It's been a while since I've written anything Star Wars related, since I've been deep in the world of Ranger's Apprentice fic, but this little Obi-Wan bunny hit the other day and this is the short story that came from it.
AUTHOR: Obi the Kid
SUMMARY: Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are forced to survive the snow when their transport breaks down.
DISCLAIMER: The characters and venue of Star Wars are copyrighted to Lucas Films Limited. The characters not recognizable from this venue are copyrighted to Tracy C. Knight. The story is the intellectual property of Tracy C. Knight and is copyrighted to her. There is no profit made from the writing or distribution of this story.
"I hate snow, Master. I don't know how you can enjoy this stuff. It's cold, wet, hard to walk thru, and I can't feel my ears or my fingers."
"It's beautiful, Obi-Wan. Sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the wonder of worlds around us. I've always enjoyed a good snowfall, though we don't see it on Coruscant. It reminds me of home. There are many snows on my home world during the three months of the cold season. It's much more enjoyable than the desert heat you seem to be drawn to. I'll never understand that connection."
"I've never lost the feeling in my toes in the desert. I can deal with hot."
"Well you'd better learn to deal with snow, because we have a long walk ahead of us. The pilot said that he lost communications when the winds were at their most intense, so he couldn't call for help when the public transport broke down."
"You mean when it convulsed and died. This snow is deep, Master. It's hard to walk."
"Follow in the trail of the people in front of you. There were about thirty of us on the transport, and because you are spending more time complaining than walking, they're all ahead of us. It's easier to follow in their wake."
"Easy for you to say. You're tall. I'm…not."
"Obi-Wan, I am not about to carry you, so you might think about moving forward instead of moving your mouth."
"I am moving forward, but in case you haven't noticed, there was not a single person on that transport less than seven feet tall. Except for you and me. Even the women. These people are natives. They're built for snow walking and freezing to death. I'm not."
"Think positive, Obi-Wan."
"Okay, I'm positive that I'm not built for this weather."
"Master, I'm trying. But I've just lost the feeling in my legs. How they're continuing to move is beyond me."
"I haven't been warm since we got to this place. Even our hotel room is cold. We asked for heat and they gave us a blanket. That wasn't funny, Master."
"I thought it was."
"How far away is the nearest town?"
"I can see something in the distance. Perhaps a building."
"Master! That's the pilot at the front of the group."
"Oh, ah. Well, he's very tall."
"And very distant. The group is getting away from us."
"Hurry then, Padawan. If the snow falls heavier, we may lose the tracks. Then we'll be in trouble."
"This isn't troubling now?"
"The legs, Obi-Wan. Move the legs."
"I'm trying, I'm trying."
Qui-Gon started to take pity on his learner, as the snow depth became unpredictable. It was reaching two feet in spots, and Obi-Wan's small fourteen year old frame was plodding thru at ever decreasing speed.
Jedi robes were obviously not designed for snow and as they became saturated, the weight of them increased dramatically. The partially insulated clothing they had on under the robes was only intended for moderate warmth, under dry conditions. Surely not meant for full-out adventuring in the elements. Obi-Wan slowed even more, until he began losing touch with Qui-Gon, who was working hard to keep sight of the rest of the transport passengers.
"Master, please! You're getting to far ahead." Obi-Wan's plea was desperate. All humor in his voice now gone. There was only worry and fear.
Qui-Gon turned around to see his student further behind than he thought and pushed his way back to him. "Come on, Padawan. We're losing track of them and the snow is falling heavier. You have to keep moving."
"I am, Master. Please don't leave me behind again. It's freezing out here. If I get lost…"
"You won't get lost," the big master said as he pulled Obi-Wan up and into his arms so that he was clear of the snow. "Hang on; let's see if the Force can help us make up a little ground." Qui-Gon concentrated and felt the power of the Force coming to him. Unfortunately, it was revitalizing for only for a moment.
"Yes, I know. Seems the Force doesn't appreciate the snow either."
"It's probably frozen."
The figures in the distance were becoming blurry white shadows. Qui-Gon could do nothing more to keep pace, except hope that their tracks stayed clear enough to follow.
They trudged thru the snow for another three hours. Eventually Qui-Gon had to put Obi-Wan down and let the boy fend for himself. The effort of snow walking was exhausting enough without a teenager weighting him down. The tracks were vanishing as the snow became a blizzard. The winds howled and snow swirled in all directions. They were lost.
