I found out the news on a particularly revolting day, when I'd gotten seriously annoyed with my university and had reached the conclusion that I couldn't write my way out of a wet paper bag. Why I was even bothering to needle away at the truly dreadful story I was endeavouring to write was beyond me, so I decided to waste time by checking my many email addresses.
It's always something of a surprise when mail arrives in my joannejinn account because it usually means that there's been activity on either the QGJDL Yahoo! Group or the IASL Yahoo! Group. I was inclined to think QGJDL was more likely considering Stacey Lee's recent announcement.
But eight new messages was highly unusual, and for a reason I could not fathom, I was experiencing an infamous "bad feeling about this". I opened the earliest message, which was from the list owner Elizabeth, and what had started as a really bad day got significantly worse:
I founded the QGJDL mailing list and the Qui-gonline website just a few weeks after The Phantom Menace came out in theatres, in 1999. That was almost 8 years ago, and after some thoughtful consideration, I have decided it is finally time to take the Qui-gonline website offline. If there are stories, etc that you will want to access, please take time right now to save them to your hard drive!!! You will have at least about a week to do this. http://www.qui- reasons for this decision are personal, but the most basic reason is that my interests have moved on to other things. I am not willing to transfer ownership/maintenance of Qui-gonline to someone else, I have decided to actually take the site content down. I have continued to host and periodically maintain the site for so long particularly for the sake of the hundreds of fanfic authors whose labors of love make up most of its content. I feel honored to have been able to make their work available to the world.The site does not get tons of traffic anymore though, and even there are still folks writing Qui-Gon fanfic, and even though our fascination with Star Wars will endure, there probably are not going to be anymore Star Wars feature films and interest in Qui-gonline. org is likely to remain pretty low.
want to say THANK YOU to all the authors and artists who have
contributed to the site, THANK YOU to everyone who has read and
enjoyed their work, and also a big THANK YOU to those who have
generously chipped in through the years to pay for Qui-gonline' s web
hosting fees. Above all, and really beyond any thanks I could
possibly give, I am grateful for your friendship and kindness, which
made an enormous difference in my life. This particularly goes for
the original members, a few of whom are still on this list--you have
been true friends. This QGJDL YahooGroup WILL continue to exist btw,
though of course it is not very active anymore.
I want to say THANK YOU to all the authors and artists who have contributed to the site, THANK YOU to everyone who has read and enjoyed their work, and also a big THANK YOU to those who have generously chipped in through the years to pay for Qui-gonline' s web hosting fees. Above all, and really beyond any thanks I could possibly give, I am grateful for your friendship and kindness, which made an enormous difference in my life. This particularly goes for the original members, a few of whom are still on this list--you have been true friends. This QGJDL YahooGroup WILL continue to exist btw, though of course it is not very active anymore.
you for understanding, and to anyone who feels sad about this, thank
you especially, for caring enough to miss the site.
Thank you for understanding, and to anyone who feels sad about this, thank you especially, for caring enough to miss the site.
love you all, and may the Force be with you always.
I love you all, and may the Force be with you always.
I re-read the message several times, until I found I could recite bits of it from memory and sat back in my chair. Qui-Gonline was the only website for that character that was still updated and was easily the best source of Qui-Gon related stuff on the internet. To imagine the site disappearing off the face of the Earth hadn't been a possibility I had imagined.
I leant forward to read the message again – clearly there was more to it than a simple changing of interests, Elizabeth had said so herself but that, frankly, was none of my business. I shook my head and shrugged to the empty room. Qui-Gonline was disappearing, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Not that I was angry with Elizabeth. Goodness knew she'd put in enough work with that website and had made many people happy over a period of several years. Besides, there was nothing worse than feeling an obligation to hold onto a fan domain that you simply were not concerned with any more. I knew that for myself.
But even hours after I'd read the message, I wasn't getting any happier. I don't consider myself a rabid Star Wars fan, despite what others might say and I certainly didn't see my being a fan ever presenting any problems. And yet, I'd started to feel – for want of a better word – lonely.
