Before Living History - Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan mission - COMPLETE - Parts 1-34 - 26-Aug-2013

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ardavenport, Jul 7, 2013.

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  1. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Title: Living History
    Author: ardavenport
    Timeframe: pre-Episode I, pre-TPM
    Genre: drama, romance
    Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, OCs
    Keywords: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi, Sith, holocron
    Summary: Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan participate in a Living History ceremony on an outer rim world.
    Notes: Typo is my middle name, with missing words and errors that spell checkers do not catch being my speciality - if you see any, just post a reply or send a PM with the what and where and I will kill them with no mercy.
    Disclaimer: All characters and the Star Wars universe belong to George and Lucasfilm; I am just playing in their sandbox.



    A curved silver hemisphere, fixed in the ceiling above, reflected the images of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his sixteen year-old Padawan Learner, Obi-Wan Kenobi, as they rose up into the tower apartment on the lift. The circle they stood on stopped, becoming flush with the floor, matching the smooth blond wood floor boards exactly, leaving only a faint outline of where the circle was.

    Rising up from floor to ceiling in wooden curves, six narrow pillars surrounded the lift hole, but there was no control mechanism on their polished surfaces. Only the small black com keys, given to them by Temba, one of the Castle Custodians, allowed them to enter and leave through the lift, the only entry or exit. Their com units had been specially coded so they would function in the tower through the Castle's security screening. The places inside the Living History Lands were protected very diligently.

    They stepped off the lift, away from the circle of pillars in the center of the apartment. Qui-Gon watched his young apprentice wander curiously about the open space. Except for the dura-stone support pillars rising up from the tower structure below and the clear-plas windows, the circular room was made entirely out of wood and other hardened plant materials. Smooth, shaped pale struts formed the hemispherical shell of the walls and ceiling above. Light filled the space from wide, nearly floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides, giving the whole space a very natural feel with views of mountain foothills on one side, a plain on another and an inland, fresh-water sea on still another. More than half the outer walls were windows, plus the transparent doors that led out to the covered veranda that encircled the whole apartment. Light came in from three skylights. A forest of lush plants grew outside in huge pots and waist-high containers on the encircling balcony. Obi-Wan stood in profile, a spectacular vista behind him as he looked the windows up and down, his Padawan's tail lock sticking straight out from the back of his closely cut hair.

    This place had been maintained as it was for the past eight thousand years, but Qui-Gon noted a few fixtures that looked out of place; a door, a few inset wall panels that looked too smooth, a shade off from the more natural beige, tan and brown tones around them, Some modern conveniences compromised the historic setting, added for the benefit of the Jedi guests from the Galactic Republic.

    Obi-Wan left his travel pack on the floor and explored the food prep alcove and storage area, sliding compartment doors open and looking inside, sometimes taking out a box to examine. Qui-Gon smiled. He was not hungry at all, their last meal before landing on this world had been unappetizing ship-fare and after their tedious morning, his apprentice would be eager for some refreshment.

    Qui-Gon hefted his own pack and circled the lift pillars. The sleeping areas were at opposite ends of the apartment with 'walls' defined by more slender pillars and semi-transparent curtains. One had a smaller room with light streaming through white curtains that partially covered the windows and divided the sleeping area from the rest of the apartment The other end had a larger room with blue, less transparent curtains behind the wide headboard of the sleeping platform and gathered to the pillar 'walls' that curved and arched upward to the ceiling.

    Qui-Gon went to the larger sleeping area. He put his pack on a bench at the end of the sleeping platform and then sat down on the platform itself.

    He was tired. They had been late arriving, the transport captain having added an intermediate stop at the last minute on top of her inefficient navigation. Then there had been a long delay at the entry station of the Living History Lands. The person who had been assigned to meet them was somewhere else because they were so late and someone else had to come, but did not have authority to admit them when he arrived. So, they had waited while coms were issued, messages left and checked, looking for any person with the much sought after authority.

    When they were finally admitted to the Living History Lands they had to wait for a transport to carry them to the Naardin Castle grounds. And when they arrived they had to wait at the entry gate since it was the middle of the day and everyone was busy at another location participating in some early preparation for the History Play that the Jedi were to attend. When their escort finally came, he knew very little, not even who was in charge, and could only take them to where they would be sleeping during their stay. Apparently he had not been given official notification that they were allowed to wander Naardin Castle by themselves even though they were honored guests. Their escort apologized profusely for this, and assured them that the head Custodian would see to their needs personally, whenever she returned.

    Qui-Gon yawned. He felt old. He supposed he was getting old. He heard Obi-Wan setting things down on the counters of the food prep area. The youth of his Padawan certainly reminded Qui-Gon of his age.

    He removed his lightsaber, belt and pouches and then began loosening his boots. They were going to have to wait until late afternoon or sunset, so he saw no reason not to get some rest in that time.

    Qui-Gon was wiggling his bare toes when Obi-Wan called out from the food prep area.

    "Master would you like something to eat?"

    Qui-Gon did not. He had no appetite. He just wanted to lie down on the sleeping platform and close his eyes. But it had been too long since they had eaten on the transport and the food had not been very good. So he rose and went to where his apprentice was working.

    Obi-Wan had placed two plates, food scoops and tongs on the single round table in the apartment's eating area defined by the large circle of lighter colored wood flooring. There was enough room for the table, four chairs and a long side table.

    Sitting in one chair, Qui-Gon picked up a cup of water and sipped. It was cold and tasted very good. He drank the whole cup. When he put it down, his hand lingered on its smooth surface. It's exterior matched the wood of the apartment.

    Obi-Wan returned with a tray of various offerings in bowls. He set it down and then seeing Qui-Gon's empty cup, left and returned with a large container of more water. Qui-Gon thanked him and poured more for himself. Feeling refreshed, he looked at the food with more interest.

    There was a mix of fresh, dried and cold cooked foods. Everything was bite sized and easily eaten with fingers or captured with the food scoops or tongs. He and Obi-Wan sampled the contents of the bowls and for a time there was nothing but the sounds of eating.

    "Master," Obi-Wan asked, "will you allow me to see the Sith holocron after it is presented to you?"

    Qui-Gon eyed his apprentice critically.

    "If it were a functioning holocron, no. A Sith holocron is not something to be gawked at and I am disappointed that you would wish to."

    "If it were a functioning holocron, would I have been sent on this mission with you to 'gawk' at it?" Obi-Wan retorted.

    "No," Qui-Gon conceded. "We will only be retrieving the remains of a Sith holocron that was destroyed. The Jedi Order would have sent someone for it a long time ago if it were at all active. Yes, you may see it. After I have examined the pieces."

    "Thank-you," Obi-Wan replied automatically. Qui-Gon saw no reason for his Padawan to be thankful for being allowed to view the remains of a repository of Dark-side knowledge, but he said nothing. It was youthful curiosity. Only time and experience would change that.

    The Jedi Order had known that the remains of Darth Yarr's holocron were on this world, preserved in the Living History Lands, for millennia. Several people, Jedi and others, witnessed it's destruction after Darth Yarr's defeat. It was smashed and the pieces sealed up deep in a vault under the site of her demise; the Castle fortress they were guests in now.

    As they were led by their guide to this apartment, Qui-Gon had cleared his mind, wondering if he might detect any trace of that long ago evil.

    He had sensed nothing at all.

    The Jedi Order was concerned with all Sith artifacts, but the broken pieces of a destroyed holocron was only of minor interest, mere scraps of past history. But it was still enough for the incoming Chancellor of the Living History Lands to bargain with. The Jedi would be given whatever remained of Yarr's holocron when the vault was unsealed. In exchange, a Jedi Knight (and Padawan) would assist with the production of the commemoration of the defeat of Darth Yarr, one of many historical performances that would be taking place in honor of the newly appointed Chancellor Mwetta's induction.

    They finished their meal. Obi-Wan looked bright and alert, but Qui-Gon, though feeling better after eating, had no energy for anything. They both took the remains of their meal back to the preparation area and put the dishes and utensils in the cleaning unit that sat in front of a counter, apparently another anachronistic convenience for the Jedi. Qui-Gon saw a pair of large basins, pipes and water outlets for washing that they were not required to use.

    Obi-Wan refrained from asking with words what they would do next. He knew better. Qui-Gon always counseled patience to questions like that. But his posture betrayed his impatience.

    "We shall wait," Qui-Gon announced glancing toward the wide windows and the spectacular views outside, "until sunset, when our hosts are due to return. If they do not make an appearance, we shall make our own. In the meantime, I will rest." Qui-Gon caught a glimpse of disappointment on Obi-Wan's young face. He sensed a thwarted anticipation of activity. The open floor opposite the food pantry was spacious enough for some lightsaber sparring. But Qui-Gon had no interest in any exercise.

    He paused a moment, thinking that a short time ago he had nearly spurned the meal he had just eaten, but he felt better for it now. Some light exercise might have a similar effect. But Qui-Gon decided not. He had not rested well on their trip out to this distant world and the long delays upon their arrival had been tedious.

    "You may have the liberty of the rest of the apartment. You will not disturb me," his told Obi-Wan.

    "Yes, Master."

    Qui-Gon went to the larger sleeping area and pulled back the coverings. Laying down, he found the sleeping platform comfortably flat and firm. The pillows were soft and his head sank down into the largest one. He had to readjust, plumping the air out of the fluff inside them for comfort.

    Closing his eyes, he heard Obi-Wan opening a door, his footsteps going out onto the garden balcony. A faint cool breeze passed over Qui-Gon's cheeks and forehead and it felt wonderful. . . .

    . . . .opening his eyes, Qui-Gon did not feel as if he had slept, but he must have. The light above had changed. He stared up at the curved wooden planks of the ceiling high over him. The random waves and swirls of wood grain felt oppressive to him. A relentless pattern that would stare down at him year after year. . . .

    . . . . He closed his eyes again. . . .

    A small cool hand touched his cheek, his forehead. He shivered. Though his skin felt hot and stretched, his body was cold. The gentle touch on his face awakened his awareness of it. He opened his eyes. The light from outside was fading. Artificial lights had come on in the apartment.

    He turned his head toward Obi-Wan, but shut his eyes to keep back the vertigo that suddenly seized him. Qui-Gon Jinn felt oddly pleased that his earlier weariness was not old age after all.

    He was sick.


    = = = End Part 1
    Last edited by ardavenport, Aug 26, 2013
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  2. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    They are just having all the luck on this trip. :rolleyes: Looks like they will have a lot of chances to practice that famous Jedi patience.

    Interesting that the Living History people want them there (and bargained away a historical artifact for it) but can't seem to show up for anything... I'm curious to see if this Sith holocron is actually as defunct as it's said to be.
  3. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Thanks for reading! Part of the fun a writing is give our characters a hard time, but things do get better . . . after they get worse. [face_devil] And the holocron thing will definitely be showing up.

    I've been working on this one for an unbelievable long time :rolleyes: and I finally got it finished enough to start posting and get it off my hard drive.:)
    Last edited by ardavenport, Jul 8, 2013
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  4. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 2

    Obi-Wan jumped down before the elevator lift reached the floor of the darkened level below the apartment. In two steps he reached the top of the spiral staircase. Round and round, down and down he went, touching only every other step as he descended from the height of the tower. Pale yellow artificial lights came on as he went, adding to the dusky light from the high narrow windows he passed.

