both the master's apprentice and their charge accepted his teaching with the reverence due him. And then they turned their conversation towards other, less heavy issues. Three people alone on a shuttle voyage could only converse for so long, however, and pretty soon Qui-Gon instructed them in a group meditation exercise that would attune their senses one to another.

He was not shy about revealing the Darkness they would have to endure when they reached their destination. Lyra knew of this, having heard it from her predecessor in letters of the past. Her aunt had been open with her thoughts, opinions and the truths she had come to learn over time. One of these truths was her own study of the Darkside of the Force. Lyra had been concerned, hearing this, knowing this woman's thoughts and skills would become a part of her, but she took comfort in the knowledge that somewhere in there her aunt had come to see the Lightside of the Force and had wanted to change the history of their family line.

Still, it made Lyra uncomfortable to know very soon she was going to be thrust onto a planet where her inner self would be vulnerable to the Darkside. What if she failed in herself to cling to the Lightside? What if she let the temptation reawaken things Melyssi had once desired?

These thoughts were with her when she awakened around midnight. She arose from her bunk and sleepily wandered into the 'fresher. A splash of cool water helped her wake up, brush aside her fears. It was comforting to feel the gentle liquid, to feel the coldness revitalize her skin. The sensation made her thirsty and when she left the 'fresher, she went to the kitchenette to get something to drink.

After she poured she saw Master Jinn alone in the cockpit, reading from a data pad. He looked up, having sensed her focus on him, and motioned her to approach. Setting her glass aside, she took a seat in the second row diagonal to him. "Master?"

He set the data pad on his lap and peered back at Obi-Wan's sleeping form. His stormy eyes were filled with thoughts she could not fathom. It seemed he was choosing his words carefully, troubled by something he knew he must say but did not want to. Lyra waited patiently.

"There is no easy way to broach this," he said finally, folding his arm across his abdomen and reaching a hand up to stroke his chin. When he finally started, she noticed he had trouble meeting her gaze. It made her wonder. "I told you I was a friend of your aunt. We came to know and appreciate each other very well. Perhaps... perhaps too well."

It took a moment for her to understand what he was saying. When she began to suspect, she felt her cheeks start to warm and mentally kicked herself for reacting. She could handle this like a Jedi. She could. "You mean..."

He glanced at her, then sighed. "We were intimate." At this he did look at her directly and she sort of wished he wouldn't. Sex wasn't against the Jedi Code. No Jedi was forced into celibacy. It was only attachment and possession that were forbidden. She reiterated to herself that she could, in fact, handle this like a mature Jedi as he continued. "I tell you this because I feel it fair to prepare you beforehand, though I'm sure with your aunt's knowledge inside you, it won't be quite as surprising to you then as it is now. But preparing you is the right thing to do. And I tell you to apologize."

Lyra blinked at that. Apologize? She shook her head. "There isn't really any need..." Couldn't he have just let it be a surprise for when she had the mind of an adult? It was only a few days away, after all...

Qui-Gon rubbed at his temples, gave Obi-Wan another glance to make sure he was still right where he needed to be—away from this uncomfortable conversation. "No, there is a need. And I do apologize."

"Then you regret it?" Why did she say that? Why would she say that to a Jedi Master?

He looked at her sharply and she wished fervently she were back in her bunk. At home. On Coruscant. "I regret that we weren't more conscious of what this would do to you. When you accepted her memories you were supposed to be my equal in rank. And I an old man. Never having crossed your path in any personal way. And now..." Somehow the image of him fidgeting with the data pad on his lap would stick with her, she knew. It took a lot to make a Jedi Master ill at ease. He kept nudging it with his fingertips and it seemed absurdly funny to her in the wee hours of the morning.

Brushing her hair back behind her ear, she steeled herself and said, "Look, I don't really... I mean it doesn't, I'm not... angry or, or it doesn't," when did she forget to speak Basic? "I'm just trying to say, I'm not going to hold it against you."

"You really should reserve your judgment until you've experienced her knowledge firsthand, you know," he said somewhat ironically. Resting his hand on his chin, he looked out the view port at the blackness of space. "If you feel I cannot act as your steward, if you feel there is anything in her memories you need to inform the Council, anything that breaks the Code, I will not hold you responsible. You should do what is right, always."

She shook her head. "Part of being a Xara is a strict agreement of nondisclosure unless it directly involves danger to someone else. Taking someone's memories involves learning and accepting how human we all are, deep down. You have to be able to accept without judgment the intimate, the embarrassing, the failures, everything we all wish to hide. This much Melyssi had time to teach me through her letters. And from what I have learned of you these past few days, as purely myself, I can say I still believe you to be a great and wise Jedi Master. I'm not afraid." Not much, anyway.

Qui-Gon nodded once, looked her gently in the eyes. She found herself certain there would be nothing unendurable in those memories. Not from this man. "I appreciate your faith in me. You will make a wise Jedi yourself, with such openness to the frailties of the flesh. You're very attuned to the Living Force."

"Thank you, Master." Lyra offered a smile, then left him as he went back to his reading. She took another glass of water to her bunk and reached for her own data pad to while away an hour or two until she was settled enough to go back to sleep. It wasn't long before she was on her side with her data pad tucked into her arms, the screen black from having powered itself down after its mistress fell asleep.

oOo

From the personal journal of Padawan Lyra Xedryn. Pre-Transference.

The Force has a twisted sense of humor.