Author's Note: No doubt about it, one way or another, the Jedi brought about their own fall. The question is how. We'll find out soon enough, but until then, there's plenty of room for speculation in fandom. And a nod to anyone who knows which Phantom Menace actor (along with a certain Starship Captain as well) is in the movie quoted below - in their film debut no less!
Disclaimer: No money made by me (nor should anyone else off this work), no intent to infringe, just respect and love for the franchise. Special thanks to George Lucas. You made them live, now they talk in my head, so it's your fault I've just got to write about them. . .
And, George, I forgive you for Jar-Jar, for I too have a young son.
Merlin "You have broken that which could not be broken. Hope is broken."
Arthur "My pride broke it. . ."
from John Boorman' s Excalibur
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no death, there is the Force.
She had always striven for serenity. Since long before the Council granted her the title of Master and admitted her to their ranks – at a younger age than any before her – she had struggled with that portion of the Code. Her race was a passionate one. To counter it, she had cultivated detachment, cool reserve, even aloofness. But inside, she felt all the passion and turmoil inherent in her species. As Yoda frequently reminded her, it was the goal that was paramount. The oldest and wisest of the Jedi's reprimands only spurred her continual quest for perfect serenity.
She stood on the Council Chamber main balcony, arms folded across her chest, a booted foot resting on the lower portion of the railing as she stared out into the fading lavender and pink of a Courscant sunset. By far the greatest threat to her hard-fought serenity was embodied in the form of a fellow Jedi.
He was leaving again, on one of the imperative missions that the Council always found him so useful for: consummate diplomat, skilled warrior, wise Master Jedi. Inside she harbored the secret suspicion that they hoped one of these volatile missions would bring about his end, so that his dissenting voice would no longer trouble the Council. It was an unworthy thought, but then, she spent far more time lately attending the increasingly corrupt and volatile Senate than she did in her Council seat. She had lost touch with the Council and it concerned her.
"I knew I would find you here," a deep voice said from the archway behind her. She stiffened slightly, letting her arms fall to her sides, and dropped her foot to the ground. But she did not turn.
"It is time, then," she said, her tone sharper than she had intended.
A low chuckle reached her through the cooling twilight air.
"Not quite yet; the Chancellor's transport will not be available until morning."
"Your Padawan?" His ever-present shadow.
"Meditating in the Gardens," he replied, his voice coming from a point near her left shoulder. She had felt his approach, but had still refused to turn to face him. Perhaps if she did not look at him, the serenity she so carefully cultivated would not flee into the gathering night. His new proximity caused another problem as his aura reached out automatically to hers. She struggled briefly with her shields, firming them against the familiar invasion, the nearly instinctual urge to respond. He sighed heavily behind her, aware of her conflict as only he could be.
"It distresses me that my presence causes you such discord, Master Gallia," he said formally. She turned then, her eyes flashing hotly, her hands fisted in frustration.
"Always the diplomat," she spat. Then she composed herself again, struggling against the unwelcome flare of passion that only he could evoke.
He tossed back his cowl then, revealing his long hair, tied back in its habitual tail. He reached for her, his big hands settling gently on her shoulders. "I would bond with you, Adi," he said, dropping the formality, his brilliant blue eyes meeting hers with equal heat.
"It is forbidden, Qui-Gon, " she snapped, feeling her shields weakening despite her best efforts to keep them firm. It was his touch, his hands that allowed him to penetrate her shield so easily, she told herself. There was no connection between them, no resonance. It was a passing thing. An aberration. Or so she had told herself for the last eleven years.
She shook herself free of his hold and took several steps away from him, keeping her back to him. She felt his pain at her rejection of his touch like a blow to her own heart. And she should not; no she should not feel his pain so easily.
"The Force would not bond us in this way if it was wrong, Adi," he said. "I, for one, cannot blindly follow the ways of a Master renowned for his detachment. Yoda is misguided." At his bitter words, she turned back to face him, shocked. His disagreements with Master Yoda were legendary, but this was the first time she had heard him disparage the venerable Master so openly. His expression was cold, his eyes hooded by the lowering of his brows.
"Do you truly believe that?"
"What else can I believe, Adi? You will give me nothing, in deference to a Code written long before either of us were born. The Force is a living thing. It cannot be comprehended by a rigid code or an unchanging mind. For what then is the purpose of this?" he said, and then reached for her through the link that she tried so hard to deny. His warmth and strength flooded her, easily overcoming her weakened shields, warming her, filling her, easing her. She moaned softly, her head tipping back and her eyes fluttering closed. She basked in the essence of him for a long, timeless instant. Then he cut himself off from her. She shivered; alone in herself again and feeling suddenly, frighteningly diminished.
