Title: The Other Side of Infinity
Author: Laura of Maychoria
Spoilers: Only to my own novel, which may never be published, anyway.
Rating: PG (violence)
Disclaimer: Not mine, making no money, blah blah. I'm just borrowing a couple of my favorite people from Uncle George. The others are mine—hands off! :-)
Author's note: This is kind of a crossover, I guess, but only with my own novel. I just kept having these daydreams, where Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon and a couple of my favorite characters in my own world were having these deep, philosophical conversations . . . I had to write it! Let me know how you like it so far. More will be coming, I promise.

The Other Side of Infinity
Part 1: A Beautiful, Peaceful Planet

Obi-Wan Kenobi strode happily through the forest, swinging his lightsaber with carefree abandon at any underbrush that happened to block his way. Finally, a beautiful, peaceful world, ripe for exploring, without a political dispute or gathering war anywhere in sight. As far as the fifteen-year-old Padawan knew, there weren't even any sentient races on this planet. Nice to have a break now and again.

The Jedi apprentice was careful to keep the crashed escape pod in sight, though, the glint of sunlight off gray metal always visible in his peripheral vision. Qui-Gon had warned him sternly to stay in range so the older Jedi could find him. Obi-Wan shook his head in amusement, remembering that brief, pointed exchange when he contacted his master with the pod's limited comm equipment half an hour ago.

"No, Master, I'm not injured," Obi-Wan said over the crackling and buzzing of the comm. Their escape pods must have landed quite a distance apart—Obi-Wan could not hear words through their bond, as he usually could, only a diffuse sense of his master's emotions. Which were currently worry, frustration, and irritation, tinged now with relief as his Padawan's words reached him.

"And . . . activated . . . signal beacon . . . Wan?" Qui-Gon's words came through blurred by distance and the limited power of the pod.

"Yes, Master, I've activated the signal beacon in the pod and boosted the power as far as it will go. The power cells won't last more than a couple of days at this level."

". . . coming to . . . you . . . Do not wander off, Pada . . . n't want you getting . . . or hurt."

Obi-Wan refrained from rolling his eyes, then realized that Qui-Gon couldn't see him and went ahead with the rolling. "I promise to be careful, Master. You don't have to worry about me."

"Don't roll . . . eyes at me, cheeky little Pad . . .!" Qui-Gon scolded good-naturedly. ". . . ust stay in sight . . . pod at . . . imes."

Obi-Wan grinned ruefully. His master knew him very well indeed. "Have you contacted the Temple yet?" Obi-Wan's own long-range comlink had been dropped in the hurry to get off the doomed starship, which was why he'd had to resort to the pod's limited resources.

The young Jedi frowned suddenly. They hadn't been able to figure out what was going wrong on the tiny transport ship when klaxons started to wail and it dropped out of hyperspace, then began an uncontrollable nose-dive toward the green planet below. All the controls had been dead and unresponsive, sparks flying from the very walls. Fortunately only Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon were aboard, returning to Coruscant after yet another series of dangerous missions, and the small, one-man escape pods had released without mishap.

"Of course I've contact . . . emple," Qui-Gon responded, his frustration with the situation making him snap. " . . . be here . . . three, four days."

"Oh," Obi-Wan said quietly. Qui-Gon's worry suddenly made sense .Obi-Wan didn't know how many supplies were packed in the two pods, but it couldn't be much. His own pod only had enough emergency rations and water for a couple of days.

Qui-Gon suddenly flooded the bond with a wave of warmth, assurance, and affection, and for a wonder his next statement came through intact. "I'll be there soon, Obi-Wan."

"Good." The Padawan didn't even try to hide his relief.

"Don't worry. Ju . . . stay near the . . . understood?"

"Understood. I have to shut off the comm now, or the power will drain even faster."

"All right . . . Force . . . with you."

"And with you, Master."

After he shut off the comm, Obi-Wan looked around, his eyes brightening. He didn't sense anything that could be a threat, not anywhere within the radius of his abilities. Time for some exploring, then, just to see what this gorgeous, halcyon place had to offer.

