Chapter Fifty-Five

Obi-Wan returned to the cruiser's conference room where Aayla was waiting on him, not pleased to be the bearer of bad tidings. Padmé was too ill to accompany them back into the senate to negotiate with General Eerin for permission to take his daughter.

A long history of military tradition in the Eerin family had held him fast to his early denial, and there was no reconsideration to be had.

At least not without the Queen's assistance.

Obi-Wan didn't know what they were going to do. The Force was very clear when it had defined Bant Eerin as their next trainee. He hadn't counted on such a strong opposition.

"What's our next move?" Aayla asked as soon as he walked in.

Obi-Wan scrubbed his face with his hand, annoyed but not defeated. There had to be something they could do to convince the Mon Cal leader. "I say we wait and see what happens. Perhaps Bant will be able to convince her father on her own."

The look he received from his comrade betrayed his false sense of confidence. The General was obviously a man of powerful standing on this planet and had a great influence over his family. Bant hadn't said a word while her father refused their request.

"You and I both know that's not going to happen." Aayla argued. "We could take her by force."

Obi-Wan wasn't exactly surprised with her suggestion, but he didn't feel led to resort to such an aggressive move in this situation. Besides, as Padmé had already told him, they didn't need to make enemies of the Mon Calamari.

Just when he was beginning to lose hope, a soft tapping occurred on the hull of the ship. Obi-Wan stepped to the loading ramp to greet none other than the General's daughter herself.

"I wish to speak with you," she requested with a soft and gentle voice, so unlike her father's gruff one.

"Come aboard," Obi-Wan offered, stepping aside to allow her entry.

"Were you able to change your father's mind?" Aayla immediately asked as soon as Bant stepped into the ship.

"I'm afraid not, but that's not what I'm here for. Leader Regab has asked if I would deliver a message to Queen Amidala."

Obi-Wan opened his awareness, amazed when he was once again confronted by an enormous amount of power. However, it was unlike that he had sensed coming from Aayla. Bant's gifts lie elsewhere and not as a warrior. He wasn't sure what her place would be, but he could not deny her the opportunity to discover it. If only her father could see what he saw.

"Right this way," he told her, leading the silver-skinned Mon Cal through the ship. After checking on Padmé first, he ushered Bant into the chamber.

The Mon Calamari immediately sat alongside Padmé, her wide mouth spreading out even more. "My father has asked me to offer his condolences for your obvious illness and he wishes you a speedy recovery. However, he also wishes for you and your friends to depart from Dac as soon as possible."

Padmé frowned at the young Mon Cal, reaching out a sympathetic hand to place on her silver arm. "What do you want, Bant?"

Suddenly and unmistakenly, Obi-Wan felt a surge in the Force like a wave developing and rippling toward the shores Varykino. He studied the ebb and flow, observing Bant as her wide-set eyes blinked several times while her webbed hand landed softly upon Padmé's.

"I want to help you," she told Padmé, which surprised everyone in the room.

"You can do that?"

Bant looked up at Obi-Wan and then back down to the young woman lying in the bed, her broad face drawn by an obvious deep empathy. "I have a gift. I've tried to explain it to my father, but he won't listen. I don't want to be in the military. I'm not a fighter. I don't wish to kill. I wish to heal."

"Then do it," Obi-Wan said, anxious to have his wife feel better. Every second she suffered, he did so right along with her.

"Relax," Bant commanded before placing her multi-membraned hand over Padmé's forehead, one tip landing gently on her temple, while the other hand was placed over Padmé's stomach.

Soon, the Mon Calamari began humming softly, her eyes closed, and the eddies in the Force multiplied.

Several minutes later, everything settled, Padmé opened her eyes, and Bant slumped.

"How do you feel?" Obi-Wan asked his wife.

Padmé sat quite still, her focus decidedly inward until a wide grin spread across her face. "I feel fine," she announced.

Obi-Wan could see an immediate difference in her coloring, however, there was still the matter of the muddying of her signature in the Force.

"Bant," he began, sitting down opposite both of them. "Are you aware of the power you're accessing when you do that?"

"Yes, of course. It's the energy that is within all living things, although it has no name."

"But it does," Obi-Wan explained. "It's called the Force, and I believe you have been chosen to become a warrior of the Force, although in a slightly different position. I think you're meant to be a Healer."

Bant considered his words for a moment before she began nodding her oval head. "I'd like that."

"Then perhaps Padmé can testify to your father the results of that gift. She is obviously better." Obi-Wan announced gladly.

The Mon Cal moved her gaze away from Padmé and back to him, her countenance sobering. "She is more than better. She is with child."

It was a strange benefit of the Force in this world. When trying to communicate with anyone other than Padmé and Aayla, Obi-Wan simply couldn't understand them. He hadn't been able to interpret anything the Dac leaders had said, but when it came to Bant, he understood her perfectly well.

Or at least he thought he could

"Say that again?"

"The Queen of Naboo is a going to have a podling," Bant announced. "That is the cause of her ongoing illness, I believe. I have healed her current sickness, but it will only last momentarily. More than likely, she will continue to have digestive disturbances as a side effect of her pregnancy."

"Padmé," Obi-Wan said, drawing his wife's attention, who appeared to have gone into some type of shock. "Are you all right?"

"I think so," she answered vaguely.

Obi-Wan had never been one to reveal any amount of outward exuberance, although he was more than a little ecstatic about the news. He was finally going to have a family! And with a woman he loved more than anything in this or any other world.

Slightly worried about her reaction, but sure she would be as happy as he was once the shock wore off, Obi-Wan reached for her hand, sighing with relief when she squeezed it tightly.

"A baby," she announced, her eyes misting with tears.

"Congratulations, both of you," Bant replied, sitting up more straight, her chin held high. "Let's go share the news with my father."