Title: Fallen Embers
Chapter Eight: I Can Hear You Calling In the Distance, and I Am Found
All disclaimers and warnings are in the first chapter.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - --
Qui-Gon awoke to gentle shaking and a distant voice calling. He opened bleary eyes and focused on the Korddian master hovering over him. "What is it, Morra?"
Morra straightened, "We have dropped out of hyperspace and are approaching Aphidia."
Qui-Gon winced as he pulled himself upright. "Find a place to land as close as to where you found me."
Zeller turned from the controls, "I am sorry Master Jinn, but the square we found you seems to have been demolished."
Qui-Gon staggered closer to the view port, his knees wobbling from lack of strength and anxiety over what he may see. A planet of complete destruction met his gaze. The atmosphere was a sepia pall, wadded, twisted, and writhing upon itself like discontented ghosts. The land between the sooty cotton was charred black and disfigured by the ignorance of its people.
Qui-Gon gasped as the landscape as Zeller dropped the ship into a lower altitude. Soot began to form a film on the forward view port, impeding the vision of those inside.
Skimming the surface, the awesome destruction became more apparent and more appalling. Ash carpeted much of the ground. Trees that were once proud sentries now lay as naked skeletons up on the desolation of the planet. Bodies were stacked in tall mounds, burned beyond recognition. Buildings tumbled, dissolved, and gave up their foundations with sad cries of mourning. Piles of naked brush dotted the world, stripped bare of its life for use by the 'higher intelligent beings' that used their precious lives for annihilation. Lives of people, animal, and planet were sacrificed for the blood thirsty tastes of the tyrants that wanted their own way.
"Obi-Wan was here?" Morra said in a hushed tone. "All alone?"
Qui-Gon nodded and said shakily, "I never would have left him. This is my fault. If we do not make it in time, then I will forfeit my own life for the treason in which I caused."
Morra noted the tone of despair in his friend's voice and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, "All is not lost, my friend. Not as long as we carry those we love in our hearts and never forget what they mean to us."
Qui-Gon nodded mutely, his gaze lost on the horizon where the sun was just beginning to rise. His mind flickered back to when he and his padawan first arrived. How the stars twinkled high in the sky. How the sun bathed the world in a warm welcome every morning during their saber practice. The pureness of the air, how sweet the smell of the flora that bloomed all around had enticed their senses from the moment of their arrival. The silver flood of light when the twin moons rose every night to wash the world in silver luminance.
Now the world was blackened, wasted, and scarred. The people were ghosts of their own making, striped of their life and soul. Their actions were mirrored in the devastation they caused to the animal and plant life of their once beautiful world. Never again will this world support life. It had become a sanctuary of emptiness, of nothingness, of endless days of darkness.
The ship hovered over the ground like an angry bee over a black blossom. Dust roiled and spread from the vortices of the ship as it swept the area where the Jedi master had been found. Intricately constructed dwellings now crumpled against one another like waifs fearing the hand of a cruel master.
Zeller's eyes filled with tears as he looked over the wasteland that was once a thriving world. His hand gripped the steering mechanisms until his honey colored skin turned orange with strain. The pain that radiated from the planet in its death throes was overwhelming the padawan. A choked sob escaped his lips before he could stop himself.
Morra went to his padawan's side and said in soft tones, "I can feel it as well, my young apprentice."
Zeller gasped, "There is so much pain and anguish here, master. How can one do this to such beauty? How can they destroy something that was so precious and fragile?"
"I do not know," Morra sighed. "Ignorance seems to know not of the beautiful, the wise, the sacred, or of the delicate balance that keeps it all in harmony. They care only for themselves and what they may gain."
Zeller swerved the ship over a deep gash in the landscape, vectoring in for a landing close to the place where they had found Qui-Gon. A heated updraft rocked the ship, causing it to list heavily on its side. Qui-Gon and Morra fell heavily, their heads colliding against bulkhead, knees crashing into the passenger seats.
"Sorry," Zeller called. "I did not realize how strong the currents were coming from the cracked strata."
"It is alright, padawan," Morra called, pulling himself into the copilots seat and rubbing his bruises. "Just try to stay away from the vents."
Zeller gave a half-hearted smile and changed their direction. As the ship flew through the thick cottony atmosphere it collected thick, vile-colored grime from the sooty serpents twining around them. Zeller flipped a switch to change the view port to another light wave length to allow them to locate a place to land. After a few minutes of circling, Zeller set the ship down on a street that was free of rubble, one of the very few.
