The usual disclaimers apply. George Lucas owns it all, I'm not making any money on this.
Summary: AU 4 years after TPM.
Obi-Wan is a lone knight looking for a purpose. Qui-Gon survived the battle of Naboo to train Anakin. This is the tale of the different path Obi-Wan's life has taken.
An Uncertain Path
The Book of Endings
Time was irrelevant.
At least it was for Senator Mutan Urot.
Day and night had blended into one long haze.
The interior of his tiny cell never changed.
The Udali Senator had arrived on Carua VI as part of a Senate authorized investigation of illegal slavery within the Republic. The Carua contacts had been friendly, even welcoming. They happily showed him everything he wanted to see and then some.
It had been a beautiful show.
Muton might have even been persuaded to believe in their innocence had it not been for his two traveling companions. Guardians of peace and justice. Yes, he had requested the help of the Jedi in uncovering the truth.
They had walked into the center of the largest slavery ring he had ever seen and he had long investigated them in the outer rim.
The investigation had gone with relative ease.
No wonder the Jedi had been so tense that last morning.
He would have been too if he had only known.
On the way to the ambassadorial transport the ship was rocked by cannon fire exploding before him. He didn't even know where the shots came from that had killed the two Jedi.
His captors were experts. He was unharmed save for the bruises of being shoved into the tiny, dark cell.
So much time had passed–at least he thought–that Muton wondered if anyone knew he was still being held captive.
What purpose did it serve to keep him alive all this time?
Weakly he shoved the bowl of gruel back to the little door that everything came and went through. The larger door had not been opened except to put him in the cell.
The faces of his captures were a mystery to him.
They had not even offered the comfort of their voices.
His cell was more than a prison of six walls, it was a prison of the mind as well.
Not that it mattered, it would be his coffin soon enough.
"Muton Urot?" sounded a muffled voice from beyond the door.
"Yes?" he croaked surprised he even still had a voice.
He heard a strange sound then suddenly a glowing blue light punched through the door. Slowly the focused light drew around in the shape of a large circle just big enough for him to crawl through. The cut away piece shifted and fell back out of his cell as the blue light disappeared.
"Senator," a voice spoke as a brown cloaked figure stepped partway into the small cell. "Can you stand?"
"It's been so long," Muton was barely able to whisper. He squinted but there was not much light to see his savior.
The cloaked figure leaned forward, wrapping an arm gently around Muton's waist, pulling the weakened Senator to his feet.
"We must hurry," the voice said as the Senator was pulled from his cell.
Muton's legs could not support him so the figure pulled the Senator's arm across his broad shoulders and helped the man through the poorly lit hall. He glanced sidelong at his savior and gave a weak smile.
A Jedi, he thought.
Suddenly a renewed strength poured into his weary body.
"Alarm!" A voice raged from behind.
Muton's heart leapt in fright but the Jedi remained calm.
The Senator felt himself being pushed behind the safety of a thick pillar as blaster bolts tore past. In his weakened condition he sank to the cold floor. Muton shook even as the familiar hum of the lightsaber cut through the air deflecting the bolts back at the shooters.
Before the Senator knew it, he was ripped off his feet and half carried through the corridor. The Jedi turned occasionally into the blaster fire and with one hand tight around the saber hilt he deflected the shots back.
Muton tried to aid the Jedi's speed by walking as fast as he could. His feet barely seemed to touch the floor. He breathed heavily, the fresh air foreign to his lungs making them ache terribly.
Up ahead warm sunlight cascaded into the corridor. Muton smiled dreamily at the approaching freedom. All he could see was the yellow warmth flooding his vision like a refreshing liquid into his thoughts. His feet gave out from beneath him.
"Stay with me, Senator," the gruff voice of the Jedi called to him urging the weakened man on.
Muton felt as if he were floating.
Then the hard rough floor jarred him back to his senses.
The Jedi stumbled then turned. His lightsaber flashing quicker than Muton's dulled senses could register.
Cries rang out as the pursuers fell back.
