Title: Mask of Duty
Author: Arldetta/Knight MysAri
Spoilers: None really. Minor JA bits.
Disclaimers: Owning Star War would be like a dream come true. But I'll settle for borrowing it now and then. ;)
Summary: Obi has been under the tutelage of another Master. Qui and Obi's Master never really got along, but what happens when he has to go to rescue them? And what happens when the man he has disliked was more than he seemed?
Author's Note: Well, I know I have too much on the plate especially since I haven't written anything for Forsaken any time recently, but this PB hit and just couldn't say no. Anyway, this is another one of SHANOBI's famous Plot Bunny's that she posted on the PB thread at TF.N. It found me and just hounded the heck out of me until I gave in, which wasn't all that long actually, about a day. *sigh* I've been posting to tf.n and finally got around to posting here. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up quick. I think you can figure out my format. If not go to like any one of my stories and there should be an explanation.
I hope you enjoy it! Thank you for reading!!! :D :D :D
"So?" she asked, "Have you decided?"
"Decided what?" Her companion countered.
Putting her utensil down, she looked at him directly. She knew he was being coy and she wasn't about to let him get away with it. "I know the Council has been pressuring you and I was wondering if you decided on a Padawan yet?"
"No, I still have no intention of taking on a Padawan. I am quite content being by myself." He took another bite of his late morning meal – or maybe he should just call it early lunch.
Shrugging, she decided to weed out more information by approaching the subject differently, "You don't know what you're missing."
"Oh yes, I do." His tone a little harsher than he intended. He had long ago released his frustration over the disaster that his last Padawan turned out to be, but he would never forget the lesson he learned. To pointedly remind her about that dark period of his life, he added, "Lest we forget Xanatos."
"But that was ages ago, Qui. He is but a memory. You have focused too much on the bad moments with that boy and forgotten the many joys a young one can bring in to your life. I thought I could do everything on my own and then I found Bant. My life has been enriched ever since. That is what you are missing."
"You sound like the troll." Quietly, he resumed his meal. She followed suit picking up another bite.
"You shouldn't call him that, you know how he dislikes it," she jibed.
"I know, that is precisely why I call him that. I am hoping it will deter his companionship. I tire of hearing the same arguments over and over." His voice once again took on a light tone, simply enjoying his time with her. They had known each other for too long – since their days in the crèche – that he always appreciated her company. She was a light in his life and managed to bring out the best in him. At times, like this one, he felt like they were first year Padawans again. He paused and watched her for a moment. Where had the years gone? He wondered. But it didn't matter to him, she was still as beautiful as ever.
She seemed not to notice his attention. Still she felt it best to make one last remark before letting the subject drop once more. "One day Qui, you are going to see a young one who touches your heart and you will not be able to turn him away. And for your sake I hope that day comes soon. I don't want to be friends with a cranky old man forever."
"Old?" His eyebrows raised in an exaggerated expression of shock. "We are crèche mates and you think I am old? What does that make you?"
Pouting she said in mock hurt, "Qui, I thought you of all people would know how unwise it is to question a woman's age." The pair glared at each other for a moment before the smiles crept on to both of their faces and they began to laugh. In the midst of their mirth, neither noticed the Council aide that had come up to them.
Clearing his throat the Padawan waited for their attention. "Pardon me, Master Tahl, Master Jinn." He bowed in each of their direction then looked directly at tall Knight. "Master Jinn your presence has been requested." Tahl's brow furrowed uncertainly and a scowl formed over Qui-Gon's features.
"Lead the way Padawan." He stood to follow the young man out. Pausing for a moment he looked back at his friend, "I will see you later." Then he hurried out. Tahl cleaned off the table and headed back to her room knowing that she would meet Qui at his quarters in an hour.
The chime rang once and there was no answer. Hitting the chime again produced the same results. Now worried, she inputted the entry code and stepped inside. She knew he was in here but his lack of response could only mean one thing. Quickly, she made her way further into the apartment and found the man shoving clothes into a small duffle. He was obviously irritated and she gathered why, but she had to be certain. "Qui? What's happened?"
