Author's Note: Old Wounds is the first bit of fanfic I wrote after a very long hiatus. It was inspired after watching The Clone Wars TV show, though it features my main OC, Kalinda Halcyon, whom I created in the late 1990s after watching The Phantom Menace when I was a teenager.
As of March, 2012, this fic has been somewhat re-vamped to accommodate the dual timelines that I've established for Kalinda; more information about the timelines, (and my other projects!), can be found on my profile page.
Please note that I don't own Star Wars, Obi-Wan, Ventress, or any of the other recognizable characters. Additionally, I make no money off of this venture.
Reviews feed the muse, and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to leave feedback. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy. :)
Also, this fic takes place approximately one year into the Clone Wars.
Closing her eyes, the Jedi concentrated once more, determined to see the experiment a success this time. Her lightsaber lifted in preparation for the onslaught, her focus was sharp and clear. She listened for the tell-tale hiss of the droid and listened to the Force, letting it guide her next move.
The droid fired, and she swung her saber, deliberately missed, and felt the dull sting of the bolt on her wrist. She smiled in satisfaction, and commanded the droid to cease fire. The glowing yellow blade disappeared into the hilt as she examined her wrist carefully. There was only a slight reddening of the skin, as if she'd scraped it against a wall, and not a severe burn that should have come from a practice droid set at maximum power. It worked, she thought, gazing at her wrist. It really worked.
"I guess hours and hours of study and practice do pay off, in the end," she said quietly to herself. "Reset," she commanded the small, spherical droid, who continued to hover obediently. "Full power, random attack pattern, fire at will."
Immediately the bolts came, and the Jedi managed to block a few, gathering the Force around her as she did so. Finally, when she felt that familiar twinge in her left knee and realized that she was tiring, she brought up the shield once more. Again, it worked like a charm. When she missed several of the bolts – as she inevitably did – there was only a minor bit of discomfort, but nothing as serious as it should have been from the practice droid. She repeated this process for another two hours, until she felt more certain of her ability to call up the shield at will. Finally, she signaled the end of the session, and returned the droid to its station in the practice rooms at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
Kalinda made her way back to her quarters, her mind whirring the entire time. Even though she was covered in sweat from the exercise, she pulled out her datapad and recorded her notes for the session, her voice evenly recalling the latest development of her studies.
"The information that I've been studying in the Archives has proven to be correct," she began. "Today I managed to create and maintain a viable shield for myself against a practice droid set on maximum power. While I did sustain a few hits, they are hardly anything serious, and have left no visible marks on my person."
She paused for a moment before continuing, her voice more reflective than before. "While I realize that this technique is by no means a replacement to combat, I genuinely feel that it will help even the odds, so to speak, and give me a bit of an advantage in an area where I am sorely lacking. Once I conclude some more tests, I will go to the Council with my findings, and consult with them on how to proceed disseminating this knowledge throughout the Order. It is my hope that this technique will soon become widespread among the Jedi, and help us win this seemingly endless war against the Separatist army."
As she finished speaking, a quiet beep from her comm situated in the wall alerted her that she had an incoming message. "Kalinda," the deep voice of Master Windu sounded from the panel. "Please come to the Council chambers at once."
With a sigh, Kali rose and exited her room, making her way to the chambers that lay on the top floor of the Jedi temple. As much as she often found herself at odds with the Council members, Kali never grew tired of visiting this particular room. It was made of warm marble that seemed to resonate a feeling of peace the moment she entered, and the vast windows looked out onto the harried planet of Coruscant, which provided a constant influx of observation.
Presently, only Master Windu and Master Yoda were in the chambers, seated and speaking quietly. Kali stood patiently while they finished their conversation, her mind dwelling again on her session with the shield.
Finally, the tall, dark-skinned Master turned to her. "As you know, Kalinda, the war is not going as well as we had hoped. Our numbers are stretched thin, and those that are in the field are desperate for reinforcements."
I know all of this, she thought. Why is he telling me what anyone could see on the news? "Yes, Master Windu," she said. "I'm aware of the situation."
Windu glanced at Yoda, who's large eyes were fixed calmly on Kali, before he continued. "Good. And, though you have not proven to be the most proficient fighter, we feel that you can be of assistance in a certain area of concern to us."
"With all do respect, Master," she replied after a moment. "I've requested a field assignment several times prior to this...what has changed?"
"Difficult, this situation is," Yoda answered. "The Jedi who is there now, handle it alone, he cannot. Requested help, he has."
Kali tamped down a flash of irritation before she spoke, knowing full well that both Masters would be able to pick up on her emotions, and, for argument's sake, she didn't need any further questioning. "What are the specifics of the mission?"
"You are to report to the Basrah system, to assist General Kenobi in the eradication of a facility producing a dangerous element that could be used in chemical warfare. He and his troops have been engaged in multiple skirmishes in the region, preventing them from ascertaining the true nature of the facility. Although our agents have managed to gather a bit of intelligence on the chemical, we still don't know exactly what it's capable of. In any case, Kenobi has requested help. Your transport leaves in two hours, and Master Nu will take over your classes in the meantime. I'll send the full report to you when we're finished here."
She was unprepared for the way that her heart would beat faster at the mention of Obi-Wan's name, and she took a breath to calm herself before bowing to the two Jedi. "As you wish, Masters. I'll make my preparations at once." With that, she slipped out of the room as quickly as she could without looking suspicious.
The transport was an older model, equipped with only the most basic necessities, evidence of the fact that every available Republic ship and pilot were being utilized in the wars. Kalinda checked in with the Captain, a Twi'lek female who was strangely quiescent for her kind. Master Windu's orders had said that he would advise Obi-Wan of her approach, and that there was no need for her to contact him just yet.