Was I the only Qui-Gon Jinn fan left in the universe?
A few weeks later and I having one of those days where I simply could not be bothered to do anything at all. I'd woken up in a thoroughly bad mood – lucky my parents were out of the house - slouched downstairs in my pyjamas and decided I'd spend the writing for pleasure or at least working on my long-term characters. I hadn't done much of that since I'd enrolled at University and I missed it.
Unfortunately, the powers that be dictated that I would get no further with my story or my characters that day. No matter how hard I attempted to concentrate, the only image that would surface in my mind was the interior of a construction that I had only a vague recognition of. How I had any recognition of it at all was beyond me, seeing as it was no creation of mine. It was a hallway of some description, flanked by huge marble columns along each side. Between each column was an oval-shaped window offering a spectacular view of Coruscant's nightscape.
I raced across the halfway and pressed my hands to one of the windows. A few seconds of undignified open-mouthed staring and I sank against the window in shock. Coruscant. I was looking down on the majesty of the Galactic Republic's Capital City. I turned around, and studied my surroundings carefully. I was in a corridor with a luxurious red carpet in the centre and a high ceiling, so high I could not make out the nature of the images painted there. To my left was a wide staircase leading to what looked like a small foyer and to the right was an archway between this corridor and the next.
Gradually it dawned on me that I was standing in the Jedi Temple, bare-footed and wearing my pyjamas.
I panicked. I didn't know how I had gotten myself into this mess and even worse, I had no notion as to how I was going to get myself out of it. The very building itself was intimidating in its eloquence and a freckly scruff like me simply had no place within such elegance. Certainly not in her pyjamas. Out of hysteria more than anything else, I strode in the direction of the archway. I had nearly reached it before my fear got the better of me and I sank to the floor between two of the columns. Tears sprang to my eyes. I had no idea how to get home or what kind of danger I was even in! No notion of what timeframe I had arrived in or how it had come to be that I had arrived!
I drew a shaky breath and strove for control. I was far too old to curl up and cry because I was frightened. Hysterics weren't going to get me anywhere but my common sense might. I wondered fleetingly if I was Force-sensitive in this particular universe but a brief attempt to pester the Force into showing me the way out informed me that I most certainly was not. My only tools in escaping the temple were my common sense and my increasingly unreliable mind. If I didn't escape the temple, there was the distinct possibility that I was going to end up hauled up in front of the Jedi High Council. This was not a prospect I relished, seeing as I was very keen to avoid interrogation by two Council Members in particular, one being short, wrinkled and green, the other being tall, smug and bald.
Maybe if I could quiet my mind, I might have a chance of navigating the temple without arousing the suspicion of some of the most powerful beings in the GFFA…
I hauled myself up and took myself through the archway, this time at a more respectable pace. Fortunately for me, I seemed to have arrived in the dead of night and there didn't seem to be anyone about, not even a droid. Hopefully, all I had to worry about was stumbling on the private quarters of any Council Members.
I said hopefully… what if I'd arrived in the aftermath of Darth Vader's assault on the temple? It was so quiet, so deserted…
I approached another window and was rewarded with a spectacular view of the Senate Building. Palpatine hadn't yet given it a face life, so the timeframe had to be either during or before the prequels. The darkness and quiet in the corridor was due to the lateness of the hour and not the horrific deeds of a fallen Jedi Knight. Hopefully I wasn't going to come across that nutter… Couldn't say I was too keen on encountering Count Dooku either, even if he was still a Jedi. That being said, I was slightly less keen on encountering him in the immediate aftermath of Qui-Gon's death. Unreliable though I was with other people's characters, I imagined that an angry and disillusioned Count Dooku was a Count Dooku at his most dangerous.
Too busy examining my surroundings for a clue to indicate the timeframe, I failed to look straight ahead of me as I rounded a corner and ploughed straight into someone. I leapt backwards with a mouthful of apologies and found myself staring up – way up – into the face of Qui-Gon Jinn.