Obi-Wan pointed to the edge of the forest not too far off towards the right. If nothing else, they might avoid some of the winds in the protection of the trees. "Master, we should head for the forest until this slows down."
"Good idea, Padawan. It's not far. Try and hurry."
There was no hurry left in the young Jedi. He moved at a snail's pace until the trees greeted them. The forest was dense and the snow didn't hold as much depth within its borders. But it was bitter cold. Neither Jedi had any idea how cold until they were free of some of the snow and their legs had a chance to adjust to the air. Qui-Gon looked at his apprentice, shivering violently in the pitiful shelter of a large orkus tree. The boy's trembling was contagious, and it soon started to affect the older Jedi.
"Master, I have a bad feeling about this."
"For once, I agree with you, Obi-Wan. But we have to make the best of what we have. Trees mean wood. Our light sabers are still working. Let's make a clearing and try for a fire. And look for a place where the branch overhang is heavy. We need a spot to camp where we won't end up buried in snow at the end of the night. Don't wander too far though."
Fifteen minutes later, they both arrived back where they started. Qui-Gon had found a place that offered decent enough shelter. Obi-Wan had gathered an armload of small twigs and branches for kindling.
"Here, Padawan. The braches over head are dense. The snow is only a few inches deep here. Easy to clear. We should be okay."
Obi-Wan put the twigs down. "But it's so cold, Master. Our clothes are soaked. It'll get colder at night." The fear in the boy's voice wasn't lost on Qui-Gon. And he didn't blame his student for the emotion. He himself had never been so cold in his life. Alone, he would deal with it. But with Obi-Wan, he was more worried for him than anything else. Obi-Wan was lightly built for his age, and didn't carry a lot of weight. Then there was the padawan hair style which left little insulation for his head, easily allowing any gathered heat to escape. It was going to be one very long night.
"I know it's cold, Obi-Wan. We'll do the best we can though. Once we get the fire going, it'll get a little better. Then…we'll manage."
The learner didn't like the hesitation in his master's voice, but he didn't question it. Qui-Gon would look after him. He knew that. But the weather was their enemy this time. And they could only do so much to counter its affects.
The fire brought a small sense of relief. It was only temporary though. Obi-Wan sat as close to it as he could. It warmed his face and hands, but could do nothing for his wet, cold feet and the rest of him. "Master, the next time we take public transportation on a planet covered in snow remind me to wear my Hoth gear."
"The next time we are assigned to a planet where it snows this much, I'm calling in sick."
"I thought you loved the snow, Master."
"I do. I did. Until it turned against me." Qui-Gon went silent for a moment to watch his apprentice. Obi-Wan was having difficulty. He'd almost stopped shaking as he opened and closed his eyes. The master could feel him reaching for the Force. Working desperately to find warmth and comfort within it. Qui-Gon crawled the short distance between them and sat behind his learner. Pulling the small form against him, he wrapped his arms around his belly until his hands were placed on the boys opposite arm. Forcefully, he began rubbing and squeezing the arms above the elbow, trying to keep the circulation going, trying to offer some type of warmth.
The older Jedi inched them closer to the fire, turning so the flames were on the right side of them rather than directly in front. He encouraged his student to talk, as it would help take his mind off the dropping temperatures. "Obi-Wan, tell me about that adventure that you and Taj had the other day with Master Yoda."
Obi-Wan began trembling with cold again. Qui-Gon breathed a small sigh of relief that Obi-Wan wasn't so still. He struggled though to respond to his master's request. "Master…too cold to talk."
"Nonsense. You love to tell me about your exploits with the Council. Sure I don't generally condone them, but there are times when I do enjoy hearing about a padawan getting the better of them. Tell me the story, Obi-Wan. I want you to talk to me. Don't think about the cold."
His master was scared too, Obi-Wan said to himself. He could hear it in his words, though he'd never admit it. This was more than he was prepared for, and Qui-Gon Jinn was usually prepared for anything. It was not a comforting thought.
Reaching for the larger robe that was now draped around him, he clutched at Qui-Gon's arms, begging for warmth. "Master, are you cold?"
"Very. But let's not talk about the cold. Tell me about you and Taj. I want to hear what happened."
