Special thanks to everyone who has reviewed! You all totally rock and I'm so sorry to update so slow and have everyone think I forgot about this (but I totally didn't - it just takes me forever to write it!) I hope this chapter somewhat makes up for it!
Annnndddd, I do have a confession to make... Thank you to Geri K for pointing out the funny little fact that Anakin Skywalker was nowhere to be found in the first 3 chapters... hmmm answer: because I totally forgot him. Yes, how could you forget the freakin Chosen One? Don't know but I did.
Oh, and I don't own anything I write... not even the whole fake curse word... but the next profanity I'm totally owning / suggestions are welcome :)
Qui-Gon bowed his head, pinching his nose between his fingers while giving his eyes a much needed break. He had spent the last 8 hours going over all the security tapes of the palace, courtyard and beyond, looking for any trace of his missing apprentice. Mace had taken the Queen's suggestion and was now at the Theed City Security building viewing the surrounding street security holos. If they were lucky, they could find a trace of the Sith and maybe where he was headed. Apparently, the dark figure had been well trained. He managed to block out all cameras after leaving the reactor pit and so far all of the cameras leaving the palace. The Jedi audibly sighed. It was as if he had disappeared without a trace. Not only did this mean they had no clue as to where he might have gone, but he had no reassurance that the Sith hadn't killed Obi-wan as soon as he left the palace.
'Yes, I do,' He thought, 'I would have sensed if that had happened."
'Would you, though?' A dark whisper resonated in his mind, 'Didn't you renounce this apprentice for another in front of the entire council?'
'I was going to speak with him about that, explain what I was thinking…' He argued with the tiny voice, trying to dispel the growing guilt pressing on his heart.
'And now you may never have the chance.' The voice replied.
The realization of the truth of the statement echoed in his mind. What if he never had the chance to explain to his padawan what happened that day? He thought back to that moment, he wanted, no, needed the Council to recognize how strongly he felt about the boy, Anakin Skywalker. And the best way to show them how he felt was to train the boy himself. He had felt the feelings of hurt and disappointment radiating off his apprentice before shields slammed into place. He hadn't meant to hurt Obi-wan, he was just trying to prove to the council he was serious about Anakin. The boy needed to be trained – it was obvious. He was the Chosen One. Afterward, he had every intention to sit his Padawan down and speak to him about it. To tell him he wasn't to be pushed aside, but he truly was ready to take the trials. But between taking care of Anakin and the upcoming battle of Naboo, it had never happened.
His hand automatically slipped into his tunic to feel his apprentice's padawan braid that was carelessly cut and thrown at him. This small item was so important to Obi-wan, and instead of being respectfully cut and presented to him with love and honor, this Sith had violently disgraced a beautiful symbol of the Master/Padawan relationship. He could feel the end that was seared from the lightsaber and couldn't help the feeling of anger wash over him. Qui-Gon took a deep breath. He needed to release his anger to the force, not to mention his sense of guilt and remorse. But these latter emotions were rightly placed.
He had been too aloft with Obi-wan recently. The last 6 months had been difficult to say the least. He and Obi-wan had gone on mission after mission and it had begun to wear on him. The product of which had made him more abrupt with his emotionally sensitive padawan. When was the last time he told him how proud he was of him?
'Focus on the present.' He thought. He could almost see his padawan rolling his eyes at that all too familiar mantra.
"Qui-Gon," A small voice seized him from his thoughts. He looked at the doorway to see Anakin standing nervously before him.
Qui-Gon managed a small smile, urging the boy to come in.
"Have you found anything yet?" the boy asked apprehensively.
"Unfortunately, not yet," he said, shaking his head, "but the Force will provide a way."