Forming coherent thought in the immediate aftermath of being dumped in another universe was something of a challenge. Forming coherent thought in the immediate aftermath of running into an intangible figure from Star Wars was an impossibility, so all I managed was a vague feeling of "not good." Of all the Jedi who would embark on a night-time haunt of the Jedi Temple, dragging a clearly disgruntled apprentice with him, it would have to be Qui-Gon Jinn wouldn't it! I should have been pleased to see him, considering that he was the major reason I became a Star Wars fan in the first place, but I was frightened. Jedi were supposed to be admired from a distance, not encountered by a stranger in the halls of the temple!
The mild look of surprise that had appeared as the result of having a clumsy stranger in her pyjamas walk straight into him soon gave way to a warm smile.
"Hello." He greeted. "I haven't seen you here before."
"Uh, no." I murmured, fixing my eyes on his left boot. "I'm new here. Really new. Never done this before. Probably never will again either."
"Then we must use the time in which you are here wisely. You wish to speak to me?"
That was news to me.
"Uh, I do?"
He nodded curtly. "I believe so, yes. If you would like to come this way?"
"Where're we going?"
"Your quarters?" I repeated, vaguely wondering if I could sound any less intelligent if I tried.
"It is as good a place as any. Besides, it would not do for you to stumble upon the Council Chamber would it?" One corner of his mouth lifted slightly, then he turned on his heel and strode away. Obi-Wan threw me a look of deep mistrust and also turned away.
I hurried after them. "Erm…!" Qui-Gon turned back towards me. Inwardly I was wishing I hadn't spoken. Just how did you address this enigmatic Jedi Master to his face? Master Jinn? Master Qui-Gon? Master? Master Jedi? Qui-Gon? Qui? Or, Heaven forbid, Quiggy?
As though he had picked up on my rambling thoughts, which, I had to remind myself, he probably had, Qui-Gon's mouth twitched again. "Qui-Gon will be fine."
"Right… Qui-Gon." I said, the name suddenly sounding alien in my mouth. "Erm, I'm Joanne Brady, by the way." He nodded at that and I ploughed forwards with my question. "Can you tell me today's date?"
Not for the first time in my life, I was wishing I had kept my mouth shut. Qui-Gon looked hard at me and had he been more like his miserable Master, I would have guessed that torrents of Force Lightening were about to put in an appearance. Fortunately, it was Qui-Gon Jinn who was giving me the look, and not Count Dooku. Perhaps seeing that he was scaring the daylights out of me, Qui-Gon's expression softened.
"It doesn't matter." He said finally.
"What?! Why not?!"
"The date has no bearing upon your presence here. It doesn't matter. Come along."
Barely restraining myself from growling out loud, I followed him sulkily.
Why did Jedi have to be so blasted mysterious over things that were really perfectly simple?!
With two Jedi acting as my guides, there was a more purposeful air to my walk now, despite the fact that I still had no idea why I seemed to be paying a visit to the Jedi Temple. Qui-Gon seemed to know something, but if I had failed to get something as trivial as the date out of him, he definitely wasn't going to offer answers to more complicated questions. I was starting to get quite uncomfortable with the deafening silence but Qui-Gon appeared quite at his ease, as thought shunting bemused Earthlings around was something he did on a day to day basis. He never even glanced my way or Obi-Wan's as he led us through the labyrinthine residential level of the Jedi Temple. I lost my sense of direction after the first right, third left and straight ahead and there were no landmarks to help me. Just corridors and corridors of identical brown walls and doors. The bold plaques on the doors were written in Aurabesh, and I wasn't obsessed enough with Star Wars to have learned how to translate it into English. Qui-Gon brought us to a halt in a small unremarkable passage that boasted only three doors. He tapped a code into the keypad next to the second door along, and then ushered me into their quarters, turning on the light with a wave of his hand. I glanced at Obi-Wan, half-expecting him to make a comment about an inappropriate use of the Force, but he didn't.