"Qui-Gon," she groaned, half in protest, half in supplication. He came to her then, drawing her into his arms, holding her against his tall, strong form. She slipped her own arms around his waist, under his robe, holding him close. She buried her face against his neck, breathing in the unique scent that was him.
"Why do you fight me so, little one?" he murmured, his lips brushing her ceisa, elicting a shiver from her at the sensation.
"You know as well as I that this is against the Code," she whispered back, trembling.
"How can it be, when the Force itself demands it of us?"
"It is emotion only, Qui-Gon. It brings no peace."
"It is resistance that brings the discord, Adi. With acceptance would come peace."
She shoved away from him then, firming up her shields against him, feeling as if she was tearing a part of herself away as she did so.
"You cannot know that. The Code is all," she said determinedly. It was the old argument. Neither would back down from their position.
"Emotion and passion are not our enemies, only lack of control is."
"And how do you ensure that control? With Initiates and Padawans running about indulging their emotions at every turn? It would give entry to the Dark Side," she said, shaking her head.
"Not Initiates or Padawans, Adi, but for Knights and Masters," he said firmly. "Indeed, how can we claim mastery when we deny such a large portion of our selves? Denying emotion and passion is a kind of ignorance, which violates another part of the code."
"You twist the Code to serve your purposes, Master Jinn," she murmured.
"The Code has already been twisted," he said. "The acceptance of emotion and passion and the integration into our selves and lives will help ensure us the serenity and peace we seek."
"No!" she said sharply. "That is not the Jedi way."
"It will be," he said. "I have foreseen it, Adi."
"Your foreseeing skills are not exactly legendary," she dismissed with a wary glance at his face and a sniff.
"I admit it is not my strength," he said calmly. "But this I have seen. There will come a day when only love will save the Jedi."
"Love?" she scoffed.
"Yes, Adi, love," he said, his blue gaze boring into her own. "What do we do when a Jedi turns?"
"They are hunted and destroyed," she replied promptly, glad to be back on safer ground.
"With no chance for repentance or redemption; they are condemned out of hand and executed. Is this the true way of peace or serenity, Adi?"
"We are warriors too, Qui-Gon," she said. "We must be strong to protect those who cannot protect themselves. And a dark Jedi would endanger the weak."
"Has no one ever attempted to turn them back to the Light? To ease the pain and fear that turned them? Can they truly be so contaminated by emotion and passion that they cannot return?" he said gravely. "Or is it pride that drives us, Adi, a pride that will not allow our failures to exist?"
"You say dangerous things, Qui-Gon," she said, drawing herself up stiffly in warning. "You forget to whom you speak."
"I do not forget, Master Gallia," he said harshly, then his voice softened. "But I know you feel the link with me, the link that torments you so. It does not torment me, Adi, because I accept it, as I accept you within me. I always have."
She turned away from him again, staring out at the deep purple sky, streaked with the brilliant blurs of Coruscant's constant traffic. It was true that Qui-Gon was at peace and untainted by darkness. All who encountered him knew that immediately. There was no darkness to him at all. He was strong and centered, at peace within himself despite the dangerous theories he espoused. For it was only that calm, obvious strength in the Light that kept the Council from more serious sanctions against him.
"Your way does not work for all," she said. "It is a dangerous path, fraught with many perils."
"Is the difficult path to be avoided? The Jedi way is also hard. Does that make it wrong?"
"You twist words again," she said, bowing her head, allowing her ceisa to fall about her face. He fell silent, watching her, feeling her struggle, longing to ease her pain.
"Our link exists, Adi," he said softly. "You cannot break it."
"No," she said sharply. "I cannot."
"You have tried, this I know also."
"Yes," she said shortly. They stood in uneasy silence then, the silent moments stretching the distance between them.
"There is no more that I can say to you, then, to convince you," he murmured, his expression of calm resignation tinted with sorrow. "I leave for Naboo at dawn."
She turned then, to look at him again, her expression serene and remote, her shields firmly in place. He reached out a hand and lightly touched her cheek. She did not recoil or respond in any way. She felt a touch of pride at that.
"Know at least, Adi, that you are loved," he whispered huskily. Through the greatly subdued link, she felt a surge of regret, even pity. But his face was calm revealing no sign of emotion. He raised his cowl, drawing his hands back into the sleeves of his robe and folding them together before him, presenting the very image of Jedi serenity as he turned away.
She watched him leave, his long strides carrying him swiftly out of her sight. She stood for an endless while as the evening faded to full darkness, her gaze unfocused, her thoughts in turmoil.
Next time, she vowed once again, he would not affect her so. She would shield herself so that his presence meant nothing to her. Surely, she thought with a hint of desperation, the link would wither that way, without him to feed it.
Next time, he would not reach her.