Author's Note: This is the "origin story" of my OC, Kalinda Halcyon. I created her when I was about 16, after I watched TPM for the first time. She's gone through a lot of changes since then, and I am fairly happy with the result. If you have read either Old Wounds or Bomb in a Birdcage, you already know her as an adult, but this is a glimpse of Kali as a teenager. Enjoy!
We are not saints , but seekers.-Jedi axiom
History has no beginning, and has no end; there are only markers, significant moments in our lives that we recall later, either in records or our own memories, that give us some sense of where we stand in the scope of the universe. However, as someone who claims to study history's course, I have often asked myself where to begin? I have lived through some of the most turbulent times in galactic history; I feel that it would take several lifetimes to fully comprehend everything that I have witnessed, yet I have only this one.
Though greater minds than mine have tackled these arduous subjects, I shall attempt to add to this immense wealth of information my own story-not terribly important, in of itself-which features some of the better-known figures of the Old Republic, of the infamous Clone Wars, and of the Jedi Order. It is my hope that with these words, stored on the Great Holocron, future generations of Jedi Knights may come to a more complete understanding and awareness of the ways of the Force.
There are so few of us now, where we once numbered in the thousands. We are scattered grains of sand falling from an open palm, drifting and barren. Yet I know that the Jedi are not extinct. The Force has not abandoned its loyal children to the Dark Side; I know this to be true. It is almost my greatest wish to aid any future Jedi in their efforts to re-establish the Order.
And so I arrive again to the question at hand...where to begin?
Part One: Bonds
Music drifted through the Temple, rich harmonies and soaring melodies that seemed to spring from the very Force itself. The sounds were localized in one particular area, the Room of a Thousand Fountains, where a small group of Jedi were creating the music, and a larger number were gathered to listen. Jedi Knight Kit Fisto, a green-skinned Nautolan, was beating an intricate rhythm on a pair of knobby drums, his hands a blur as he kept the heartbeat of the music steady and strong. Master Plo Koon was holding a curved bass cello, creating a rich, deep sound which added a depth to the music and reverberated within the bodies of the listeners and players alike. Jonas Ki was strumming an ion-steel gitar for all he was worth, and his Padawan, Kalinda Halcyon, sat next to him, running a slender bow across the strings of a viol, creating a sound that was filled with remorse and joy. Kit Fisto's apprentice, Bant Eerin added the final layer of melody with a high-pitched, skirling pipe native to her home-world of Mon Calamari.
The other Jedi in the audience were an assortment of Knights, Padawans, unassigned students, and regular staff, and among them Obi-wan Kenobi and Qui-gon Jinn. In fact, the room was almost filled to capacity, as everyone enjoyed listening to the Force-laden music of the group. It had begun as a lesson for the Padawans in playing together, as each was talented in their own way, but were not used to playing with others, and had grown from there. This particular arrangement had been chosen both for its complexity and for its use of the multi-part harmonies that showcased the talents of the Padawans; the sound of Bant's pipes rose up above the heads of those in the crowd, joined moments later by Kalinda's soaring viol, with the Knights keeping up a steady background.
Obi-wan was struck, as he always was, with awe at his friends' musical talent; he was proficient in lightsaber combat, naturally, as well as a host of other "Jedi-like" skills, but music always seemed to elude his grasp. He watched Kalinda, her eyes closed and a smile on her face, as she ran the bow across the strings almost too fast for his eyes to follow. She looked absolutely enraptured, and he felt a thrill run through him, as though the Force itself was growing stronger with the music. Indeed, a glance around showed him that most of the other audience members felt it too, the tangible evidence of the Force-laden music that their fellow Jedi were creating.
His Mon Calamarian friend, Bant, was furiously playing the pipes, and the notes became to come faster and faster, the viol and pipe melody twining around and around one another until they were almost indistinguishable. Kit let out a whoop of joy, and several Padawans in the audience responded in kind.
Beside Obi-wan, his master, Qui-gon, began clapping along to the rhythm, caught up in the wild, skirling melody. Many others followed suit, including Obi-wan, who was still watching Kalinda. She hardly seemed aware of anything besides her instrument, and looked, for a moment, lost and bewildered when the music ended and the instruments were silent. The audience erupted into applauds and whistles, shouts of approval and requests for more. Kalinda found Obi-wan in the crowd and grinned at him when he gave her two thumbs up, before applauding heartily. All the musicians stood up, gave a bow to the crowd before the Knights gestured to their Padawans; Kalinda and Bant grinned at each other and took another bow, hands clasped. The show over, the audience began to disperse and Obi-wan and Qui-gon rose to meet their friends.