The quarters were much as you would expect from the minimalistic nature of the Jedi; muted earthy tones and simplicity. There was nothing in the quarters that could be described as indulgent or unnecessary, but it still managed to be welcoming. That, I suspected, was mostly to do with the two people that occupied it. Qui-Gon guided me to a seat in an overstuffed armchair.
"Would you like some tea?"
I declined politely, I wasn't keen on the stuff on Earth and I doubted it was going to taste any better on Coruscant. In spite of my refusal, when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan emerged from the kitchen, they were carrying three mugs between them.
"Here." Obi-Wan handed me one of them before sitting down at the communicator. He glanced over his shoulder, just catching my look of blind fear and smiled. "It's only chocolate. It's alright, you'll like it."
That I doubted very much. I waited until he looked away and then emptied a generous amount of the mug's contents into the nearest potplant. It squeaked in what sounded worryingly like human indignation and vanished below the soil, leaving a seemingly unoccupied pot.
Qui-Gon sat down opposite me, bringing an air of expectancy with him. He smiled slightly when I visibly tensed up.
"Just relax, we're only going to talk."
"Right." I mumbled. Things were moving too fast for my liking.
"Now, I want you to tell me what it was that was bothering you before you found yourself here."
I could have shrivelled up then and there. I might have known that keeping secrets from Qui-Gon was going to prove impossible, but I had any number of secrets he could have demanded. Yet here he was, demanding the one secret that was both intensely embarrassing and potentially dangerous to his galaxy. How was I supposed to explain, without revealing the events of the entire saga? And what disastrous consequences would befall the GFFA if I issued warnings to all the characters I didn't want to see killed off?
Qui-Gon's look of expectancy moved a few shades towards determination when he sensed my hesitation and I shivered under his gaze.
"Qui-Gon, I can't." I begged, digging my nails into my palms for control. "I can't tell you, you can't imagine what will happen if I do!"
Qui-Gon leaned forwards and this time, his proximity was intended to comfort.
"You cannot imagine either and neither of us need to. I have already told you that the date has no bearing on your presence here." He sighed lightly when I simply looked at him helplessly, not understanding. "I mean that you should not concern yourself with ideas of the future or past, not at this time."
The pieces clicked into place and I sighed in relief. This particular GFFA was not a place in which I had to worry about revealing the future to its inhabitants for fear of allowing an even more terrible reality to come true. There was no chance of me hurting anything or anyone here. I took a moment to marvel at the skill in Stacey Lee's writing and then jumped in with both feet.
"I think I'm the only Qui-Gon Jinn fan left on Earth."
"I see." He replied, nodding once. He turned to his apprentice. "Obi-Wan, I would appreciate it if you would allow me a private word with our friend here." Obi-Wan's brow furrowed in concern and his gaze flittered towards me briefly.
"Master, I don't know if that's a good…"
"Now Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon interrupted, in the tone of voice he used when Obi-Wan had stepped over the line in some way. The Council will decide Anakin's future. That should be enough for you. Now get on board!
I hastily stifled an amused smile, doubting that it would score me any points with Obi-Wan or, more importantly, Qui-Gon. I did actually like Obi-Wan very much, to the point where he occupied second place when it came to favourite Jedi but Qui-Gon had the edge on him, no contest. Besides, Qui-Gon was by no means perfect but neither was Obi-Wan, regardless of the hysterical bleatings from some of the more rabid Kenobi fans.
Obi-Wan came as close as a Jedi gets to scowling, inclined his head slightly to his Master and stalked out of the main door, having ignored me completely. Qui-Gon sighed as the door clicked shut.
"You will have to forgive my apprentice. He is a little mistrustful of…"
"People in general?" I supplied innocently.
"I was going to say fanfiction writers."
"So what's his problem with me? I'm no fanfiction writer."
Qui-Gon smiled a little.
I glared. "No."
