"You just missed the most boring diplomatic dinner in history." Qui-Gon said softly, settling into a chair next to Obi-Wan's bed. "But don't think you're getting away with anything, Padawan." His voice was light but his expression betrayed his worry. "I'll see to it that you make up for your absenteeism."
A thin shaft of moonlight from a nearby window graced his apprentice's motionless form, a silvery caress of ginger hair and stilled features, upswept lashes against pallid skin. The Jedi master leaned forward, one broad palm coming to rest upon curled, limp fingers. Gathering the languid hand within his own, Qui-Gon paused to stroke his thumb over smooth, youthful skin unscathed as yet by the weathering of time. Almost by instinct, he found the scar on Obi-Wan's wrist, a small mark left behind from a training exercise, remembering the incident with a small shake of his head.
"From the way you acted when you brought him in, you would've thought he was bleeding to death." Obuk's voice sounded behind him, a throaty chuckle accompanying the statement.
"It was the first time my Padawan was injured; you could've given me a break, you know." Jinn replied just as lightly, turning his head slightly to acknowledge the presence of his friend just behind and to his right.
"Hmm…no. Not really." Obuk placed a hand at Qui-Gon's shoulder. "And if I know anything about your natural charm I'm sure dinner wasn't exactly all that boring." That brought an outright snort and another headshake from Qui-Gon.
"Many of the Bahreena are being deceived into believing that we steal their children for the Order." He prefaced, and Obuk shrugged a little.
"It's not a new rumor." The slender Healer replied, and beneath his touch, he could feel the tightening of Qui-Gon's shoulders. "Well, how often have you gathered younglings to the crèches?"
"Often enough to know that this has never been a problem on Bahreen." Jinn replied; thumb still stroking absently along Obi-Wan's hand. "The ancient bonds between us are being tested, although it is not yet clear by whom or for what purpose."
"The Roeh's delightful relatives had no light to shed on the matter?" Obuk inquired, and at Qui-Gon's sudden shift in the chair to face him, the Healer chuckled again. "Iya makes a good conversationalist. Unlike her father."
"Sithspit, Obuk!" Jinn exclaimed, pausing to draw a deep breath. "Well I'm not certain as yet. Inais Idriah and his son are certainly disdainful of my…of our…presence here, but I'm not yet convinced that either of them are the House informer the Roeh spoke to me about." Midnight blue eyes were thoughtful. "I've instructed Iya to keep her heritage quiet for the time being."
"Wise precaution." Obuk remarked, folding his arms across his chest and wandering a few paces away. "Do you really think it will get that ugly?"
"My feelings tell me…" Qui-Gon frowned tightly as he spoke the words. "…that it is very likely."
Within his gentle grip, the slight tremor of Obi-Wan's hand was the only warning either man received before a sudden thick, choking rasp passed through the padawan's throat, followed by several heaving, nearly airless gasps. "Obuk!" Qui-Gon's shout for help was unnecessary; the Healer already sprung to Obi-Wan's side. Hands placed upon the young Jedi's chest, the Healer reached out into the Force, assessing. Another series of choked breaths followed. "Hurry!" Qui-Gon snapped anxiously. Obi-Wan's lips had taken on a frightening bluish tint, stark against the sharply pale features.
"In my kit," Obuk said calmly, eyes closing as he directed a gentle Force-touch to aid Kenobi's weakened lungs. "…is a stimulation unit with a medication adapter."
Already on his feet, Qui-Gon moved to snatch up the little case and rummage through it rapidly. Handing the device to the Healer, he watched anxiously as Obuk parted the layers of Obi-Wan's thin undertunic, placing the unit upon the padawan's chest and activating it. After several tense, anxious moments, a deeper breath was taken, a shaky exhalation, followed by another and another. The blue began to recede from Obi-Wan's lips, and Qui-Gon found himself releasing a tightly held breath of his own.
"What happened?" He asked; blinking as his mind caught up to the shock.
"His heart." Obuk replied placidly, moving now to get into the kit himself, taking a small cylinder of medication and attaching it to the stimulator. "It's under a tremendous amount of strain in this state, and it's losing the ability to maintain a normal rhythm."
"Which means, my friend," Obuk glanced up from his patient briefly. "That you have much less time to get him back than you did ten minutes ago." While the slender Healer sustained a calm, logical manner, his words were direct and pointed. "The stimulator will help stabilize Obi-Wan's heart and keep it beating normally but it's really only a temporary solution. Time is running out for him, Qui. If we can't locate him and return him to his body…he won't have a body to return to."