The Jedi watched the atmospheric instruments in the ship, measuring the level of noxious gas in the air. The levels were dangerously high and still rising. They would have precious few moments to search for their lost brethren.
"We don't have much time," Qui-Gon snapped, pulling a breather pack from the storage unit on the wall and inserting it into his mouth. He pulled another out of its niche and secured it in his pocket. Without warning, he limped to the entrance hatch and lowered the landing ramp.
Morra yelled, "Qui-Gon! Wait! Wait for us!"
Zeller gave his master a dubious look, "Can it be possible that Kenobi survived in this atmosphere for this long?"
Morra pulled another breathing unit out of its storage place and sighed, "It is unlikely, but I have learned that Kenobi is as stubborn as his master. I will bet my life that he still lives."
Master and padawan raced out of the ship, following their hobbling companion. The heat hit their bodies so hard it felt like a blow from a mighty Colossus. They choked through the air purifiers. The small models were to be used only during normal breathing, not running through noxious fumes that would kill a humanoid within a few minutes. Ignoring the beeps of the taxed purifiers, they hurried to Qui-Gon's side.
Taking a deep breath, Morra removed the breather to ask, "Do you know where you are going?"
Qui-Gon shook his head and answered, "I can feel Obi-Wan near, but I can't seem to focus on his location."
"The force mourns the loss of life," Morra said, choked, replaced his breather and took several deep breaths. After he regained his breath he added, "The turmoil is very intense here. I can feel the force crying out in my mind."
Qui-Gon nodded, frowning and taking a tentative step down a small ally. He barely took a few steps when the building on the right grumbled. With a wary look, Morra grabbed Qui-Gon's arm and hauled him back in time to prevent the building from claiming another victim on this war begotten planet.
Qui-Gon nodded his thanks and started in a different direction. Morra charged his lungs with oxygen and called out, "Qui-Gon, this will take too long! We don't have time to linger."
Qui-Gon took a deep breath and said, "I can feel him near, but I can't focus on the exact location."
Morra pointed over his shoulder, "Zeller can!"
Zeller closed his eyes, his mind straining through the cries of the force saturating the planet as it gave up its life. Separating the cries and searching through the turmoil to find the one plea for help that had brought them across the galaxy to save. After a moment of lamenting bombardments, Zeller opened his eyes and pointed down a side street that was hazy through the soot in the air.
"Obi-Wan is there."
Amazingly, the side street had been overlooked by the monster of devastation. Its cobbles were virtually free of soot, dust, and the stain of spilt blood from the inhabitants. The buildings were barely cracked, their foundations still firm and proud. The Jedi raced between the columns of blackened protectors that pushed the haze behind them, not allowing it to invade the solitary survivor. Morra noticed Qui-Gon fall back, his limping becoming more pronounced, and slowed down to wrap his beam of an arm around his counterpart. Half-carrying Qui-Gon, Morra followed his padawan as he wound his way through the empty street.
Zeller stopped before a small rounded building, squatting close to the ground. A part of the building had fallen in where a neighboring building had collapsed. A charred insectoid body hung decaying from a window.
"He is in there," Zeller said, choking through the air that was burning his lungs. His purifier was protesting the quick breaths and showing indications that its systems were being overtaxed.
Qui-Gon panted through his breather and with an exhilarating rush, he felt a faint tingling along his training bond, "Yes! I can sense him! Obi-Wan is here!"
Ignoring the pains in his body, Qui-Gon catapulted himself to the door way of the small building. He had to duck to enter the decorated camber. The smell of decay assailed his nostrils despite the breather clenched between his teeth. The familiar presence in his mind was so dim, the master had to struggle to ascertain its location. Obi- Wan was barely conscious, clutching to what control he had over the force to sustain his existence, his call to his master, his hope.
"OBI-WAN?!" Qui-Gon called sharply. His voice carried to the far corner of the circular room. This room was the charnel, the place where the corpses were placed before burial. In the beginning, the Aphidian people had placed their dead within this room to be buried after the strife, but due to the continued fighting, no one was able to put the dead to their final resting place. Now they lay, void of life and honor, decaying away in a tomb that no one would ever watch over or visit. A lifeless world for the departed that had wasted their own lives and the lives of others with no remembrance of who and what they were.