Pausing for a moment, he didn't look at her, just stood. Taking a deep breath he found his center. "I am being sent on another mission."
"But I thought you were on rest for at least a week. The Council promised." Naked bewilderment in her tone.
The scowl deepened. "So did I. Apparently, they felt this urgent enough to send me."
"What could be so urgent that they would break their promise?"
"I am being sent to retrieve a Master-Padawan team that had been sent to the planet Melida/Daan. They have reason to believe that the Master is already dead and would like me to find the Padawan and bring him home." He resumed his packing.
She watched his clipped movements for a moment trying to figure out why the Council felt the need to back out on their promise. Not able to come up with a valid reason she asked, "And they could find no other to do this?"
"No." Tying up his bag, he looked at her for the first time. "They believe that my skills are the best to get in and out without too much trouble."
She could see that he was not happy with this assignment but her confusion still prefaced all other thoughts. "But we had plans. You should have refused."
"I did but they would not accept it." The anger in his voice is what finally made her realize all was not right. She looked at him and could see his jaw tighten and clench.
Her eyes narrowed and her words came slowly, "There's something else. You would not normally be this upset with a mission."
Sighing, he knew he would not be able to leave unless he told her the truth. "The Master they believe dead is Garg Klp."
Her eyes went wide with recognition. Tahl knew their history and fully understood why Qui-Gon was so upset now. They were all crèche mates growing up but Garg and Qui never really got along. Their philosophies and beliefs would always drive them apart. However, Tahl also had another realization once the name was spoken. Garg Klp was Obi-Wan Kenobi's Master. And Obi-Wan was a dear friend to her own Padawan, Bant. This news would be devastating. Thinking of the kind hearted boy that deserved so much more than he ever received, she made it clear how she felt about this mission, "Qui, you have to rescue Obi-Wan."
Surprised, he looked at his dearest friend. "How did you….?"
"Obi-Wan is a friend of Bant's. He is a good Jedi. You must bring him back." She felt his loss would be felt by many if Qui-Gon were to fail.
For a moment, blue eyes searched green and gold striped gems. He could sense the sincerity in her. Suddenly, some of his frustrations melted away and he did his best to alleviate her worry. "I will do what I can. I must leave now, my ship should be ready."
"Be careful, my friend. May the Force be with you." He nodded and then left. He knew Tahl would seal his room after he was gone. With each step a growing sense of unease filled him. He sat in the small craft, one that should be able to sneak him on and off planet once he found the boy, and flew it into the atmosphere. Just before entering hyperspace, he muttered, "I have a bad feeling about this."
"She's gone," the young man wept as he said the words over and over. "She's gone. She's dead."
The sheer pain and anguish of the loss overpowered the room. And as much as his heart echoed the same emotions, he stood calmly, not even a hint of the sorrow in his face. He couldn't find the words to console his companion, so he waited for the tears to abate. His mind focused on the events that had occurred trying to find a way he could have done something different. But every scenario he came up with reaped the same results. Cerasi, a beautiful young woman with an inner strength that surpassed almost everyone he knew, had been murdered. In the short time he knew her, he admired her and in many ways even loved her.
Only the night before, they were sitting up talking. But it was her words that were spoken just before their goodnight wishes that haunted him most. 'Your heart is in shadows, Obi. All you have to do is turn the light on and you'll see a whole new world.' He wanted to ask her about what she meant exactly but that moment never came. Now he would never know. He wondered again what she saw in him. There must have been something she could see that he himself was unaware of. A sharp pain flared in his chest at the loss of such a brilliant spirit.
Softening sobs still reverberated around the room. Gazing at his companion, Obi said, "Nield, I know you are hurting, but you must be strong. The Young needs you, needs your strength and guidance. Their immediate reaction will be that of revenge. That is something we cannot allow."
"Why not? Revenge would be justice for what the Elders have done."
"But we cannot be sure that the Elders are the ones to blame."
"Are you accusing me?? If anyone's to blame here it would be you!"