"Merciful Force…" It was part exclamation, part supplication, and Qui-Gon reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose, trying to ward off the headache he could feel sneaking up on him. Obuk paused in his care of the apprentice to attend to the master, guiding Qui-Gon back to the chair and placing fingertips delicately along both temples. Stretching into the Force, Obuk directed a soothing ribbon of healing warmth against the rising ache.
"Let me be a meddling friend long enough to suggest you get some rest." Obuk said gently. "Especially if you intend to repeat that stunt you pulled earlier with Iya to look for Obi-Wan. I can tell you haven't completely recovered from the first attempt."
"Never mind that." Qui-Gon waved it off, but Obuk shook his head firmly.
"No arguments. It's late, and you aren't indestructible, Qui-Gon Jinn. Obi-Wan will be all right long enough for you to lie down awhile. Go on…get some sleep." Obuk declared. Stubborn shoulders abruptly slumped a little, a tacit acknowledgement of the exhaustion still nipping at him, and Qui-Gon finally nodded slightly in agreement. Obuk patted his friend's shoulder briefly. "Good. Glad you could see it my way. Rest. And in the morning you and Iya can give it another go."
Qui-Gon glanced up at the Healer with a hint of impatience, but then his gaze was drawn away once again to his padawan, moving once again to clasp Obi-Wan's wrist briefly before rising to his feet. Silently he reached up and placed his hand on Obuk's shoulder, a wordless gratitude the Healer acknowledged with small nod, and then reluctantly the tall Jedi retreated from the room.
I am Amagi Iya…Jinn. Your master is my father.
The words returned to Obi-Wan's mind, spoken in those melodic tones, and he would have shaken his head if he could have. Curiosity returned as he had nothing else to occupy his time, and he wondered at the history behind those words. The girl whose Force-signature was so blindingly bright, who had contacted him from half a galaxy away, was Master Qui-Gon's daughter.
The holograph that his Master carried with him must be that of her mother, Obi-Wan realized abruptly. Once again, he wondered who she had been, and how she could have carried on such a liaison with his Master, without Qui-Gon's release from the Order. Whatever the circumstances, there was no doubt that they had produced an amazing child. Obi-Wan had to admit that he had never encountered such raw power before, not even among some of the most talented Jedi masters.
A memory tickled at the back of his mind, like a whisper. Something that told him that he was not completely separate from the events tumbling in his thoughts. Obi-Wan concentrated, reaching into the Force, stretching for the recollection that just danced at the periphery of his awareness. There was a…house…covered in some sort of ivy, and a pathway that curved up the slight rise to the door…
"Obi!" The stamp of an equally small foot accompanied the small, shrill voice. Then there was another voice, firm and insistent.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi. Bash Fasia san bey ohta tai!"
Obi-Wan "blinked" slowly, turning the tiny fragment of memory over in his mind. With a start, he realized abruptly that the language in which he'd been addressed was Bahreeni. Bash Fasia san bey ohta tai? What did that mean? Master Qui-Gon would know. With faint amusement, he remembered that Iya Jinn would as well.
The amusement faded a second later as another realization dawned on him. Not only had his Master been on Bahreen before, so had he. As a child, but he had been here…and with that came the thought that at one time he must have understood the language of the Bahreena himself, at least in part. A whole host of other questions was attached to this revelation, including an instinctive curiosity about his own origin. Was he natural-born Bahreena, then? Had Master Qui-Gon been one of the Jedi who had gathered him to the Temple crèche clans? Obi-Wan cast his mind back to that little shred of memory, the voice speaking to him in Bahreeni. He couldn't see the face of the speaker, but the voice was…warm and musical despite the disciplining nature of the memory.
Memories and questions suddenly vanished from consideration as a searing pain savagely captured his attention. Obi-Wan looked down as if expecting to see his chest impaled upon a sharp blade or something of the like, and just as quickly he realized what he was feeling was an echo of his physical body, back in the House Inais. Force help me…
You're not completely disconnected, you know... Nacena Berayl's words came back to him: One simply has to know how to find that slender link. Apparently, that link yet existed. Obi-Wan "closed" his eyes, trying to reach back along the painful echo, trying to see what was happening.
The image flashed, so quickly, that he almost wasn't sure of what he'd seen. Master Qui-Gon…and Obuk. Healer Obuk was here! The willowy Jedi healer was in motion at his side…abruptly both the eerie shadow pain and the vision faded away, and Obi-Wan was left with the lingering impression of danger tingling at the edge of his awareness.
The link that kept him alive…was fading.
The shadows cast from the single grouping of scented candles were long in the bedchamber as Qui-Gon stepped in; it was apparent to him that Inais Cherida had dispatched her servant to attend to her guest and he had to smile briefly at that. Asvhi, as with most of her people, was singularly graceful and aesthetic in her duties. Qui-Gon well remembered Amagi Ina's affinity for anything light and lovely. Candles, the scented balm she wore in her hair as the one luxury she allowed herself as a Jedi, pennit flowers in her rooms. Art, music…so many of the things that his own quarters with Obi-Wan often lacked.
