Author's Note: This was inspired by Lego Star Wars and the formidable bunch of fanon that ArgenteusDraco and I have (so please don't tell me what is or isn't Maul's "real name".) It's of uncertain quality and duration; please review, albeit nicely. I've done my best to research things like electric shocks and stages of grief, so by all means comment on them at the appropriate times.
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
~William Blake, The Tyger
An unstoppable, tangled skein of emotion spurred Obi-Wan Kenobi off the Naboo starship. He jumped to the baking Tatooine sands after his Master, fearing for Qui-Gon with an intensity that defied orders. It might have been termed nobility if the other reason had not been entirely selfish; he felt weak sitting in the ship with Jar Jar and the once-slave boy and the Queen's covey, and so he jumped.
He landed square, the grainy, town-tamed sand giving only slightly beneath his booted feet. Armed with noble fear and noble selfishness as surely as he was with the lightsaber snap-hissing to life in his hand, he turned to face the Sith.
Who blocked Master Jinn's high strike, gave a livid smile-grimace, activated the second blade of his revealed-to-be-staff lightsaber, and plunged it into Obi-Wan's heart.
Qui-Gon opened his eyes, dousing the memory with the orange sear of Obi-Wan's funeral pyre.
Tatooine evening fell fast and cold, and even as the fire crackled in front of him he worked his stiff hands further into the warmth of his sleeves. The stars were bright above the odd curves of the roofs of slaves' quarters, and not brighter than he had ever seen them, but striking compared to the light- and traffic-washed night of Coruscant. The densely speckled band of the galaxy, visible only out here on the Outer Rim, burned cold and cloudy from horizon to horizon.
He and the Queen and her handmaidens had little money to their names after the purchase of the hyperdrive from Watto. Republic credits' value could not be channeled through local banks on this Hutt-controlled world. So the pyre was held just outside the city's walls, and no marker would record its ever taking place. Qui-Gon would speak what words he wanted over it, and Obi-Wan's name would be added to the memorial wall in the Jedi Temple.
The first man to be on record as killed by a Sith in one thousand years.
It kindled dull anger in Qui-Gon's heart to think that the Sith was still alive, sequestered in the starship under Jedi Master Quinlan Vos' and Vos' Padawan's watchful eyes. Worse still was the memory—the remnant certainty—of how close Qui-Gon had been to taking his revenge. He wanted the Sith dead, at first slaughtered, during the vicious fight between Obi-Wan's death and Quinlan's arrival, then executed, when the blindness of rage had faded after Quinlan helped Qui-Gon take the Sith down.
"The Council needs to know all they can of this," Quinlan had said, his grim face sand-scaled to brown above and below the yellow Kiffar stripe that bisected the bridge of his nose. They had knocked the Sith unconscious with a twist of the Force (that and a lightsaber hilt to the temple for good measure). "This is the apprentice—he can tell us the location of the Master." The hilt of the saberstaff had dropped from Quinlan's suddenly sweating hands once the Force psychometry trance was done and he emerged with shadowy glimpses of Sith training, of pain and loyalty—and mental blocks, firewalls like in a computer set to prevent just this type of tampering even when the Sith's consciousness had been snuffed like a candle.
The errant Jedi was right—the Council needed to know. As much as it pained Qui-Gon (and the very fact of the pain did too—he was better than this, he was a Jedi—but he should have known that ever since valuing life had set him against the Council he was on unsure moral ground, and he needed a moment of quiet, an eon of meditation, to get the lives lurking within him—the Sith, Obi-Wan, the boy Anakin and his blood overflowing with prophecy—wouldn't the Council be willing to hear him on that!—out of his head.
Obi-Wan. Not now. Not so soon after Tahl--)
But he needed to concentrate on the living, on the cold nothing-like-sea-salt saline taste of the air, on the future, or the dead would drive him insane.