    Finally reaching the bottom, Obi-Wan slapped the door control and slid through as soon as it had opened enough to let him pass. Desperate to find help, he ran, his running footsteps echoing loudly in the upper hallways, dark and empty. At the top of a stairway, he heard noises from below.

    Coming out onto the gallery overlooking the spacious Tamwa Hall, he saw people gathered in small groups. As he rushed down more stairs, he spotted their guide from that afternoon, his head and long blue tunic and light blue smock recognizable from the others he stood with.

    Pushing his thin Padawan's braid back behind his right ear, Obi-Wan ran to him.

    "Venerate Temba," Obi-Wan bowed. "I - - "

    "What?!"

    Obi-Wan found himself looking up at a tall, broad shouldered-man, longish blond hair swept aside from a high brow. Dark brown eyes glared down at him critically.

    "You told me that the Republic was sending Jedi for this Play." He turned away, pointing an accusing finger down at a middle-aged man in a loose blue tunic and smock decorated with silver trim. "Not younglings," he finished derisively.

    Shocked, Obi-Wan just stared. Next to the his accuser, another tall thin man cringed; he had dark brown wavy hair hanging down to his shoulders and wore a long straight white tunic over a dark green skirt.

    "Director Tykon, please!" another Naardin Castle official shouted, hurrying toward them. White-haired and stout, she wore long deep blue tunics trimmed with gold, a sign of rank. "Vernerate Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi here is the apprentice to Venerate Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. He is an honored guest and must be treated with respect."

    "Jedi Master?" Tykon repeated. He whirled back to Obi-Wan again. "Well, where is he?"

    Obi-Wan gathered himself from his surprise and addressed the Castle officials.

    "I'm sorry, Master Qui-Gon isn't feeling well and - - -"

    "Oh, not another one! What's else can happen?!"

    Obi-Wan drew back. Tykon thrust his fist downward in angry frustration. The other people in the group blanched and leaned back away from him.

    "We'll get someone to see him right away," the man in the green skirt reassured. The man in the blue smock with silver trim was already speaking into a comlink.

    "Director Tykon, please!" the senior Castle official demanded. "This is not helpful - - "

    "Not helpful? Not helpful?!" Tykon raised his hands, his tone rising. He was athletic and well muscled under his sleeveless gray shirt and tight-fitting red leggings. "These Jedi have already got us a day late on this and now one of them is sick? Mwemas wants to make this into a cheap melodrama and we've hardly started the auditions? And I'm supposed to produce this event in eight days? How do you expect me to work under these conditions!"

    "But . . . I heard you had a . . . special relationship with Director Mwemas; and you've worked with her before. 'The Long River' was brilliant, I saw it myself!" she stammered.

    "After we cut all that talky dribble she wanted to put in it!" Tykon countered.

    A person in purple head veils and thin matching outer robe over loose brown pants, shirt and cap came hurrying to the group.

    "Venerate Custodian Tykon, you've had another case?" he breathed to the white-haired woman. Tykon was a very common name on Maarzim and Obi-Wan had seen multiple unrelated people with it listed in the mission briefing before leaving Coruscant with Qui-Gon.

    She sighed, obviously grateful for the interruption.

    "Yes, Healer Zhenum. This is Venerate Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi. He says his Master is not feeling well."

    Obi-Wan found himself facing the newcomer, a round-faced man of middle years, brushing his veils back over his shoulders in annoyance.

    "How long have you been here?" Healer Zhenum asked without any further introduction.

    "We just arrived today."

    The Healer's brown eyes widened with dismay.

    Hefting the strap of a brown case over his shoulder, Zhenum demanded, "Take me to your Master."

    They left the group behind without a backward glance though Director Tykon continued complaining.

    "Tell me about everywhere you've been since arriving," the Healer asked as Obi-Wan led him back to the tower. Obi-Wan told him everything they had done as they climbed up the many steps of the spiral. The young Jedi had to stop and wait a few times while Zhenum paused to catch his breath and grumble about the historical accuracy demanded of the Living History Lands that did not include the anachronism of a lift that went all the way up to the top of the tower.

    When Obi-Wan finally asked about Qui-Gon's illness, Zhenum shook his head, obviously recognizing the symptoms.

    "It's a serphrada virus. It's been popping up around all the Living History Lands for the past few days. We told those fuzzy-brained academics running this place that it would spread if they didn't isolate, but they insisted that the Living History protocols would keep it contained," the older man huffed, plodding up the steps.

    "If your Master got exposed to it in one of the entry points then it will be everywhere in a few days and they'll have to isolate and postpone this five-story circus," he finished vehemently.

    "Is it serious?" Obi-Wan asked, not really sure what a serphrada virus was.

    "Not for most, but it can be. I don't know what the equivalents are for you in the Republic, but serphradas are devious little burrowers. You've got to hit them hard when they first show up, or before you know it, they're everywhere. And if you don't treat it aggressively right away you could end up chasing down chronic symptoms from it for years."

    When they reached the lift, Obi-Wan took out his key card and put it in the slot in one of the a heavy support pillars.

    Something clicked inside the mechanism and the circle of floor they stood on slowly began to rise.

    Obi-Wan anxiously looked up at the mirror hemisphere above. Most of the daylight was gone, only a few pale yellow ceiling lights shone in the darkness of the shiny globe. Already he could see something was wrong, but he waited until the lift rose high enough for him to jump up into the apartment to confirm it.

    Qui-Gon was gone.

    Only rumpled white coverings remained where his Master had lain.

    Something thumped behind the fresher door. When it slid aside Qui-Gon stood, leaning heavily on the door frame, the light of the small white cubicle behind him, his long brown hair hanging down loose around his face.

    Obi-Wan and the healer rushed up to him, catching him as he nearly fell forward. The large man's weight caught Obi-Wan by surprise, but Zhenum was stout and clearly experienced with handling infirmity. They got Qui-Gon back to the sleeping platform together.

    Stepping back, Obi-Wan saw Qui-Gon roll his eyes back and then squeeze them shut, hair splayed out on the white pillow. Zhenum dragged a stool over and clicked on a light control at the stand by the sleeping platform. Pale yellow lights came on overhead, leaving shadows only on the floor. The wide window-walls of the apartment were dark except for a glow of lights from other parts of the Castle and a scattering of town lights in the hills. The healer shoved his case at Obi-Wan.

    "Hold this for me," he demanded. The young Jedi grabbed it and Zhenum retrieved equipment from the compartments before turning back to his patient. Obi-Wan stared over his head at his stricken Master.

    "Now let's get an I.D. on this," the healer muttered after slapping a blinking scanner-box onto Qui-Gon's chest. He lifted one of his patient's arms, pushed back the tight fitting sleeve on it and jabbed the exposed skin with a probe. Then he immediately tossed the instrument aside onto the blanket and began rummaging in his case again.

    Limited to watching and standing and clutching the medical case, Obi-Wan did not know what else he could do. He and Qui-Gon had both been injured at various times during his apprenticeship, but he had never seen his Master so badly disoriented. Now he felt trapped by his inability to help. Ready and willing to do anything necessary, he had no direction. Sitting on the stool, Zhenum calmly laid out a serious of instruments while Obi-Wan could sense his Master's suffering, a tense endurance of weakness and fever.

    "Perhaps we should take him to a medical facility? With a medical droid?" Obi-Wan suggested. Zhenum sneered up at him.

    "A medical droid? In the Living History Lands? Not unless he's critical. They're damn stiff-backed about preserving the atmosphere. That's why I have to wear all this." Zhenum tossed back the annoying purple veil from his face. "And if he can get to the fresher on his own, he's not that bad. I know you Galactics go running to a medical droid for every little hangnail, but a personal touch can do just as well for cases like this."

    The probe bleeped. Zhenum picked it up and clicked through a list of text on the device's small screen.

    "Hah! There you are. Serphrada-vee-tee-oh-oh-twire. Practically the brother of the other specimens we've collected. He got it here alright." He held up the probe so a chastised Obi-Wan could see a fleeting pink and maroon image of something with long tendrils on it. Zhenum tossed the device aside and picked up something long with a light on the end. Then, uncertainty clouding his brisk efficiency, he looked up at the young Jedi.

    "Uh, what's his name?"

    "Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan answered, not bothering with the titles. Nodding, Zhenum didn't seem to care. His stool scraped loudly on the floor as he nudged himself closer.

    "Now, Qui-Gon, you've got a serphrada virus. Nothing life-threatening, but they're still a bit rough. There's no direct way to kill it without risking it mutating into something worse. The best that can be done is go with some immune boosters so you can fight it off yourself, viral suppressers so you're not contagious and some relief for the symptoms. Now your assistant here said that you had a lot of dizziness, some fever and chills, headache, some soreness in the joints and a scratchy throat. Those are pretty standard for this thing, and I can see those on my scanner." The healer lifted his instrument from Qui-Gon's chest and checked the readout. "Anything else?"

    "No," Qui-Gon answered, his eyes still shut, the first sound Obi-Wan had heard him make since he returned with the healer.

    "Didn't have any more problems than might be usual in the fresher just now?"

    "No."

    "Hmmm. Serphrada doesn't usually cause many problems in the digestive tract." Zhenum clicked through the readings on the scanner, hardly glancing at his patient. "Any nausea?"

    "Some."

    "Well, we can do something with that," Zhenum announced, finally putting the instrument aside. He looked back toward Obi-Wan. "Can you get me a cup of water?"

    Jumping up immediately, Obi-Wan put the medical case down next to Qui-Gon's leg and quickly went to the food prep area. He did not know how much water was needed, so he brought back two cups, one large and one small. When he returned he found Zhenum leaning over an unhappy Qui-Gon and looking closely at his eyes with his lightstick. He accepted the small cup from Obi-Wan who put the larger one on the stand next to the sleeping platform.

    "Now," Zhenum said, leaning over and digging out a small clear-plas container from his case. Amber drops from it immediately dispersed into the water, "this tizote will help a lot with the headache, the nausea and the dizziness." The healer sat back. "Though I'm not really sure if it really treats the symptoms, or just makes it so you don't care about them. You should feel much better in the morning in either case." He looked down at his patient.

    Without moving his head, Qui-Gon opened his dark blue eyes enough to glare at an unfazed Zhenum. Obi-Wan exhaled, relieved to see the calm critical expression, not the earlier dizzy confusion that had sent him running downstairs to seek help for his Master.

    Qui-Gon closed his eyes again and inclined his head, a tiny motion of consent. Obi-Wan started to forward to help, but Zhenum already had his hand under the older man's head, lifting it just enough for him to sip the liquid in the cup. Eyes still shut Qui-Gon sighed back into the pillow.

    Putting the cup aside Zhenum collected more scans and jabbed for a blood sample. Obi-Wan cringed when the healer stuck a swab up Qui-Gon's nose with no warning. But Zhenum just sealed up that sample into a clear tube that went back into his case, apparently unaware of his patient's now hostile glare.

    "Then I should be recovered tomorrow morning," Qui-Gon stated, his voice steady but rough and quiet, lacking its usual strength.

    "Hmmm, more like the morning after that," Zhenum replied, his eyes on the injection he was preparing. "It will take a little time for this to work." He tried to push back the close-fitting sleeve of Qui-Gon's undertunic, but it wouldn't go up very far.