The boy looked to the holo in front of Qui-Gon, to the ground and back at Qui-Gon again. "I'm sorry that Obi-wan was kidnapped, and I'm sorry that I didn't exactly stay where I was supposed to and I really hope you're not mad at me because I'm not the best at being a jedi and…
"Slow down, Anakin," he said, touching the sandy haired boy on the shoulder. "I'm not mad at you at all, quite the opposite actually." He watched as the boy looked up with a growing smile on his face. "You did a great thing in that cockpit," he added, "And if Obi-wan were here, I'm sure he would be the first to point out that you did technically stay where I told you to." He let a small smile reach his face, thinking of how his apprentice would have very much enjoyed stating just that to Qui-Gon. "I know I have been distant, but I'm very concerned about finding Obi-wan. It's nothing to do with being upset with you."
"Oh, that's good." came the boy's response. He was practically bouncing on his feet as he added, "Is there anything I can do, Master Qui-Gon? I want to find Obi-wan too."
Just as Qui-Gon was to reply, a young girl stopped at the doorway in the familiar garb of the Queen's handmaiden.
"There you are, Ani!" she exclaimed when she saw the young boy. "The celebration is about to start and the Queen has asked for your company." She turned to the tall Master, "You presence is also asked, but the Highness understands if you would prefer to continue your investigations."
"The Queen is very thoughtful," said Qui-Gon, "and she is correct in her assumption." He glanced at Anakin and added, "But I insist that Anakin join the celebration." He looked into the boys eyes which shown with excitement. "Represent the Jedi well, young one."
"I will, Master Qui-Gon, thank you!" replied Anakin with a grin as he left with the handmaiden.
With a sigh, the tall Jedi turned toward the holo screens. 'Where are you Obi-wan?'
He once again tried to communicate through the bond with his apprentice, and once more was met with silence. Taking the braid out of his pocket, he closed his eyes and willed all his effort into the force connection with his padawan. "I will find you, my Padawan. Don't give up Obi-wan."
The first thought that came into his mind was how his whole body hurt. It wasn't until he tried to move his arms, hearing the jingle of chains, that he remembered where he was. As with every awakening, he reached for the bright side of the Force… and to his surprise, was greeted with a small trickle of light energy. He couldn't help but give a small smile. To have the Force, even a small amount, was a huge relief for the jedi. After years of constant use, even an hour without the familiar, singing side of the Force was strange and disorienting. Given the choice, most jedi would much rather lose an appendage or one of the five more common senses than their connection to the ever-flowing Force. He drew as much of the Force around him as possible, dismayed when he couldn't seem to have his fill. It was as if the Force was there to remind him it was present, but not capable of much else.
'At least this time he left a light on.' He thought, looking at the soft blue light coming from the doorway. He murmured in frustration and gingerly tried to move his right arm. He winced as his efforts were returned with the pins and needles associated with immobile limbs. Knowing it wasn't going to get any better hanging from his arms, he slowly staggered to his feet, trying to give his shoulders a much needed break. He had to hop on his right leg, as his left was far too tender to put any weight on. He glanced down and was not pleased with what he saw. He hadn't been able to thoroughly inspect himself before now, as he was previously in darkness and then distracted with the Sith.
He knew the Sith had taken his outer and inner tunic, as well as his boots, leaving him in only his cream colored trousers. At least, they used to be cream colored. Now they were more like gray with spots of red and brown colored hues. His make-shift bandage had loosened in the struggle with the Sith and he had a nice view of the cauterized wound on his left thigh. It had been reopened in the fight and the flesh around the burn was red and swollen. He carefully inspected his chest and found some bruises, included a rather big one on his right side, most likely a broken rib. He had two small burns where the Sith had touched him with the electro-baton and he could see a few red inflamed jagged lines where the whip had reached around his back to his sides. His head felt distended and heavy, and he couldn't eradicate the semi-sweet taste of blood from his lips. As he had his chin down, he noticed something else amiss. Searching his brain for a moment, he realized what was different.
