A/N:This is a prize for starwarsgal12 over at deviantArt, who asked for an action story about Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. Because it's me she gets some Darth Maul too. This story became much longer than I expected, although it's certainly not the best thing I've ever written.
Trial of Skill
Obi-Wan Kenobi climbed through the web of bridge supports beneath one of Corscant's oldest working structures. Dim, gray daylight filtered through the layers of smog. He could hear speeders rushing by overhead, their passengers probably gawking out their windows as they traversed one of the planet's wonders. One main thoroughfare dipped down from the skies to make room for floating buildings, and the beings who travelled it passed over the Moray Bridge, a gigantic structure of durasteel and iron. Four lanes of traffic passed ten meters over Obi-Wan's head now, with a sound like a hurricane.
He was looking for weak spots.
His eyes showed him gaps in the thousand thin support legs where an opponent could hide. His ears adjusted to the overhead din, letting in the smaller sound of his footsteps on the ground and hawkbats calling in their roosts above him. The Force told him that he had entered into a sacred place.
There had never been any religious rituals here, except for those desperate whispers of ohmydeityplease when some being, destitute or chased, found its way here alone in the darkness. Instead, Obi-Wan tried in vain to translate into Basic the sensation the Force was telling him. Sacred, important, prearranged—
This place would be the site of his Trial of Skill.
Qui-Gon was leaving him. Obi-Wan would be a Knight on his own soon, with all the responsibility and command, all the power and the respect. He thought of sitting on futons in a study lounge with his friends and wasn't sure he wanted it.
Then he thought of not having any more homework and knew that he did.
Obi-Wan pressed on, twining between bridge supports, his boots cracking down on the piles of refuge that had drifted down from above. Qui-Gon had told him there would be a challenge waiting, but in typical cryptic fashion had given no indication of what form it would take.
Knighthood trials were supposed to be secret, like pacts between Master and apprentice, but Padawans gossiped. Some talked about obstacle courses, or duels, or visions.
Obi-Wan emerged from the shadow of the bridge to see a path set before him. A disused stairway which had probably once been in a hanger or storehouse had been ripped from its rivets and propped up against a mound of fermenting trash.
There had been routes like this set up throughout the Temple, as tests or simply as places the Padawans could run around in.
He thought of Bant and Siri by his side and started up the stairs.
Individual rungs threatened to crumble or the whole staircase to sink into the pile of trash it was propped against. At the top he reached a shifting, smelly pile of trash. Obi-Wan turned to watch the streams of traffic flowing across the bridge.
On the other side of the hill of trash, a catwalk had been placed with as much half-hazard ruin as had the stairway. Obi-Wan started across. The path wrapped around the thick, rotting root of a skyscraper. A landscape of obstacles became visible; webs of girders, pits and traps, ledges and ladders. Obi-Wan scanned the landscape, planning a route. He took a deep breath and started to run.
The first challenge was a gap in the path. Obi-Wan leaped over it with a small application of the Force. He landed on the other side, boots clanging on the ledge, and heard the whir of machinery.
He looked around, saw no movement besides the lights of traffic far above, and kept going.
A round droid as wide as his shoulders rose up in front of him. He nearly fell onto it before springing up and landing on the other side.
The droid released a flurry of blasterbolts. Obi-Wan gasped as the red lasers bit into the metal floor he was walking on, creating bright orange pits. This was live fire, not like the exercises at the Temple. His momentum was still carrying him off the platform onto the next one, so instead of stopping in his tracks Obi-Wan knelt at the edge and hooked his hands around the underside of the platform. He flipped down to cling to the bottom of the platform. The droid whirred by overhead.
The platforms had once been the foundations of houses, built on stilts to avoid the rising piles of trash. Its underside was a jungle of secondary support joists and bundles of dead wires. Obi-Wan perched on a U of iron and caught his breath.
The Trails really were challenging.
Another black-carapaced droid zipped past the edge of the platform, and Obi-Wan started climbing from foothold to foothold. He thought of pulling out his lightsaber, but needed his hands for balance as much as possible.
Then one of the droids dodged through the tangled landscape and fired. The red bolt flashed close past Obi-Wan's face, and the young Jedi saw a moment later that it had burnt a hole in his sleeve.
He pulled in a harsh breath and pushed forward as fast as he could, stepping on swaying bundles of cords and bracing his hands on the underside of the platform above him. He felt the lurch of falling backwards almost every time he moved.
The droid kept zig-zagging behind him. It fired again, and when Obi-Wan reached the ede of the platform he pulled himself onto its top with a gasp of relief.
The first droid stitched a line of blasterfire along the platform toward his face.