    "Oh, take this off," he said, annoyed.

    Qui-Gon tugged at the fasteners, his movements clumsy and weak. Obi-Wan hurried to help him and Zhenum stepped aside out of the way. After releasing the fastener tabs and sliding the undertunic off his shoulders, Obi-Wan pulled it out from underneath. Qui-Gon's shoulders shivered. His skin felt clammy with sweat under Obi-Wan's hand and he reached for the blanket.

    "Oh, not yet. I'm not finished."

    "He's cold," Obi-Wan protested, his hand grasping the blanket that only half covered the sick man.

    "I'm almost done. This is the last one."

    Out of the case came an enormous injection this time. A cylinder of dark red liquid attached to a huge hypodermic needle.

    "Turn him on his side." Zhenum already had his hand under Qui-Gon's hip and levered him up. Then he yanked the pants waistband down and in went the huge needle and the red liquid.

    Obi-Wan clinched his teeth, his hands supporting Qui-Gon's shoulders. They shivered again.

    Zhenum took the needle out and briskly rubbed the fleshy place where it had been.

    "There," he announced, obviously pleased with his work. "That one's done."

    Obi-Wan pulled the blanket up over Qui-Gon, covering his bare chest with the plush material and smoothing it down. From the Force he felt a feeling of relaxation, a headache lessening, fading into a warm haze. Or perhaps his Master was just relieved that Zhenum was finished with him. But when Obi-Wan looked up, he saw the healer preparing another huge injection of dark red liquid.

    Zhenum saw his surprise.

    "Oh, this isn't for him. It's for you."


    = = = End Part 2

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  5. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    A nice story, the boys are in for trouble again
  6. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Oh boy, shots. Everyone's favorite. :rolleyes: They're going to need a vacation after their vacation, I can already tell.

    Tykon is sure a snippy piece of work. Seems he doesn't get along well with others. I think I like the healer. He's a little sarcastic, but seems to know what he's doing and care that it's done right. I wish him luck, because Qui-Gon does not make a happy patient here. ;)

    Coincidental how they have this virus going around just in time for the big event.
  7. mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic & New Movies Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2005
    star 5
    Great chapters!
    Loved the healer at the end with the shot for Obi-wan!

    I must say this line had be cracking up:
    I think that's pretty much the case with most of those types of medications! LOL!

    I'm looking forward to more!
    Rainbow Knight Star likes this.
  8. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    earlybird-obi-wan: Thanks for the reply. :)

    Kahara: Yes, this mission is not up to a good start. And Tykon will not make it any easier. Thanks for reading!

    Mavjade: Aaah! you're reply came in just as I was posting. Thanks! Yep, there is more. Glad you're enjoying it.

    The earlier chapters are going to come out more frequently, I guess every day or two, but the later ones need more touching up.
    Last edited by ardavenport, Jul 9, 2013
  9. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 3


    Obi-Wan froze, his mouth open.

    "You've been exposed. Even if you don't get a fully developed case of it, you can still carry it. This will stop that. We're going to need that, especially until those idiots running this place give us a real quarantine."

    For an irrational moment, Obi-Wan considered refusing, just because he didn't want it. But he could hardly decline a treatment he had just helped inflict on his Master. Walking around Zhenum and his huge needle Obi-Wan slid his robe off and put it down next to Qui-Gon's travel pack. He heard Zhenum coming up behind him, so it was not a complete surprise when the man's hand reached up under his belt and pulled his pants down. But Obi-Wan still went up on his toes when the needle went in.

    The liquid squirted in, cool and invasive, into his flesh.

    The needle came out again and Zhenum rubbed the spot on his buttock when it had been, but Obi-Wan pulled away, turning around.

    "Are there any side effects?"

    The healer shrugged.

    "Mild fever, lethargy for a few hours. Nothing even close to a primary Serphrada attack, but you might want to lie down for a bit."

    Scowling, the Jedi looked toward the other sleeping area at the opposite end of the apartment. He did not want to be so far from Qui-Gon. He walked to the other side of the sleeping platform and after untying his Padawan's lock and putting the band on his wrist, removing his belt pouches and putting his lightsaber down next to the pillow, he lay down. The sleeping platform was large enough for three people to comfortably occupy. There was plenty of room.

    Zhenum came around and slapped a scanner on his chest.

    "I'll stay a bit just in case there's any reaction. I have to record a some notes on this anyway. And if you're already infected, you'll still get it, but it won't linger as long or be as bad and you won't be contagious."

    Obi-Wan wondered why he hadn't said anything about that before injecting him, but he only nodded. He watched Zhenum go back to his medical case, wary that the healer might come back with something to stick up his nose, too. But he did not. Obi-Wan turned to look toward his Master.

    On the other side of the sleeping platform, Qui-Gon lay more unconscious than resting, just out of arm's reach from him. Closing his eyes, Obi-Wan extended one hand toward his Master, sliding it over the cool coverings. In the hazy glow of the Force he could feel Qui-Gon's heartbeat. Slow. Steady. Strong. The control and clarity needed to draw on the Force ingrained so deeply in the older man after so many years as a Jedi Knight that it did not need conscious thought.

    Relief warmed his thoughts, diminishing the memory of finding his Master ill, struggling to rise, falling and trembling, and frantically running down from the tower for help. It had almost seemed as if his Master was without the Force at all. The wrongness of that moment had pierced him with a deeper fear than he might have felt if facing his own death. He had not sensed that his Master was in danger of dying, but the effects of his illness had made him almost a stranger to him, a condition that he had been desperate to change.

    Obi-Wan heard a low hum in the apartment. The lift.

    "Mwassil. Z'morn. What are you two doing climbing all the way up here?" Zhenum's voice asked.

    "You know the coms don't work up here unless you get special permission. And we didn't want you to have to wait to hear the bad news," a male voice said.

    "Oh, no," Zhenum replied. "They're not ordering a quarantine?"

    "They are, but just here. They've convinced themselves, since there have only been two cases here and the other four, that this is where the Jedi got it and that limiting access to Naardin will keep it contained," a woman's voice said.

    Half-opening his eyes, Obi-Wan looked down his body toward the center of the apartment. Zhenum now stood with two other healers, similarly dressed in purple veils and brown caps. They stood together just outside the boundary of the curving wooden posts.

    "How could they come to such a ridiculous decision?" Zhenum demanded angrily. "He obviously was exposed to it at the entry point. If they don't isolate all the Living History Lands that virus could be everywhere in a couple of days."

    "Our new Chancellor doesn't want her plans for the big show to be interrupted by anything as insignificant as a health crisis," the man said.

    "Idiots," the woman agreed. "But they at least gave us permission to bring in more staff, even though they keep insisting that we won't need them."

    "Not so sure of themselves, are they?" Zhenum commented. "Well, these two will have company soon enough."

    Obi-Wan closed his eyes when the three healers turned to look.

    "Are those the two the Venerates from the Galactic Republic?" the woman asked.

    "Yes. The big one's the one who's got the virus. I gave the young one all the contagion prophylaxis. They were together the whole day, so unless he's resistant to it, he'll come down with the serphrada, too."

    "What about the big one?" the man asked.

    "Pretty typical symptoms. He's got good initial response to the treatment. No reaction. And he's tough. He got to the fresher on his own before I even got up here. He'll be a lot better in another day. But they'll never get this history drama ready in time. Director Tykon is already kicking up a stink about it."

    "We saw him on the way up," the man said. "Ugh, I've heard the stories; he's more upset that the History Play might be delayed. And he couldn't stop complaining about this Jedi getting sick and making him late. Didn't mean anything at all that he's a Venerate who came all the way from the Galactic Republic for his show."

    "Artists like him are emotional, especially the good ones. And after those idiots didn't call for a full quarantine I think someone should be kicking up a stink," the woman agreed. "Now I saw 'The Stone Walls of Zwaeter'; it was transformative. Got the holo, too. It's not nearly as good as seeing it live, but you should see it."

    "Maybe later." Zhenum did not sound enthusiastic. "I've done all I can here. These Jedi can handle one crazy director. They have the authority of the whole Galactic Republic. And the Jedi have got a continuous history line twice as long as this whole planet. That's why they're Venerates," Zhenum told his fellow healers.

    "Well, we've given them a poor welcome. Oh, and you can't just leave this one all uncovered like that." The woman's voice approached, her footsteps hurrying toward Obi-Wan. Cloth rustled and then settled over him with hands patting the covering down over his shoulders.

    "You can look in on them in the morning, Mwassil," the man's voice said.

    "We'll be bulking up for more. And I don't want to climb up all those stairs again," Zhenum agreed.

    "It's good exercise for you," Mwassil admonished, her voice moving away.

    "Even better exercise for you," the man said back cheerfully.

    "Let me get my things and I'll go down with you," Zhenum said.

    Obi-Wan remained still while the healers conversed about the stupidity of the management of the Living History Lands. Zhenum's equipment clicked and clinked as they packed the case up. Their voices moved away and finally faded downward, the lift descending. The darkness behind his eyelids went black.

    Lifting his head, Obi-Wan only saw reflected lights on the plants from other towers down below, dark shapes and faint, long glints of light on polished wood surfaces. He pushed the cover back and sat up. Feeling the promised lethargy, He did not know if he had a fever, but an uncomfortable pressure pounded in his head. Grasping his lightsaber on the pillow, he stood with only a twinge of dizziness. Fortunately the apartment was only sparsely furnished and the curved wooden pillars stood out as black shapes in the lesser darkness around them.

    There was also the Force, but it felt hazy in his mind. His thoughts seemed unwilling to let go of the clutter of what the healers had said about Qui-Gon's illness enough for him to really connect. He used his eyes to find his way and, after bumping the toes of his boots only a few times, made it to the fresher.

    Once inside, he found that it was a self contained unit. While the wood-paneled exterior seemed to have been made compatible with the rest of the apartment, the inside was modern and white with no sharp edges and common Galactic symbols on the walls. It even had a modest clothes fresher unit. Putting his lightsaber on a shelf, he relieved himself and looked at his reflection in the mirror as he cleansed his hands. His Padawan's braid, thin and limply hanging from behind his right ear, reached down past his collarbone. His face looked shadowed and pale, the moles on it standing out. He touched a sore spot on his chin, an emerging pimple. He washed his face. Then he carefully checked his chin again. Before they left the Temple, he had trimmed the stray hairs that had started to grow. His skin still felt smooth, but he had a small trimmer in one of his pouches for later.

    He picked up his lightsaber, shut off the light, opened the door and leaned on the frame while his eyes adjusted to the dark. He carefully plodded back to the sleeping platform, his energy from earlier in the day had washed away with whatever medications the healer had given him. He sat on the sleeping platform and listlessly began pulling his boots off. He carefully put his lightsaber on the pillow again, within easy reach.

    After removing his outer clothes, he lay down, pulled the covering over him. He turned on his side.

    Qui-Gon had not moved.

    Obi-Wan let go of all his useless speculation of when he might get ill, how they would finish their mission, how many other people would get sick. . . . .

    The Force remained hazy and indistinct in the air, but present. When he fell asleep, he could still feel Qui-Gon's heartbeat.


    %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %%


    The night was long. Achingly long and icy cold, the air clean and pure.