'Mutha Kriff, he cut my braid.' He closed his eyes, letting a wave of anger wash over him. Even though it seemed like a small thing - compared to the lightsaber through the leg, multiple abrasions and most likely broken bones – this was by far the most infuriating. For ten years he had grown his padawan braid, a symbol of years of dedication, hard work and training. And even though it wasn't his personal favorite accessory (how many times had he blamed it when losing a sparring match with an opponent) it was something he and his Master shared, weaving beads and cloth to mark special occasions in his journey to becoming a knight. And to have it carelessly cut and discarded, without his knowledge, seemed incredibly cruel. He sighed in frustration, releasing his thoughts to the Force. He needed to focus on the here and now if he was going to get out of this mess.
Using the small amount of Force he was limited to, he went into a healing trance, focusing most of the energy into his injured thigh. If he was going to escape, he needed to have full use of his legs. Two hours later, he once again opened his eyes, satisfied to see the inflammation had retreated slightly and he could now put more pressure on his leg.
'Well, it's a start' he thought grimly. Just as he was about to focus on his ribs, he heard the door slid open. He turned his attention to the dark robed figure and was surprised to see a smaller person walking in tow. In the Sith's hand was a 2' x 2' durasteel box which he held rather smugly. To his displeasure, he couldn't help but notice the way the bright light of the Force seemed to diminish almost completely around the package. Warning bells echoed and vibrated in the comforting tendrils that he knew as the Light.
An aroma brought his attention from the Sith to his smaller companion. At a closer inspection, the boy looked to be no older than twelve. He had brown curly hair cut short, and his eyes were wide with fright. In his hands, he carried a tray of soup and bread, with a small goblet of liquid. As they walked toward him, Obi-wan stood to his 5'10" height, meeting the Sith's gaze without reprieve. They stopped, standing three feet in front of the shackled jedi. Obi-wan watched as the terrified boy looked up toward the Sith, and after a nod from the dark warrior, placed the tray of food on the ground and stood behind it. The smell of the food was enticing and Obi-wan couldn't help the pangs of hunger that swept across his abdomen at the scent. The Sith carefully placed the box on the ground and walked to the wall, where he lowered the chains that were previously supporting the jedi upright. Thankful to have a little mobility, Obi-wan brought his arms down to his side and found the chain had enough slack to reach down to the floor. He filed the information, ready to use it if an opportunity presented itself.
As the Sith walked back toward Obi-wan, he eyed him eagerly, obviously pleased with the various marks and bruises he saw on the white skin.
"Are you hungry, my jedi?" he asked with a glint in his eyes.
Obi-wan stared back at the Sith, wanting desperately to skip this conversation all together. He did not feel like playing these games. "Yes." he replied. The Force warned him a second before a fist slammed into his solar plexus. He doubled over, trying to catch his breath as the air was knocked out of him. A hand grabbed his hair and roughly pulled his head up to look into the red and black face before him.
"You will respond with Master when I ask you a question." said the Sith. He released him from his grip and punched him hard on the side of the face, watching his body turn to the right from the force of the blow. The Sith took a step back and watched as Obi-wan straightened again and wiped his mouth with his hand, leaving a red trail of blood up his wrist. He took a breath and replied calmly, "I will not disrespect the title of Master by referring it to you, Sith."
Maul smiled, sending an involuntary chill down Obi-wan's exposed back. It was as though he was expecting the response and was eager to give the penance. Still eying the jedi, he untied his outer robe and dropped it on the floor, leaving him in his black pants. Obi-wan couldn't help but notice the same tattoos that covered the Sith's face also covered his chest and arms. Using the force, the Sith called two objects into his outstretched hands. Obi-wan's eyes narrowed as he realized the objects were indeed black iron knuckles. He had seen the damage these small items could do in the lower levels of Coruscant, where this was a weapon of choice among gang rivals. He gathered the weakened Force around him as best he could. With his injuries and dulled use of the Force, he wouldn't be able to put up much of a fight… but that wouldn't stop him from trying.