Now he tromped up another green hill, enjoying the squish of decomposing vegetation beneath his feet, the air around him vibrant with a hundred varieties of animal and plant life, all growing happily and glad to be alive. It was so perfect here, he couldn't help but be amused by his master's worry. Not just once had he warned Obi-Wan to stay near the pod, but three times.

Obi-Wan grinned, jumping up on a fallen log, then leaping off. He executed a back flip to land easily on his feet some ten yards away, the ignited lightsaber in his hand humming a blurred circle of blue light. Qui-Gon always got these mother-nestbird urges to smother whenever the two Jedi got separated, which happened rather a lot, actually. Then again, he probably had a right to worry. These separations, however innocently they began, tended to finish with Qui-Gon having to rescue his Padawan from one sadistic megalomaniac or another.

One of these days, Obi-Wan promised himself inwardly, he was going to rescue himself, just to shock them all.

Obi-Wan didn't recognize any of the species about him, had no idea even of the name of this planet, but he was sure that he and Qui-Gon could find food enough to keep them going for a couple of days. It couldn't take that long for a team from the Temple to arrive to pick them up. The young Jedi was content to enjoy this unplanned vacation.

In fact, he reflected, turning off his lightsaber as he gazed around at the huge trees, he could possibly get bored here. If it took Qui-Gon more than a couple of days to reach him, he might even get a tiny bit lonely. He shook his head at himself. Silly. He wasn't a ten-year-old child, afraid of the dark. He was a Jedi, and he was never alone.

"Look out!"

A small, compact body crashed into Obi-Wan's, sending him tumbling over the loam. Startled, he flailed momentarily and almost hit his head on a large rock before regaining control, then let himself slide to a stop, flat on his back. Something grey, furry and growling flew by overhead as he tumbled, missing him completely. Obi-Wan looked up in astonishment—his attacker had come out of the roll on his feet, and was now standing over the young Jedi as if to protect him.

It was a human boy, maybe a year younger than Obi-Wan but considerably smaller, holding a primitive bowcaster. No, it wasn't even a bowcaster—it was a bow and arrow, and it was nocked and drawn, ready to fire. "For the High King!" the boy cried, and let his arrow fly.

Obi-Wan scrambled to his feet in time to see the arrow strike the head of a fur-covered, slavering creature just as it gathered its feet under itself and leapt for them. The force of the arrow's blow knocked the animal from the air, and it fell writhing to the ground several paces short of their position. The boy grabbed Obi-Wan's arm, tugging him away. "Come, we must get to higher ground."

Obi-Wan shook his head dazedly and followed, unable to think of a reason not to. The strange boy ran, long brown cloak flying out behind him. Obi-Wan crashed through the undergrowth, ducking low-slung branches, trying not to stumble over knotty roots. The boy before him ran in absolute silence, deftly ducking the branches, lightly leaping over root and bush. He led the Jedi onto a slight rise bare of trees, covered with short, brown grass and a few scattered rocks. At the top the boy paused, not a bit out of breath, looking about sharply.

He nodded. "We'll be able to see them coming from here." He paused to flip Obi-Wan a companionable glance. "I am Matio, apprentice to Seeker Wari."

Something about the boy prompted a formal response from the confused fifteen-year-old. "Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi."

Matio's brow wrinkled.

The young Jedi grinned suddenly. "Obi-Wan. You can call me Obi-Wan."

The other boy nodded gravely. "Well, Obi-Wan, I saw perhaps half a score of those creatures sniffing about this area. They've left me alone, perhaps smelling the difference in me, but I could tell they were stalking you. I've been watching for a while now, and I had to interfere. You weren't paying a bit of attention."

Completely nonplused, Obi-Wan stared at the smaller boy, into eyes of green-brown as clear and cool as the forest around them. Why hadn't he sensed his presence, or that of the creatures, for that matter? Had he been that distracted?

Matio shrugged apologetically, taking Obi-Wan's silence for something entirely different. "I'm sorry. I can see that you're a warrior, and you would rather defend yourself. But I was afraid you wouldn't notice the danger in time."

"No, no, I owe you my deepest gratitude." Obi-Wan shook his head and offered a friendly smile. "Your 'interference' is not an insult. I let myself assume there was no threat here, and I wasn't watching properly. You probably saved my life. I only hope I'll be able to return the favor sometime."