Perhaps he had allowed their place in his life to die with her, the simple pleasures that had adorned her presence. It was not something he often thought of. However, with his promise to Ina ringing in his memory and his heart lying in motionless time with his Padawan's body, he thought of it now as the candles' scent reached his senses.
Obi-Wan's abilities as a Jedi had progressed much as Ina had predicted for him in the hushed goodbyes spoken upon a remote landing platform districts apart from the Jedi Temple. Obi-Wan had been tucked within Ina's arm, fussing as if somehow he understood the parting taking place. Ina's escort from Coruscant had been impatient, no doubt under Council orders to take her and the baby boy to Bahreen with all haste. She had breathed her soft farewell into his ear…brushed her lips against his jawline…there was the smell of the fragrant balm in her hair and his fingers caressed her face as she turned away.
There were no more pennit flowers after that.
Still, there seemed to be a graceful imprint of Amagi Ina upon the soul of Obi-Wan Kenobi, just as light and lovely that seemed to lend the young Jedi an innate appreciation for beauty and truth. Qui-Gon smiled as he pulled off his outer robe and laid it aside. Obi-Wan didn't appear to have any memory of his two-year guardian, but nonetheless Ina had found a way to leave her mark on him. Every day that he watched his apprentice draw closer to the Trials, to Knighthood, he could see her fingerprint. Despite the anticipation of his promises fulfilled, there was still a melancholy moment to be had with making Obi-Wan a Jedi Knight…it would be like losing her all over again. So far, he'd managed to push that selfish thought down inside himself, but Qui-Gon knew it was only a matter of time now before it would surface again.
Qui-Gon finished unwinding the long sash and shrugged his way out of his tunic, draping it overtop the long brown robe. He shook his head slightly as he realized Obi-Wan did not remember the childhood playmate from those long, lazy afternoons spent here with Iya, any more than Kenobi remembered her mother. Innocent children playing simple games in the Bahreena sunshine, under Ina's watchful eye. A smile touched Qui-Gon's lips as he tried to picture the two toddlers keeping her busy. If the stories from Obi-Wan's crèche-masters were close to being true he was certain that between them, Obi-Wan and Iya had given Ina a few scares along the way, for he could also see such mischief in his daughter, despite her gentle demeanor.
The smile faded as Qui-Gon wondered at the rightness of keeping the details of Obi-Wan's past a secret all these years. For all the power inherent in Iya's initial contacts with his apprentice, Obi-Wan had not recalled those sunny Bahreena days, had not remembered chattering incessantly in Bahreeni on the journey to Coruscant at the age of two, or being carefully guided into speaking Basic Standard over the "native" language learned from his…surrogate mother.
Stripped down and clad in a pair of sleep pants and loose inner tunic, the tall Jedi reached out a hand and passed it lightly before him. The candles guttered and flickered out, the wicks snuffed with a mild prompting of the Force, and Qui-Gon made his way into the bed, quite possibly the most comfortable accommodation he had rested on in a very long time. Despite the weight of the situation here on Bahreen, and the worry he carried for Obi-Wan, sleep was amazingly swift to come, pulling the exhausted Jedi into its comforting embrace.
His slumber lasted into the deep, early morning hours until with a restless turning, Qui-Gon started up from the layers of sleep, vaguely disturbed. There was only a moment's warning, a brief sense of imminent danger whispered through the Force startling Jinn into wakefulness. He sensed a darker shadow against the inky blackness of night, and Qui-Gon flung his hand outward, calling his lightsaber to him but not before a sharp, hot pain spread through his chest. The 'saber was ignited a split second later, illuminating the covered face of his assailant in eerie green as the blade hummed between them, driven straight through the attacker's chest by its activation. There was a moment of almost stunned silence as Qui-Gon tried to find his voice, but another voice spoke first, an anxious cry as the lights came on and he blinked against the brightness, deactivating his 'saber.
"Dajo!" Iya rushed into the room as the figure of Qui-Gon's would-be assassin crumpled to the floor and the tall Jedi sat up dazedly. "Teim! Nei teim! " Help! Help us! The commotion was enough to waken other members of the Inais household; the doorway was suddenly crowded with the Roeh and his wife, and behind them was Inais Idriah and a pair of servants.
"What is going on?" Touko demanded as he took in the scene with a disbelieving eye.