"Bant! That was incredible!" Obi-wan hugged the slight girl, who grinned at him briefly before she was called away by another one of the Padawans. He looked at Kalinda, who was carefully placing her viol back in its case. She raised her eyes to his as he approached her, somewhat awkwardly, and smiled again, though it was not the same smile that he had seen while she was playing. "Kali," he said, standing before her. "I always forget how good you are." He wanted to hug her, like he had Bant, but it felt...different somehow-his heart was beating inordinately fast for no apparent reason. Her dark eyes met his and he wondered, as he always did, what she was thinking. His hand stuck out; she looked at it curiously for a moment before wiping her palm on her tunic then placing it in his.
"Sweaty," she said with a nervous smile.
"I really meant it," he continued. "You are-were-amazing."
"Thanks," she began, but was interrupted as Qui-gon approached her, placing a large hand on her shoulder.
"Kalinda, you grow more talented each time I hear you perform. Well done."
Since he dwarfed her by at least two heads her face tilted up to smile at him. "Thank you, Master Qui-gon. It is always an honor to play with such wonderful musicians. Next time you should join us."
"Oh no," he replied with a laugh. "I'm not nearly good enough."
"That's not true in the least," Jonas Ki, Kali's master, approached the small group. He was several centimeters shorter than Qui-gon, lean and compact, with white-blond hair that he kept closely cropped to his head. His light eyes glittered as he came to stand between Kalinda and Obi-wan, and he nudged Qui-gon's arm. "You are quite proficient at a keyboard, if I recall."
"If by proficient, you mean abysmal, than I would have to agree, my friend."
Obi-wan cast a surreptitious look at Kali, who rolled her eyes as if to say, here they go again. He hid his chuckle behind his hand and saw her do the same. Suddenly, Jonas' comm unit beeped an alert. He activated it, and the image of Mace Windu appeared before him.
"Master Ki, would you and your Padawan please report to the Council chambers at once? We have an assignment for you."
"Of course, Master," Jonas said. "We'll be there in a moment."
"Very well." Mace paused, then glanced around. "Is Qui-gon with you? We'd like to see him and Obi-wan as well."
"We'll be there as well, Master," Qui-gon replied. The two Jedi nodded to their charges and began to head for the inner chambers of the Temple, stopping only to ask another Jedi to place the instruments in the music room with the others. Kalinda and Obi-wan trailed behind them. Curiosity and anticipation coiled within Obi-wan; he and Qui-gon had been at the Temple for almost three months with no missions, and he found that he was growing restless. Having just turned sixteen two weeks ago, he felt that he was ready for a new challenge.
Kalinda's thoughts seemed to echo his own, for she leaned over to him and whispered in his ear as their masters were speaking quietly to each other ahead of them. "I wonder what this is about. Are they sending all of us on a mission?"
He was distracted for a moment by her warm breath on his ear, but managed to reply after a moment. "I have no idea. I hope so-I've been a bit bored lately...I could do with a little excitement."
"Now you've done it," she said with a sigh. "We're in for a world of trouble now, you just wait."
The Jedi Council chambers were located on the top floor of the center pillar of the Jedi Temple, with the room having a panoramic view of the bustling city-planet of Coruscant. It was dusk and the sun was almost completely down, sending a stream of gold-flecked light into the circular room. Though the chambers were meant to be a place of quiet reflection, Kalinda felt only apprehension when she entered the room, for it was here that so much of her life had been, and would probably be, decided. She tried to calm her thoughts and focus on the matter at hand, as it was very difficult to keep anything from a room of Jedi Masters who could read you like a datapad.
The two Knights and their Padawans came to stand in the center of the chamber, surrounded by the Council members and facing Mace Windu and Master Yoda, the most senior members of the Jedi Order. Kalinda felt, as she always did, apprehensive and unsure of herself before Mace Windu's piercing gaze, though she tried to mask the feelings with a veneer of calm assurance.
"Thank you for coming so quickly," Mace said. "There is a situation that has arisen on the planet of Echothalia which we hope to resolve in a timely manner."
"I'm not familiar with that system," Jonas said. "Is it in the Republic?"
"No," Adi Gallia answered. Her headdress swayed as she shook her head. "The planet has undergone several decades of civil war and has only recently, within the last year, managed to create a stable government, though they have not yet chosen to join the Republic."