    Qui-Gon Jinn opened his eyes and saw a dark wooden ceiling vaulting above him - -

    - - below him - -

    - - turning around him.

    He shut his eyes again. Not seeing a reference point to be disoriented from only helped a little with the vertigo.

    He was adrift in the middle of a vast tedium, decades long, cold and draining his life away. Warmth was only a memory, too long ago.

    Nothing. There was nothing.

    But. . . . .

    He could still feel the power, the heat of it temptingly within reach, but the desire for it was gone, drowned in sorrow.

    He turned his head and saw nothing but gloom in shades of dark gray. But there was. . . . . a presence. A memory.

    Obi-Wan.

    Qui-Gon's random half-coherent thoughts stopped in confusion. The presence and the memory did not match, clashing in a headache-inducing double image. He floated in the dark, disconnected from anything, until the fragments settled, drifting downward into a familiar reality.

    A soft pillow cradled his head. Under him. The curved dark ceiling above no longer seemed to be pressing in on him. And nearby, on the same sleeping surface. . . . .

    Obi-Wan.

    He only saw a dark outline, recognizable as a head, a familiar profile, and nothing more. But he saw his apprentice's presence like a blue after-image in the Force, quiescent but still pulsing with youth and life. Clear and distinct and familiar.

    He slid his arm outward until his fingertips touched warm skin, Obi-Wan's hand.

    Qui-Gon knew he was sick, but he would recover. He closed his eyes, a darker shade of dark against the persistent dizziness. It would pass.

    In the Force, he could feel Obi-Wan's heart, and his own, beating together.


    = = = End Part 3
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  10. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 4


    Almost morning.

    The air was cool and fresh with living things. He inhaled deeply.

    Opening his eyes, Obi-Wan could see colors in the early morning grays. Green plants outside, brightening blue sky through the windows.

    Immediately awake, he pushed himself up off the pillow. He yawned broadly, but otherwise his lassitude from the night before was gone.

    Next to him, Qui-Gon had not moved.

    He scooted over the short distance between them and laid a hand on the older man's forehead. The skin was cool, no fever.

    Qui-Gon's eyes opened slowly.

    "Qui-Gon? Are you well?"

    He breathed in and exhaled through his nose. "No." He sounded disappointed. "But I am better."

    "Can I get you anything?"

    "Not yet." He closed his eyes and continued breathing deeply.

    Obi-Wan rolled over and off the sleeping platform to stand, the smooth wooden floor cool on his bare feet. He looked toward the opposite end of the apartment where his pack and a clean change of clothes were. And he needed to pee. He looked back toward Qui-Gon, unwilling to leave him by himself.

    "You should attend to your own needs first. I will be fine," he said without moving his head from the pillow, his eyes still closed. Feeling embarrassed that he was so transparent, Obi-Wan gathered his things together and quickly went to the other sleeping area.

    It was quickly getting light outside; he heard more sounds of chirping and squawking, saw a few small flyers, insects buzzing and darting among the flowering bushes on the balcony garden. He quickly took out what he needed from his pack and made a pile of dirty clothes at the foot of the sleeping platform. Then he went to the fresher. The washing stall was minimal, but the water was hot and felt good.

    When he was finished, he stepped out, dressed in pants, under-tunic and open over-tunic. Carrying his lightsaber, he went back to Qui-Gon, who had remained exactly in the same place. With no idea what his Master might need, Obi-Wan opened the pack on the bench at the end of the sleeping platform.

    "Would you like your clothes?"

    "No. This will do. I do not believe I will be able to participate in any activities today."

    Obi-Wan quickly dug out a roll of beige fabric and held it up. Straight and sleeveless, it would have hung down to the floor on Obi-Wan, but it only reached down to Qui-Gon's knees. He came around the edge of the sleeping platform with it.

    Finally stirring, Qui-Gon pushed himself up to sit.

    Obi-Wan hastily put aside the shift and reached out to support his Master with a large pillow. Still grimacing, Qui-Gon lay back down into a half sitting position. He lay panting while Obi-Wan waited for some other way to help.

    "I am feeling better. I do not believe I have a fever, but the dizziness of this affliction is persistent."

    "A healer is supposed to return. Should I call for one now?"

    "I believe I can wait for their attention," Qui-Gon replied coldly. Remembering the healer's rough treatment the night before, Obi-Wan supposed that this was more than enough reason to not hasten their return.

    "I would like some water."

    Obi-Wan immediately went to the food prep alcove to fulfill the request. When he returned with a cup there was a pile of pants and underclothes next to the bed. The disheveled covering lay partially over Qui-Gon's bare chest and a foot poked out from under one corner.

    Dragging the stool to him, Obi-Wan offered his Master the cup. He did not have any trouble holding it, but he paused a moment, the cup resting against his bare chest, before taking a sip.

    The quiet hum of the lift started in the center of the apartment.

    "Ah! I am so glad to see both of you up this morning!" the woman from the night before greeted them cheerfully. As soon as the lift platform clicked into place she hurried off it and bustled to them, her purple veils fluttering behind her under her brown cap.

    "Are we feeling better today?"

    "Yes," Qui-Gon answered, eying her warily. She turned to Obi-Wan, her round, smiling face beaming at them.

    "And you?" she prompted.

    "Oh . . . ," Obi-Wan answered; he wasn't sick, but he had been feeling unwell, thanks to the previous healer. "Yes, much better."

    "Good. If I may?"

    "Oh, of course." Obi-Wan hastily vacated the stool.

    She took the seat, nudging it closer to her patient and placed her case on the stand next to his pillow. With a scraping sound and a thump, Qui-Gon's lightsaber was pushed off the back of the stand. Obi-Wan hurried to retrieve it, getting on his knees and reaching back to where it had fallen next to the wall under the edge of the curtains. Of course it was not damaged from a simple careless fall like that, but when he took his place behind the healer, he saw Qui-Gon giving her a very cross look. She seemed quite immune to it as she attached her medical sensors to his head and chest and opened her kit.

    "I am senior Healer Mwassil. Healer Zhenum told me all about you last night.

    Now this won't hurt a bit," she said, holding up a swab before jamming it up one of Qui-Gon's large nostrils.

    "There," she chirped, oblivious to Qui-Gon's stony glare. "That wasn't so bad."

    Next came the needles and sample collecting.

    "Now, you are getting all this extra special attention because you're the first case we've had in this part of the Living History Lands. So, we need all this extra data to confirm where any future cases come from, whether they got it from you or some other source."

    Qui-Gon stoically accepted her explanation though it was clear he did not see anything special about the attention he was getting.

    "Now, lets look at how you're doing." She took out a small screen and read the sensor input. "Oh, you are doing so well," she congratulated him. "Any dizziness, sore joints, lethargy?"

    "Yes."

    "All of them?" She reached out and cupping Qui-Gon's cheek, turned his head toward her.

    "Yes."

    "Well, that is very typical," she answered, carefully scrutinizing his face. "Are you feeling up to a first meal?"

    "Yes."

    "Could you please get him something?" she asked, turning to Obi-Wan. "Something light, but nutritious. Maybe a bit of fruit and bread? Maybe some protein spread? But something he likes."

    "Of course."

    Obi-Wan hurried to his task, leaving Qui-Gon's lightsaber with his own on the bench at the end of the sleeping platform on the way. But he kept a wary eye on the Healer as he opened compartments and sniffed the contents of food cylindars. Healer Mwassil continued to chatter while his normally friendly Master only responded with single word answers.

    Finishing preparing the meal, he loaded everything onto a tray stand and returned to the sleeping area. Mwassil was packing her instruments and samples into her case.

    "Oh, yes, that looks lovely." She put her case on the floor, took the tray away from him and placed it on the stand. "Now, please help me take him to the fresher first."

    She whipped off the covering. Qui-Gon was completely naked underneath but that caused her only a momentary worry.

    "You're not cold, are you? " she asked, bending over him. "This mountain air can be a bit brisk."

    "No."

    "Good, that will make things much simpler. Help me with him, please."

    Qui-Gon slid his legs off the sleeping platform; they each took a shoulder and lifted.

    "Now, together, this way," the healer directed.

    Obi-Wan could feel Qui-Gon's heart beating fast. But only briefly. After a few steps he was supporting his own weight with his two helpers guiding him, keeping his balance. Obi-Wan felt the Force in his Master's body, in the arm firmly wrapped around his shoulders. Step. Step. Step. Their bare feet slapped on the wooden floor together. Steady and strong.

    "Oh, you are doing so well," Mwassil exclaimed as they reached the fresher. She tapped the door controller; the lights inside flicked on. Then she suddenly slipped out from under Qui-Gon's arm to dart inside. Qui-Gon teetered a moment from the unexpected change and Obi-Wan firmed his grip.

    "Oh, yes, nice and cozy. Plenty of drying cloths and hand-holds," she approved, coming out. Qui-Gon went forward as soon as she was out of the way. But he turned around, his body filling the door frame that he leaned on heavily, his cold glare boring down on the smaller woman.

    "Now, if you need any help, don't - - - "

    The fresher door closed.

    Mwassil took a step back.

    "They're always a bit grumpy about being sick you know," she said, pushing back the edge of her purple veil. Then she sized up Obi-Wan.

    "Now Zhenum told me that he gave you a booster last night, too. Are we feeling well this morning?"

    He gulped, not liking the healer's attention turned on him. "Um, yes. I'm feeling well."

    She grabbed his arm, dragging him back to where she had left her equipment. "Well, let's just have a look at you while we're waiting."

    Obi-wan sat down on the sleeping platform while she took out her scanner and passed it over him. She 'hmm'ed over the result, put the device aside, took up another, seized his arm and swiftly jabbed him with it.

    "Ow," he complained.

    "Best to get these done quickly," she advised, slotting the sampler into a recepticle in a portable analyzer from her case. "Oh, yes, very good. Not contagious at all." She pointed a lecturing finger at him. "Mind you, you can still come down with it. Notthing to be done if you've already got the infection, so if you start feeling unwell at all any time in the next three days, call us."

    "Is there any way to cure it? I'd rather not get sick at all."

    "Oh, there's no way to stop it once it gets settled in. The best we can do is make it less troublesome. And you've had all the standard treatments. I would rather you stay up hear, so you don't frighten anyone else if you get sick, but they're desperate for you downstairs. Never mind a little thing like an epidemic getting in the way of this Play they're doing," she added, sarcasm tainting her normally cheerful tones.

    "Is there any way to find out for sure if I have it?"

    "Not really. Oh, there are some tests, but they only work on some people some of the time. And I don't know if it's effective at all for off-worlders. It's really not worth the trouble. Have you eaten yet?" She suddenly changed the subject.

    "No, but - - -"

    "Well, we cannot have that."

    She grabbed his arm and headed for the food prep area.

    "It's past time for you to take some nutrition. The stronger you are, the better off you'll be if that serphrada virus rears its ugly tentacles. Now pick something out that you like."

    He tried to lean away from the older woman, but she stubbornly stayed close. They were about the same height, but he still felt intimidated. He very much hoped that he wouldn't be sick later.

    He took out a container of yellow, green and red cut fruit from the cold compartment and served some in a bowl. Then he filled a cup with water from a cold spigot.