Large arms tightened around the small form as Obi-Wan buried his head into the fabric. "Taj…we were imitating Master Yoda. He saw us. Gimmer stick, he whapped it hard on the floor. Just made us laugh though." The boy stopped to combat a severe chill that flooded thru him. "Cold, Master. M'so cold."
"I know. Keep talking," the elder Jedi soothed.
"Master Yoda was mad. So mad, he couldn't even talk backwards. He sounded almost normal, and it made us laugh even more. He got madder. We laughed harder. Then he asked us if we thought our masters would ever show such disrespect. We tried to answer him, but couldn't stop laughing. Master Yoda was really mad then. If he had the ability to turn red and shoot smoke out of his ears, he would have. Then he said he would tell you about what happened. Did…did he tell you, Master?"
"Oh, he yelled something about disrespectful padawans and their incompetent masters. At least that's what I thought he said. He was difficult to understand. He was pounding his gimmer stick while he lectured me so I didn't catch most of what he was saying. I've seen your imitation before though. It's very accurate. Although I would advise against getting caught the next time." Qui-Gon moved them around so now their left side faced the flames. If he could keep the fire going, keep close enough, and a secure hold on Obi-Wan, they should be all right thru the coldest part of the night. But he would need to find more firewood. The small stack they had was not sufficient to get them thru the next seven or so hours until dawn.
"I'm here, Obi-Wan."
"You were quiet."
"I was thinking."
"You told me to keep talking. You need to keep talking too, Master. You're cold and scared. I can feel it."
"S'okay to be scared, Master, I can feel that you are. I've never been this cold."
Qui-Gon hugged the small body to him, berating himself for not shielding his thoughts and feelings. He didn't want to add to Obi-Wan's burden when the boy needed every ounce of strength and energy to conserve even the slightest amount of warmth. Though he was well aware of the rapidly dropping temperatures and the lack of food for the fire. "Obi-Wan, I need to leave you for a few minutes," he said as the younger Jedi clutched tighter to him. "Not long, I promise. I need to find more firewood." Slowly he peeled a tightly bound hand away from his robe. "Obi-Wan, please. As long as we keep the fire going, we'll be okay. I'll only be a few moments. You stay as close as you can to the fire . Reach for the Force, Padawan. Think warm thoughts."
Silence descended on the camp as Qui-Gon pushed Obi-Wan upright. Then the big Jedi hurried from the camp and into the icy forest.
Obi-Wan shook violently, clenching and unclenching his hands to try and warm them. There had been no need for gloves since their outside time during this mission was only supposed to consist of short jaunts between buildings and an occasional public transport ride. They of all people, being Jedi, should have been prepared for the worst. "I don't know what Taj finds so great about snow," he began mumbling to himself. "It's cold. It's wet. It's hard to walk in." A large chunk of the frozen precipitation fell from one of the sheltering trees above, nailing Obi-Wan on his unprotected head. He'd pushed his hood down for a moment to rub a kink from his neck. The snow picked just that time to dump on him and crumble down the back of his tunic. "And it falls on you when you're already freezing to death. I hate this stuff.
"Talking to yourself, Obi-Wan?" Qui-Gon said as he returned to the camp with an enormous load of sticks for the fire.
"Yes, Master. I'm just wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to live on a planet like this, and how anyone can possibly enjoy this frozen white stuff."
"To each his own, Padawan. Why is your hood down and why is your head wet?"
"I had it off for a second. A second, Master. And that tree up there decided to drop it on me. It got into my tunic. Now my back is freezing."
"Well, get the snow out." Qui-Gon pulled the neck on Obi-Wan's tunic out and quickly tossed out the remaining clumps of snow that had settled there. "Now, put your hood back up. It's not much, but better than nothing."
"Master, my ears are cold. . If they get any colder, they might snap off. I would say in this climate, a padawan hair style is a failure of immense proportions. The Council should be aware of this." The boy finished in a huff and glanced pitifully at his teacher.
"Could be worse. Come with me. I found some large logs for the fire. I need your help. We get a few of them and we'll be set."
Obi-Wan struggled to stand. His legs were stiff, but wobbly. Though it felt good to move them. The circulating blood provided a tiny moment of exhilarating warmth. Following Qui-Gon, he was relieved the trip was a short one. They each grabbed an armful of logs and returned to the camp, placing two of them on the fire as it crackled away, invigorated by the fuel . The younger Jedi found his spot again near the fire and huddled close.