"Very well, he must have mistaken you for one. His distrust of them is perfectly justified you know."
"Yeah, that's true." I grinned wickedly, thinking of one or two ValairyScot fanfictions that I had thoroughly enjoyed. "He does tend to get done over rather frequently."
"You don't like my Padawan very much." Qui-Gon observed quietly.
I shrugged uncomfortably, inwardly wondering whether I had just managed to offend him. Revealing my penchant for Obi-torture to Qui-Gon was not one of the best ideas I had ever had. "Look, it's not so much Obi-Wan I don't like. He's alright really… most of the time anyway. It's just some of his fans, they're completely out of the tree! They're perfectly entitled to dislike you for perceiving you as…" I paused to recall the classic accusations. "Manipulative, selfish and uncaring but they're forgetting that Obi-Wan is by no means innocent of those things. And he said it best didn't he? He said that many of the truths we cling to depend upon our point of view. And it's my point of view that Obi-Wan spent far too much time running around with his lightsabre and a copy of the Jedi Code wedged up his…"
"Enough!" Qui-Gon interrupted, and I fell into an embarrassed silence, furious with myself for embarking on a rant. "Profanity will get you nowhere. And as far as Obi-Wan goes…" He leant forward, pinning me to the back of the chair with a steely blue gaze. I flinched backwards. "You do not know him and I will thank you not to judge him as though you do."
Such reprimands were not unusual to me, I think every child grows up with them and can do nothing to avoid them. Nobody's perfect. Unfortunately for my father, my mother, Qui-Gon and every other poor misguided twit who attempted to treat me as though I was still in preschool, I was not in preschool. When I was in preschool, I had been obliged to keep my head down and my mouth shut, but as an adult, I had developed pride, a big mouth, patience, opportunism and a taste for revenge. In the case of Qui-Gon, pride and a big mouth were overriding my common sense, and I wasn't willing to let that last crack lie.
"I don't know you either Qui-Gon." I said, in a low voice. "And that's because neither of you exist. So I will judge both of you however I wish to. And you know something? So will every other Star Wars fan in the world. Do what you can about it."
Far too late, common sense came screaming onto the scene and prevented me from digging myself a deeper hole. In the ensuing silence, my thoughts exploded into a kind of panicked frenzy.
Oh no. You did not just do that. You really did not just do that. You did not just reprimand a Jedi Master like that.
Qui-Gon's face settled into that unfathomable look of blankness that could be hiding anything, from thoughts of rearranging my anatomy with his lightsabre all the way to plans of selling wayward fangirls into slavery on Tatooine.
Don't be ridiculous. It's Qui-Gon, he wouldn't ever do that kind of thing. You know he wouldn't.
I hoped he wouldn't. This was why I avoided writing fanfiction, I could never seem to judge the correct behaviour of pre-existing characters. Qui-Gon's expression was doing nothing to help my tenuous conviction but finally, after a long, long moment, he smiled.
"You hardly need my help Miss Brady. Why are you here?"
"Good question!" I snapped, jumping up from my seat. "And you know something? I don't have the answer! So I'll put a stop to it right now and save us both the bother of searching for it!"
It was the last straw and my fragile control over my temper, always volatile, vanished entirely. If I didn't know why I was here, and Qui-Gon didn't feel like telling me, there was no point in being there. I strode over to the door and hit the button that would open it but it didn't slide obligingly to the side as it had for Obi-Wan. I hit the button again a few more times before I realised that Qui-Gon was jamming the door with the Force.
I rounded on him.
"Let me go."
"Miss Brady, even if I opened the door, you cannot leave the Temple until I show you the way. I suggest you sit down and talk to me calmly. Please." He added, when I made no reply.
Resolved not to say a single word to him, I slowly folded myself up in the chair I had so recently vacated, never lifting my glare from Qui-Gon's infuriatingly calm expression.
"Let it go. We cannot talk until you do."