Matio grinned suddenly, a brilliant thing, like a gift of sunlight from a clouded sky. Then his eyes sharpened as he stared behind Obi-Wan. "That time may be now. Here they come!"

Obi-Wan whirled quickly, feeling the danger prick at him in the Force, and ignited his lightsaber with a snap-hiss. He felt the smaller boy's shoulder against his, Matio's tension and readiness as he held the bow, another arrow nocked and drawn. Five of the huge creatures emerged from the trees, fangs dripping saliva, long claws digging into the earth. They hesitated for a moment, the bright blue light reflected in their dark eyes, then charged the two youngsters.

Matio's arrows took two of them down before they crossed the short distance to the top of the rise, and Obi-Wan's lightsaber sweep killed the two within his reach. He turned to find the last one, afraid that it had gotten through to Matio, and saw the other boy standing over the fallen creature with a small knife in his hand, dripping red.

They were spared no time for congratulations. More creatures appeared at the edge of the pressing trees, all around. They were surrounded, and it was a lot more than half a score. Matio straightened quickly, pressing his back to Obi-Wan's, already reaching over his shoulder for another arrow. "Maker, be with us," the boy murmured.

Obi-Wan nodded, adding his own wish for safety to the soft prayer. And then the creatures charged.

He felt Matio drawing and releasing his bow, again and again and again, and wished briefly that he had some sort of blaster. But soon enough the animals on this side of the clearing were within his lightsaber's reach. Obi-Wan held his ground, determined to protect the boy at his back, but that limited his options for movement and footwork. He had to rely on his quickness and agility, sometimes leaping slightly forward, sometimes lunging from side to side, always staying as close to Matio as possible.

He could sense Matio's answering determination, as well, determination to protect Obi-Wan, to keep the beasts back from the top of the rise. The archer's hands moved too swiftly for Obi-Wan's eyes to follow, even if he'd been looking at the other boy, which he wasn't. Arrow after arrow sped through the air, and each took a predator's life. Together, the two apprentices were succeeding, were driving away the vicious creatures.

All too quickly, the equation of the deadly battle changed. "Fewmets," Matio muttered. "Obi-Wan, I'm out of arrows."

Without pausing Obi-Wan turned, whirling his lightsaber, and took out the animal leaping for Matio's throat. The smaller boy had ducked, somehow sensing the Jedi's intent. His little knife was in his hand again, the bow dropped in the grass, the empty quiver still hanging at his back. They had taken out a lot of the creatures, but at least half a dozen were still in the clearing, lurking at the edge of the forest, awaiting their chance to attack.

Obi-Wan had to turn back to his own side of the rise, flashing his lightsaber in an efficiently swift, short arc to kill yet another grey creature, then back-flipped over Matio's golden-brown head, landing almost on top of the newest attacker. He took that one down, too, and then his fight became a dance.

He leaped and flipped and swung, from one side to the other, all around the crouching archer, taking out beast after beast, sometimes catching one just in the nick of time before it struck the smaller boy. Given entirely over to the dance, he acted almost without thought, his only intention to protect, to repay the gift this stranger had given him. The creatures had sensed the vulnerability of the arrow-less archer. They leaped to attack, only to fall to the Jedi's bright blade. Matio's knife remained clenched in his fist, but he didn't have to use it until the end.

Only one creature was left. Relief beginning to fill him, Obi-Wan let his concentration slip. He landed badly, turning his ankle on a rock hidden in the grass. He stumbled, lightsaber flailing, momentarily off-balance.

The last creature had been holding back, old, grizzled and experienced, wary of these strange creatures that smelled so sweetly delicious, yet had such sharp claws. Now at last it sensed its chance, the vulnerability it had been waiting for, and it leaped forward to sink its teeth into Obi-Wan's throat.

Matio jumped forward with a yell, his knife out-thrust, and rammed himself into the leaping body. The clash was titanic, and both bodies fell to the grass, fur and muscle, brown cloak and slight, wiry frame. Again Matio cried out, in pain this time, and Obi-Wan saw the knife stab the beast's neck, once, twice, a third time.

Then stillness.