"He tried to…kill me." Qui-Gon answered frankly, his right arm hanging limply at his side as he left the bed to kneel next to the motionless figure and turn him over. There was no pulse, his attacker having died nearly instantly with the ignition of the lightsaber. Glancing up once at his daughter and his hosts, he moved to pull aside the dark mask covering the dead man's face. Inais Cherida gasped, and Qui-Gon sat back on his heels. The sightless eyes that looked upward belonged to Inais Bala.
"Force help us!" That was Obuk, the slender but determined Healer pushing his way into the room as Qui-Gon forced himself up to his feet. "You're bleeding. Sit down before you fall down." Qui-Gon turned his gaze toward the Healer, blinking once in silent shock before his vision blurred and he quietly collapsed next to the body of his would-be murderer.
"Things are in motion, Lord Sidious..." Nacena's voice was properly demure yet pleased, a conniving expression dawning in green irises. "…that will ensure the destruction of the harmony between the Jedi and Bahreena." She inclined her head respectfully, ebony hair sliding past her face like a silken veil. The holographic image of her master twisted into an evilly delighted expression. A thin finger pointed at her.
"You have done well, Lady Malcia. Have you destroyed the Jedi apprentice?"
"Not…completely, Master." Nacena replied thoughtfully. "But he will not last much longer, and his master will be blamed for the schism now coming to the Bahreena people." She smiled deliciously. "The Jedi Order will dismiss Qui-Gon Jinn in disgrace."
"Very good, very good indeed." Sidious' gravelly voice cackled in gloating laughter. "Now you may return to Coruscant and fulfill your duties here."
"My Master…" Nacena bowed again, a bit more deeply this time, and paused only long enough to push the long hair behind her shoulder once again. "I request more time. Success will come only if the destruction of fellowship between the Jedi and Bahreen is complete. Surely you can see how this will benefit us." There was a long pause, and for a moment, the green eyes darkened as she considered the likely refusal of her request. "You have made me your agent not only in the Senate, milord, but to advance your plans and provide you information from the Mid-Rim. What is happening here on Bahreen will determine how quickly you will be able to cut the Jedi off from their supporters." Her voice was not too hopeful; she was careful to sound as calculating as possible.
"Ahh, yes…" Sidious' amusement was further aroused with another crackling chuckle. "…and also allows you to fulfill your personal quest for blood."
Nacena was abruptly thankful that the holograph would not project the heat she felt rising in her cheeks, although she had the uncomfortable feeling that the dark lord was perfectly aware of her discomfort at being so easily read.
"My quest is yours, Lord Sidious."
"Very well." Even through the mild distortion of the holographic projection, Sidious' evilly amused smile was seen easily. "Proceed with…our quest, and destroy the Bahreena alliance with the Jedi Order."
Nacena's own smile was deliciously spiteful as she inclined her head once more.
"It shall be done."
"Force preserve you, Qui-Gon Jinn but you were lucky."
Obuk's voice was the first thing Qui-Gon was aware of, followed closely by a fiery pain throbbing along with each heartbeat. Turning his head toward the sound of the Healer's voice, he dared to open his eyes, and Obuk came into his blurred vision.
"Hmph…" The grunt was about all Jinn was able to manage at first, but it elicited a broad grin from Obuk.
"Just as charming a patient as ever, I see." The slender Jedi pronounced, which did prompt more of a response from the patient in question. Qui-Gon made an effort to sit upright, and probably would have managed it but for Obuk's hands placed firmly at his shoulders. The Healer had very little struggle after that as his grip on Jinn's right shoulder produced an increased reminder of injury. "Pain, at least, you understand you stubborn gundark. Just lie still and let me do my work." Qui-Gon fell back against the mound of pillows that Inais Cherida had supplied, another soft grunt escaping his lips with the motion.
"Thought…I didn't need to…be reminded…that…I'm stubborn." Qui-Gon breathed out, the effort of speaking enough to make him close his eyes again, each word bringing a sharp ache to his chest.
"Qui…" Obuk said affectionately, but somewhat seriously, "…shut up." Slender hands deftly re-bandaged the injured Jedi's chest and shoulder in a swath of bacta patches and binding material, by necessity ignoring the sharp little gasp with the application of the bacta. Once the fresh dressing was in place, Obuk placed delicate fingertips against the wounded area, directing a soft touch through the Force to aid the knitting together of damaged tissues and to ease the pain.
"What was that…about being lucky?" Qui-Gon asked, his voice coming to him a little easier now as he reopened his eyes and frowned slightly, struggling to focus more clearly. "I don't feel like it."
"First of all, you were attacked with a standard Model Five, modified vibroblade, which for starters is outlawed on most planets. It could've very easily opened you up from nose to knees. Secondly, it missed anything vital, like the heart I know is hiding in there." Obuk's voice turned a bit more serious from the mild rebuke as he checked over his work with a critical eye. "The wound itself is pretty deep and that's bad enough. It's been bleeding pretty stubbornly, but I'm satisfied that you're going to live."