Obi-Wan rolled to the side, his shoulder just brushing the floor for a moment. (A quick thought—thank you Master Drallig.) Obi-Wan uncoiled onto his feet and triggered his lightsaber.
The droid did not retreat. It pressed forward, with another rain of blasterbolts. Obi-Wan deflected all of them, the lightsaber's low-frequency hum rising to a ping every time a bolt hit. Using another one of the Troll's lessons, Obi-Wan moved forward.
His first strike cut the droid in two uneven half-spheres. As soon as it clattered to the ground, the other droid rose up from under the edge of the platform.
The Force warned him that another was coming behind him, now. He spun and deflected the shot perfectly, although it didn't appear to have any effect—
The first droid fired again, scorching his shoulder. Obi-Wan gritted his teeth against the pain and grabbed the droid with the Force. He swung his arm around and dragged the droid with it, intending to smash them together, but another shot splashed around his feet and he tripped backward.
In a flash, the Force told Obi-Wan what to do. He lined the droids up, one behind the other, and backed away.
A green lightsaber blade pinwheeled through the air and sliced both droids in half. Qui-Gon Jinn jumped from trash pile to the platform, the edges of his beige cloak flapping.
"Padawan," he said. The word rumbled through its simple syllables. Qui-Gon looked stern, and his Force presence felt slightly confused.
Oh no, Obi-Wan thought. I've failed the Trial. He's had to come rescue me, from two droids! Two little—
"I told you to meet me at the bridge."
Obi-Wan's face fell, and now he felt confused. "I thought, I was supposed to find my Trial there."
He started to speak a few times, but all the questions there were to ask sounded silly. He composed himself. "What do you want me to do, Master?"
They both noticed the incoming droids before they came within range of sight or sound.
"This isn't your training ground, Padawan. Come on. I've got a speeder waiting."
Three more droids zoomed along the path of platforms. Qui-Gon batted their first shots away, but blue-green transparent shields flared around the droids and bounced the bolts away. Obi-Wan's brow furrowed.
He was so busy concentrating on the droids that he only noticed the speeder when his hip brushed against it and his hands, curled white around the saber, nearly hit it on the hood.
"Get in." Qui-Gon opened the doors.
Obi-Wan vaulted the hod, still batting away bolts as Qui-Gon sat down in the driver's seat under the overhanging door. When the speeder sealed, the silence was surprisingly complete.
"Whose training ground is it if it's not mine?" Obi-Wan asked quietly.
Qui-Gon concentrated on the speeder's sweeping glide up toward the lines of traffic. "I do not know. The cloud of the dark side is no thicker here than anywhere else, but…I do not want you to get hurt."
Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow. He thought now that maybe he could have taken the first wave of droids on his own..but not the second. "Don't Padawans get hurt in Trials sometimes? They're supposed to be able to survive."
Qui-Gon pointed to the bridge as they flew past it. "There."
Obi-Wan scanned the shaded caves between support struts. One seemed to hold darker shadows than another. After some squinting, it resolved into the figure of a humanoid. It stalker along the edge and dropped fearlessly down to a spot not far from where Qui-Gon's speeder had been parked.
The speeder's flank rose and obscured Obi-Wan's view. "Should we go back and check it out?"
Qui-Gon's Force sense almost immediately became detached and cold. When he asked "Do you think we should?" Obi-Wan realized his Master was still trying to make a test out of this situation.
Instead of saying what he thought Qui-Gon wanted to hear, Obi-Wan went with his gut. "We should tell the Council."
Qui-Gon slowly nodded. "There should be some opportunity for you to make your own decisions during this outing, and not just follow paths. We'll tell the Council."
But when they got back to the Temple, the Jedi had received the news of the blockade of Naboo before the holo news had, and Master Windu met them at the door.
"We need your diplomatic expertise, Master Jinn. It's a delicate situation."
Qui-Gon's face remained impassive, but Obi-Wan could see his smirk in the Force through their bond. Qui-Gon knew that the Council just wanted him to be active.
None of them knew, then, that Naboo would be important. Trade Federation, the common people in the marketplaces and malls of Coruscant scoffed. If Jedi are sent to calm them down it's not because the mission warrants lightsabers, but because it warrants Republic credits.
They were, of course, wrong.
When Obi-Wan felt the presense of the assassin on Tatooine, he knew that he had been wrong to ignore the obstacle course and go back to the Council. He could have rooted out the Sith then and there. The shadowy figure on the ledge seemed burned into his eyes like reverse sunglare.
But Naboo was his Trial now, and Qui-Gon was beside him teaching all of them—the Gungan, the queen, the little boy—how to survive it. This was a training ground Obi-Wan could claim as his own, and one made all the more vivid because Qui-Gon was fighting beside him.