    "Oh, you should try some of this." Mwassil picked out a container from the cold compartment, shook some into a clear bowl, covered it and popped it into the flash oven. Obi-Wan read the brightly colored label on the box; it was a local mix of starch, proteins and dried vegatables.

    In a few seconds the oven pinged and she took out the hot mix and headed for the round table nearby. He followed with his fruit and water. After putting the bowl down, she hurried back and returned with an eating utensil and a napkin.

    "Sit," she ordered. He sat and tasted the meal. It was good and he took another bite.

    The fresher door hissed open.

    "Stay!" she ordered as she hurried off. Still half standing, Obi-Wan saw her confront a much larger and completely naked Jedi Master. His long hair drooping around his face, he looked down at her as if she were an unpleasant obstruction.

    "Give me your arm and I'll help you back," she said firmly, extending her arm to his waist. Their stand-off lasted only a moment before he accepted. They slowly made their way back, only pausing for Mwassil to turn and point back at Obi-Wan.

    "Eat!" she commanded. "And I'll be checking when you're done to see that you eat it all."

    He sat down, his eyes looking down at the food bowls before hin and then back toward his Master, who steadily plodded back to the sleeping area with the healer. Again, he sensed the Force in his Master, but he was not part of it this time, only an observer.

    He continued to watch them as he ate quickly. They made it to the sleeping platform and she covered him up after he lay down.

    "Do you need any help with that?" she asked, leaning close to him after placing the tray stand over him.

    "No."

    "Good." She sat on the stool and, taking up her medical kit in her lap, took out a scanner screen and busied herself with that while her patient ate slowly. He seemed to move his head as little as possible. Obi-Wan vigorously applied himself to his meal.

    "You shouldn't eat so quickly."

    Obi-Wan started, looking up from his bowl, staring back at the healer pointing at him.

    "It's not healthy to gobble things down that way."

    Behind her, Obi-Wan saw a smile creep onto Qui-Gon's face.

    He slowly took a bite and chewed until the healer went back to her scanner screen. But his Master's smile remained. She did get up once to get a cup of water to mix with some medicine for Qui-Gon but she waved Obi-Wan back to his meal as she bustled about the task. His Master grimaced as much from her attention as from the medicine that she gave him to drink.

    When Obi-Wan finished, he put the napkin aside, got up and went back to the sleeping area. Healer Mwassil was putting her things back into her case. She snapped it shut and stood.

    "It looks like you're doing well now." She nodded to each of them. "Don't forget what I said about calling one of us if you feel at all unwell," she warned Obi-Wan. He nodded.

    "Healer Mwassil," Qui-Gon addressed her for the first time, putting down his utensil. "You came here to help us with this illness and you have done so. Efficiently. And I have been unnecessarily short with your kindness. Thank-you for your service."

    "You are quite welcome." She smoothed the front of her brown tunic with unmasked pride. "I don't know if it will be me following up with yuo because we are still fighting with those fools in charge abuot a quarantine, but someone will come to visit you again later tonight," she promised. Obi-Wan walked with her to the lift.

    "You do have a com that will work in this tower? I was told that you have one," she half-whispered to him.

    "Yes," he nodded. It was in his belt pouch over in the other sleeping area. Qui-Gon's was in his belt pouch with his things.

    "Good. I know he's doing very well, but Venerate Jedi Qui-Gon really should have a way to call for help if he needs it. Be sure to remind him of that.

    She sighed. "Director Tykon has been calling for you two downstairs. I suppose he is a bit demanding. but he is one of our best artists and only wants this event to be the best it can possibly be."

    She stepped onto the lift platform and Obi-Wan activated it for her.

    "Don't forget what I said about eating properly, too," she admonished before she disappeared. The circle of matching wood slid over the hole and clicked into place, sealing flush with the floor.



    = = = End Part 4
    Rainbow Knight Star likes this.
  11. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Makes me wonder what's up with that... good updates. :)
    Last edited by Kahara, Jul 11, 2013
  12. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Weeeeeeellllll, that one might not go anywhere special. There will be bigger fish coming at them. [face_whistling] Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by ardavenport, Jul 12, 2013
  13. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 5


    Obi-Wan went back to Qui-Gon, still slowly eating the meal before him.

    "Did Healer Mwassil warn you that you might get sick with the virus?"

    "Yes, Master." He nodded. "She treated me so I would not be contagious, but she said that there wasn't any reliable test to see if I was infected or any way to prevent my being ill if I was. It will be three days before we know for sure."

    Qui-Gon sighed. "Then you must be mindful of that. We must carry on as well as we can. Get dressed, Obi-Wan," he instructed.

    "Do you need anything?"

    "I need nothing. But you must represent us today with Director Tykon."

    Obi-Wan made a face. "He was very agitated about our delay."

    Qui-Gon looked surprised. "You have met him?"

    He nodded. "When I went to get a healer for you. He is very. . . . opinionated."

    "Then you must find a way to placate him for now."

    "Am I to represent you on the Play’s Committee?" As senior visiting Venerate, Qui-Gon was to have a position on a guidance Committee for the History Play. The Jedi Council had told the Maarzim that it was not necessary, but the appointment was an unavoidable tradition.

    Qui-Gon shook his head. "No. Since the Committee directs the Play’s Mystery itself, only I am allowed to participate. In the meantime, one of us must participate in the preparations. I should be able to join you tomorrow. Get dressed."

    Obi-Wan nodded, picked up his lightsaber and went back to his own sleeping area. He fastened his over-tunic closed, put the tabbards on and wrapped his obi over that. He put on his belt, attached his lightsaber, and then he sat down, picking up his boots. There was a large mirror hanging between two wooden pillars and he scrutinized his appearance carefully. Turning to the side, he tied and checked the curl of his Padawan's lock on the back of his head. He shrugged on his robe and then noticed the scattered dirty clothes from the day before. He dropped them off onto the clothes cleaning unit in the fresher and then went to Qui-Gon's sleeping area.

    "Leave them," Qui-Gon said as Obi-Wan bent to pick up the discarded clothes on the floor. He had finished his food, put aside the tray stand and had been lying with his eyes closed. They opened now, dark blue gaze serious. "They can be done when you return. Or I will clean them if I'm feeling better. You should not delay any further."

    "Yes, Master," he replied, embarrassed. He put the clothes aside on the bench at the end of sleeping platform.

    "I do not recall you being so reluctant on a mission, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon commented.

    He took a breath before answering. "I was. . . . disturbed by your illness."

    "I have been injured before."

    "Yes, but . . . . you were always yourself those times."

    "Ahhhh."

    Obi-Wan detected a note of understanding in that last utterance.

    "There will be times, when you will have to lead when I am incapacitated. Or worse. You do understand this?"

    "I understand it better. Now."

    "Experience is a difficult teacher," Qui-Gon said softly. "Please get me the com from my pouch."

    Surprised by the change of subject, Obi-Wan looked around for Qui-Gon's things, found the belt under the pack and retrieved the Jedi com uit. Walking around the sleeping platform, he held it out.

    "Put it on the stand please."

    He did so.

    "Now, if you need my advice, I will answer your call."

    Obi-Wan smiled.

    "Thank-you, Master."

    "Go."

    He bowed and without a backward glance, left the apartment.


    %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %%


    Qui-Gon settled back onto the pillows after watching Obi-Wan disappear down the lift.

    His young apprentice had much to learn.

    And his old Master had much to teach.

    He closed his eyes, but that did not shut out the vertigo. He quieted his mind, relaxed his body. The Force flowed strong all around him, through him. But that persistent sense of dizziness remained at the back of his consciousness. He could compensate for it, find his balance with the Force, but the disorientation would not go away. It remained, a hazy boundary around his reality.

    Perhaps he was getting old, he supposed. Or perhaps the virus just had a stronger focus than he did. The effects of it had lessened considerably from the evening before. And he felt slightly improved from when he had woken up that morning, a little less light-headed and weak. But Qui-Gon did not trust his own intuition on his condition, a rare occurrence for him. He wanted to be well and strong again too much.

    And he still had little energy for getting up. Not just his weakened body, but his will and interest in rising were gone, drained away by the virus. That seemed to be the most crippling effect of the disease of all. . . . . .



    %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %%



    Obi-Wan heard the crowd voices long before he reached the main hall of the Castle.

    When he arrived at the gallery below the tower, he paused to look down at the enormous main hall below. On one end under a huge carved stone arch were stacks of large crates and dozens of gray square and rectangular sheets, some as big a two stories tall. A team of people in loose pale clothes and lifter droids had some of the crates open. On the other end of the hall, under tha gallery, a crowd of people, all dressed in pale blue, were held captive by Director Tykon, pacing and lecturing before them. The artist's speech had cleared a wide circle around him on the stone floor below.

    "This is not a leisure day drama or some three-credit holo," Tykon shouted as Obi-Wan walked to the wide staircase and down to the main level. "This is your History. A revelation. You live the immortality of your ancestors and your own with this Play. And I expect you all to appreciate the honor you have been given." He paused to stare them down for a moment.

    "You were all selected from the best and I expect nothing less. More importantly YOU will expect nothing less from yourselves. You will work and you will work as hard as you have ever had to in your lives because this IS your life. This may be the only shining moment you have in your entire careers because no matter what you make of yourselves after this, I will make you into the best for this Play."

    Unnoticed, Obi-Wan stepped down into the back of the crowd. He could see the top of Tykon's blond hair above the others he lectured; he was taller than most of them. Obi-wan moved around the edges of the group, looking for a better view.

    "This is your first audition. The auditions that will decide your places in 'The Tragedy of Darth Yarr'. When you are performing out there, it will be for History. This is your Art. And as soon as those sssats Jedi drag themselves down here - - - "

    "Uh, here!" Obi-Wan raised his hand. Everyone turned around to look at him and immediately a clear path to Director Tykon opened. Obi-Wan walked forward, feeling the eyes of the others on him for every step.

    "Finally!" Tykon exclaimed. He waited until Obi-Wan stood before him. Today, the Director wore flat shoes, skin tight black pants and a long, sleeveless white shirt plus a white sash tied around his forehead, his blond hair held flat under it.

    "Where's Jinn?" he demanded.

    "Venerate Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi!" someone in the crowd shouted. After some sounds of grunting and pushing, the Head Castle Custodian who had the same name as the Director emerged, though Obi-Wan seriously doubted that they were related. "Director Tykon, you have been given special permission to dress," she paused to look up and down at his outfit, "completely inappropriately for the Living History Lands, but I insist that you treat our guests with the proper respect," the white-haired woman scolded. He glared down at her contemptuously, then at Obi-Wan.

    "And where is Venerate Jedi Master Jinn?" he demanded in precise, clipped words.

    "He is still feeling unwell," Obi-Wan said.

    Tykon stepped forward, standing over him.

    "Then I suppose that you will have to do," he pronounced. He whirled around. "Places!"

    The crowd suddenly scattered outward and the people in blue reformed into five rows. They were dressed identically in loose blue tunics with long narrow cloth stoles over their necks that hung down to their knees. These were belted at the waist. They also wore dark blue pants and brown boots. And though their outfits were the same, they had various colors of hair and skin tones for Humans and they ranged in height from short to as tall as Tykon. Both males and females. All of them respectfully kept their eyes on the Director.