Again the Senator was pulled to his feet.
Within moments he was pulled out into the bright sunlight.
Muton blinked blindly up into the bright yellow sky. "Free?"
"Not yet." The Jedi pulled Muton toward the open plain just outside the prison house. "Where is it?" The Jedi growled searching the sky.
Blaster fire rained down on them.
The Jedi turned, shielding the Senator with his body. The brown cloak shifted across the blaster ravaged soil barely able to keep up with the lightening quick reflexes.
Muton groaned in pain as he was rushed toward the trees on the far edge of the compound.
The Jedi yelled into a comlink, "Where are you?"
"Almost isn't good enough!" The Jedi barked. "You promised me you'd be waiting!"
Over the tall golden treetops a small, heavily armed transport appeared. Its rectangular primer gray body hovered in the distance before he turned and two heavy ion cannons opened up on the pursuers.
"Our ride, Senator," the Jedi said tersely pulling the man toward the open landing platform of the descending ship.
A volley of blaster fire targeted the transport rocking it but it held its place.
With a little help of the Force the Jedi shoved the Senator onto the platform. Waving his lightsaber wielding arm as a signal to the pilot the Jedi turned to deflect a few more bolts that came too close to the transport's open bay.
The pilot saw the signal and the ship quickly started to take off.
The platform began to close and the Senator was rolled deeper into the open bay. Muton twisted slightly to stare out at the Jedi racing to avoid the blaster fire and catch up with the fleeing ship. Muton reached out but he was too far in and too weak to be of any help.
The Jedi Force jumped, catching the edge of the rising platform. His hands gripped clumsily at the door, fighting to maintain his grip.
A blaster shot ripped through one of the platform's supports with an explosion. The door jerked open and the Jedi knight nearly lost his hold. Drawing his focus to the situation at hand the Jedi pulled himself up onto the platform, ducking in time to miss another wayward bolt. Sliding into the ship he grabbed at a handle and pulled the door shut then manually sealed it.
Muton clumsily sat up as the ship began a tight ascent toward the atmosphere. He braced himself against the cold bulkhead. Through fuzzy vision the Senator truly saw his savior for the first time.
The Jedi paid him little attention.
A thick braid down the back of the knight's head tied back part of his tussled ginger hair. A neatly trimmed beard hid the permanent frown that creased the knight's near expressionless face.
The Jedi focused on a misshapen piece of durasteel that was embedded in his upper arm. Without even a wince he pulled it free allowing the shrapnel to clatter to the floor with a spray of blood.
Mouton spoke slowly, testing his voice. "Thank you, Jedi Knight–"
There was an awkward silence for a moment as icy sharp blue eyes turned on the Senator.
"What is your name, Jedi?" Mouton asked.
The Book of Explanations
"It was an error," Qui-Gon Jinn said firmly.
"How do you believe that?" Master Mace Windu asked from the circle of twelve in the Jedi Council chambers.
Qui-Gon shifted slightly, pulling deep creases in his sleeves as he folded his arms tight. "Anakin was--"
"Young Skywalker," Mace said interrupting the venerable Jedi. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
"I'm very sorry," the thirteen year old responded.
"Sorry?" Adi Gallia asked.
"I didn't know it was the princess's pet!" Anakin sputtered as the blond padawan braid twisting over his shoulder.
"That shouldn't have mattered," Ki Adi Mundi spoke up. "A creature is dead."
"But it was just a grivit bird." Panic filled Anakin's bright blue eyes.
"It was a living thing and you killed it. Unless you can tell us it was an accident--"
Qui-Gon cleared his throat, interrupting Ki Adi Mundi. He stepped behind Anakin and placed his hands on the awkward youth's shoulders. "It was an error in judgement," Qui-Gon said firmly. "The boy is learning from his mistakes."
"He used the Force to choke the bird to death," Mace said slowly.
"I just reacted," Anakin half cried but the strength and calm his master offered through their training bond eased his agitation. The youth stood there calmly. "I didn't mean to. I wasangry."