"Good for you…" Qui-Gon replied, but the sarcasm lacked his normal strength.
"You should try being something other than a grouchy old man." Obuk chided lightly. "You have a daughter outside this room that's very anxious to see her father."
"I'll send her in." Obuk smiled despite placing hands on hips. "Provided that you rest. I know I won't be able to keep you here for long considering the circumstances but while you can just stay put, please. I'll be outside if you need me." Qui-Gon reached across with his left hand, abruptly clasping his friend's wrist and keeping the Healer from turning away.
"Thank you." He said honestly, quietly. Obuk's smile broadened.
"You're welcome." The grin became mischievous. "Force only knows why you've been left to me but I'm glad to have you here awhile longer, Master Jinn." Qui-Gon released his hand and the Healer turned aside, muttering as he headed for the door. "Iya will be here momentarily; I'm going to go check on Obi-Wan. Force, I swear you two conspire to keep me busy. I don't even get a break when you go out on assignment!"
Qui-Gon smiled a bit to himself as he watched the retreating figure of the graceful Healer, allowing his head to drop back to the pillows. Force knew there were few better in the Order than Obuk. Inhaling slowly, testing the reaction of his chest to a deeper breath, Qui-Gon glanced down at the wealth of material enfolding the injury. Obuk, he was sure, would have been happier dunking him into a bacta tank but the field dressing and patches would have to do.
"Dajo?" Iya's soft inquiry drew his attention, and Qui-Gon looked up, motioning with his left hand for her to come further in. Her relief was visible as she came to his bedside and cupped a slender hand to his face. "Master Obuk says you'll be all right." A tight swallow, a vulnerable expression. "I thought perhaps I might be an orphan a second time."
"I'm not that easily done away with." Qui-Gon replied affectionately.
"I don't know about that." Iya answered guardedly, and she sat down in the chair beside her father and took his hand in hers. "The whole House is…" She sought the word she wanted, frowned a little. "…niketero. Without peace…unsettled."
Qui-Gon exhaled sharply, ignoring the twinge it brought to his chest. He'd known from the moment Bala's face had been uncovered that it would be a flashpoint for the dissent smoldering among the Houses of Bahreen.
"How bad is it?" He asked Iya frankly, midnight blue eyes troubled. His daughter shook her head slightly.
"Jhu hain, Dajo." Bad enough. "The Roeh has disowned Idriah and declared that he is no longer House Third." Qui-Gon groaned audibly. Aside from the loss of his son, that disgrace alone was enough to prompt Idriah's anger. There was nothing more important to the Houses than honor. Stripping Idriah of his name and title would invite trouble; of that, Qui-Gon had no doubt. "There's more, Dajo. Bala has been assigned to the Nameless Place."
"Force help us." Jinn murmured, curling his fingers more tightly around Iya's hand. The Nameless Place was the portion of House burial land designated for the dishonored dead, whose final punishment included an unmarked grave and removal from the House record of ancestry. A punishment not inflicted on any member of a ruling House since before the time of their involvement with the Jedi. Peace had existed in those centuries after the last such burial. There likely would be no peace after this one. "When is this to take place?"
"It already has, Master Jedi."
Inais Touko stood in the doorway, his face lined with the most serious of expressions, a deep distress in the intelligent eyes. Iya looked up from her father to the House Roeh, acknowledging his presence with a gracious nod. Touko did not return it, coming instead to the foot of Qui-Gon's bed, gazing at his guest directly. "The Healer tells me that your injury is not life-threatening and I am truly grateful."
"As am I." Qui-Gon replied with gentle good humor, seeking to put the man at ease. "Thank you for your concern, Roeh." He watched as Touko's head bowed; the weight of the world it seemed, on his shoulders. "You may speak freely in the presence of this daughter of the House Amagi. She is…loyal to the Anhri Jotar and will not betray your words."
"You understand the situation well, Master Jinn." His voice was soft, yet pained. "I knew Idriah was becoming involved with this…radical element that would set Bahreen against the ancient traditions and the Jedi Order. However, I never expected such a thing to evolve into attempted murder. Certainly not to kill a Jedi Knight in my House." The Roeh of the House Inais began to pace, his agitation evident in every step. "I do not even know who I may trust among my own people." He exhaled sharply, raking a hand through hair that was still sleep-disheveled. "Your aid in this matter is no longer quiet, Master Jedi. Already Idriah has summoned the Prime Voice and there has been a general call for the dissenting Houses to unite. I don't know what we will face come morning."
"My service remains to the Order and to the Bahreena." Qui-Gon reassured. "I will not abandon my duty here; you have my word as a Jedi."