"Well, I officially can't feel my hands now. Do you think anyone has realized we are missing? The rest of the passengers must have made it to town. What will we do tomorrow, Master? The snow isn't stopping. It'll be too deep for us to walk for very long. Maybe someone will see us when they fly over head?"
Qui-Gon shook his head. "They use hovercraft or those large wheeled vehicles here for everything. The constant winds are not so kind to flying ships."
"Then what will we do, Master?"
"We will manage. For now though we should rest. It'll be important for our strength tomorrow." Long arms were held open as Qui-Gon sat on the cold ground and offered Obi-Wan to sit with him once more. They had to do what they could to keep warm until the sun rose and the temperatures moved above the freezing mark.
Obi-Wan moved into the embrace and sat leaning against his master's chest, wrapped in his large robe. Qui-Gon had picked a spot close to the fire, but also directly in front of a large tree so he could have support for his back. It was about as much comfort as they could claim for the next few hours.
"Sleep, Obi-Wan" Qui-Gon said as he closed his own eyes and reached for the Force. He could feel the boy's shivering and sense his fear, but there wasn't much else he could offer. "Sleep, Padawan. I'm here."
Eventually he did sleep. They both did. And when they woke the next morning, they found that their brief frozen nightmare was about to end. The transports pilot, a very brown-skinned tall creature, tapped Qui-Gon on the shoulder until he was awake. The Jedi Master breathed a great sigh of relief when he looked up into determined, but kind and concerned green eyes of their rescuer.
"Ambassador Jinn, wake now. I have transport waiting. Come. Wake the boy."
Qui-Gon watched the man toss snow on the fire to kill the faltering flames then lead them thru the woods. The elder Jedi woke Obi-Wan. A very groggy Obi-Wan. The boy was tense; his body now in one continuous and violent shiver. The tension was so extreme that Obi-Wan was having trouble pushing out one breath after another. He wouldn't be able to walk even if he wanted to, so Qui-Gon lifted him into his arms and carried him away from the camp.
Thru the woods and into the flatland, there sat a wheeled transport, the body of which was dwarfed by its enormous tires. It promised warmth. But not until Qui-Gon trudged into the almost waist deep snow. The pilot waved them forward, his voice calm and kind. "Heaviest snow of the season. Glad it's cleared or might not have found you. Take the boy to the back of the transport. There is a warm-room, and I've left two heated thermals. You will be well. We get back; I will get you to the infirmary."
"Thank you," Qui-Gon replied, grateful to get out of the snow and up the short ramp to the vehicle. "How did you know we were missing?"
"Always count my passengers. Especially visitors to our planet. Never know when something like this might happen."
"We are grateful."
"I take great pride in the job that is mine, Ambassador. My passengers, I look after while they are under my care. Go on back to the warm-room now. Your boy needs warmth. Thirty minutes from here to town in this depth of snow. I will get you there safely and alert you once we arrive."
Hurrying to the rear of the transport, Qui-Gon retrieved the two large thermals. They were already heated. The pilot must have anticipated they would be needed. The Jedi removed Obi-Wan's useless robe and wrapped the thermal around him, sitting him on the small wall-cot. He pressed a hand under the boy's tunic, to his chest. "Obi-Wan, breathe slowly. It'll be easier to take air in and out if you go slow. We're on our way back to town. The pilot found us. Won't be long and you'll be warm again."
Obi-Wan nodded and worked to follow his master's instruction. He felt better when he had some success. The thermal was toasty, even thru his wet clothes.
When the apprentice was settled, only then did Qui-Gon worry about himself. The thermal worked wonders for his tired and frozen body. Everything ached, but he couldn't sit down. The aches were less when he moved, so he paced the small room until they arrived at their destination thirty minutes later. The pilot had already notified the local healers of two patients he was bringing in, so when they docked, a small group from the infirmary was ready to assist. Both Jedi were put into floating chairs and steered down long halls and up several levels to the infirmary.
Immediately, Obi-Wan was taken, stripped of his soaked clothes and put into a large bubble filled tub. The seat in the tub was designed so a patient did not slide downwards, and their head was always kept above water. The young Jedi looked tiny as he sunk into the wonderfully warm water. The tubs, obviously designed for the incredible height of the citizens of the planet, were more a small swimming pool to the boy. But it served its purpose.