Several doors lead downward into other chambers and his voice echoed back faintly as he continued to call out. "Obi-Wan, I am here! Where are you?"
Qui-Gon went through the door and found several dais in a tholos, a circular underground tomb. The mucid smell of death mingled with the odor of charred flesh. Quickly scanning the room, Qui-Gon went into the next doorway, leading through a series of passages. Water seeped through the many cracks of the foundation, creating a musty, damp smell of decay and death.
Feeling his strength returning at every step, Qui-Gon doubled his speed, calling out continually. The master's powerful voice echoed from the catacombs like many pleading entities.
"Obi-Wan? Obi-Wan can you hear me? Let me know where you are. Call out to me!"
Tears began to cloud Qui-Gon's eyes as he felt a twinge along the training bond he shared with his apprentice. "Obi-Wan, don't go! Don't let go! I am coming! Call out to me! Guide me to you!"
Qui-Gon raced into another chamber, feeling a tugging at his mind. Then a faint voice echoed into his consciousness, "Master. So tired."
Obi-Wan was weak and fading fast.
Determination put all things out of Qui-Gon's mind as he latched onto the call of his padawan, his young charge, his son. The pain the master had suffered for the past few weeks was soon forgotten. The weakness of his limbs ebbed away. The block of his mind dissolved and a blatant rush of emotion led him deep into the chambers of the dead, guiding by a light that began to diminish.
As Qui-Gon entered the last chamber, a flood of happiness nearly brought him crashing to his knees. Obi-Wan was here! The force was swelling and cresting, sending out the beacon to call for the only one who could save him. Qui-Gon's eyes darted around the small room and saw a bundle of cloth behind the farthest dais.
Qui-Gon dropped to his knees and pulled back the thick woolen fabric to reveal his padawan. Obi-Wan's face was gray, drawn in hunger. His eyes that normally sparkled were sunken, half lidded and distant. His thin lips barely parted to whisper, "Master" before he collapsed.
Without realizing what he was doing, Qui-Gon pulled the bundle of fabric into his arms and tried to rouse his padawan back to consciousness.
"Qui-Gon!" Morra gasped through his breather. He knelt beside his comrade and gazed into the stricken face that was once a cheeky, vibrant apprentice.
Qui-Gon fumbled with the spare breather, his hand shaking so hard he could barely grip it. Morra's large paw covered Qui-Gon's hand to steady it, placing the breathing apparatus over Obi-Wan's mouth. A slow, dull breath registered; soft as a baby's sigh. The breather beeped, its information panel lighting up and showing the slow breath, faint heartbeat, and warning of possible suffocation.
"We can not be too late," Qui-Gon whispered, pressing the breather more firmly over Obi-Wan's face. "Come on, Obi-Wan. You have to take deep breaths."
The monitor on the side of the breather flashed another danger warning as it registered how little oxygen was being received by the patient.
Zeller kneeled beside the master and apprentice, his eyes reflecting the sorrow that was permeating the air. He closed his eyes, stretching out his hand to Obi-Wan's forehead. The room seemed to brighten, the air became lighter, the force singing in perfect harmony into the Jedi minds.
Obi-Wan's breather beeped as deep breaths rattled through its filter. The monitor showed a rise in heart rate and oxygen saturation.
Zeller opened his eyes and gazed at Master Jinn, "He is safe to move now, but we must hurry. I feel something horrible is going to happen."
Qui-Gon nodded and said softly, "Thank you again, Zeller."
Zeller flashed the master a smile before rising and leading the way through the catacombs. Qui-Gon gathered Obi-Wan into his arms, his past injuries forgotten, carrying the stricken youth out of the maze of death. Master Morra brought up the rear, watchful over his comrade lest he overdo it and cause physical harm to himself and his apprentice.
As the quartet left the burial chambers, a great crackling sound filled the air. The ground trembled like a straining colossus trying to break free from its earthly mantle. Great fissures began to split the blackened earth, giant vents of heated air throwing steam thousands of feet into the air.
The Jedi staggered as the ground heaved beneath their feet. Rocks, dust, and other debris began to race across the moving landscape. The buildings that had remained standing during the bombardments, now vibrated with the powerful tremors of their foundations. The masonry cried out as its remaining strength was tested, its once solid foothold now crumbling in submission.