    Others dressed in different colored shirts and veils, all in pale hues, took up positions with various equipment. Three holo-recorder droids hummed above them. At the far end of the great hall a team of people ignored the activity as they worked on an elaborate stage. The room sometimes echoed with their various distant construction noises and voices.

    "Now, Venerate Jedi Apprentice Kenobi, you will grace us with your History," Tykon's lip curled a little, "and demonstrate your use of the lightsaber to our performers before they compete for their positions in this Play." Tykon waved toward the lightsaber hilt on Obi-Wan's belt.

    "Uh, what did you want me to do?" he asked.

    "Pecku!" Tykon called out, "bring me one of those props!"

    The Director's assistant, the thin man Obi-Wan remembered from the day before, ran forward and gave the Director a silver and gold cylinder. Pecku wore clothes in the style of the Living History Lands, loose pants and long tunic. Apparently only Tykon was allowed the privilege of violating that rule.

    Tykon hefted the cylinder that fit easily in his palm and Pecku stepped back. When he snapped his arm outward a blue, glowing mechanical stick shot out of one end. He swung it up, down and ended with a twirl and a lunge forward that completely exposed his body to an attacker.

    "Show me that. Or however you Jedi do it," he demanded.

    Obi-Wan unclipped his lightsaber. With a backward sweep of his arm, he ignited it and took a defensive posture.

    "Falgan!" Tykon shouted, startling Obi-Wan.

    "I'll get him!" Pecku called out. Obi-Wan heard running feet. Standing again, he let his saber go out.

    "No! You keep that on!" Tykon pointed at him.

    "I don't keep it activated if I'm not using it," Obi-Wan said, stating the most elementary lesson of Jedi training.

    "You're using it right now!"

    To satisfy him, Obi-Wan activated his blade again. Tykon angrily looked at it and then at his lighted stick, disdainfully holding it up before him.

    No one could ever mistake the pole device for a lightsaber, though it was obviously meant to stand in for the Jedi weapon in the History Play. While it was bright enough to be seen in daylight, it was obviously just a lit clear-plas stick, nothing like the real thing. And the device was completely silent. Qui-Gon had told him that the Maarzim had asked for real lightsabers for their Play. The Jedi Council had firmly rejected the request.

    A moment more of Tykon's pacing later, a stout man in loose and grubby tan clothes returned with Pecku.

    "Falgan, look at this!"

    "You didn't complain about them two days ago," he said gruffly.

    Tykon pointed at Obi-Wan. "Look at that!"

    Falgan looked where the Director pointed and flinched when he saw Obi-Wan's lightsaber blade, safely angled downward at his side.

    "Oh. I guess that is a problem," he admitted, his face now worried.

    "Didn't you look at those holos?" Tykon demanded.

    "Yes, but those things never get the brightness right," he muttered, now intently studying Obi-Wan's blade, his expression calculating.

    "Well, fix it!" Tykon threw down his lightstick on the stone floor. It bounced a few times and rolled away. But the display made no impression on Falgan, who had his eyes on the real lightsaber.

    "Could you hold that straight up, please," he asked.

    Obi-Wan did so.

    Falgan looked at it carefully, but did not approach. Tykon grabbed another lightstick from a woman in an pale orange veil and threw it across the room. The sound of it clattering on the floor echoed in the great hall.

    "Lower it slowly," Falgan requested. Obi-Wan did so.

    "Thesps! Line up by height!" Tykon yelled, stomping off.

    For the next several minutes, Obi-Wan moved his lightsaber up and down, swung the blade while Falgan watched. He collected some recording equipment and then asked Obi-Wan to do everything over again.

    Away from them, Tykon badgered, threatened and exhorted his performers through some exercises. Along with the dance steps, Tykon demanded singing. A keyboard player accompanied them. Obi-Wan watched as one person sang:

    We have a mission
    A Jedi mission – destroy the Sith Lord!
    Destroy the Sith in their lair!

    And a second responded:

    We have a mission,
    A Jedi mission
    And we have come to end
    The evil Sith Lord's nightmare!

    Obi-Wan had not imagined that 'The Tragedy of Darth Yarr' would involve this kind of singing and dancing. History Plays were supposed to be a near sacred rite on this world. He had just assumed that this one would be more like a solemn ritual and less like a popular holo-drama on Coruscant with perky music sung by smiling, twirling performers.

    When they finished multiple repetitions of the song snippet there was a break during which the crowd of people watching rushed out among among the performers, checking costumes and shoes, touching up hair and making quick minor repairs. After yelling toward the stage end of the hall for sound suppressors (the work crew did not respond), Tykon moved on to part of another scene. While the others watched, he singled out different trios to recite their lines.

    "What are you doing?" The first person demanded, pulling on a second person's arm.

    "Me? Nothing. She can help us."

    "Help us do what?"

    "She works in the Castle. She'll let us in."

    "I can," a third person said, slowly walking toward the first two, "For you."

    The third person took the first person's arm and they walked off with the second one following.

    Obi-Wan had no idea who these people were playing, or what the Play characters were doing, except for the bit of song about a Jedi mission. That seemed self-explanatory. All the parts were sung by both males and females of varying ages and sizes. And every one of the singers had excellent and well-trained voices.

    Falgan finally finished his recordings and sent his assistants off with their equipment.

    "I'll have the new props ready by afternoon repast!" he shouted, interrupting Tykon's berating of three performers

    "Afternoon?" Tykon shouted back, obviously not happy. But Falgan just marched off, not impressed.


    = = = End Part 5
    Rainbow Knight Star likes this.
  14. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    caught up with all the parts. Nice characters
  15. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Thanks! :) More coming

    Last edited by ardavenport, Jul 13, 2013
  16. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 6


    "You!" Tykon pointed at Obi-Wan. "Get over here!" Clipping his saber on his belt, the young Jedi jogged over to the group of performers.

    "Take this." The Director thrust an extended lightstick at him. "And defend yourself when they come at you. Form a line!" The performers in blue tunics hurried to obey. Their Director signaled for one to come forward. She was a tall red-haired woman with a large bust, wide hips and a narrow waist.

    "Now try to cut his head off," Tykon instructed, his hands on his hips.

    The woman came at Obi-Wan, swinging for his neck. His stick blocked hers. She swung downward for his head. He dodged to the side and blocked that, too.

    "Watch how he moves!" Tykon commanded as he paced. "Legs bent! Arms up! I better see these moves in your auditions!"

    Already, the people in the line imitated his stance.

    "Next!" Tykon shouted.

    Each performer took their turn swinging their sticks at Obi-Wan while Tykon yelled out criticism and the occasional encouragement. Very quickly he saw that they were all interested in the best looking attack, not in one that would actually succeed. They took wide stances and extravagantly swung their sticks. And if they didn't, their Director corrected them.

    When everyone (Obi-Wan counted fifty-one of them) had their turn, Tykon told him to attack each performers next.

    "What do you want me to do?" he asked uncertainly.

    "Cut their heads off!" Tykon answered as if this should have been obvious.

    The first performer stepped forward, the red-haired woman again. She took a wide stance and tightly gripped the hilt of her lightstick. Obi-Wan carefully positioned himself out of arm's reach of his opponent. One foot forward, one back. Knees bent. He swung the lightstick at her neck.

    Half speed.

    If the Director was unhappy with that, Obi-wan was prepared to accept being yelled at. He was not cutting anyone's head off.

    Tykon said nothing to him. He saved all his ire for his performers, exhorting them to wave their arms wider, move more crisply and shouting that no one would see any tiny little gestures. Ocassionally he shouted 'Yes! Yes! Like that!' when he saw something he liked, but that was usually followed by a sharp correction or complaint tha the others hadn't done what he wanted. They came on one by one. They were all excellent athletes, nimble and fast learners. Obi-Wan could have gone faster; they were quick enough. But he kept his pace. They were not fighters; they were not fighting. They were dancing.

    In the middle of the seventh dancer's turn, Tykon suddenly yelled, "Stop!" He marched right up to him, towering over the slight young man dressed as Jedi Knight Keth. Obi-Wan stepped back, lowering the lightstick. Tykon had inserted himself between him and the performer.

    "What is that?! what is that?!"

    Eyes fearful and looking trapped, the Keth gaped back, not knowing what his Director wanted.

    "That! That!" Tykon furiously waved around an imaginary lightsaber and hopped back and forth in abbreviated lunges.

    The Keth repeated his routine, but only got through a few paces before Tykon's hand came chopping down so hard that the prop clattered to the floor, rolling away, the blade still glowing blue. One of Falgan's assistants scurried to collect it.

    "No!" He waved his arms frantically, rolling his eyes, openly mocking the other's moves. "Get back to the end of the line and watch what the others are doing and get it right when it's your turn again! Next!"

    The performer slunk off while the next one took his place, her face set and eyes on Obi-Wan. She raised her prop.

    "Begin!" Tykon commanded.

    The routine continued with only the usual amount of criticism and rare praise from the Director. This Keth never took her eyes off Obi-Wan while she lunged and waved her lightstick. When her turn was done, Obi-Wan spotted the last Keth huddled with a couple others, while the rest of the group ignored them as if they were pretending the incident hadn't happened.

    Halfway through the line, Tykon singled out another Keth for abuse though Obi-Wan could not see any significant difference in her performance from the others. He mocked her with a jerky imitation, elbows and knees and sent her to the back of the line. Two more got the same treatment; Tykon threw another lightstick across the room.

    It was midday meal by the time they all completed one turn, except for another one who was singled out for abuse; he was the last to have his full turn with Obi-Wan again. Teams of Castle servants in blue came in with long tables and huge vats of food. The new noise and smells ate away at the order of all the work going on in the hall long before Tykon yelled, 'Break!'

    The lightsticks were tossed into a big box, presumably to be replaced by new props from Falgan later in the day. People formed a long line for their food, the blue tunics of the performers mixed with the tans, grays and yellows of the other workers and technicians. Obi-Wan turned away from the scene.

    "Aren't you going to eat?"

    Obi-Wan looked down at one of the female performers. She was a head shorter than he, but broad shouldered for her height, with a prominent bust and small waist, dark skin and golden highlights in her brown hair.

    "Oh, I'm sorry. Venerate Jedi Obi-Wan," she hastily corrected herself, her large brown eyes worried. He remembered that she moved a lot when she used the lightstick, forward and back.

    "I need to check on my Master. He's still not feeling well," he explained.

    "I am Yana Twarn, Venerate Jedi Obi-Wan," she answered shyly. He smiled back, accepting her introduction.

    "I will return soon. If Director Tykon yells for me - - -"

    "'If' he yells for you?" she asked with a grin.

    He almost laughed at her observation.

    "I will return soon." He crossed the hall, but when he climbed the main staircase and glanced back, he saw that she had not moved and she waved back at him before he turned away again.


    %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %%


    Snip. Snip. Snip.

    There was someone else in the apartment. Qui-Gon had awoken to the gentle sound of the lift. Soft footsteps crossed the floor before slipping outside, rustling in the plants. He felt the change in the air from an open door. It refreshed him as if it diluted and washed away the declining virus in him. But he remained motionless. And watchful. His illness had not gone away.

    Snip. Snip. Rustle. Rustle. Rustle. Snip. Scrape.

