*Disclaimer: Star Wars and everything associated with it belongs to George Lucas. I'm just playing in his universe. I am not making ANY money off of this story.


First there was the Force.

Then there was Qui-Gon Jinn.

Through the ethereal swirls and beautiful chaos, the former Jedi Master floated free. Unencumbered by desire and need, his soul was at once on Tatooine and everywhere. The trivialities of the sandstorms seemed as dangerous as the dust on an insect to him. There was no fear, no regret and no longing. There was just the Force.

It had been several years since his death at the hands of the Sith assassin. At first, it had only been death. He had been there, fighting for his life, and then he was looking into the anguished eyes of his apprentice, pleading with him to train the curious boy they had found on a desert world. Soon after that, there was nothing.

And then there was something.

The Force had greeted him lovingly but without ceremony. He was both alone and not. Free of form and the limitations of human thought, he was everywhere and nowhere. There was no divide between the Force and his own soul. He could be anywhere and everywhere, but presently, he had rooted himself in the shifting sands of the Dune Sea.

There were no other beings for kilometers, none but the hooded figure making his way slowly through the sand dunes on the back of a reluctant beast. Qui-Gon drifted in nothingness and watched his former apprentice—now a skilled Jedi Knight—carry out the most important mission he had ever been faced with. The bundle in his arms wriggled somewhat, but the child remained asleep, unaware that his sister was currently being taken to the world of Alderaan to be raised amid the glittering mountains of the home of Bail Organa. The boy, Luke, would be brought up amid humbleness and love. Together, the two would eventually play their parts: she, a steadfast diplomat with the means and training to organize the Rebel forces; he with the skill and drive to become one of their greatest champions.

This whole planet had a touch of destiny hanging about it. This was where Anakin Skywalker had first captivated Qui-Gon with his innocence, where that same child had returned and lost a part of his soul to the fires of rage and grief, where Obi-Wan Kenobi had sequestered himself following the horrors of the Empire's purge of the Jedi, where Luke Skywalker would first learn of the Force, where Owen and Beru Lars would perish at the hands of the Empire, where Luke and his sister would fight for the life of their friend, Han Solo. Qui-Gon saw the streets of Mos Eisely filled with beings celebrating the demise of the Empire.

The future began at this point, with a small child being handed over to a family surviving in the harshest of conditions.

Qui-Gon stretched out, feeling the points where present and future connected. Causality rippled off into the distance like a chain reaction. He saw where decisions caused branches to form in the fabric of the universe, sending entire alternate universes hurtling off into futures of their own. He focused on the child, finding several branches stretching into the past and future like wings. In one, Anakin and Padmé watch their children grow up on Naboo. In another, a vicious plague sweeps through the galaxy, weakening the Empire to the point of collapse long before Luke Skywalker has a chance to mature. Endless possibilities stretching on into the limitless boundaries of the universe. One such thread intrigued him. He reached out and found himself being pulled to the Tantive IV in orbit around Naboo quietly watching an exchange between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa. The grief of thousands of deaths weighed heavily on Obi-Wan's shoulders but he refused to show it. The only indication of what had happened could be heard in Bail Organa's stricken voice.

"My wife and I will take the boy," he said. "We've always talked of adopting a baby boy. He will be loved with us."

Such a simple transposition, Qui-Gon thought to himself. Luke is raised a prince while Leia grows up a moisture farmer. How different the galaxy would have been.

Returning to Tatooine effortlessly with a thought, Qui-Gon watched Obi-Wan hand the child to Owen Lars with as much solemnity as if he were crowning a new king. The young man seemed to understand what was being asked of him as he gently took the infant to his new wife, Beru. As the two gazed into a vibrant double sunset, Qui-Gon found the stray thread he had visited earlier and reached out to it, giving in to his curiosity. The scene before him remained unchanged except, of course, for the child in their arms, who was now a baby girl.

Qui-Gon smiled to himself as he watched the alternate future unfold. His own universe would still be there waiting for him. After all, he had eternity.

Let's see how things could have been.