Déjà vu' popped across his mind as the first strike came from the left. Obi-wan managed to dodge the blow, as well as the 2nd and 3rd, but the low kick to his side came out of nowhere. He felt the metal make contact with the skin just under his right arm and pain exploded at his ribs. A second later, his neck snapped to the side with a hit to the face. He blocked the fist aimed at the other side of his face, but was greeted with another blow to the stomach. White light shattered his vision and the next thing he knew, he was on his back. The Sith was on him immediately, kicking and punching the unarmed jedi. Obi-wan curled into a ball, weakly trying to shield his head from the worst of the multiple assaults that were targeting his body. He felt himself being lifted with the Force, no doubt to be an easier target for the Sith to attack.
The chained jedi gathered the little of the light energy that he possessed and, with a small cry, pushed with all his might at the Sith. He fell to his knees as the energy that was holding his body immediately released him from its grip. He looked toward the Sith and saw that the force push had enough strength to shove the captor back a few meters, but not enough to knock him off his feet. The tray of food that was placed neatly on the ground was now scattered on the floor. The air seemed to shimmer with the anger radiating off the tattooed creature. Time seemed to stand still for Obi-wan. He could feel the blood flowing from the gash on his ribs, saturating the waistline of his trousers, the chains biting into his wrists, the pounding in his head beating in rhythm with his heart – all this he took in with astonishing clarity.
Obi-wan watched from his position on the ground as the Sith walked over to the small box. He knelt beside it and punched in some buttons on the side. With a hiss, the box opened, releasing a small cloud of steam from inside. The Sith carefully pulled something larger out of the box and turned toward the jedi.
It looked much like the electrocollars that were used in the slaving districts on the outer rim planets. It was about an inch taller than the standard collars and a deep gloss black obsidian color.
"By my home world there is a small planet that is, as your jedi would say, useless. There is no vegetation or water, only sand and rock." He paused, his eyes taking in the jedi on his knees before him. "However, unknown to many, there is a special kind of mineral that is found beneath the 'useless' dirt that is remarkable."
He kneeled down to whisper in the injured jedi's ear, his voice rough, his breath warm against his neck. "Can you feel that, my little jedi? Your precious Force trembling at the power in my hands."
Indeed, Obi-wan did feel the fluctuation in the Force. It wasn't as though his treasured Force had vanished, it changed… All the bright and innocent attributes were removed and were replaced with darker things, feared and twisted feelings. It was not an immediate transformation, but a slow and building conversion that had started when the Sith entered the room and was brought to a focal point when the item was retrieved from the box. Even now, the darkness seemed to be growing in strength, forming a fog around those near it. Obi-wan noticed the boy, who was not a force sensitive, back away. No doubt even he could feel the effects of the fear, anger and violence that was projected by the dark object that the Sith held in his hands.
With ease, the Sith found two hair-width seams in the smooth band and opened it so it was in two half-circle pieces. He placed one of the pieces at the back of the jedi's neck and the other at the front and pushed them together with a soft click.
As soon as the dark material hit Obi-wan's skin, an explosion of feelings and images assaulted him. His body tingled with a foreign energy that originated from the collar snug around his neck. He was blinded by the flashes of light and bright colors that momentarily crossed his vision and the intense emotions that he felt – the uncontrolled bursts of fear, anger, hopelessness, power and despair that floated through his consciousness unrestrained. His body felt hot with excitement – like his cells would explode if he did not let lose some of this energy. He could feel it from his toes to elbows to fingertips – the blood flowing, itching to release this… power he could feel gathering inside him. The urge was so strong and took him by such surprise that he almost gave into it.
He stopped himself abruptly in his thoughts – he focused on his breathing, taking deep breaths of oxygen and releasing… breathing and releasing… in and out. He was able to somewhat control his body, although he could still feel the charge pulsing through his limbs, it was muted. He struggled to take back his mind and get a hold on his emotions. It was like trying to focus on faces in a speeding shuttle car – he could see glimpses of each but they all blurred together. He was only dimly aware of those around him. Never in his life had he felt this confused, this out of control of his mind and body. He reached gingerly for the Force, only to find it clouded with the strength of some dark power. Instead of feeling the reassuring brightness and comfort that his connection with the Force usually brought, he felt an oily void touch his mind. The longer he searched for the light through the darkness, the more he felt it grab hold of his thoughts and feelings, twisting them into what he was not. He abandoned his search with disgust.