The words sliced into his soul. There was so much hate and pain. But his Master would have only told him that the boy's outburst was due to his own feelings of guilt and that they held no truth. The only problem was that his Master was dead, and Obi-Wan had already felt he had failed her. So the harsh words merely doubled his troubled heart. Still, he kept to his Master's teachings. "You only say that because you feel guilty yourself. I did not shoot her. And neither did you."
"Then it must have been Wehutti."
"It was not."
"How can you be so certain? All the Elders ever wanted was war."
"Wehutti loved his daughter as much as you loved her. He lowered his blaster when she emerged from the fountain. Someone else wanted war. Who ever that person is, is the one who caused Cerasi's death. Perhaps she was not meant to die but that matters little now." His voice trailed off as he mulled over the possibilities.
"I don't understand, if I didn't shoot and Wehutti didn't shoot, then who did?"
"That is what we must find out. I noticed a glint of light on one of the rooftops. From there someone could have fired, their goal to restart the war."
"So what should we do?"
"You loved Cerasi, do you wish to honour her memory?" At Nield's nod, he continued. "Then I ask you not to take up arms, not to seek out vengeance. In life she sought for a way to bring peace to this world, she has given her life for this cause. To bring more pain and suffering to this world would destroy everything she stood for. I know it will be difficult, but you must not let her become a martyr for war."
"What about you?"
"I will go talk with Wehutti, he may be blaming himself for his daughter's death. He needs to know the truth. Perhaps her death can be the gateway to peace."
"Would you like me to go with you?"
"You have enough to do here that you must take care of first. And if he does not blame himself, he may blame you. We do not need to start a war before we have the chance to speak. I should be able to take care of this myself." Obi-Wan clasped his friend's shoulder to offer his strength.
Nield managed a small smile at the gesture and reached out to do the same. He watched as a guarded smile formed on the Jedi's face. The leader of the Young marveled at how Obi-Wan could remain so calm. At one point he thought that Obi-Wan also cared deeply for Cerasi, the two had been spending quite a lot of time together. At first he was jealous but soon came to realize that they were just friends. When Cerasi was killed, he wasn't sure if he heard Obi-Wan call out her name at the same time as himself. And since that time, he had not seen Obi-Wan shed one tear. Now that he thought about it, he didn't recall Obi mourning for his own Master when he died. For some reason, he both envied and pitied the Jedi his stoicism. He doubted he would ever be able to control his emotions so well. Sighing, he said, "Hurry back. I could use your help."
"Of course." Nield patted the shoulder and walked out of the tiny underground room leaving Obi-Wan alone. And his moment of solitude couldn't have come too soon. Instantly, he sought the wall for support and groaned at the agony that poured over him. Clenching his eyes closed, he took deep breaths until the nausea came back down to a manageable level. His back was on fire and he could feel a slight tingling at his fingertips. His façade of being the perfect Jedi, as his Master taught him, was draining his reserves beyond their limit. He had been running so long with out his Master's support, he just didn't know how much longer he could hold out. He could only hope that the Council had received his message and sent another Jedi team to assist him.
A moment later, he felt he could put the mask back on without too much trouble. Sliding back into the role of Jedi, he turned and headed for Melida territory. He had just surfaced when a sound caught his attention and a familiar feeling washed over him. Relieved, he changed direction to follow the sound.
Qui-Gon landed just outside the city of Zehava in a patch of forest to the east. It didn't take him long to hide the ship and reach the outer wall. He was searching for a way in when he felt a nudge in the Force. Startled, he looked up to find a rope being dropped. Wary of the possible threat Qui-Gon clasped it and scaled the wall. The Council had warned him that there was a possibility that Obi-Wan had been killed in the interim but he had to find out for sure. If Obi-Wan had been killed then he no longer had any friends in the city. But he needed a way in and if this was a trap it would still get the results he sought.
As he reached the top a thin hand shot out over the edge offering help. Clasping it, he was pulled over and landed on the roof of a building. Automatically, he turned around to collect the rope and quietly expressed his thanks. When the Knight turned around to hand the cord to its owner, he froze in shock.