So it was he, Anakin, Shmi, Jar Jar, and the Naboo who stood around the fading pyre, only the fire-sounds and people shuffling in their cloaks disturbing the stark serenity of the desert, and banthas occasionally lowing from a few meters down the wall. One Tusken Raider slouched there, guarding the banthas for a companion who must have gone into town. Anakin sniffled against Shmi's cloak, and Qui-Gon felt that that small sound of sadness and need expressed his own feelings more than his aquiline Jedi-trained face ever could. Age seemed to weigh on his cheekbones like a mask.
He placed his hand on Shmi's rough-clad shoulder and on Anakin's soft hair for a moment, a silent benediction, before trudging from the warmth of the half-circle of mourners to the harsher heat of the pyre. There would be nothing left of Obi-Wan soon, just the flames waving ever lower and an acridity to the capricious desert winds.
He spoke softly, as much to the pyre as to his living allies. Mumbled pronouns could have been either he or you. "He was a good boy. A strong man. He would have wanted…" but words like he would have wanted us to go on and never stop our service to the Republic turned ashen on his lips, smothered by the thought of the real Obi-Wan, who would have wanted nothing more than a cup of hot tea and a fatherly hand on his shoulder and an uncompromising, wordless reassurance that anything Qui-Gon might have possibly berated him for, whether it was losing his lightsaber or not seeing the Force perfectly or begrudging Anakin, was forgiven. The Republic came second to that. Inspiring speeches came second to that.
The Jedi had never taught that attachment—romantic, platonic, familial, greedy, any of them--only increased when the object of that attachment was taken away, but Qui-Gon had learned it many times over.
Only time and circumstance completely healed such things (although sometimes what healed them fastest was new attachments.)
Padme stepped in to save him now. Her clear voice rang out, seeming to drive some of the clarity of the open, evening-purple desert toward the cluttered city like wind whisking across a desk piled with papers. Qui-Gon distinctly felt the scorched feeling the day's heat had left in his throat.
She began, facing Qui-Gon. "I have known you two men for only a short time, and in that time you have been as valiant as any heroes I could ever hope to read about. The Jedi were blessed with the presence of Obi-Wan, and may his memory live with us, as Master Jinn lives, for many years ahead…"
Aayla had always been curious about the dark.
All children were, she supposed. All of them had lain in their bunks at night and contemplated how different the room in which they had spent nearly every night for eight or ten years looked when the glowstrips went out. She had explored that night-world once, crawling on hands and knees and then standing, touching the walls as if in an entirely unfamiliar place. She knew that dark side wasn't the same at all, wasn't for exploring, was dangerous and deadly. Dark in that sense meant nothing like dark in the physical sense—this was knowledge she had gained far before her current age of thirteen. She did not intend for death by metaphor, by homonym.
And yet the darkness-as-tempting was in her head, as appealing as myth, as soft as velvet.
And all she had to do to fall into that comforting nothingness of the dark was open that door.
The one just down the hall, with the roiling, wanting malevolence behind it. It just desired escape, like she did–to escape this planet with its oppressive heat and the sand clotting between her clothing and her skin. Free too from her Master, thoughts of who swept her with the disappointment that he would exude when he knew of her actions. She heard his chiding dimly, as if from far away. "Aayla. What are you doing? Aayla?"
Strong hands on her shoulders, and her name meant nothing to her until a shout and a wave of the Force (white like one thousand suns, cutting through the fog she had sunken into) shocked her back to herself.
The wait had lasted far too long.
There was nothing to do but endure the oppressive boredom. Darth Maul felt twitchy, like an animal with a fly on its flank. The Jedi were so close, the Padawan's half-trained mind caught beneath his will like an insect on a card--
Escape lurked just beyond the simple metal door, unreachable without his lightsaber. That too in the custody of the Jedi–
She would open the door for him, if her thoughts were unattended for a few more moments.
But the Jedi Master lashed out into the Force and loosened the Sith's hold, interrupted his control. The dim glow of the Padawan's presence was lost to his Force-sight. The door shivered under the Kiffar's fist angrily hitting near the controls.