A violent shake threw Zeller to the ground. Morra raced to his padawan's side and helped his charge to his feet.
"What is happening, Master?" Zeller yelled over the tumult.
"I do not know," Morra answered, ushering his padawan into a run towards their transport.
Qui-Gon raced up the landing ramp, Obi-Wan tucked safely in his arms. Morra and Zeller gained the safety of the airship and went to the cockpit, preparing to take off from the ruined world. Zeller secured himself into the pilots seat, threw switches, and less than a minute, had the ship lifting off. Air currents tossed the ship about, heated vents scorching the side of the alloyed panels. Zeller fought the controls, gritting his teeth with the strain to keep the ship level.
The Jedi breathed a sigh of relief when the ship cleared the atmosphere. As the ship hovered like an angry bee over the blooming destruction below, Qui-Gon placed Obi-Wan on the bio-bed and began to hook the padawan up to the stabilizing monitors for the journey home. The small bed beeped and displayed Obi-Wan's vitals, showing the dangerously low breathing, oxygen, and body weight. Qui-Gon's brow furrowed when he saw that Obi-Wan had lost a third of his weight.
"Oh, my son," Qui-Gon whispered, brushing back strands of hair from Obi-Wan's face. "What you must have endured."
A loud report shook the tiny aircraft. The ship pitched violently, causing Qui-Gon to brace himself against the bulkhead as he finished putting his apprentice into a stasis unit. A thin shell sealed Obi-Wan inside, the medical bed providing the life support for the haggard youth.
Morra yelled, "Strap yourself in, Qui-Gon!"
Qui-Gon took his seat behind the Korrdian master, his worried gaze leaving his apprentice to stare out of the view port. Enormous clouds of steam poured from the clefts. The intense heat from the ruptures evaporated the soot and debris that clouded the air. Twisting coils of ash disintegrated as the temperature rose rapidly, their sepia bodies fading away into rippling heat waves.
The buildings crumbled as the ground heaved and shook. Boulders the size of aircraft tumbled along the surface, colliding like tiny marbles in a spirited child's game. A deep red froth began to appear along the cracks, as the gyrations forced eruptions along the fissures.
The Jedi gasped as a large rent split the Aphidia capitol city into segments, the torn buildings and lifeless bodies melting away as the planet disgorged its molten innards. Brilliant hues of orange and yellow and red covered the landscape. Vibrant sprays of lava gave birth to white-hot sparks that jumped through the sky like a celebratory display. Smaller cracks formed, branching out from the pyre that destroyed the capitol city.
Aphidia was in its final phase.
From the safety of space, the Jedi watched as other fissures formed, creating a dangerous web over the planet's face. As the ship hovered in orbit, great continents became gory masses of crimson. The seas boiled from heat and radiation. Bodies of large sea creatures floated to the surface as their homes and lives now destroyed. The once beautiful blue waters, now churned white and frothed its deadly acid upon the glistening shores.
"Take us home," Morra whispered to his apprentice.
Zeller wiped a stray tear and nodded, setting their course for home.
----- -- - - -- - - - -- - -- - -- - - ---- -- - -- - - - - ---- - - - - -- -- -- ---- -- -- - - - --
As the small aircraft exited hyperspace and vectored into Coruscant's atmosphere, padawan Zeller called, "Approaching the Temper now, Master."
Morra snapped out of the light reverie he had fallen into and nodded, "Very good, Padawan. You know the routine."
Zeller gave a brief nod and identified their ship to the temple's controller. As the padawan brought the ship down on one of the launch pads, he became aware of the multitude of people rushing towards their craft.
With a nervous sigh, the padawan nodded out the viewport, "We have a welcoming party, Masters."
Morra nodded and turned to see his long time friend. Qui-Gon gave the Korddian master an appreciative bow, then turned to the task of separating his apprentice from the bio-bed. Morra noticed that Qui-Gon's hands seemed to move with fluidity and precision. The pain and suffering the master had undergone all those weeks seemed to melt away and be replaced by strength and determination.
'He is once again strong,' Morra thought as he watched his counterpart gently wrap his charge in robes and lift him into powerful arms. 'His injuries are but a memory, now that he is whole once again.'