Before him stood a frail figure, in his mind. A young man in the tattered garb of the Jedi waited. Ginger spikes topped a pale face making the colour even more intense. The young man's face revealed nothing - no surprise, no grief, no joy - just nothing as dull blue eyes gazed up at him. The gangly youth looked as if he could snap in half at any moment and Qui-Gon couldn't imagine the wiry form capable of movement. Despite his appearance, Qui-Gon could feel the Force flowing through the youth. Could it be that he had found his quarry so quickly? After the initial shock melted away, the Knight found his voice, "Obi-Wan Kenobi, I presume."
Something stirred in the Knight although he could not name it. One question managed to push its way to the forefront. He wondered if the young man's appearance was due to time spent on Melida/Daan or under the tutelage of Garg Klp. Klp was from a desert tribe on Sorrus. His people were used to living days, sometimes weeks on end without food or water. And that part of his heritage found its way in to his every day life. It was another one of the differences between them. Still, it was a concern for a later time. His years of service and training kicked in and he began, "My name is Qui-Gon Jinn. The Council has sent me here to find you."
"I was beginning to think that my message was not received."
"The transmission we did receive was not whole and we were not able to discern much. It seemed that the mission had failed and since you were sending the message Master Klp was wounded or worse." He tried to ease the blow of a Master's death, too often Padawans that lost their mentors would fall into a state of shock and depression. But the young man's words revealed neither.
"My Master is dead." Obi-Wan's voice was unnaturally steady. "However, the mission has not failed because it is not finished yet."
"According to the Council it is. I was sent here to retrieve you and Master Klp and take you back to the Temple."
"I have already performed the Ritual of Passing. His body has been burned on the pyre and committed to the land. I am all that is left here. I appreciate their concern but I have a mission that I must finish, I cannot leave until it is done."
"The Council says you are finished."
"Master, you do not know what is going on here. If I were to leave now, war would continue to ravish this world. I have one last chance to bring peace. I could not, in good conscience, abandon these people. My Master always believed that one must finish what they started no matter the cost, and that is what I will do to honour his memory. We were given a task to complete and I will do so despite my Master's absence." With that Obi-Wan turned and headed back the way he came. When he noticed that Qui-Gon was not following he stopped. "I would suggest you follow me, Master Jinn. We are in Daan territory and they are not as sympathetic to the Jedi as the others."
Reluctantly, the older Jedi abided. Sine finding out that Master Klp had indeed perished, he knew he must get the boy to a soul healer quickly. Sometimes the result of an abruptly severed bond caused acute trauma to a Jedi's mind be it Master or Padawan. Frowning, he could already see that Klp's influence ran deeply within the boy. And Qui-Gon was not looking forward to dealing with them. Yet there was something in the Force nudging gently at his consciousness. Too preoccupied with the possible friction he could not determine what it was trying to say. So Qui-Gon walked silently behind the Padawan. He was led through a series of streets lined with rubble and war-torn buildings. "May I ask where we are going?"
"To the leader of the Melida." For a moment he was deep in thought before glancing over at the tall man. "How much has the Council informed you?"
"That the planet has been battling for centuries. A plea had been sent to the Jedi to help bring peace. Details were not exactly forthcoming as I was only sent to find you and return immediately." For some reason, Qui-Gon felt as if he was talking to another Knight not a Padawan who had lost his Master. The control and demeanor of the youth depicted that of a seasoned Jedi. Another aspect of Klp's teaching that he didn't approve of. Perhaps many of his own colleagues had considered Qui-Gon too lenient, but that didn't stop him from believing that children were meant to be children first. Yes, the Jedi transformed their younger generations into formidable warriors and leaders but that was only the result of years of training.