When he finally opened his eyes, he found himself in complete darkness. His first thought was that he was blinded. With his emotions so out of proportions, the panic of the thought overwhelmed all his other senses. He closed his eyes and tried to find his center without the use of the Force.
"There is no emotion, there is peace. There is not emotion, there is peace. There is not emotion, there is peace." He whispered the same saying he learned as a young boy over and over, focusing on how the words sounded coming out of his mouth instead of the tumultuous sensations that were amplified within his mind.
He once again opened his eyes and studied his surroundings. He sighed with relief when his eyes adjusted and he could make out a small amount of light under the doorway. He shifted his weight and groaned as he moved his bruised body. He rolled on his back, thankful the chains had been loosened and not pulled tight. He reached to his neck to feel the collar that was the source of his uninhibited loss of control. As soon as his fingertips brushed the surface, he gave a small cry and quickly pulled his hand away. The electro bolt that shot through his hand was a very apparent warning that he was not authorized to touch it. In anger, he slammed his still- stinging hand down hard on the duracrete floor.
"How dare he treat me like his beast with this kriffing collar." The thought momentarily stilled the pandemonium of emotions and he was blessed with the beauty of having only one feeling of instead of the rush of emotions that he had been subjected to. He unconsciously found himself embracing this emotion – anything to keep the blurring tide of confusing senses temporarily muted…
He snapped his eyes opened in shock, realized he had just been willingly harboring an emotion jedi are taught for years to suppress. Habit told him to let go of his anger – it was wrong and of darkness. But as soon as he strived to release this emotion to cling to one more befitting of a jedi, the whiz of feelings cascaded over him and he was once again plunged into the deep waters of hopeless lack of control- like a prisoner trapped in the whirling emotions of his mind.
With nothing else to do, he stared into black nothingness. He felt like a child stranded in the middle of the ocean, tossed back and forth in a tempest sea of emotions. He became aware of the buzzing feeling of energy once again wash over him – or had it been there all along and he hadn't noticed? It hummed around his body as he tried to keep it under control. His skin tingled and he could feel himself tense from the electric currents charging through his muscles. He clenched his fists, trying to prevent his hands from shaking. Time was relative – to Obi-wan it could have couple minutes or a few hours. With each passing moment the strength was building within him, turning his insides into a fire that threatening to quench all within him. He gasped for breath as he arched his back, attempting to find relief from the growing inferno dwelling just under the surface. When he opened his eyes, he could see flashes of light, familiar faces and images from past and present. At one moment he saw the comforting blue eyes of his master, the next second they melted into the yellow eyes of the Sith. Emotions that he had endeavored to keep in check came rushing to the surface as the buzzing in his head became an unbearable pitch. He thrashed on the ground, oblivious to the cuts left by the chains on his wrists from his violent, sporadic movement. It was burning him alive from the inside – he could feel it, turning his bones to dust and boiling his blood.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no… PLEASE!" he shouted at the darkness, the pain causing his voice to crack. He wanted to die…surely it wouldn't be as excruciating as this… this pure agony he was feeling right now. Jedi were brave, never to give up or give in – but if he could end this inferno burning inside him… he would.
He let a wild yell break the silence of the room as he slammed his fists to the ground. His vision went red as his body released the pent up energy that he tried so hard to contain.
Several seconds later, he lay on the floor panting. He was too exhausted to notice the scorch marks on the floor and walls around him, too tired to realize the smell of burnt fabric was not just his imagination, too fatigued to glance across the room at the pair of eyes observing in eagerness.
But one thing was clear to the beaten, abused jedi padawan… Obi-wan Kenobi was completely out of control.
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