Master Windu continued, his voice calm, but serious. "During the last six weeks, there have been an increasing number of deadly and destructive terrorist attacks, growing more so with each passing day, and threatening the fragile peace. The Prime Minister, Nereus, petitioned the Senate yesterday to intervene."
"He has offered Echothalia's allegiance to the Republic if we resolve the issue in a timely manner," Ki-Al Mundi added. "The world is known for an abundance of healing plants and lipids; it would be a great boon to the people of the Republic if they would share their resources."
Jonas nodded thoughtfully. "What are the nature of the attacks? Who is behind them?"
"That is exactly why we requested you, Master Ki," Mace Windu replied. "The terrorist recently posted a video of himself on the planet's holo-channel. He calls himself Non. You encountered him on Dantooine, did you not?"
At the mention of the name, Kali felt Jonas tense beside her even as he nodded. "Yes. He was ruthless and cunning, though his motives were unclear."
"Everyone has a motive," Adi Gallia replied. "Perhaps you will discover it this time, and be able to stop him before more innocents are harmed."
"Non is unpredictable and extraordinarily intelligent," Jonas said, nodding. "But I learned much from our last encounter. I believe that we can bring him to justice."
"Sending Qui-gon and Obi-wan with you, we are," Yoda added. "Our own measure of unpredictability, we will add."
"Your assistance will be most welcome," Jonas said, glancing at Qui-gon, who gave a slight nod. "Try as he might, Non cannot hide his intent from the living Force, no matter how he may fool beings of flesh and blood."
"You are scheduled to leave at first light, and I'll send you the full report, along with your accounts of the encounter at Dantooine," Mace Windu said with a nod of dismissal. "May the Force be with you." The Jedi and their Padawans bowed, then turned to exit the chamber in silence.
"Echothalia is located on the Outer Rim, about twelve parsecs from Ansion," Kalinda said, the light of the Archives computer casting a blue glow on her face. "It should take us about two days to reach it, even with the hyperlanes."
Obi-wan stifled a yawn. "Two days? Really? That seems a bit long."
"It's not a very established route," she explained, her eyes on the screen. "They don't want us to get lost on the way."
"I'd think that we'd be fine, regardless," he replied, glancing at the clock above the door to the Archives. "Kalinda, it's nearly midnight...how much more research do you plan on doing?"
She cast him an irritated glance. "It's not a crime to be well-informed, you know. I just don't want to overlook anything that might be useful." Even so, she leaned her arms above her head and stretched. "Besides, if you're tired, you can go to bed."
He watched her movements, and felt that strange stirring that had been coming up with more frequency of late. After a moment, he shrugged. "I think that Master Qui-gon would agree with you. And we can always sleep on the way." They were quiet for a minute, before he spoke again. "Did Jonas tell you about this 'Non' person?"
She shook her head, her eyes still on the screen. "He faced him about five years ago. I was too young to accompany him on such a dangerous mission, so he left me here. He never wanted to talk about it, which was odd, for him. Usually we talk about everything...However," she looked up at him, a familiar gleam of satisfaction in her eye. "I've done a bit of digging, and learned about our adversary."
"And...?" he prompted.
"'Non' is short for 'non-entity' or 'non-partisan,' according to the Archives. He has no known planetary affiliation, no familial or faction ties, and no history. He causes chaos for chaos' sake, at least, that's what Jonas' report said."
Obi-wan sighed. "Sounds like a nice fellow."
She nodded, brushing her Padawan braid behind her ear. "I don't think this mission will be easy."
"Your master seems fairly confident that we can handle it," he countered. "And we are four to his one. We must have faith in our skills and those of our Masters."
"I know," she replied. "You're probably right." She absently toyed with her braid, lost in her own musings.
Obi-wan watched her, and he felt his heart racing again, as well as a strange sensation in the pit of his stomach. She'll never understand how beautiful she is, he thought suddenly, studying the way her long, nearly back hair escaped from the leather thong she had gathered it in and tumbled down her back. As if sensing his thoughts, she rose her eyes to meet his and he felt the Force thrumming through him as though he were in deep meditation. His eyes widened. She seemed to sense it too, then, as if on impulse, she leaned forward and kissed him. Just once, on the lips, causing a thrill to run through his entire body. When they parted she gave a little smile at his look of bewilderment.
"I just wanted to know what it would be like," she said quietly, her cheeks pink.
"I'm not sure I got it," he managed to say after a moment, giving her a grin. "Can we go again?"