"I am grateful for your devotion, Master Jedi." Touko paused, his expression one of contrition. "I cannot begin to express my regret to you or to ask your forgiveness for what has happened."
"Inais Touko." Qui-Gon replied quietly, but firmly, "You are not held responsible for your brother's…or your nephew's actions. You are responsible only for your own. Please allow me to express my regret to you for the disruption of your family." Touko ceased pacing abruptly, a surprised look on his features.
"You are a gracious man, even for a Jedi Knight." A brief, regretful smile crossed his features. "If you were not already sworn to the Order, I would take you as my brother into this House in Idriah's place."
"You honor me with your confidence, Inais Roeh."
"And now he will honor you with some peace and quiet." Obuk pronounced kindly but firmly, granting the Roeh a short nod but motioning with slender hands to shoo the Bahreena leader from the room. He placed a hand on Iya's shoulder. "You too. There are still a few hours before sunrise and we are all going to get some sleep." The Healer looked at Qui-Gon knowingly. "All of us." Iya rose gracefully, giving her father a respectful bow as should be accorded a Jedi by a House firstborn before withdrawing from the room.
Inais Touko's eyes focused on dark shadows gathered outside the window as Iya departed and then turned his troubled gaze to the two Jedi before him. A wordless worry passed between them, the heaviness of a dangerous future hanging over them and then Touko inclined his head slightly.
"Rest well, Master Jinn." The ruler looked at Obuk. "And may the Force favor us with peace." Turning away, the Roeh strode from the room.
"I doubt," Qui-Gon quipped lightly, "that there will be much sleeping going on in this house." He gave Obuk a wise look. "In the morning we're going to have the prelude to a civil war on our hands. I must contact the Council, and you know that we can't wait any longer to look for Obi-Wan." He started to sit up, but as before, Obuk pushed him back onto the bed.
"And what condition do you think you're in to handle any of that?" Obuk arched his eyebrows. "There are three hours before sunrise and you're staying right there until then." The hand at Qui-Gon's good shoulder shifted just a little. "Sleep." For just a brief moment, a startled look crossed Jinn's features. "I never said I was above a little trickery." The Healer said as the Force-enhanced suggestion pulled Qui-Gon's consciousness down into the warm depths of sleep. Satisfied after a long moment that the injured Jedi had succumbed completely to his ministrations, Obuk pulled the blanket up a bit more and stepped away. Walking to the window and gazing outward, he considered his friend's words…In the morning we're going to have the prelude to a civil war on our hands.
There was motion out there, in the dark, the deep shadows of predawn stubbornly clinging to what he could or could not see. Obuk reached out into the Force, probing, searching. He sensed the Roeh's House guards, staking positions along the perimeter of their ruler's dwelling. As he had gone to look in on Obi-Wan, he had passed pairs of guards stationed outside the door of this room, and the room containing young Kenobi's body.
"Force preserve us all." He murmured softly.
The light that filtered into the recesses of his blue prison wasn't sunlight, but something artificial and glaring. His attention drawn, Obi-Wan looked up to see Nacena approaching him, garbed in the deep blue robes that she had worn upon their first meeting. Her hands extended toward him and he could see after a moment that the glare was coming from the heart of the cerubathain, the talisman that he had seen upon his arrival in the Blue House and which she now carried before her.
"You're fading." She said pleasantly, her face distorted cruelly by the harsh, ugly glare. "Even I need help to see you now." Her steps brought her close, and her expression was pleased in a way that made Obi-Wan anxious. "I am sorry, however that in your final hours you can't hear the song of the Force drawing you on."
"What are you talking about?" He bristled, defiance rising in him once again. Nacena's laughter, while light, was grating.
"I'm talking about revenge, my young Jedi friend." She replied smoothly, circling around to Obi-Wan's right. "I'm talking about the fact that your body is dying. And when it expires without you…there will be nowhere for you to go except to the Force…or…" Eyelashes fluttered a little as she looked over at him. "…not." She held up the cerubathain, came nearer. "Look closer." She commanded. He didn't want to, but there was something compelling about the strange, shifting harsh light. Abruptly there was a shift in his perception, and he could hear screams.
"What…what is that?" He gasped hoarsely.
"In the early days of war between the Jedi and the Sith…" Nacena moved away, breaking Obi-Wan's contact with the cerubathain and stilling the cries that echoed in his 'ears.' "…there were many with talents similar to the ones that split you apart. In some of those battles, Jedi were taken by Sith with those abilities. They were parted from their bodies and held captive much as I have you now." Berayl nodded toward the cerubathain. "Using some of these, many of those disembodied Jedi were imprisoned and not allowed to join the Force. As I will imprison you when your body fails."
