Inauspicious beginnings often take us to great heights. And plummet us to greater depths.
—Lessons I learned From Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, by Inalia Kenobi, Chronicler of the Ch'lliear
It wasn't long after my brother's arrival that we heard the sound of heavy scraping and about five pairs of booted feet from the back of the cave. My mother was still unconscious, and with the adults tending to her, Ierei had taken it upon herself to show me how to hold the baby. Both of us froze when the noises began. Awkwardly, I shifted him into one arm and grabbed for Dad's blaster with the other hand. Ierei dropped into a defensive crouch and snatched up a rifle, letting out a snarl that sent a shiver of fear up my spine.
"It's all right," Uncle Krir called over to us, his tone distracted. "Better put on your adat, Owen."
"What?" I blinked.
Warily, Ierei straightened up and lowered her weapon. She trusted her father and would obey him no matter what, but I could still see her nose twitching and flaring in the eerie light of the glowrods. Krir barked something to her in their native language, and she whined a response.
"I'll get it," she told me, scanning the cave floor for my discarded covering. She picked it up after a few moments and tried to hand it back to me, but I gave a helpless shrug, having no idea how I was supposed to get the thing over my head while holding a squirming infant.
"Oh. Right. Hold on," Ierei said briskly.
"What are you—?" I started to ask, but before I could finish the sentence, she scampered behind me and stuffed the mask over my head. I tried to cry out in alarm, but what came out was just a muffled, "Mrph!"
There wasn't time for anything else. Just as the weird pall of the mask descended on me, other masked clanspeople began to emerge from the back of the cavern. I swallowed and stared in confusion.
"How did they get in here?" Ierei whispered.
"Um," I said.
"Foxes always have bolt holes," replied the stranger in the front of the group. The voice was deep and gravelly—an old man's voice, I thought, but although it seemed familiar to me, I couldn't identify the speaker.
He gestured to the others, who silently fanned out from behind him. Two took up guard positions while the rest moved briskly toward where Krir and Asorei were tending to my mother. Then he took two steps toward my brother and I, stopped, and planted hands on his hips.
"Well, Owen Kenobi," he asked me formally in the language of our people, "What name have you chosen for this child?"
"Me?" I squeaked shyly, glad of the adat which hid my blushing cheeks.
"Your mother had not yet brought one to me," he replied, and my face became still redder as I realized who the man was. Aquila Obern, called Talon by all four of the Ka'andesi clans, was the current leader of the Ch'lliear Council. That he came here now filled me with both awe and dread for my parents. The question he asked me laid an even heavier weight on my chest.
Our tradition held that a new baby had to be given a name within the first hour of its birth. Parents usually told their choices to the district Chronicler before the mother went into labor. That way if anything happened to the parents, the Chronicler or the Weaver could name the child. Since my mother was Chronicler, she must have been planning to bring the baby's name to Obern.
The old stories said that if a baby wasn't named in time, its soul might be in danger. I don't think anyone really believed that nowadays, but I'd never met a Ka'andesi who didn't make sure that my mother knew all their childrens' names before the birthing day arrived.
Naming someone was an important responsibility, though. Whoever gave a baby its name was accepting part of the burden of taking care of it and teaching it clan ways. I figured I already had that task ahead of me, but it was different to say so in front of the clan leader.
"I…" I swallowed, sure that was probably as red as a raspberry underneath my mask.
Ierei cleared her throat.
Thank the Force! I thought, throwing a hurried glance in her direction.
She mumbled something without opening her mouth.
"What…?" I whispered back.
Her hand moved furtively in the shadows, and she flicked her eyes toward it. Reluctantly, I looked down, conscious of Obern's steady gaze on us even through his adat. He was waiting for an answer, and I knew that I had better give it soon. When I understood the gesture that Ierei was making though, my apprehension melted. Any other time, I would have hugged her with relief.
"Ben!" I exclaimed, bringing my eyes backed to the leader's obscured face. "I—um—mean, Talon Obern, my brother will be called Ben Kenobi."
Obern didn't speak for several seconds. I bit my lip, wondering if I had made a mistake. I'd seen both my mother and my aunt make this kind of declaration before, and I was pretty good at formal grammar. It should have been right to say "my brother" instead of "this child." Had I left something out?
"Are you both certain that this is the name you choose?" Obern asked.
"Of course we are!" Ierei blurted.
Obern moved his head to look at her for a second, but I couldn't tell through the mask whether he was pleased or upset. Ierei's hand moved to clasp mine, and I knew from the tightness of her grip that the leader made her nervous. She didn't lower her eyes, though. Obern turned back to me.
"His name is Ben Kenobi," I affirmed, still puzzled. It wasn't normal for anybody to question a baby's name like this. I guessed it could've been because Ierei had helped me, but I didn't see why that should matter as long as I was the one who gave the name.
"Very well," Obern nodded, lifting his own hand to cover both of ours, which rested lightly on my infant brother. "Welcome, young Hawk. May you fly far, but always return to the land and the people who have given you your name."
To everybody who's still following this one, thank you for patience. My health has not been good for the last year and a half. I found these on my hard drive and realized I'd never posted them. I will continue Places Brothers Go and the Land and Sky AU at some point in the future. I can't make promises right now about regular updates due to my health situation. You can check my profile or my livejournal (so-out-of-ideas at livejournal dot com) if you're interested in personal updates. I'll update my fanfiction projects as I'm able.