The council relaxed in their seats as if satisfied with the answer.
"I have been working with him intently since them," Qui-Gon answered. "He is learning from his error," he stressed again.
"Anger leads to hate," Yoda spoke up. "Hate leads to the dark side. Access this emotion, you do too easily. Concerned, we are."
"He has improved so much in the last four years," Qui-Gon stressed.
"We are well aware of this, Master Jinn," Mace said coolly.
"He should not be censured."
"Our own Council we will keep on how to deal with young Skywalker," Yoda said tersely.
Qui-Gon stood there silently for a moment. His keen eyes studying the circle that surrounded them. "Anakin needs," was all he managed before his attention was pulled from the council chambers into to the lively temple that surrounded them. His stance faltered slightly as a shadow danced across his heart.
Anakin glanced back at Qui-Gon. Master?
The maverick Jedi master shook off the slight daze and returned his focus to the Council. "It has been a trying mission for both myself and my padawan. I feel downtime at the temple and a return to a normal schedule would do us both good. Anakin certainly needs to return to his classes. I would not want him falling behind." He gave a slight, reassuring smile. "Normalcy is what we both need right now."
"Well noted," Mace responded. "While padawan Skywalker is at the temple, he should pay a few visits to Healer Ielesis. See if maybe he can help him work through some of his wilder emotions."
"We shall schedule a visit immediately," Qui-Gon said bowing. He cast his gaze to the boy to make sure Anakin followed suit.
A dull expression graced the youth's face but he also bowed.
The Book of Reunions
"Master?" Anakin asked softly as they exited the Council chambers. Worry clouded his youthful features.
"Yes, Padawan?" Qui-Gon said with a gentle smile directed at the gangly youth who walked along side him.
"I'm sorry," Anakin whispered as he cast his eyes to the floor. He stared up at the tall master with a smile. As always, Qui-Gon stood up for him, defended him to those who were unwilling to give him a chance. A part of him felt he had disappointed his master. He sighed softly.
"It is something that you must learn from," the venerable master said, stopping to face his thirteen year old apprentice. Gently placing his large hands on the boy's shoulders, he spoke with understanding, "It should not have happened, but if you can learn from it–"
Qui-Gon stood motionless for a moment trapped somewhere in thought.
"Are you all right, my Master?"
Slowly the Jedi master turned to face the corridor that led away from the chambers.
Breezing through the corridor like a specter moved a figure in a flowing brown Jedi cloak and a hard set expression that seemed aware of everything and nothing at once.
Through his bond with Qui-Gon, Anakin sensed a chill then his master's shields closed him out.
The specter moved past the master and apprentice as if they were not even there.
"Master?" Anakin whispered.
Blood soaked the right sleeve of Obi-Wan's brown cloak. He stopped and studied the dried blood that covered his hand as if he were completely amazed by it. Staring past it, his eyes met Qui-Gon's and he smiled. "Master Jinn," he said formally and bowed.
The coldness radiating from the knight made the boy retreat into the shelter of his master's protection.
"Come, Anakin," Qui-Gon said gruffly and with the sweep of his billowing cloak sleeve shielded the boy as he lead his apprentice away.
"But Master," Anakin whispered softly, "that's Obi-Wan."
"Knight Kenobi," Qui-Gon corrected but gave no more attention to the quiet figure standing near the chamber doors. "He is of no concern to us."
Obi-Wan Kenobi watched the exodus of the tall master and the youth that seemed to have grown nearly a foot and half since the last time he had seen him. No expression graced his worn features. Unconsciously he pulled the edges of his cloak tighter.
The Book of Not Leaving
The Council chambers were silent.
Twelve Jedi masters stared at the figure in the center of the room.
Mace shifted in his seat ever so slightly but never removed his steady gaze from the Jedi before him.
Obi-Wan stood staring out the large windows. His empty expression did not see the masters that studied him. Without really thinking about it, he drew his mental shielding tighter as if that were possible.
