Calling Gabriel had been a gamble. Qui-Gon had no proof if he was alive, dead, or if he would even bother coming. Qui-Gon had fully expected to stand in the middle of the alley, stupidly saying Gabriel's name over and over out loud.
And yet despite the man was standing right in front of him, sucking on what looked to be a sweet, Qui-Gon had no idea if he truly was there. The Force did not register his presence. It was like he didn't exist. "You're shorter than what I expected."
Gabriel smirked. "Great things come in small packages."
Qui-Gon's cheeks pinched. He had disillusioned himself into thinking Gabriel was a force to be respected and awed. Gabriel was still a threat, Qui-Gon had not forgotten, but he was not someone who earned or deserved praise. It angered Qui-Gon that this, this was the person they were going have to rely on to help save them all.
"Man, look at this place," Gabriel breathed, staring up at the city. "You humans are such adaptable creatures. Truth be told, I had my money betting against you guys. I thought the whole lot of you would die out when the Black Plague came."
"Tell me about the Colt."
Gabriel grinned. "Straight to business, are we?"
When Qui-Gon refused to drop his cold, dead mask, Gabriel sighed. "What do you want to know?"
"Why did you give the Colt to the tribesman?"
"At the time it was the safest place in the whole universe," Gabriel said. "Random planet, tiny population, way beyond the realms of both the Republic and its enemies."
"Why not keep it on your person?"
"If I kept it, every single still-living angel would follow me like a moth to a flame. When the gun was finally transferred to your hands, I warded the Temple against angels."
"But not demons."
The accusation was not dismissed by Gabriel. His eyes narrowed at Qui-Gon. "Have you ever heard of the term, hide in plain sight? There are more demons in this world than angels, buddy-boy. If I warded the Temple against demons, someone would've noticed. And a lot more Jedi would be dead."
Qui-Gon gritted his teeth. It was not sound logic. Gabriel took a chance on the possibility no demon would bother with the Temple. Qui-Gon himself took many gambles, but it was always his life he put on the line, not others. If Gabriel gambled wrong, then the most powerful weapon in history would be in the hands of demons. "Then why did you ward against angels if you wanted to 'hide in plain sight.'"
"Oh, don't get snarky with me," Gabriel moaned, popping out his sucker from his mouth and tossing it aside. "Demons having the Colt? Bad idea. Angels having the Colt? Worse idea. That gun has more blood on it than any other object in history. Remember, Lucifer was once an angel. Neither he nor Michael should ever get their hands on it."
"If it is so dangerous, why haven't you destroyed it?"
Qui-Gon should've destroyed it when he had the chance. He was kicking himself over and over because of it. At least he disabled it. At least it was still in the hands of Jedi.
Gabriel looked away. For something that was supposedly eternal and beautiful, Qui-Gon read his discomfort easily. Gabriel was feeling guilt, and it was eating him from the inside. Qui-Gon didn't need the Force to know that.
"The Colt has the ability to kill anything," Gabriel finally said. "That's the legend that surrounds it. And it's partly true. It does have its limitations. It can't, for example, kill Archangels."
"So it can't kill Michael or Lucifer. Or you."
"Then why have you preserved it all this time if it is useless?"
"It can't kill archangels. It can, however, kill its hosts."
Cold spread through Qui-Gon's chest. His heart skipped a beat. "The hosts."
"It's unfortunate, I know," Gabriel said, shaking his head mournfully. "Poor bastards, destined to only live so they can die. Kill them before Michael or Lucifer wakes up and the cycle will end. No epic battle, no Apocalypse. At least, not for the second time. They'll never be reincarnated again. It'll be as if they never existed."
Qui-Gon got the sudden image of himself, pointing the gun at Obi-Wan and pulling the trigger. He imagined Obi-Wan clutching his chest, his mouth opened in surprise, in pain, as he fell to the ground, unable to breath. Qui-Gon would stand there and feel every frightened thought, every confused, shuddered breath. He would watch as blood would drain out of his Padawan until there was no more to be spilled.
He imagined Obi-Wan dying in his arms.
Obi-Wan gone forever. Not even in the Force would Qui-Gon ever find him again. "No," Qui-Gon declared. "No, there has to be another way."
Gabriel snorted. "Oh, trust me, I've tried. But now things are snowballing and not even I can predict it all. Demons are possessing people left and right. Angel are reawakening inside hosts, following Michael's call. Sorry, ol' Jedi Master, but this is the simple truth:
If you want to stop the apocalypse, use the Colt to kill the hosts."