Twenty feet away, Qui-Gon went thru the same process. Clothes gone then soaked into another tub. He went to reach for his face, to wash warm water over it, but hands stopped him. A very dark and very tall woman pushed his hands away.
"I am Leshi. A master healer. Just sit. We have much experience with those overwhelmed by cold. We will take care of you. Relax yourself. The water will calm you. You may feel sleepy. It's normal. It means it is working."
Qui-Gon nodded as he tried to steal a glance towards Obi-Wan. "My apprentice. He's having difficulty breathing."
"The boy will be well. Jesla is caring for him. She is also a master in her craft. Already he is calming and breathing easier. He will be in the water longer however, as we must be certain there is no damage to his body as a result of the ice and snow. Worry not, Ambassador Jinn. He will be well cared for."
He felt less anxious now. The soothing tone of woman's voice combined with the healing water was a relaxing combination. And with a quick reach for his bond with Obi-Wan, he felt the boy's fear lessening. He sensed him giving into the comfort of the returning warmth.
When Qui-Gon was removed from the tub, he was dried and wrapped in another large thermal. Leshi moved him to another room and sat him on a bed. "Your body will adjust to room temperature in a few moments. Then you will rest. Remain here. I know you worry for your apprentice. I will see about him and bring clothes for you. The empty bed next to the window will be for your apprentice."
True to her word, the tall woman returned moments later. A neatly folded pile of clothes rested in her arms. She helped Qui-Gon dress his aching body and ordered him into the bed. "The aching you feel will pass. It's less though, I sense. Your body needs warm rest now with no tension. The boy is well. Jesla is finishing with him now. He is very tired and somewhat confused, but is cooperating. I will check on you every two hours. Press the green button if you require anything. We are not far. Many other patients to care for, but if you need something, do not hesitate."
"I understand," Qui-Gon replied. "And thank you. We owe you and the pilot our lives."
Leshi smiled. Her smile was warm and friendly. "Our climate is dangerous at times, but we are prepared to handle it. Visitors are important to us, no matter what rank. We take great pride in being able to assist them in whatever way is needed. Rest now. Your boy will be returned to you soon."
And sure enough, a half an hour later, Obi-Wan was moved in, a thermal wrapped around him. Moments after, warm clothes replaced the thermal, and he was gently lifted into the bed. The bright sun coming in thru the large round window offered quite the contrast from the frozen blizzard of the day before. Jesla gave him similar instructions that Leshi gave to Qui-Gon. Rest and sleep. Obi-Wan nodded awkwardly and lay his head back on the soft pillow, completely spent. The healers allowed them their time, promising to check back soon.
Upon seeing Obi-Wan well, Qui-Gon relaxed into his own bed, turning his head towards his padawan who was now lying on his side and curling himself into the heated feel of the bed's blankets. "Obi-Wan?"
"Hi. How do you feel?"
"I thought you didn't believe in luck, Padawan."
"I didn't. Until this trip. I do now."
"We are very fortunate. And this is a fascinating planet. The people are beautiful here, in the way they care for everything and everyone. Very unique to the universe. We must make a point to return here one day."
"I don't think so, Master. I'm not ever going any place cold again."
"You will. We'll just be prepared next time. We must return here."
Obi-Wan yawned and closed his eyes, pulling a blanket tightly around his shoulders. "I still think I'm cold, even though I'm not."
"Yes, it's a strange feeling. We should rest as instructed. I was worried for you, Obi-Wan. I didn't know how long you could hold out in that cold. And I had no plan to get us back to town, as you probably guessed."
"I knew that, Master." The boy opened his exhausted blue eyes and looked over to his teacher. "But you took care of me and we're okay now. That's what matters."
Qui-Gon released a deep breath. "That is what matters. Sleep now, Obi-Wan. We'll talk more when we are rested."
Silence descended over the room briefly, when Obi-Wan broke the quiet just before he gave into his body's overwhelming desire to sleep. "Master?"
"I'll come back to this planet with you. I didn't mean what I said. They are a beautiful people."
The big Jedi smiled at the words. "Indeed they are."
"Goodnight, Master." The young learner snuggled in.
"It's only mid-day, Obi-Wan."
When Qui-Gon glanced over once more, he saw the boy snoring softly, his head buried in the thermal blanket, finally and completely relaxed. "Goodnight, Padawan," the master said just before he too welcomed the sleep he so desperately craved.