Recognizing the intense shielding, Mace glanced over at Yoda. After a moment of silent counsel he returned his gaze to the knight. "We have already received word from Chancellor Palpatine and the Urotian delegation. They are grateful for your services."
"I do only as the Council deems fit," Obi-Wan said slowly as he bowed.
Yoda squinted as he drew his ears back slightly.
"You're bleeding," Adi Gallia spoke with compassion heavy in her voice. "We would not have faulted you if you had sought the healers before reporting here."
"It is not serious," Obi-Wan said dully.
"Humph!" Yoda snorted. "Habit, this is of yours."
"Senator Muton is safe. I request another mission."
"No," Mace said as if surprised by the request.
The staid expression of Obi-Wan's cracked. He looked away from the distant commerce lines and stared at Mace. "Master?"
"You have followed one mission after another for nearly four straight years."
"And I am ready for another," Obi-Wan said quickly, a hint of panic filling his voice.
Mace continued with little hesitation. "Each mission you return to us a little more worse for the wear. I've seen Jedi who have been field operatives longer than you have been alive who do not project the wear you do."
"I would better--"
"No," Yoda spoke up. "Self destructive this path you are on."
"Speaking, I am!" Yoda slipped from his chair and hobbled across the floor to where Obi-Wan stood. He rocked back on his bare feet and stared at the knight. The little master knew he was acting out of decorum for a council meeting but he also sensed that Obi-Wan felt under siege. "Forgotten I have how tall you are." Yoda poked Obi-Wan in the leg with his gimer stick.
Reluctantly, the knight knelt down to better face the little master.
Yoda tugged on the bloody sleeve then unkindly poked Obi-Wan in his wounded arm with the gimer stick. He studied the knight's dull expression that didn't react to the abuse. "Like this, you come to us too many times. Very concerned we are."
"You do not need to be." Obi-Wan stared at the floor before Mace's booted feet. "A mission--"
"No more missions," Adi said. "At least for now."
"Do not argue with the Council," Mace said sternly leaning forward in his seat.
Obi-Wan closed his eyes, stilling his panicked mind. "I am good at one thing," he said softly.
Mace spoke slowly, "You are assigned to the temple indefinitely."
Obi-Wan was on his feet in a flash. "You cannot."
"I will not!"
"You will," Mace replied sternly.
"There has to be a hostage situation or something I can do. I will not stay here."
"You have no choice," Mace said coldly.
Yoda poked Obi-Wan in the leg again. Short stubby green fingers motioned the knight to kneel.
Obi-Wan just stood there, staring blankly ahead. "I cannot stay at the temple."
"Home, temple is," Yoda said calmly.
Mace spoke evenly, leaving no doubt of his authority. "No missions until further notice. I suggest you get used to the excitement of temple life."
Obi-Wan stared at the other masters searching them for a sign that they would offer him help. "Just one more, then I'll take some down time."
"That's what you said last time."
The knight stiffened. Slowly he folded his arms into the sleeves of his cloak. The distant, stoic expression returned. There was plenty of fight still in him but Obi-Wan knew the Council would not bend. Their solemn faces and keen eyes created an invisible prison that he knew he would not escape.
"What am I supposed to do now?"
The steady thud of Yoda's gimer stick echoed in the council chambers. "Return to center," the ancient master said plainly as if it were the only possible answer.
Adi Gallia spoke calmly, "Housing says you qualify for an apartment on a higher level. We understand you have refused previous offers. You might take them up on their offer. It may make the transition easier."
"I like where I am at now."
"When was the last time you slept in your apartment?"
Obi-Wan remained silent.
"Do you even know where your apartment is?"
"Lowest housing level. Farthest corner right of the main lifts."
"Go to the healers," Mace said coolly.
Obi-Wan bowed and stormed from the room.
Yoda sighed softly.
"That did not go well," Mace said.
"Expected it to, did you?" Yoda asked turning to face the dark skinned master.
"He will not seek the healers," Adi said calmly. "He will not seek any help while at the temple."
"Then find him, help will."