I clamped down on a sharp reply and took a deep breath. The way I tended to let go of negative emotion usually resulted in a tearing argument, but I was not going to get that from Qui-Gon or, indeed, with any Jedi, Anakin excepted. And unfortunately, at the one time he'd be welcome, Anakin Skywalker: Whiner Extraordinaire was nowhere to be seen and I was left trapped in a room with Qui-Gon Jinn, one of us absolutely fuming and the other infuriatingly placid.
Let it go.
I could just as easily sprout wings and visit Mars.
Qui-Gon was utterly unaffected by my mutinous expression. Countless minutes passed by in which I glowered at him and he stared calmly back, with not so much as a twitch to indicate what he was thinking, if anything at all. His calm was proving infectious though, even to my severely ruffled feathers and however hard I tried to hold on to the vanishing tendrils of anger, they were slipping from my grasp.
"That's better." Qui-Gon murmured, looking me up and down as I relaxed.
"You'd better not have been using the Force to do that." I said grumpily, determined to put off rational discussion for as long as I could.
"It was nothing to do with the Force. It was your doing."
"Wasn't." I muttered sullenly. Qui-Gon smiled and despite myself, I smiled back.
"Now," Qui-Gon said, his tone indicating an abrupt return to the business at hand. "You mentioned fearing you were the only Qui-Gon Jinn fan remaining on Earth?"
"Yes..." I replied cautiously, concealing my amusement at hearing the phrase "Qui-Gon Jinn fan" spoken by the Master himself. "Although I don't mean "fearing" exactly, it's not ... not so strong as that." I lowered my gaze to the floor, growing extremely embarrassed.
"Then what is bothering you?"
"I don't know. I don't know why I even care really, Star Wars is something of a backseat thing for me, you know? I don't have many friends who like it, and I've never met the ones I do have. It's just that... Well, there just seems to be less and less of you appearing right now, no fanart, not much in the way of fanfiction, that kind of thing."
"Well, have you considered writing your own?" My gaze shot up at the knowing tone in his voice and I found myself becoming annoyed again.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." I replied, warningly.
"Then what are you doing now?"
I shrugged irritably. "Don't know. Nurturing a disorder?"
He waved a hand impatiently. "It's not a disorder, otherwise you would not make the suggestion."
He sighed. "You're not being very co-operative."
"How co-operative would you be if you found yourself dumped on Earth for no apparent reason?" I demanded, stung by his accusation.
"I don't know, I have never been to Earth. Perhaps that could be your next project."
"Miss Brady, you do not appear to comprehend my meaning, so I will speak plainly with you." Finally! I thought. "Do you resent how little attention I receive in proportion to others?"
"No! Well... perhaps. Kind of. It's just... well, with what's happened to In a Strange Land and the website, it's like... like you don't even exist." I paused and inwardly kicked myself for saying something so stupid. "No, I don't mean that, I mean like you don't even exist in the Star Wars universe. And it's not fair. I mean, no-one can help it if a fandom dies, but like it or not, Anakin brought balance and you were the one who found him. And you taught the Force-Ghost thingmejig to Obi-Wan and Yoda! And where would Luke have been without a few ethereal interventions? Up the creek with no canoe!" I finished sulkily.
Qui-Gon listened patiently to my complaining about the injustices of the GFFA and then returned, in classic Qui-Gon fashion, to the matter at hand.
"You being here is proof that I do exist Miss Brady, and also proof that you have the power to change what you dislike. You may even find there are others with similar thoughts. Alternatively, you may find that it passes. You've said yourself, you do not have many Star Wars friends, and those you do have you have never met in person."
"What do you mean, 'change what I dislike'?" I asked suspiciously, not entirely surprised when Qui-Gon merely smiled enigmatically.
"That is a matter for you to investigate when you return home. If it becomes relevant, you will know."
"Right." I muttered, only just refraining from outlining how unco-operative he was being. "It's not fair though!" I whined, not worrying about how infantile I was sounding. "Doing something about it shouldn't even be necessary! Bet no-one has to do it for Obi-Wan or Anakin."