Qui-Gon didn't wait for the ramp to be completely lowered before stepping off the transport and racing across the landing bay. His once atrophied legs now pumped faster than the eye could see, his breathing was even and slow, the force pulsing around him, giving him strength. Several of the beings on the landing bay got a quick glimpse of the master as he streaked past them, carrying a bundle of brown robes tucked safely against his chest.
Master Morra took a deep breath, gathered the force around him, and walked down the ramp to greet the committee. As he had expected, there were council members, including Yoda and Mace Windu, and a few of the older initiates. He gave the masters a respectful bow, and gave them a very benign smile.
"Masters?" he queried.
Yoda took a step forward, his gimmer stick making a sharp rap on the floor, "Disobeyed you have."
"I am sorry, Master," Morra blinked, cocking his head to one side in an attitude of non-comprehension.
"Master Jinn was not to leave the temple," Windu put in, coming to stand behind his counterpart. "He was to be prepared for immediate, life saving, surgery. His mind must be healed before he can…"
"He is already healed." Morra interrupted the dark master, "We found Kenobi. Qui-Gon is rushing him to the healers as we speak."
Mace gasped, opened mouthed at his junior's blatant disregard, then the news sunk into his mind. The other members of the group stood motionless, disbelief painted on their multi-cultural features. Hope had been given up, and yet, somehow, Obi-Wan Kenobi defeated the odds and survived the war torn planet.
"Now, if you will excuse me," Morra gave a small bow and gestured for Zeller to follow him, "I have a best friend that needs me."
As the duo left the shocked Jedi, Zeller gave his master a sly smile. He knew that they had not heard the last of the council on this matter. But, for the time being, everyone will be centered on the return of their golden child.
As the lift opened to reveal the medical wing, Morra was astounded at the commotion coming from the trauma room. As the giant Korddian master exited the lift, he was buffeted in circles by fast acting healers. Weaving an erratic pattern through the bodies, he finally gained the doorway to the trauma room and saw a very irate Jinn yelling at a healer.
"LET ME IN THERE!" Jinn thundered.
"No," the healer said stubbornly. "You know as well as I that once the healing teams initiate a Clean Room Force Healing environment, no one is allowed to enter the chamber."
"He needs me!" Qui-Gon argued.
"He needs the healers that are supporting his life," the healer snapped. "Do not be foolish, Master Jinn. Kenobi is receiving the best possible care. If he is to live, allow the healers to do their job. If you continue to interrupt them or try to gain access again, I will be forced to call security and have you forcibly removed."
"I will not…" Qui-Gon started to say, but Morra stepped at his side and gave the healer a stern look.
"Security is already in place," Morra said firmly. "You may go back to your duties."
The healer gave the Korddian master a suspicious look. She opened her mouth to question the masters' presence, when another healer yelled for her assistance in another patient's care. With curt nod, she snapped, "Master Jinn is to remain here. He is not allowed access to the Clean Room. Make sure he does not hinder the healers that are trying to save young Kenobi's life."
Morra gave the healer a reassuring nod and clasp a large hand onto his counterpart's forearm. With a last glare, the healer passed the Jedi masters and disappeared into another room down the hall.
"Behave, Qui-Gon," Morra muttered when he tried to steer his friend into a waiting room and felt powerful resistance.
Qui-Gon opened his mouth to argue, but the argument died on the way to his lips. A deep crease formed along his brow as he whispered, "I can not leave him again. Not like this."
Morra put a reassuring arm around his friend and nodded towards the healing room that housed the ailing apprentice, "Obi-Wan is strong. He has lasted this long, through horrors and force knows what else. He knows that you care for him. That you took him from that torment and that you are nearby, awaiting his recovery."
Qui-Gon felt the weariness of the past few hours come crashing down on his shoulders. With a slight nod, he allowed his friend to steer him into a private waiting room. As the two seated themselves on the form-molding couches, they heard a familiar tapping ascending down the hall. After a minute, Yoda hobbled into the room and without invitation, levitated himself onto a chair.
"News?" the diminutive master asked the pair.
Morra shook his head. Qui-Gon stared at the green master for a moment, his expression a mixture of pain, bewilderment, betrayal, and triumph. After the silence stretched before them, Yoda felt the sensations emanating from his former padawan. His big green eyes surveyed the fiery cobalt blue. Finally, Qui-Gon spoke, his voice rough with emotion.
"You would have taken him from me."