Growing up, Garg had taken their training too seriously. He felt the games and free time that they had only weakened them. So when it was time to enjoy life, he would preoccupy himself with more exercises and study, never taking a break. His own Master, Choate Naeem was one of the Knights that was always on the go and it suited the pair nicely. Qui-Gon had always wondered if Garg was intelligent enough to realize that not everyone was like that. But he doubted it. And poor Obi-Wan had been the one to learn this mistake first hand. At least that's what Qui-Gon believed anyway. He was drawn out of his musing when Obi-Wan pulled them into an alley.
"I will be brief. The Melida and the Daan have been fighting so long that neither knows the cause any more. Many of the children of this world were orphaned by the constant battles. It was only natural that a number of them would gather and band together. They have formed a faction called the Young. It was they who contacted the Jedi for help. Recently, they have found a new reason to bring war to these people once again. One of the Young's leaders, Cerasi was murdered. She tried to stop the war and paid the ultimate price. Both sides blame the other. War is imminent if I cannot stop it now. That is why I go to see Wehutti. He is the leader of the Melida and was also Cerasi's father. He needs to know the truth."
Qui-Gon searched the youthful face, in the midst of the boy's speech he saw a flicker of something. His first instinct told him that it was pain. But he couldn't be sure. And what had caused it? When the answers eluded him, he decided that he would help Obi-Wan. He may not have liked Garg Klp but he could at least honour a fallen Jedi by working to bring about peace to a ravaged land. "Then by all means let us hurry."
A small hint of a smile played at the corners of Obi-Wan's mouth. And for some reason, Qui-Gon wished he could have seen that smile bloom. It was quickly stifled as Obi-Wan turned to lead the way again.
It didn't take them long to reach the crumbling building. Obi-Wan entered and walked up a flight of step and down a long hallway. The building looked mostly deserted except for the occasional sounds of life that drifted out from behind closed doors. Toward the end of the hall, Obi-Wan stopped and knocked on a door. They waited for a moment and received no answer. He knocked a second time and still nothing. Yet he knew Wehutti was in there, he could feel the man's sorrow. Next, he tried the door to see if it would open. It didn't budge. But Obi wasn't about to give up. Raising one of his hands he summoned the incredible power that swirled around them. In seconds, both heard the distinct click of a lock being undone.
Suddenly, Obi-Wan looked over at the tall Jedi next to him wondering if the man would disapprove of his blatant use of the Force. Master Garg would have probably done both, chastise and praise him. Sometimes the man was too confusing. He would have disapproved of misuse of the Force but appreciated the initiative to see the problem and find a solution, as long as they achieved the results of the mission. However, his Master was no longer with him. So Obi had to wonder what this strange Knight might say.
For seconds he examined the leonine features and saw nothing that indicated his reaction. Deciding that he would worry about it later, he pushed the door open and walked inside. Softly, he called, "Wehutti?"
They heard a scuffle near the back of the room, shrouded in shadow. A gruff voice answered, "What do you want? Haven't you already caused enough trouble?"
"I came here to talk. To tell you…."
"Talk? What is there to talk about? My daughter's dead, no thanks to you."
"That is why I am here. You need to know the truth."
"Oh, yeah? And what's that?"
"You didn't kill her."
"I know that you stupid boy. It was those damn children that wanted to play adult."
"You are wrong. Someone else murdered her. I noticed a glint of light on a roof above us. The sky was overcast, which means someone was up there. Whoever that was killed Cerasi."
"Why would they want to hurt my baby? She was an angel."
"I do not believe they intentionally meant to kill her. I believe she was more in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I do believe whoever that was, wanted war." Silence encompassed them as they all pondered these thoughts. As the older pair allowed the information to sink in, Obi-Wan started to replay the events that lead them to this point in his mind. As the images and words whipped past, a new realization struck him. Without realizing it he spoke the new question aloud, "Why did you re-arm? How did you get the weapons? We had a truce, but then everyone was armed again. Even the Young."
"We heard that the Daan and the Young had weapons. We would not sit back and let them wipe us out. So we broke into our stash."