Qui-Gon smiled lightly and uttered the words that I had heard so often from so many people.
"These things happen."
By force of habit, I nearly told him that they didn't happen in the real world, but I stopped myself at the last moment. I was well past my years of childish naiveté and I knew that it did happen in the real world, even if I did not like to think about it too much. Everyone found out eventually and for those who did not want to believe it, there were people like Ralph McTell to remind them.
"Have you seen the old man,
Outside the Seamen's Mission?
Memory fading with
The medal ribbons that he wears.
In our winter city,
The rain cries a little pity,
For one more forgotten hero
And a world that doesn't care."
Why was I even concerned with whether Qui-Gon was remembered or not, when there were heroes – real heroes - being forgotten every day? Qui-Gon was in a better position than most, by not existing. I knew nothing of my relatives who had been caught up in World War I and before. If I didn't marry and the Brady line died with me, who would remember my Grandfather, who had fought in World War II? It was rare that any one individual left a positive lingering memory in this day and age.
But Qui-Gon… Qui-Gon was a hero to many, in the past, present and future. Even to those who knew of the line between reality and imagination and explored each realm effortlessly, Qui-Gon Jinn was a hero, just in a different way. There was nothing wrong in that. Qui-Gon would be around forever, regardless of whether people remembered him or not.
Defiant again, I looked to the Master.
"It isn't going to happen to you. A true hero lives forever." I broke off and grinned. "Even if they've never lived at all."
Qui-Gon nodded once and I stood up, recognising my dismissal.
"I should go now. How exactly do I…?"
"Obi-Wan and I will show you the way. He'll be here in a few moments."
Qui-Gon picked up the mugs and excused himself to the kitchen. Within seconds, the door swished open and Obi-Wan stepped into the room, looking happier than he had done earlier. There was an awkward moment of silence, in which Obi-Wan and I stared at each other, until...
"My apologies Miss Brady." Obi-Wan said, inclining his head slightly and he was suddenly far more like the endearing Jedi Master that I had admired in Episode III.
"Me too, I shouldn't judge you like that."
He nodded, and glanced to his left. I followed his gaze and was horrified to see Qui-Gon standing watching us, a knowing smile on his face.
Alright, alright. Maybe Episode I Obi isn't as bad as I was making out. He can be alright. Some of the time. Not that I like him or anything.
"Come along Miss Brady." Qui-Gon said warmly, guiding me outside with a hand on my shoulder.
No more than a few feet away from the door and we met someone, someone who caused me to stop dead in my tracks.
"Master." Qui-Gon said, effecting a bow, while I stood, absolutely dumbfounded, at the sight before me.
Yoda hobbled forwards, peering at me and his ears flattened.
"A friend of Qui-Gon's, hmmmm?"
Hardly a friend. I thought to myself, although I said nothing, hoping to get this encounter over and done with quickly.
"Joanne is a visitor to the Temple, Master." Qui-Gon explained. Yoda did not turn to look at him. "Obi-Wan and I were just escorting her home."
"Hmmmm. Far, you have travelled?" Yoda said, still gazing at me with unnerving intensity.
"You could say that." I mumbled, shuffling a few paces back, a movement that did not go unnoticed by the little green master.
"An ogre I am not, Miss Brady." Yoda said testily. "Welcome here you are."
After two years of glowering at Yoda whenever I watched the prequels, it was such a relief to find that he was not devoid of the semblance of a heart or, indeed, a sense of humour. I beamed from ear to ear, suddenly finding myself wanting to swoop down on him and give him a hug. Intuition or perhaps Qui-Gon's warning look stopped me. One did not just hug a Jedi Master, especially Yoda.
"Saw that I did." Yoda said sternly, before whacking me in the shin with his stick.
Without so much as looking at me, Yoda hobbled away in the direction we had come and I was left standing on one leg, fuming. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan exchanged a look, full of a meaning I could not fathom and carried on down the corridor. Sulkily, I followed them, attempting to suppress thoughts of drop-kicking a little green troll through the window.