Yoda sighed heavily and answered, "Believed Obi-Wan dead. Thought it was best for you, we did. See now, wrong we were."
Qui-Gon gave his former master a sorrowful look, "Had Obi-Wan been lost, so would I. If you had succeeded in doing what you intended, I never would have remembered the son that nearly lost his life. How could you betray me so, master?"
Yoda gasped in surprise. Pained shock painted his green features. He had never felt so horrible in his long centuries. Before he could answer his former padawan's question, Qui-Gon spoke again.
"Perhaps you do not have the perception of the force that you believe you possess," Qui-Gon began. His voice was raspy, but strong in its conviction. "If you could not see what was before your eyes, maybe you have become blind to all else. If you do not believe what a fellow master, a fellow Jedi, and more importantly, your own padawan learner, was trying to tell you, then how are you able to claim such control over the force?"
"Believed you had suffered," Yoda started, still unable to comprehend how one so young and inexperienced, could be so blatant. "Control over the force I have. Greater control I have. More experience and direction I have. Enjoy such reprimand from one so young, I do NOT tolerate."
"I am sorry," Qui-Gon said without sincerity. "But how can you claim such superior command of the force, and yet not see what was before you? How can you betray one you raised as your own and put all of their faith in your teachings? How can you expect forgiveness after such treason?"
Yoda opened his mouth to speak, thought better of it, and closed it. He inwardly sighed, knowing his former padawan had a point. Had he become so arrogant to believe that he alone could foresee the future and have a greater command of the force than any other Jedi? Could he have developed an ego that thought he alone was superior? Had such a thing occurred so easily?
As the diminutive master sat in contemplation, an exhausted Yet'ilia entered the waiting area, pulling a sterile white smock away from her features. Her face was grim as her eyes scanned the room and sought out Qui-Gon.
Yet'ilia swallowed hard and approached the now standing Jedi master, "I am sorry, Master Jinn. Padawan Kenobi is too far gone. His body isn't responding to our attempts at healing him. His mind has almost completely shut down. He does not acknowledge our presence."
"What are you trying to say?" Qui-Gon asked quietly, though in his heart, he knew the answer.
"The dehydration and starvation," Yet'ilia started, "has weakened his body considerably. To preserve his rational mind, he has withdrawn into himself. He no longer recognizes the healers, the force, or our attempts to stabilize him. The devastation is compounded by the fact that he has lived in a very inhospitable environment and his body has become scarred and infected with hazardous toxins that built up in his compromised condition. I am sorry, but there is nothing left we can do for him except make him comfortable."
Qui-Gon wavered and Morra instantly sprang to his side, expecting his friend to collapse in his grief. Instead, Qui-Gon shot through the door with lightning speed, his target the clean healing room.
Without waiting for the decontamination anteroom to finish its task of sterilizing all who enter, Qui-Gon pushed through the door that led into his apprentice's room. The anteroom hissed in protest as its airlock was broken and possible contagions entered the clean room.
The attending healers opened their mouths to protest, but after identifying the intruder, they returned to their tasks, to give the master his privacy. And to allow him a chance to say good-bye.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. The rhythm of life still beat softly and welcomed the master into the room.
Obi-Wan Kenobi lay on a bio-bed. His torn and tattered clothing had been removed to prevent infection after decontamination. His body had been disinfected and bathed in bacta and other healing ointments. A white sheet covered his thin frame as he lay in a pale silhouette from an overhead light. Tubes and wires ran in and out at various points over the sunken body. Monitors beeped a slow, steady heartbeat that was becoming more labored.
Qui-Gon felt his breath hitch in his throat as he looked down into his apprentice's hollow face. Without conscious thought, the master bowed his head over his apprentice and spoke a few words in a strange language. He had learned the strange dialect while on a mission with his apprentice. Obi-Wan had been fascinated by the words and their meaning, and he had insisted that the two remain on planet long enough to learn the phrases. When either was in danger, or not feeling particularly at with peace with the world or the force, they simply recited the doctrine they had learned and all things seemed to become insignificant.
Qui-Gon's hands ran through the silky locks of his charge, his padawan learner, his son. His mind recalled their many meetings, their arguments, their shared moments. Their heartaches and their joys. His heart clenched, knowing that all was now coming to an end.
There would be no more missions.
No more jokes. No more laughs, cries, quiet moments of meditation.
No more sparring and bartering over chores.
