Warnings: Graphic violence, adult situations, adult language, sexual situations (more than likely)
Disclaimer: These characters used to belong to George Lucas. I hear someone else is in charge now. I just borrow them from time to time.
Summary: In a world where experiencing a violent death is all in a day's work, a young man must choose between what he believes is his destiny, and stepping into the unknown to help a stranger.
Personal Note: This story is going to start out in an alternate reality, but don't worry. ;) It will come around to AGFFA eventually, as well as focusing on an Obidala relationship. It might take me a while to get there, but I will get there! I have a feeling this is going to be another long one, so you may want get comfortable.
This is another challenge fic for me. I don't believe I've written a true AR story before, and even though this one is only temporarily dwelling in AR, I'm counting it as that.
Avi-Kao: A barren wasteland, home to nearly one million souls. Its desert plains gently roll for as far as the eye can see, the sandy terrain broken up only by the locations of small villages randomly scattered, and well-traveled roads - roads which all lead to the same location: The capital city, Upea.
In Upea, there is life, and abundant waters flow from wells, which do not dry up. There are trees and vegetation, which do not wither in the heat of the suns, and provide shade and abundant food for its meager population.
All wish to live there, but only the privileged few earn the right.
While the rest of Avi-Kao produces blood, Upea produces champions. Each year, the Emperor hosts the Soturi Battles in Upea, and only those who have fought well and won small-scale skirmishes across the plains are invited to participate.
Whoever wins the Soturi Battles, wins permanent citizenship in Upea – not only for themselves, but for their entire family down through the generations. Other prizes such as wealth and fame are also presented to the winner, but it's citizenship that is the most sought after. It's the ultimate reward because it automatically ends a life of hardship and suffering in the desert sand and heat.
Upea is paradise, and Qui-Gon Jinn had once dipped his tongue in its clear waters just long enough to leave him yearning for more. He would give anything to return; to share in its bounty, drink of its rich wine, and enjoy a woman whose skin wasn't as tough as leather.
As the years passed, however, Qui-Gon realized his chance of such glory had passed him by, although there was one other way to gain entrance into Upea. He was still in pursuit of that dream, and was the reason he found himself standing in the blistering heat, his body being pelted by blowing sand.
"That one's from the North," the dealer informed him, pointing out a rather robust, dark-skinned male brandishing a skull hammer.
Sol-Han was a greedy son-of-a-bitch, but he was honest and fair. Over their years of dealing together, he had never steered Qui-Gon wrong or tried to cheat him.
"He looks a bit…tired," Qui-Gon noted as he watched the fighter participating in one of the mock battles occurring all over the training field.
The northerner was facing a much smaller opponent, outweighing the youth by nearly ten kidras, but he was having trouble keeping up. He was obviously also having trouble seeing, and had been side-swiped by his opponent several times. It appeared as if he'd already lost an eye at some point in his career.
"He's been fighting a few years, I'll admit it," Sol defended his stock, "but the tough life of the northern hills ages a man prematurely. He's only twenty-seven. He's got stamina. I'd say he could go toe to toe with just about anything. That's your man."
Qui-Gon gazed at the potential warrior, quickly determining he wasn't quite what he'd envisioned. Besides, when it came to matters such as this, he always got a feeling about it.
The feeling he was experiencing right now was telling him to consider something else.
"Let me think about that one," Qui-Gon informed Sol, scanning the rest of the potentials who continued to battle.
Too young, too obese, too aggressive, too slow. It had been a few years since the pickings had been this slim.
Ready to give up and perhaps wait until next season, Qui-Gon happened to glance over to the far side of the field where the practice weapons were being stored and passed out, to behold a young man, fairly short in stature, ruddy in appearance. His body was compact and muscular, and it appeared he didn't have a single scar on him.
"Who's that?" he pondered out loud.
Sol followed the older man's line of sight and chuckled when he figured out who had gained his attention. "Him? He's much too young, Qui, too inexperienced. He hasn't even fought in an arena yet. I picked him up outside of Taresh. He'd been cast into the Pit."
A penalty usually given to a criminal, but this young man didn't have the look of a law-breaker. In fact, he had the look of a scrapper, and Qu-Gon wondered if he could handle a sword.
The answer to his question came when one of the fighters, the heavyset one Sol had tried to pawn off on him earlier called out to the young man, tossing him his weapon before giving the weapons manager time to even turn around.
"Hey, Obi-Wan, toss me the pike. It's time to teach these children a lesson."
As if he had eyes in the back of his head, the man called Obi-Wan reached up and snatched the hammer out of the air, turning a smirk on the approaching fighter.
"Nice catch, kid. Why don't you grab that axe and come out here and let me teach you a few things?"
"Some other time, Ro-Du," the young man teased, tossing over the weapon the bigger man had originally asked for.
"One of these days, Obi-Wan, you and I are going to meet in the arena, and it's not going to be pretty."
Qui-Gon noticed the youth didn't reply, just smiled and returned to his task of putting the various practice weapons back into their positions on the rack.
Patience, tolerance, agility, speed, and an uncanny sense of environment. Not to mention, good looks.
His mind was made up. Qui-Gon had finally found his Soturi.
"I'll buy that one," he told Sol, ignoring the complete look of shock on the man's bearded face.
"Are you sure?"
Qui-Gon looked the youth over once more, and waited for that feeling, which came upon him like a herd of xidras.