"But I remember Mawat telling us that Melida had broken into the stores and the Daan had found weapons as well. I would not be surprised to find that Gueni was also misinformed. There is a web of lies here. Someone has fed our fears and brought about this tragedy. Listen to me Wehutti, tell your people to put away their weapons, lock them back up. I will contact the others and set up a new meeting. Peace is so close don't let it slip through your fingers again."
"You ask us to neutralize our forces? I refuse. We will not be vulnerable again. And who ever has taken my child from me must pay."
"No. You say you love your daughter yet you never listened to her. What right do you even have to avenge her death?"
"I may not have always been there, but I was still her father."
Sighing, Obi-Wan shook his head sadly, "You do not even listen to your self. Have you ever considered that you should have spent more time with you daughter, all your children instead of fighting all the time?"
"Of course, I would have once we won the war."
"War, is that all you people can think about? Fighting, killing, death? Your halls are filled with those who have fought and died for a cause no one even knows anymore. There are even some there who didn't fight, but their lives ended all the same. And now Cerasi is among them. She died believing that her home, her world could have peace. She died because someone couldn't handle a world without war. Each side is taking up arms to avenge her death. But do you want to know something? The best vengeance you can offer is not another war, but peace. Just because she's gone, we should let her hopes fade away. Rise up, set an example and let her dreams live forever. Give your people peace."
Wehutti was in turmoil. For the first time in his life he heard the call of peace. Images flashed through his mind, so many of his loved ones died. And lastly, Cerasi stood before him, just a little girl who had suddenly grown up in to a strong and beautiful young woman. He remembered that last time they spoke before she ran away. Her voice echoed in his heart and soul, "War is the easiest answer to problems. You don't have to face yourself when you have a cause to kill. But war isn't the answer. It's a coward's way out. I don't want to run blindly into death. Death is absolute, and there's already been too much. I want to live. If you want a real challenge, it isn't how well you can kill but how well you can live. When we live we have to face our faults and our fears, but we can also face our hopes and joys. The hardest part of life is learning how to live, no matter what you do, the real point is that we live. I love you daddy, but I will not fight. Our world has suffered so much for so long. It is time we suffer peace. Give our people peace and I will be by your side forever."
Of course he rebelled. And now, he had lost the youngest of his children, and the most precious. Maybe this young Jedi was right. Maybe his daughter spoke to him still through this boy. Whatever the reason, he was finally beginning to understand what his daughter had asked him for so long ago. Tears welled in his eyes as he continued to stare at the youth. After a number of deep breaths he found his voice, "I cannot promise you anything, but I will try to convince them to lay down their weapons. My daughter wanted peace. She may not be alive to see it, but if we are able to grasp it, it will be her legacy."
"We will meet tomorrow at the plaza on Glory Street." Wehutti's eyes went wide. "I know it will be difficult, but she would not have wanted us to mourn her. Where her life ended we can bring peace." Slowly the older man nodded. The Jedi nodded back and left the man to his grief.
Qui-Gon was speechless, which didn't happen very often. This young Padawan, in the wake of his Master's death as well as a companion, managed to think and speak with such foresight and clarity that it would make most Knights jealous. What an incredible Padawan the boy would make - or rather did make. His thoughts wandered down a new road. Obi-Wan was young, fifteen if he remembered correctly, so his training would have to be assumed by another if he was to become a Knight. And to lose such potential would be a tragedy in itself. Still, he refused to consider the option of taking the Padawan himself. Had he not told Tahl recently that he was happy by himself? Again he felt something brush past his consciousness, there for an instant and then gone again. Shaking his head lightly, he returned to the world around him.
"Where are we going to now?" The gentle baritone asked.
"We must speak with Gueni, he is the leader of the Daan. I need to be certain that he was not the reason for Cerasi's death. And if he was lied to as well. Perhaps with his information, we will start to see the truth."
So, that's the first 3 chaps, I believe. I hope it was enjoyable enough for you to drop a review! That would totally make my day. And just as a forewarning, the plot development is going to change a bit. I had one idea originally in mind and got hit by a twist. You'll know it when you see it. But lots of reviews might motivate me to post more quicker. ;) :D
Once again, Thanks for reading!!!!