A tear ran down the master's cheek as he lowered his head. He felt the coolness of Obi-
Wan's forehead against his own and felt as if someone had doused his soul in icy waters. He whispered the ancient prayer again, summoning all his heart and soul into the desperate plea to save one so precious. A single tear pooled on the master Jedi's cheek and fell upon the cool face of his padawan learner.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
"Don't go," Qui-Gon whispered softly against his padawan's ear. "It's not your time to go, Obi-Wan. There still is much you have to experience. To live for. Don't give up."
Memories flashed in the master's mind, recalling all the heartaches, triumphs and disappointments. His heart filled with pride remembering all the sacrifices his young charge had made without considering himself. All the lives that Obi-Wan had touched, the lives he had saved, the people he had cared for. It couldn't end like this.
"I swear that I will never leave you alone again," Qui-Gon breathed. "I know that you were alone for so long on Aphidia. You felt abandoned and scared, but I promise, you will never feel that again. That is my vow. My pledge to you, if only you will allow me the chance to prove my conviction"
A small twinge entered Qui-Gon's mind. The force stuttered, flickering wildly like a candle in the wind. The force anomaly that had haunted the Master for so long seemed to melt away, the last ebbs of its existence a sharp edge along the master's consciousness.
"It is not your time to go, young one." Qui-Gon whispered, allowing the force to flow through his veins, his life energy seemed to pulse as the power filled the room. The sounds of the healing wing, the monitors, the gentle babble, all faded away into nothingness.
Yet'ilia glanced to the assembled council members in the waiting room, taking in their drawn, worried looks that mirrored her own. It had been nearly three hours since Qui-Gon had barged into the healing room. The healers that had left the pair to their goodbyes had spread the word throughout the temple about young Kenobi's fate.
Yet'ilia gained her feet with a groan, feeling ancient as the foundations of the temple itself. How did the world continue on when such a young, vibrant life was taken so viciously? How could beings go about their daily lives as if nothing had happened? How can they be so callous to the suffering of others as they grieved for the ones that were lost? How can they be ignorant of the suffering that a child had to endure?
Several eyes watched the haggard healer rise from her seat and stretch, sighing heavily and sending waves of anguish into the force. Her dread was reflected in many hearts. She nodded to the council members, her gaze lingering a moment longer on Yoda's, but she took a deep breath and began the slow, torturous journey to separate a father and son.
Yet'ilia gasped slightly as she exited the waiting area. The entire healing hall was filled with Jedi, masters, apprentices, and a few initiates. They lined the walls, some standing in contemplative silence, others knelt on the floor, eyes closed, murmuring words to the force. As she passed two of the smaller halls, her eyes couldn't help but wander and see that Jedi that had taken refuge in whatever space they could find, desperate to be close to the one struggling for life. Every available space in the healing wing, Yet'ilia now realized, was occupied by Jedi and a few of the outsiders that had meant so much to Obi-Wan. Normally the overzealous healer would have scolded the bystanders and demanded that they leave the healing wing, lest they become a hazard to patients. However, seeing the look of mingled grief and pained hope, the healer held her tongue.
Yet'ilia walked to the small vacant medical station located near the trauma rooms. Each room had its own monitoring station, complete with special alarms and life supporting elements to compliment the many races and species the Temple secured in its walls. The healer felt her heart drop upon looking at the monitors to Kenobi's room.
The heart monitor was still. No pulses of light to indicate heartbeats. Lights flashed in a series of warnings, cold and unthinking as they announced the loss of life hooked to their systems. The brainwave scanner was also still. Its solid, straight line, uncaring and seemingly, mocking in its design. Several of the intravenous monitors were blinking, signaling the vital fluids were reaching their end and needed to be replaced.
Yet'ilia closed her stinging eyes, blinking back the hot tears that threatened to overwhelm her. She tried to steel herself up for what she had to do, but every time she tried to take that tentative step towards Obi-Wan's room, fresh waves of despair overcame her. A familiar tapping met the healers ears and she raised red-rimmed eyes to the diminutive master.
"I just can not bring myself to go in there," Yet'ilia said softly through her tears.
Yoda's ears drooped a little lower with sadness, "Hard it is, but done it must be."
