In War

"In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons."

-Herodotus

The orange, Coruscanti sun had set long ago, pulling the city into a false slumber as speeders raced through the skylines at all hours of the day and night. Yet Obi-Wan Kenobi could not find any respite in sleep. Despair seemed to cling to the air of the Jedi Temple, an orange haze that wouldn't wash out of the Jedi's tattered robes, remnants of the battle that had just occurred.

Blue eyes searched the med-wards for surviving childhood companions and comrades-in-arms. Guilt drove the Master onward into sleeplessness as he gazed at the sacrifice that had been made to rescue him and his apprentice.

There were too few wounded. There were too many dead. The funeral pyres burned through the night as the Jedi said farewell to their fallen.

The Halls of Healing were quiet. Kenobi stopped in front of a dark chamber where a critically injured Padawan laid. He bowed a silent thanks to the individual who had sacrificed so much in order to save he and his apprentice. The Padawan did not stir, but slept on.

A lone figure in the shadows caught his eye down the long corridor. He studied the Jedi who gazed out at the blur of lights and advertisements that was Coruscant at night. Master Kenobi prepared to take his wandering elsewhere—

"Stay, Master Kenobi," the quiet invitation could have almost sounded pleading.

"Master Zur," Obi-Wan bowed. The Zabrak turned to regard the other Master. "I did not mean to interrupt."

"Nonsense. I asked you to do so," Zur allowed a faint smile to grace his tattooed face, but quickly faded. His voice dropped to a murmur, so low that Obi-Wan had to strain his ears to hear, "I would love some company."

They stood in silence for a moment, both gazing out at the dizzying blur of speeders and neon advertisements. Obi-Wan stood at the other Master's side, waiting for the silence to break.

Stoic reserve hung in the air between them, the earmark of years of training. Molten grief bubbled below the surface of the stereotypical Jedi calm.

"How is young Anakin?" The Zabrak's yellow gaze did not stray from the window.

Obi-Wan cleared his throat. "He will be fine. He is currently resting. Tomorrow he will be fitted for his cybernetic arm." He stifled the urge to shift from foot to foot. He was a Jedi Master, for Force sake. Jedi do not squirm.

"He fought well. I believe that he will make a great Knight."

Obi-Wan nodded. That much was easily apparent. Anakin's apprenticeship under him would soon come to an end. He paused, straining his memory. A smiling, human male's face came to mind. "You have a Padawan, correct? Near Anakin's age?"

Zur's shoulders seemed to momentarily slump. He shrank inwardly at the mention of his apprentice, as if slapped across the face.

"I did," the quiet admission stunned Obi-Wan into further silence. "The battle claimed him."

Obi-Wan took a minute step back, truly looking at the Jedi next to him. The Force seemed to distort and blur, revealing the turmoil beneath the mask of calm. Zur's once imposing presence had been muted, caked and dulled with the blood of his apprentice's death and the clay of Geonosis. Mental shields did not entirely cover the writhing agony in the back of the Zabrak's mind where the training bond with his Padawan had once been.

Kenobi was stunned to silence. How had he missed that? Upon closer inspection, it was clear that the other Jedi was bleeding from wounds that could not be treated by medic droids or temple healers. When he found his voice, regret dripped from every syllable, "I am…sorry to hear that."

The elder Jedi did not respond. Obi-Wan slowly began to back away, but was again stopped. "We are servants of the Republic, Master Kenobi," the Zabrak began, his voice barely above a whisper. "And as Jedi, we are also guardians of one another, if necessary. I do not regret Geonosis."

The Force throbbed with the hurt in the Master's words. Obi-Wan's breath froze in his chest. The buried guilt resurfaced. So many had died…all to rescue Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme Amidala, and Anakin Skywalker.

"He died as a Jedi, for other Jedi. If he were here, he would tell you: he did not once regret Geonosis, either." The façade of peace slipped, fell to the ground, and shattered. "My only regret is that he is no longer here."

Zur slowly sank to his knees, bowing his head to his hands. For a painfully awkward moment, Obi-Wan Kenobi froze. Never, in their many years of sharing various battlefields, missions, and temple hallways, had he ever seen the usually stone-faced Master display any emotion, much less openly weep.

So, the great warrior did the only thing he knew to do. He knelt next to his mourning comrade and wrapped an arm around him, sharing in his grief.

"I cannot not shed tears for him," Zur choked out, tears unapologetically falling to the cold, tile floor. "I could not remain detached from him—not when I had trained him for so many years. He became my son."

Obi-Wan remained silent, his heart crumbling at Zur's words.

"There is no emotion, there is peace," the Zabrak released a shuddering breath, clearly wrestling with the boiling emotions that threatened to overflow from his heart and through his mouth. "Even in the beginnings of this war, I have not been able to find peace, only pain. War is a cruel mistress: she gives false promises yet takes so much."

Kenobi closed his eyes against the guilt that threatened to rise in his throat and choke him. Though war had been inevitable—that much he had seen on Kamino—he could not help but feel that in some way, the blood of the many Jedi who had died on Geonosis had to fall on his and Anakin's hands. "I am truly, truly sorry…"

Slowly, Zur rose to his feet. He placed a steady hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder. "You did not start this war, Master Kenobi. But I believe that you and your apprentice can end it," he said cryptically, "I do not believe that my Padawan's sacrifice will be in vain. There will be balance and peace again, one day. Good night."

He shuffled slowly from the room, leaving Obi-Wan to his thoughts. The sun began to rise in the distance, casting a bright, but hazy glow on the cityscape below him. Obi-Wan was pulled from his reverie when his commlink chimed. Anakin was awake. He shook his head, trying to clear it of the confusion, heartache, and remorse.

Obi-Wan stood and stretched the last of the tension from his aching muscles. The floor had been unforgiving and he had not realized that he had been kneeling for so long. "Coming," he began down the hall toward where his apprentice was preparing to go into surgery.

The mourning and despair of the loss they had suffered had culminated into that one conversation with a fellow Master, which had lit a spark of determination in his heart. The war had begun.

Soon-to-be General Kenobi strode down the hallway with a renewed sense of purpose. Yes, the Jedi would fight to defend the peace of thousands. Yes, many Jedi could die. Yet it would not be in vain. It could not be in vain.