The walk back to my entrance point took no more than a few minutes and there was nothing there to suggest how I would return home, no portal, no shimmer in the air, no nothing. I wasn't worried though, I was with Qui-Gon and he always seemed to know what to do, even if I'd be the last person to know about it. Then there was Obi-Wan, who might not always agree, but would follow his Master to the ends of the galaxy. I glanced sidelong at the Padawan. Despite our red-faced apologies of a few moments ago, I was getting the impression that Obi-Wan was going to be very glad to get rid of me, if for no other reason than I would no longer be around to get Qui-Gon into trouble with the Council.
"Will you be coming back?" Qui-Gon asked. I carefully averted my eyes from the pained look on Obi-Wan's face.
"Probably not, no. I'm rather embarrassed that I'm here at all really. Not to mention clueless as to how I arrived here in the first place."
"That won't be a problem. If you find yourself needing to be here, you will be." He smiled. "It is in your nature."
By now, I knew better than to ask for an elaboration, so I simply shrugged and accepted the fact that I would never understand his riddles as long as I lived. Qui-Gon shook back his sleeve and held out his hand. I took hold of it for a moment, intending to say goodbye and with no warning, I am back in my computer chair with both hands resting on the keyboard.
I sat back from the computer, trying to figure out what had just transpired, but I had no idea whatsoever. Reading back over the document offered no answers, so I put it down to a temporary case of "Drooling fangirl syndrome" and paid it no mind.
A week or so later and you would have found me sitting in the same spot, although I would have moved to eat and sleep in between. I was searching for ways in which to put off a hideously uninteresting essay for university. Checking my multiple email addresses was one of my favourite methods. My joannejinn address was third on the list, and when I checked it, I was dismayed for find one new message. Marvellous. I groused silently, wondering what disaster had befallen the world of dead-end fandoms this time. With trepidation, I opened the email and read it quickly, in the hopes of getting it over and done with.
My pessimism vanished instantly when I saw that the message carried good news, instead of a declaration of making all things Qui-Gon illegal. Someone I knew by name from had set up a blog in the aftermath of Elizabeth's announcement.
Qui-Gonline – the blog...? Now there's a cool idea!
I lurked for a few posts, before deciding that I liked the look of it and I began to comment on the blog entries. The friendly replies I received made me certain that Qui-Gon had passed into good hands. On the fourth entry into the blog, a comment from Noelie was posted that made me go all fangirlish again.
"If you would like to contribute at all to this blog just email me. I would love to have you on board and this is meant to be a collaborative effort!"
My first impulse was to email instantly with an emphatic "yes please!" but there was the matter of never having anything interesting to say. But even as I began to type out a polite refusal, memories of a slightly odd encounter pushed their way to the surface and I paused.
"You being here is proof that I do exist Miss Brady, and also proof that you have the power to change what you dislike. You may even find there are others with similar thoughts."
I shook my head ruefully. It was surely a sign of too much free time when you started listening to echoes of what had never happened in the first place.
And what does that have to do with anything? I demanded of myself, even as the thought passed. Where else is Qui-Gon supposed to exist, if not inside the head? He's never existed anywhere else! What are you waiting for?
I emailed Noelie with a few clarifying questions, and I was soon firmly back in the role of drooling fangirl.
My first entry into the blog was only a short one, just a link to another stagnant Qui-Gon website that had some nice media. I tapped the submit button, and my mark upon the blog was made.
Slight movement caught the corner of my eye and I turned to find Qui-Gon Jinn watching me from the doorframe. I grinned, grateful to him for refraining from saying "I told you so". He bowed slightly, graced me with that lovely smile and then was gone in a swish of brown cloak, no doubt to pay a visit to the next hopeless fangirl. Fortunately, I mused to myself, glancing at the list of contributors to the blog, I was not the only Qui-Gon Jinn fan left on Earth.