With a heavy sigh the tiny master turned and slowly made his way to the clean room. Yet'ilia took a shaky breath and followed the master through the door, slamming strong force shields into place for the waves of grief she knew were awaiting on the other side of the door. Yet'ilia's eyes flew open at the sound of Yoda's gasp. She stared down at the small master, then followed his gaze into the room.
The lights were dimmed. The medical bed was empty. Monitors lay scattered about a twisted sheet. A soft, gentle snore drew both sets of eyes to the corner to a shadowed figure.
Yet'ilia tentatively lowered her mental shielding, expecting to be bombarded with rage, hatred, frustration, pain, anguish. She nearly staggered when a soothing peace touched her mind. She turned the illumination banks up a little higher, throwing the room and its occupants into a sharper relief.
There in the corner, passed out in a chair was Qui-Gon Jinn. In his arms, cocooned in many blankets with the intravenous lines running into their respective receptacles, was Obi-Wan Kenobi, sound asleep with his head resting on his master's chest.
Yet'ilia crossed the room to the duo and gasped at the emotions now ebbing through the force. She didn't need to see the look of utter peace and contentment upon master and apprentice to know that both were in deep sleep. Her force perception sharpened as both consciousnesses allowed her access and lightly touched her mind in response to her probes. She could sense both hearts beating a steady, matching rhythm. Obi-Wan's happiness and relief bubbled through the force, nearly sending the small healer to her knees. She could sense his body's recovery, the systems stretching from their slumber as life was once again flowing strongly through the frail body.
Yet'ilia looked to Yoda, eyes wide, "Obi-Wan is alive." Yoda nodded but didn't reply as she continued, still staring wide eyed, "His vitals are getting stronger. The force anomaly within Qui-Gon's mind has completely disappeared!" She looked confused and bewildered to the sleeping pair, "I just don't understand it."
"Perhaps all he needed was the other half?" Morra said softly from the doorway, where he had stood unnoticed. "Bonds can be stronger than what we can imagine. I believe Obi-Wan lives because he is drawing on his master's -his father's- life and strength. A true partnership means one is willing to sacrifice themselves for the other, but it also means one is able to survive, through the other."
The intravenous monitors beeped again and Yet'ilia hurried over to read their statistics. Noting which containers were nearly empty, she practically flew out of the room to collect the replacements for the medication. As she shuffled along the corridor, barking orders and opening compartments gathering the necessary medications, several of the Jedi in vigil noted her changed demeanor and tried unsuccessfully to question her.
As she gathered the last doses and supplies, Yet'ilia practically yelled over her shoulder, "Obi-Wan is alive and I believe is going to make a full recovery!"
At these words, cheers rang through the corridors. Members of the order contacted their friends, relaying the good news. Soon, every hallway and room of the temple was ringing with shouts of joy, cries of relief, and songs of rejoicing. As the word spread, so did the elation. Jedi on cargo ships, freighters, liners, every heart was suddenly lighter and relieved. Obi-Wan had touched more lives that what even he knew.
Yet'ilia carefully replaced the medicinal drips and used the force to check on Obi-Wan's vitals again and smiled to herself when she felt the reassuring presence in her mind. She made to check on his IV lines and Qui-Gon's eyes flew open.
"Yet'ilia?" the master asked softly.
"I am just checking the leads," she whispered back, then frowned, "I think Obi-Wan would be better in the bed than swaddled tightly in a chair."
Qui-Gon shook his head once, and shifted himself a bit more comfortably in the chair. He closed his eyes and upon hearing Yet'ilia's huff, opened one eye and said with a commanding, yet gentle tone, "He stays."
Knowing that the battle was lost, Yet'ilia gave a small nod. "He stays. I will be in to check on him later."
Qui-Gon gave a brief nod and allowed sleep to claim him again, joining his padawan in recuperative slumbers.
Yet'ilia lowered the illumination and smiled to Yoda as the two made their exit. "I have a feeling they will be just fine."
The diminutive master sighed as he made his way down the hall, weaving his way through congratulating Jedi, "That they will, Yet'ilia. That they will."
Authors Note: To each and every one of my readers, THANK YOU! I hope you have enjoyed this story, as it was my final Star Wars fiction. Please click the button and let me know if I ended with a bang, or a sizzle. I many other different genres going on right now, so if you like my style or my twists scary and crazy then please join me in the other fics for what I promise will be more surprises and a LOT more action and interaction. ;) Thank you again and May the Force Be With You! PJ