    Whoever maintained the balcony garden went about their business, pruning and arranging and collecting things. The quiet movements blended in with the sounds of the breeze, buzzing insects and distant activities outside. The morning slowly grew warmer in the rising sunlight, lessening shadows. . . .

    The footsteps returned. Very close. . . . . . . closer . . . . . .

    Qui-Gon's hand shot straight up, his other hand pulling the blanket back in the same motion.

    "Aaaahhh!" a feminine voice cried out.

    He looked carefully at the small hand that had been about to touch his head. His own large hand easily captured the wrist and arm and part of a rough faded yellow sleeve. His eyes looked to his right. He saw fear in the Human woman's brown eyes. She seemed to be in her late-middle years, her slightly sagging medium brown skin beginning to wrinkle around the eyes and mouth; she had a small pointy chin, her face getting jowly with age. Her graying, dark brown hair was pulled back.

    "Have we met before?" he inquired, his grip still firm.

    "No," she said. "I apologize for the intrusion."

    He released her. She pulled her arm back and held it close to her body, rubbing it with her other hand.

    He pushed himself up to sit. Carefully. Though he did not lose his orientation of up and down, the dizziness annoyingly came back. But he kept his eyes on her, waiting.

    "I am Sebo, Master Jedi," she introduced herself, nodding toward him, "the Lady Venerate of this tower. The plants should be tended every day. I did not come the day before yesterday when you were expected to arrive. Or yesterday when you did arrive and became ill. I did not wish to leave them untended for any longer," she finished and stopped rubbing her arm. She wore shades of faded yellow. A long sunny yellow shirt, pastel yellow pants and a matching swath of fabric around her neck and shoulders. And plain, simple sandals on her feet.

    "I hope your garden has not suffered too badly from your absence."

    She shook her head. "It is fine. Some of the fruit had over-ripened and the creepers were getting into the other pots, but nothing serious." She gestured toward the food prep area. "I have picked some of its produce, if you would like something," she offered. Qui-Gon saw a basket with colored rounds and oblongs in it. He shook his head.

    "Perhaps later." He looked at her carefully again; her wrinkling skin was nearly the same tan as the wood of the apartment. He sensed worry. . . . . that he might see something in her? "I was unaware that there was a Venerate lodged in this tower. Or that we were displacing you."

    "You are our honored guests," she said, a smile touching her lips. "And this is a special occasion. I am the embodiment of the Lady of the Tower. I occupy this place, her life, her History, just as she did thousands of years ago. It will be my Mystery revealed in the Play."

    The lift hummed. They both turned and saw Obi-Wan Kenobi rising up into the room. With an expression of surprise he jumped off the lift and ran toward them.

    "This is Venerate Sebo of this tower," he told his apprentice when he approached. Obi-Wan bowed to her.

    "You do not need to address me with my title," she corrected. "As Venerates yourselves you have the right to address me only by my name."

    "Then," Qui-Gon responded. "You should address me as Qui-Gon and my Padawan here is Obi-Wan."

    She nodded.

    "Sebo has come to tend the garden. And she has picked some of its bounty for us." He pointed and Obi-Wan saw the basket. "How are the preparations for the History Play going?"

    "They've had an equipment delay and won't begin their first audition until later in the afternoon. They've stopping for second meal. I came to see how were doing."

    "Better," Qui-Gon assured him. While he still felt the dizziness at the edge of his perception, it did not threaten to overwhelm him. "I should be able to join you tomorrow."

    "Can I get you anything?" Obi-Wan offered.

    "If you and Sebo prepare a meal, I would be pleased to have some."

    "I will show you what I have brought in from the garden," Sebo told him. They went together to the food prep area.

    Settling back into the pillows, Qui-Gon looked about. The shadows in the apartment told him that it was much later the he had thought. He watched the two of them, Sebo showing Obi-Wan what she had picked, then showing him the heating and cooling units. They were apparently new, added for the convenience of the Jedi guests, like the fresher unit. They opened up enclosures and storage units and she talked about the contents and meals and cleaning.

    She was the Venerate of the Tower, living the part of the dowager mother of Cloras the First, the leader who ended a generation of chaos after the fall of Darth Yarr. This was the era maintained in this part of the Living History Lands, the times and after-times of the Sith Lord. And Sebo had lived her part for more than thirty years, since she was a young woman.

    Qui-Gon listened carefully. Though his young apprentice did not notice, he sensed that this was an intentionally abbreviated version of the story.

    As they prepared a meal, Obi-Wan told Sebo about the Jedi on Coruscant. She had never been to the Galactic Republic. She had never been off her home world at all.

    Finally, Obi-Wan approached with a tray. Qui-Gon pushed himself up straighter. There was food for both of them. Sebo exited with her own tray through a door outside.

    "She prefers to eat in the garden," Obi-Wan explained, setting the tray before him. Qui-Gon took up an eating spear and sampled a cube of cut fruit. Fresh from the garden, the juices filled his mouth with a pleasing mix of sweet and tart. Sitting on a stool next to the sleeping platform, Obi-Wan took a stack of leafy vegetables and filling with starchy rounds on top and bottom and took a big bite.


    = = = End Part 6
    Rainbow Knight Star likes this.
  17. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    What is brewing for the Jedi?
  18. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Oooooh, there are many more problems and surprises for the Jedi. Thanks for reading! :)
  19. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 7


    "How did this morning's activities go?" Qui-Gon asked after they had eaten in silence for a bit.

    "They had problems with the props they are using for lightsabers. Otherwise the Director had me rehearse with the performers."

    Qui-Gon chewed a bite. The berries were a little sour, but firm and very fresh.

    "You find this disturbing?"

    Sitting on a padded stool next to the sleeping platform, the tray of food between them, Obi-Wan grimaced, uncomfortable that his Master had read his feelings so clearly. Qui-Gon smiled. Obi-Wan was old enough to want to be independent, but still too young to really know how much he had to learn.

    "It does not seem necessary for either of us to be here for these preparations, Master. Any one of Director Tykon's assitants could rehearse with the performers, who seem to be very familiar with their parts already."

    "None of them are Jedi."

    "Master, they do not need Jedi at all for this Play."

    "This is not just a Play, Obi-Wan. It is a celebration of Maarzim History. The Maarzim connections to their past are sacred. They believe that it bestows a form of immortality, to themselves and to the people and events they celebrate. And they do it with performance. There are many other productions being prepared in other parts of the Living History Lands, with dignitaries from other parts of the galaxy to share the celebrations. This one commemorates the site of the defeat of Darth Yarr and for that, the Maarzim wanted real Jedi to help them celebrate their new Chancellor's investiture. Our participation in the preparations and attendance at the performance are considered a meaningful blessing for the event since the hertiage of the Jedi is unbroken since the time of Darth Yarr." Qui-Gon took a bite of leafy vegetable.

    "Yes, Master," he acknowledged what they both knew from the mission briefing, "but I do not understand. This Play does not feel . . . sacred." Obi-Wan picked up a small pressed grain-round.

    Qui-Gon chuckled. "It does not have to feel sacred to either of us. We only need to accept that it is to them. Be mindful of that, my young apprentice."

    Crunching his morsel thoughtfully, Obi-Wan nodded, but still seemed uneasy.

    "There is more?" Qui-Gon prompted after he finished the round and reached for another.

    "Director Tykon is . . . . very demanding. And vocal about what he wishes."

    Qui-Gon shrugged. "He is well regarded in his art. Many artists demand much from those they lead."

    "Yes, Master. But he is very . . . . emotional. And angry when he doesn't get what he wants. Excessively so. It seems unnecessary. All of the performers are eager to follow his direction, but he is harsh and rarely acknowledges their skill."

    "Aaaaaaaah," Qui-Gon nodded, understanding. "When Master Custrozhu instructed you and the other Padawans at the Temple recently, was he not harsh with all of you?"

    "But that is training for battle, Master. Master Custrozhu needs to drive us to our best, because a real adversary would show us no mercy. And Master Custrozhu does not use anger to drive us."

    "No, a Jedi would not. But a performer at Director Tykon's level uses all emotions, and for him the stage is a battlefield to be commanded and won; his performers are his army. A real audience will show them no mercy, either."

    "Were the performers in the holo that you participated in at Director Tykon’s level?"

    Qui-Gon frowned at the mention of that long ago assignment. Master Piel had mentioned it in their mission briefing and Obi-Wan had naturally asked about it later.

    "I did not ‘participate’ in the holo-drama; I merely advised. At the direction of the Council." Qui-Gon picked up a slice of fruit; there were only scraps left of their meal on the tray, leftover cubes and wedges, berries and nuts and a few smears of sauce on the plates.

    Jedi were legendary in the Galactic Republic. So, naturally the writers and producers of holo-dramas ocassionally used Jedi. It was impossible (and against the Jedi Code) for the Council to stop it, though obviously some of the senior Masters in the Order would love to find a way. The Jedi Temple had denials for every possible inquiry about interviews, tours and personal details that were not in the histories and references approved by the Jedi Order. But sometimes, when an artist of sufficient credibility and a reputation for honest historical depiction sent in a request, the Jedi Council would deem it ‘in the interests of the Jedi Order’ to be properly represented to the citizens of the Republic that they defended. Qui-Gon had his turn providing guidance for a holo-drama when he was a much younger Knight.

    "But you advised the Director of that holo-drama. Did she use anger to push her performers?"

    "She did," he nodded, recalling that trivial mission from his past. It had been an adventure story for two lovers on Coruscant; the father of one of them had asked an old friend, a Jedi Master, to assist them. "She also used tragedy, humor, fear, envy, joy, surprise and anything else that worked to extract the emotions she wanted from her performers." The director and writer of the drama had been a small, bossy Twi’lek woman name Lela Ruturno. She knew exactly what she wanted and would settle for nothing less. She had been similar to Director Tykon, but she could intimidate her subordinates just as well with a simple glare than with a shout. She was intelligent and had done proper research; the story’s Jedi, Master Brak’cha was as accurate a fictional representative of the Order as the Council could want.

    Qui-Gon's assignment had been no more taxing than attending a diplomatic event at one of the thousands of the planetary embassies on Coruscant and he had spent most of his time with the elderly performer who portrayed Brak’cha, Roetee Zhazem. With a planet-sized ego and talent to matche it, she had been the martriarch of the whole cast who treated her with awe and reverence. When she wasn’t entertaining her fellow dramatists with songs and tales of her past exploits, she could turn the character of Brak’cha off and on like a switch. Director Lela Ruturno had no reason to glare in Zhazem’s direction. Roetee Zhazem was widely memorialized when she died a few years later and even the Jedi Council had acknowledge her with a terse ‘talented artist who has now joined the Force’ comment for her portrayal of Master Brak’cha; high praise indeed.

    His apprentice made a sour face that had nothing to do with the last berry he had eaten.

    "Director Tykon is an artist," Qui-Gon explained. "He is driven by emotion because that is how he will win his battle. We will have to be diplomatic with him.

    "The participation of a Venerate is always required for any History drama. And the Council has sent us to fulfill that role, in return for the remains of Darth Yarr's holocron; we will assist in their preparations and officiate at the performance. It is not our place to question their methods. Be mindful of that, my young Padawan."

    "Yes, Master."

