Anakin, my long-range transmitter has been knocked out; transmit this message to Coruscant," Obi-Wan Kenobi instructed. But his message was never received. Anakin and Padme had turned the ship off like normal people, and R2 had left.
A droid came up towards Obi-Wan and fired. The startled Jedi drew his lightsaber. But he could already tell he was outnumbered. And no one had received his message.
Obi-Wan tried to move, but he couldn't. He was trapped in some kind of force field. Count Dooku had come in some time earlier, he remembered. He hadn't given the traitor any form of success, unless it were to inform him he was looking for Jango Fett.
Suddenly, the force field was deactivated. Obi-Wan caught his fall, but as he did, he felt his wrist bend backwards. Pain shot up his left arm.
Still, for an instant he believed it might be an ill-planned rescue attempt, until some inconsiderate droid pointed a gun in front of his face. "Get up," it ordered in a mechanical monotone voice.
Obi-Wan got up slowly. Now he understood. They were taking him to die.
A guard snapped chains on his wrists, and Obi-Wan barely kept from wincing in pain. Still at gunpoint, the Jedi stepped into the transport he knew was to carry him to the arena.
The vehicle entered a large stadium. Obi-Wan was relieved to see he was the only prisoner. He only had to concentrate on saving himself.
Some flying creature chained his hands to a post high over his head. Obi-Wan took a deep breath and tried to focus. He wished he had his lightsaber. Not that he could use it very well in this position.
Three gates opened. Obi-Wan suppressed a look of surprise. He'd been told he was to face only one creature. So much for these creeps' reliability.
One was huge, a four-legged creature with a large head and a horn; not very fast, but strong. The second was a green creature with many long legs and a long neck, faster and more agile. The third was smaller, but had longer claws, and its size would make anyone else underestimate it. But not Obi-Wan. The Jedi could see all his enemies were equally deadly.
He gripped the chain with his hands. His left wrist protested terribly, but he forced himself to ignore it, to focus on the Force. The green monster reached him first. He swung around easily to the other side of the post as the creature swung a huge claw at him.
The large creature reached him as the green one swung again. He jumped, grabbing an upper part of the chain. He dangled about two inches above the creature's head.
But the green one could still reach him. It swung, and he barely dodged in time. The little one scrambled up the post and took a swing, slicing into his right arm and making him lose his grip. He fell on top of the large creature, which immediately tried to throw him. It took all his effort and concentration to remain on top of it. The green creature swung at him and he jumped off. The smaller one leapt up on his back as the large one knocked him over.
Obi-Wan struggled to remain conscious, to somehow get up, but he was losing the battle. The creatures were tearing at him. Blood stained the floor of the arena. "I'm sorry, Qui-Gon," he whispered as he lost consciousness. Anakin . . . I . . . tried."
"Lasto beth nin tolo dan na galad," an unfamiliar voice said slowly. It was both gentle and powerful at the same time. It was like an ocean, Obi-Wan realized as the Force washed over him like a gentle wave.
"Welcome back, mellon in," the voice said, and Obi-Wan could tell the greeting was accompanied by a smile even before his eyes opened. The voice belonged to a stranger, seated near his bed, for soon Obi-Wan realized that he was indeed in a bed, in a beautiful room with windows to let in the night breeze.
But even as he looked around, the Jedi's gaze was drawn back to the stranger. He was tall, with dark hair and grey eyes, and a presence that reminded Obi-Wan of Mace Windu. "Who are you?" he asked, fighting to control his voice, which seemed weaker than normal. "How did I get here? Where am I?"
"My name is Elrond," the stranger answered evenly. "You are in Rivendell. I do not know, exactly, how you came to be here. Glorfindel found you just outside of Rivendell and brought you here; you were barely alive. You have recovered well. I did not expect you to awaken for several days."
"So you were just goin' to, what, sit there for several days until he did wake up?" came a voice from the doorway.
"Hello, Peregrin," Elrond said without turning. "Have you absolutely nothing better to do?"
"Um . . . not really. Frodo went to sleep and Sam went to sleep and even Merry went to sleep. So, no, not really."
Obi-Wan sat up to better see the new arrival from behind Elrond, but he found it difficult to move. Elrond seemed to notice and motioned for the new stranger to come closer. He did so gladly, a cheerful smile on his face.
He was short, somewhere around three and a half feet, Obi-Wan guessed, with curly hair, wide eyes, and a huge grin. He had some kind of fruit in his hand. "So who are you?" he asked cheerily.
"Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan Kenobi. And you?"
"Pippin. Pippin Took."
"Pleased to meet you, Pippin."
"And you. Where're you from?"
"I . . . I just came from a place called Geonosha."
"Great. I'm from the Shire." Neither of them was about to let on that they hadn't the slightest idea what the other was talking about.
Elrond shook his head. This Hobbit would stay up all night talking, and probably wake up half of Imladris while he was at it.
But Obi-Wan was already feeling a little refreshed. "Would it be too much trouble if I asked for something to eat?"
"Of course not." Elrond rose, glad to excuse himself from the obnoxious Hobbit's presence. "I shall return shortly."
Elrond found Glorfindel down the hall, trying not to look like he was waiting for news. "How is he?"
"Awake, and will probably be kept awake for a while. Did you send Pippin in?"
"No, indeed, it was his idea. Did you find out anything?"
"I didn't get a chance to ask anything before Pippin joined us, but he mentioned a place called Geonosha."
"Interesting. Perhaps I could talk to him. You could probably use some rest."
"He asked for some food."
"Excellent. I'll find something. He didn't happen to mention what he might like."
"No, he didn't. But since he's just recovering, I wouldn't suggest a three-course Hobbit-sized feast."
"Bread and honey, an apple, and some tea?"
"I'll see to it."
"And I'll see you in the morning."
". . . and then Tom took us home, and Goldberry, she was the prettiest girl I've ever seen, if pretty is even the right word, and . . ." Glorfindel listened outside the door for a moment before coming in. Obi-Wan showed no signs of preparing to interrupt the chattering Hobbit any time soon.
". . . and then we finally got to Bree - Oh, hello. Where's Elrond?"
"He's gone to bed. As you should, as well. You do recall that there is a council in the morning?"
"Sam and Merry and I weren't invited."
"I know. But there are some good places to hide that I could show you - if you go to sleep now."
Pippin grinned. "All right, I'm goin'. Good night, Obi-Wan!" He rushed out of the room.
Glorfindel smiled. "A delightful race, Hobbits are, if they don't talk your ears off."
Obi-Wan smiled. "I'm just glad to have been on the asking end of that question."
"Ah. What question would that be?"
"I asked him what brought him here. He never really answered that."
"That's probably for the best. For now, at least. You will learn the answer soon enough."
"I didn't catch your name."
"Welcome to Rivendell."
"Thank you." Obi-Wan took a bite of the apple. "It's very good."
"What happened to you, Obi-Wan?" Glorfindel could tell he was trying to go off on another subject. "You were almost dead when I found you."
So Obi-Wan described his fight in the arena, but gave no hint to the reason for his being there in the first place. Glorfindel listened intently. How could people find pleasure in watching someone fight for their life against such creatures?
"So you don't know how you got here?" he asked when Obi-Wan had finished.
"I don't have any idea. Whoever did it, though, I am grateful. I would certainly be dead if they'd have left me there."
"Amazing." There was a long silence. "Who is Qui-Gon?" Glorfindel asked at last. Obi-Wan looked surprised. "You talked in your sleep for the last few days. You mentioned his name often."
Obi-Wan nodded. "He was my teacher, and my friend. We were very, very close. He was killed ten years ago."
"I am sorry."
Obi-Wan nodded. The Elf's words were sincere. "I would've given anything, done anything, to save him. But I couldn't. I try to tell myself there was nothing I could've done, but . . ." He paused. Why was he telling this to a complete stranger? It wasn't in his nature to talk about things like this at all, even to Anakin or Yoda.
Glorfindel seemed to sense his hesitance. "I'm sorry; I shouldn't have brought it up. I was just curious."
"No, it's all right. I've needed to tell someone that for a long time. I'm just surprised it happened to be you."
Glorfindel smiled. Obi-Wan lay back down, setting what little was left of his meal aside. "You mentioned something about a council tomorrow?"
"Yes, if you feel strong enough, I'll make sure you are welcome. I would say no one here needs more questions answered than you do, though maybe not all the answers to your questions will be clear. And now, if you'll excuse me, I need my rest, and I expect you do, as well."
"Just one question, if you don't mind my asking. I noticed your ears, and Elrond's. What race are you?"
"We're Elves," Glorfindel smiled. This man truly was a stranger.
"And Pippin is a . . . Hobbit, you said?"
"Just curious. Good night. Oh, and if you wouldn't mind putting out the lamp."
"Of course not." Glorfindel smiled as he did so. "Good night, mellon nin."