Darth Maul sat back on his haunches, out of the half-crouch in which he had been ready to spring for the hallway when it was revealed. Small movements of his shoulders shifted the bands of muscle there as he tried to relax.
Wrath smoldered, and he made sure the Jedi felt it.
But the dark side prodded for weaknesses like a boxer's cautious jabs, and this time it found–
one filament worked loose from the door's workings by the Jedi's careless slap; the computer lock was no longer securing the door.
Darth Maul harnessed the Force and flung the door open. He fled the ship with the shouts of the Master and Padawan first to chase him.
Qui-Gon's eyes blurred. He stared over the Queen's shoulder at a panorama; scallop-shell city wall, purple desert, dark sky, the Naboo ship in the distance. It reflected back the stars and the brown-violet night, blending in to the larger world and becoming as inconsequential as Padme's words. She spoke of Obi-Wan as valiant, as noble; island-words, shining emerald jots in a briny, burnished sea of truth. Qui-Gon and his apprentice had not parted on friendly terms.
He wished he could apologize to Obi-Wan. He wished that he could reverse anything that Yoda had ever taught him about speaking from the other side and just hear Obi-Wan's voice again. He had been too harsh all along. To focused in his own missions and on the Living Force to see any one living person's needs.
Then he had to battle with himself, had to sink beneath Padme's words to where they had no meaning and they could be simply spectators while he tried to know if he was being too hard on himself or not, whether this really merited the deconstruction of his self that he felt it required…
Then bright reality intruded into his glum thoughts. Lights flashed out of the corner of his eye--near the ship, green and blue bars of neon.
The Force struck him with realization. The Sith had broken free and Quinlan and Aalya were surrounding it on the ramp, but Aayla's lightsaber had been wrenched from her hand into the Sith's.
They were moving toward him. Quinlan had been taken by surprise.
Qui-Gon put a hand on Padme's shoulder, interrupting the conclusion of her speech. "Stay here." He pulled his lightsaber from his belt and ran.
The other three were in motion as well, converging like starfighters on the Tusken camp. The sleeping guard looked like a pile of rags on the sand drifts beside the wall. Behind Qui-Gon—he glanced back, fast like a pilot assessing a tac screen—the rest of his party had formed into groups, those who could fight separating from those who could not. Panaka and Padme in front of the Naboo guards, the handmaidens surrounding Jar Jar and Anakin, the pyre darkening beside them, all alone.
Obi-Wan, for once, unable to fight.
Quinlan chased the Sith to the fringes of the Tusken's temporary camp. Qui-Gon raced to get there before they could get any closer to the confusion—and vulnerable civilians—of the city. His skin felt like leather, as stiff as if the contrast between the chill night and his body temperature had worked it to breaking. Always conscious of himself, when he slipped into blind rage part of his mind still monitored it, measured how he felt up to how a Jedi Master 'ought to feel'.
He would let a little madness take him, to show Obi-Wan's murderer what it had done.
Sooner than expected, Aayla's blue lightsaber was swinging toward him in the Sith's gloved hands. Time seemed to slow down. Qui-Gon blocked high, knew the Sith's feet shifted imperceptibly to prepare it to face Quinlan, who came charging from the other side. He saw the Tusken stir. He saw the bantha goad leaning against a stake, a thin spear of metal and wiring meant to move the beasts forward or stop a stampeding bull in its tracks.
Time froze to a tunnel of Qui-Gon and the Sith and Quinlan in a row, of I will take this small vengeance and then no more, of the Tusken's awakening, a chittering cry that echoed. Qui-Gon pulled the bantha goad to his hand, found and thumbed the activation stud, and struck the Sith under the raised arm with the sparking end.
Quinlan told Qui-Gon what had happened in the ship. Qui-Gon stood watch over the prisoner for the rest of the flight to Coruscant.