Obi-Wan recoiled; the cries he had heard had been awful, despairing. Could it really be that these were Jedi trapped by the Dark Side for over four centuries? If he had not been held fast himself, he might have made a lunge for the object in her hands, if only to find a way to free the captives whose plaintive moans had pierced his consciousness.
"You won't succeed."
The words were out before he'd really thought them through; Obi-Wan hesitated briefly. Were they spoken just out of expected resistance? His captor's amused expression spoke to that moment's doubt, and just that quickly Obi-Wan felt his heart sink. Something's wrong…something's really wrong. His senses whispered to him and had he been corporally present, a violent shiver would have traveled his spine.
"You are brave, Padawan Kenobi." Nacena purred, eyelids lowering slightly. "And I admire bravery. Your Master did well to teach you to release your fear." Her expression grew hard, cold. "It is a lesson that will not help either of you now. Fear will be your prison, and your Master will die knowing that he could not protect the last son of Jurashe…and that never again will the Bahreena welcome the Jedi with open arms."
The Dark woman swept past him now, carrying the talisman that would be his lock and key, and Obi-Wan stared after her in disbelief. Son of Jurashe? Obi-Wan had learned about the Jurashe Massacre years ago in his Interstellar History classes; millions of Force-sensitives murdered in a violent uprising as rival clans vied for power and took out their hatred on those they feared. Just two decades later, there were very few Force-sensitive Jurashei children left in the universe, where once there had been tens of thousands.
Focus, Obi-Wan. Kenobi chided himself; he could imagine his master's instruction. So often Master Qui-Gon had taught that where his focus went, reality would follow. Just now, reality seemed solidly turned on its ear and more than ever, he needed to concentrate. Time was not his ally; he had very little of it left if what his captor had said was true. Of greater importance than the questions surrounding Iya Jinn, or those about of his own heritage—be it Jurashei as his enemy implied or Bahreena as his own memory suggested—was the danger in which his Master remained.
Calling the Force to himself, Obi-Wan drew himself into the deepest level of concentration he possibly could, allowing all else to fade around him as he sought out the one solution that was left to him.
"Iya..." He whispered into the strong current all around him. "Iya Jinn…you must hear me."
Obi-Wan flung every bit of strength he could into he effort; Iya had to sense his call. Everything depended upon it, for if he failed now, there would be nothing to keep the spreading darkness from destroying Bahreen…his Master…his very soul.
Dawn was just kissing the Bahreena sky with blushed hues when Qui-Gon next awakened. He drew in a deep breath, realized that it didn't hurt to do so, and blessed Obuk's talents. Glancing downward, he took note idly that the bandages had been changed yet again sometime during his forced rest without waking him, and he reached up with his other hand to explore the material with his fingertips.
There was yet a bit of tenderness with his prodding, but not enough to be seriously painful. Another testament to Obuk's skillful healing. Quite likely while he had not been awake to protest, the Healer had stayed at his side, wielding the Force to mend the wound nearly to completion. Turning his head to the left, Qui-Gon's suspicion was borne out by the sight of the slender Healer dozing in a nearby chair, head tipped back and mouth open in sleep. Jinn grinned a bit at Obuk's somewhat less than dignified appearance before rolling up into a sitting position, again rather pleased that the discomfort at such an effort was minimal.
In the somewhat rosy morning light just beginning to spread into the room, the tall Jedi forced himself up to his feet and shuffled to the window, gazing outward. The sight that met his eyes was enough to distress the leonine features, still slightly pale from his ordeal just hours earlier. Already there was a crowd gathering before the security perimeter of the Inais estate, and it didn't take a genius or any Jedi training to know that many of them were armed. Armed, and angry. Already shouts were beginning to rise in the early morning air and it wouldn't be long before the entire household was aroused.
"Remind me to make a note in the official report that you were right." Obuk's tired voice sounded behind him, and Qui-Gon glanced back at him.
"This is the one time I'd have preferred to be wrong." The tall Jedi replied quietly. Turning back to the window, he stretched out into the Force, allowing his feelings to assess the situation. He could easily enough sense the agitation of the crowd; there was little effort needed for that. Hard on the heels of that sensation was the sharp edge of fear and anxiety rippling through the House security forces. Several were Force-adept; Qui-Gon reached out and swept a calming touch over them. "It's only going to take a small spark to blow this up in our faces."
"I'd say from what's out there there's enough sparks to blow our faces halfway across the galaxy." Obuk replied dryly, unfolding himself from the chair and coming to stand next to Jinn. Serious eyes flicked over his friend, the ever-present Healer's instinct gauging Qui-Gon's physical state. A slight smile twitched at Jinn's lips.
"I'm fine already, thanks to you. You can stop hovering."