They must be desperate, she thought as she watched the streaking stars through the porthole as the ship jumped to lightspeed. I know that Mace would rather chew his own arm off then send me on a combat mission. Still, she thought with a smile. It will be good to see him again, despite everything...
It was not one of her happiest memories, the last time that she had seen or spoken to Obi-Wan almost two years ago, just prior to the start of the Clone Wars. Even now, the memory brought a certain tightness to her throat; he'd been very adamant about not pursuing their romantic involvement any further, as he had done at one time or another in the past. This time, however, his resolve had been firm.
"But Ben, it's not wrong to love. It's not against any code to love another being." She had used her nickname for him, hoping to emphasize their connection, the past that they both shared.
"Not this kind of love, Kali," he had countered, stepping away from her. "It's too much; it will consume us both if we don't put a stop to it. And I feel that dark times are coming...we have to use our energy for other purposes. Neither of us can afford distraction."
"But that's exactly it," she argued. "We can all feel it...the darkness coming. Now, more than ever, we need to keep our bonds strong."
She approached him again, her eyes fixed on his. "That's how it used to be, in the early days of the order. Jedi were not forbidden to love one another, as long as it didn't interfere with their purpose, with their path." Her face was close to his, even though he had to lean down to keep their eyes level. "Denying your feelings is the worst thing that you can do, Ben."
He faltered. She could see it in his eyes, as they looked at her with plain and naked longing, a mirror of her own thoughts. Whatever else, she had thought in that moment, I know he loves me. I know it.
But it had not been enough. At that moment, his Padawan, Anakin, had called him away, and Obi-Wan left without another word. Kali had felt his relief at being called, and sorrow engulfed her.
Lost in memory, her eyes scanned her datapad without really seeing it. Though the pain of his rejection had faded, it never vanished entirely, and Kali had immersed herself in her research, hoping that something from the past would help the Jedi secure the future.
That was, ultimately, what led her to the discovery of the shield. Initially, before her experiments, she was convinced that it was bunk; the idea of a personal shield was something that would be invaluable to the Jedi, and the repercussions of such a discovery were immeasurable. It was too good to be true, therefore she was reluctant to trust it. However, the potential was so great, the opportunity to stop the losses of Republic forces was too tempting not to explore. The more she learned, the more hopeful she became. In theory, if the Jedi was strong enough, she could protect an entire squadron of troops, not to mention a ship or even a fleet of ships...
Kali shook her head to clear her thoughts. Until I work with it some more, I shouldn't give in to idle speculations.
"Master Windu, it's good to hear from you," Obi-Wan said, his voice hoarse. "I hope you have news of the reinforcements?"
The image of the Master Jedi flickered blue before Obi-Wan's eyes, but he thought that he could make out a trace of irritation in the Master's expression. "Indeed. As you know our resources are few at the moment, but we are sending another Jedi to assist you. She should be there by daybreak. I realize that the window of opportunity is growing smaller, so I recommend that you strike tomorrow evening."
Obi-Wan glanced at the fading sunset and sighed. He had hoped that it would be sooner, but the trip from Coruscant was not a short one. "Very good. Who is coming, if I may ask?"
Mace Windu was silent for a moment, and Obi-Wan felt a flash of annoyance. His troops were tired, he was tired, and in little mood for Mace's reticence. "It's not another youngling, is it?" he finally asked, thinking of Padawan Ahsoka whom the council had sprung on Anakin several months ago.
The Jedi Master shook his head. "No. We dispatched one of the instructors at the Temple: Kalinda Halcyon." Even through the patchy communication he managed to give Obi-Wan a stern look. "I need your assurance that things will proceed smoothly between the two of you. She was not my first choice for this mission, but we had few other options."
Obi-Wan nodded. "You don't need to concern yourself, Master," he said. "There won't be
"Good." Mace Windu nodded once. "Report when you have any news. May the Force be with you."
"And you, Master."
The image flickered out, and Obi-Wan rubbed his temple with a smudged and sooty hand. Memories he'd tried to bury rose unbidden to his mind.
She had always fascinated him, the strange, dark-eyed girl who seemed to know him better than he knew himself. Ever since the first moment he saw her, when he was six and she five, it was difficult to ever get her completely out of his thoughts. Often, throughout the normal course of a day, he found himself wondering what she would say or do in a particular situation. Throughout the years, their paths had often differed, but they always managed to find each other in the end.
Until that day, almost two years ago.
He could still see it clearly; the desire in her eyes, the tremor in her voice that betrayed how much he was hurting her by trying to place a wedge between them. Yet, images of Tahl and Qui-gon haunted him. He knew that if he allowed himself to love her, if he opened those floodgates the onslaught would wash them both away...and now they were being brought together, again. He wondered if he would ever be sure that he made the right decision, and if there would ever be a time when his thoughts did not circle back to her.
"Everything okay, General?" Cody, the leader of his squadron approached, looking apprehensive.
"Wonderful," Obi-Wan replied with a sigh. "Another Jedi is coming to assist us, from the Temple on Coruscant."
"Well, that's good news," Cody said, though his tone was wary as he judged Obi-Wan's expression. "If I may, sir, you don't seem particularly pleased."
Obi-Wan considered for a moment, then shook his head. "I'm a bit tired, is all."
"Well, things are quiet for now," the clone said. "Maybe you should rest a while. I reckon it'll take him a number of hours to get here, anyway."
Obi-Wan raised his eyebrow at the trooper. "The Jedi is a female, Cody."
"Of course, sir. My apologies: we clones tend to think all in masculine, you know? I guess it comes from being around your brothers all the time. You know her, then?"
"I do," Obi-Wan replied, heading for his bed. "I do indeed."