"You're welcome already." Obuk replied archly, eyebrows coming up as he turned a bit and motioned toward the bandages. "Those can come off shortly, I would think." Rubbing at the back of his neck a bit, the Healer moved toward the door. "I'll look in on Obi-Wan first."
Qui-Gon turned away from the window as the toothpick-slim Healer exited the room, and picked up his outer tunic, carefully shrugging his way into it, pausing slightly with only a vague twinge at the motion. Wrapping it around himself to be as presentable as possible, he crossed over to the small communications console and activated it. Bringing the holo unit online, he keyed in the codes that would transmit his message to the Jedi Temple.
A few moments passed before the transmission registered as received. The small holographic figure that flickered into life before him was that of a somewhat less than awake Adi Gallia.
"Qui-Gon…oh…" The cocoa-skinned Master blinked. "You look awful. What in Gareth's Fires happened?"
"Good morning to you, too." Qui-Gon replied dryly, folding his arms across his chest. "You're looking lovely yourself."
"Do you have any idea what time it is here?" Adi rubbed at her eyes and stifled a yawn.
"Probably about as early as it is here on Bahreen." Jinn replied, exhaling slowly. "Or earlier. Get yourself a cup of jaffa and sit down. We have a lot to talk about." He shook his head a bit. "And then I need you to take an update to the Council."
That got Gallia's attention, and she straightened up a bit, her expression undeniably curious despite the flickering holographic projection. Eyebrows rose on the exotic face and she leaned forward a little.
"You're not reporting directly yourself?" It was a slight breach of protocol, certainly but nothing that could be terribly surprising coming from him. Qui-Gon himself would admit that it was nothing new that he should ruffle a feather or two.
"I don't know that I will have time, Master Gallia." Qui-Gon replied steadily, fixing his imposing gaze on the image before him. "What I must speak with you about is as important as what the Council must know about what is happening here on Bahreen." A moment passed in silence before a smile appeared on Adi's face.
"You've met your daughter, then." At what surely must have been a shocked expression from him, Qui-Gon next heard a gentle chuckle from the graceful Adi. "You didn't think Ina would have stayed on Bahreen without any knowledge about your well-being, now, did you? We spoke often, and you would not believe the time I had getting her to stay put when you nearly got yourself killed during that mission to Talquu."
Qui-Gon drew a slow, thoughtful breath. Talquu had resulted in nearly a week in a bacta tank and severe doubts about whether or not he would survive. Apparently, Obuk had been correct in his assessment of Ina's friendship with Adi Gallia. Perhaps there were other things the Healer was aware of as well. Hunching his shoulders slightly and ignoring the tiny answering twinge in his chest with the motion, he nodded a little.
"Things have become very dangerous here and I need to talk to you about…bringing her back to the Temple with me."
Sunlight was beginning to filter into her window, but it wasn't the light that awakened her, nor was it the growing sound of the angry crowd gathering just beyond the Roeh's gates. It was the desperate, weakened, painful whisper that somehow found its way into her dream, forcing her to wakefulness.
"Vihmi! Vih san Jotar!" Iya cried out, sitting up abruptly in a tangle of blankets and disheveled hair. Pushing the offending tresses out of her face, she ran her hand over her eyes, trying to gain a grasp on what she had felt and heard.
Screaming. That's what she had heard. The anguished voices of…Jedi. Trying to slow her breathing, Iya's brow furrowed tightly as she struggled to sort through the confusing sensations that seemed to stay with her even though she was awake.
Then she heard it again…a whisper so soft that she had to close her eyes and concentrate deeply to hear it. Iya…Iya Jinn, you must hear me. Obi-Wan…it was Obi-Wan! Shoving aside the bedcovers and snatching up a robe, she shrugged her way into it and settled into a nearby chair. Irritably brushing runaway curls from her eyes once more, she drew a deep breath and closed her eyes. Reaching down and stretching out, Iya brought her concentration down into a very fine line, wrapping around the voice and focusing tightly in on it. Unconsciously her lips moved as she reached for her father's apprentice.
"Obi-Wan…can you hear me?" The flood of relief that swept over her was stronger than his voice had been, although alongside it, she could still hear the unsettling cries that had wakened her to begin with, and she tried to sort through them once again. Iya squeezed her eyes more tightly closed, a subconscious mirror of her struggle to narrow her focus. She could feel her grasp on the voice slipping, and physically she leaned forward as she strained to 'hear' the young Jedi once again. "Obi-Wan…where are you? How can we find you?"
There was a flash, a brief mental image, and Iya grabbed for it. Her contact with Kenobi fading, Iya was left with a single impression, and she leaned back in the chair as she turned it over in her mind.
It was the face of a child.