    They finished their meal and Obi-Wan told him more about the problem with the simulated lightsabers, Tykon's reaction to them and the exercises with the performers. And the dancing and singing.

    "Interesting," Qui-Gon noted. They only knew that the Play was about the defeat of Darth Yarr. The specific contents of it were to be kept secret until the performance, to enhance its mystique. Only the Creative Committee knew all the details. It included Director Tykon and three other artists, along with Sebo, the keeper of the Mystery to be revealed, and Custodian Tykon, the senior Venerate of Naardin Castle. As senior Jedi Venerate, Qui-Gon was to be a visiting member on the Committee as well; his status was special since the Jedi Order had a continuous history back to and far beyond the time of Darth Yarr. It was a great prize for the incoming Chancellor to have convinced he Jedi Council to send them.

    He had expected to meet with the Creative Committee when they arrived, but lateness and illness intervened. The Jedi Council's only interest was in the remains of Yarr's holocron and Qui-Gon planned to cede any authority over the Play to the others. The contents of it did not matter to him, though he could not imagine how singing could be involved in a conflict with a Sith. He sympathized with Obi-Wan's confusion about that.

    "You should go back now," he instructed as Obi-Wan took the empty tray.

    He paused. "Will you need anything else?"

    "I will be fine here. You should attend to our mission."

    Obi-Wan hesitated, his eyes going toward an outer wall, and the balcony garden beyond.

    "I will tell Sebo that you have left. Now go."

    Nodding, Obi-Wan turned away. He went back to the eating area and put the tray on the table. Then he went to the lift and with one last look of farewell, descended and left.

    Qui-Gon settled back into the pillows.

    He still felt the dizziness, like an annoying insect buzzing beyond his reach. During the meal he had ignored it, an illusion that it had finally passed, but now alone, by himself, he knew that this had been self-deception. He closed his eyes.


    %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %%


    Eyes on the two fighters, Director Tykon stalked up and down the lines of performers. While the others watched, Obi-Wan was paired with one of them. Tykon shouted for them to repeat the routine with the improved lightsticks.

    A Jedi would never mistake them for real lightsabers, but they were about the right length and blue color, nearly as bright and made humming sounds that squealed in the right way when two of them connected.

    Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack!

    Obi-Wan paced the floor with the performer he currently worked with, a swift and skinny youth with dark hair. He had no trouble pacing or anticipating his opponent, but. . . . .

    . . . . he had never sparred to music before.

    Dah dah, DAH, dah-dah, DOO-dee-dah dee-dee.

    Doo-doo, DAH-dee-dum DAH-dee doo-dee-DAH.

    It wasn't sparring, really. It was dancing with lightsticks. Obi-Wan had memorized the short length of song, he had heard it so many times.

    He strode up and down the floor with each performer while Tykon circled predatorily, only pausing to mutter closely held comments to his assistant. The terror of their Director's judgment kept all the performers intensely focused.

    This was the audition for the part of Jedi Keth in the Play. Everyone participated. That was why they all wore the Keth costume. Tall, short, broad, thin, male, female. No physical attribute seemed to disqualify anyone for the part of Keth, only performance.

    The short stretch of music, played by the keyboard musician, ended. Obi-Wan's partner sighed expansively and then his eyes went to Director Tykon who did not look up as he conferred with Pecku.

    The next performer stepped up to take her turn while the other walked off. It was Yana Twarn, the woman who had spoken to him when he left to check on Qui-Gon. She had greeted him when he returned and offered to show him around the Castle later.

    Now she stood breathing deeply, eyes closed, an exercise that all the performers used to calm their nervousness. The terror of failure in them never went away, but they controlled it. Most of the time. A couple had missed their steps and their Director's angry, derisive criticism had only compounded their fears. One had run away in tears.

    Dah dah, DAH, dah-dah, DOO-dee-dah dee-dee.

    Yana swung her saberstick back.

    Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack!

    Yana twirled and lunged.

    Doo-doo, DAH-dee-dum DAH-dee doo-dee-DAH.

    Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack!

    She backed up to his advance, lunged back, her arm behind her for balance, and made side-by-side circles with the tip of her lightstick before the loop of music replayed. They repeated the routine before Yana stopped and sighed. She had finished without Tykon interrupting. Apparently, interruptions were bad and a sign that you were not likely to win the part of Jedi Keth in the Play. But there were already more than twenty people who had done as well, so Yana's chances for winning the part were still not good.

    Giving him a wink and a wave, she left and the next performer stepped up. The remaining performers did their lightstick dance with no errors, including the last one, who had missed his steps and been shouted back to the end of the line. The one who had left crying had not returned.

    "Break! That's all for today! Same time tomorrow morning! All parts will be announced together after all auditions!" Pecku shouted. The tension broke, leaving behind tired bodies and the smell of sweat in the air. The performers broke ranks and wandered off to chairs and benches by the walls. A few just sat down in place. Many of them cast hopeful glances toward their Director, but a tight-lipped Tykon ignored them and huddled with Pecku and another assistant over a portable data screen on a side table. The three holo recorders descended from where they had been circling for the audition.

    Obi-Wan followed some of the other dancers, took his lightstick and put it into the standing box that Falgan had brought them out in. They were still working on the mechanism for retracting the blades. A squat, tan supply droid scanned each one and beeped.

    Yana put her lightstick in the box after his. "Do you think it went well?"

    "I don't really know," he answered truthfully. "I don't know anything about Plays or auditioning."

    "I hope I did. I may not be the type they want for Keth, but it always helps to do well in all the auditions if you want to get a good part."

    Two other performers, both a little taller than Obi-Wan, and much bigger than Yana, put their lightsticks in the box.

    "Vererate Jedi Kenobi, this is Jutwa Eris." Yana touched the arm of a male with short blonde hair, pale skin and a square jaw, "and Timoz Wemi." She touched a woman with thick black hair, cut off at the shoulders and curved around her head. She had dark, tanned skin, though not as dark as Yana's.

    "Hello." Obi-Wan bowed his head to each of them.

    "We were all at the Mweweer Academy together," Yana explained, her arm around Jutwa's waist. Obi-Wan did not know what that was, so a pause opened up in the conversation. Timoz dove into it.

    "You dance very well. Is that part of your training as a Jedi?"

    "Um, not directly." Obi-Wan tried to think of any equivalence. "Some of the senior Masters have said that the training for fighting and dancing are similar, but I've never compared them myself. My Master said that the stage was a battlefield for you."

    Timoz suddenly went stiff. "Yes! Dancing is a war to be won! You are fighting for more than your careers!" He raised his arm in mock triumph. "More than your lives! You are acting for your art! Your art IS your life! The immortality of your ancestors is depending on YOU!" This impromptu imitation of Director Tykon brought on a quick burst of giggles from the three friends, then sudden hushing as they looked over their shoulders. But the Director was striding off toward an exit with his assistants.

    "Oooh, I hate the waiting," Yana complained. "That's almost as bad as not getting a good part."

    "Well, you at least have a chance," Jutwa grumbled. "I already know that Mwemas doesn't like me for this part from the singing and acting auditions."

    "There were other auditions?" That surprised Obi-Wan since the Maarzim had been so adamant about needing Jedi participating in the auditions. Why were they not need them for the earlier ones?

    "Oh yes!" Yana looked equally surprised that he didn't already know. "Those were the elimination auditions. There were over five thousand of us at the beginning of those. But we're already in the Play. These are where we compete for which parts we'll have."

    "And these are the first auditions where we're doing it in for Tykon." Timoz put equal parts of awe and horror in the Director's name.

    "The auditions aren't over until Tykon, Mwemas and the others on the Creative Committee have their big meeting about all the Play roles," Yana assured him. "And they still want to know how well we understand the whole Play. That will count a lot for the parts we get."

    "The History Play is a world unto itself, with all the parts touching and intertwining with all the other parts," Timoz said with elongated words and his lips puckered, followed by another round of giggles with the others. Obi-Wan supposed that this was perhaps an imitation of Mwemas or one of the other Play writers.

    BLAM!



    = = = End Part 7
    Last edited by ardavenport, Jul 14, 2013
    Rainbow Knight Star likes this.
  20. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    BLAM

    What's happening?

    Like your OC's and their names
  21. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Oh, it's always terrible to end a chapter on a sudden, unexpected noise. Those cliffies are so tempting. Thanks for reading!.:)

    I wonder if it's too forward to post two chapter on the same day? Is there any kind of speed record for posting epics here, I wonder? Ah well, I really do want to get this thing off my hard drive.
  22. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 8


    They all started and looked toward the platform being built at the far end of the great hall where a huge gray slab had just fallen. Some people yelled and a big yellow lifter droid backed away on its treads, beeping loudly as it went.

    "What are they doing there? Is that the stage?" Obi-Wan wondered out loud.

    "It's not any ordinary stage." Yana pointed. "It's for a History Play. They've got to do everything from scratch, in a place that hasn't been built for it. And it's not just the stage; they have to put in room for the orchestra. And because this space isn't designed for proper viewing, we're going to have a tilted stage with a grav adjustment. They've already got the generator there. And those boxes," she pointed to huge, tall boxes on either side of the construction area, "are for redesigning the acoustics. Otherwise, the reverb would kill us with these stone walls."

    "It's not like working in a real theater, where you've got everything you need." Jutwa moved to Obi-Wan's other side. "But this happens a lot with History Plays. That's part of the challenge. You're not a real pro unless you've done the History Mystery tour."

    "I'm just hoping for something better than singing in the background." Yana hugged herself. "I don't want to come all this way and end up just getting scraps."

    "You call this scraps?" Timoz turned to her critically, "we're here, we're in and a lot of others didn't. Even if you get just one walk-on and one note."

    "Oh, really? And what part do you think Twunar is going to get?"

    Obi-Wan saw both Timoz and Jutwa flinch.

    "Who is Twunar?"

    "He's the one who ran off when he missed his steps," Yana said solemnly.

    "And didn't come back," Jutwa finished, his green eyes serious, his square jaw set. "That's the worst. You've got to be tested for all the major parts. At least Judra took her turn again after Tykon chewed her out. But Twunar missed it. And this is only the first audition."

    "Twunar didn't come back. Tykon will never take him for any of the other parts now. He's out." Yana shook her head.

    "His uncle's the Director in one of the other Regions; he'll get a bit part there," Timoz's expression distorted with distaste. But Yana reacted with surprise.

    "Not for this event. It's too big. This isn't just some dead king memorial. His uncle would never be a Director again if he let him in his Play after washing out here with Tykon."

    Timoz remained skeptical, but they all seemed happy to drop the subject. Around them, nearly all the performers had left the hall, leaving only the stage work crew making random echoing bangs and machine noises.

    Yana initiated a tour of the Castle for Obi-Wan and her friends with the pretense of looking for some good practice space for the next day's audition.

    They had been auditioning in Tamwa Hall, the immense center of the Naardin Castle, named after the Lord who had built it, the Castle's first major addition since being built before the time of Darth Yarr. It would hold an audience of more than two thousand people for the performance. Around the perimeter were archways that led to the three wings, dubbed Mountain, Plain and Lake, named for the geographical features that they faced. They were all sprawling hallways, sub-levels and towers.

    Performers had appropriated some of the rooms for their practicing for the next audition. Other rooms were occupied by the stage crew with noisy fabricating machines, or by costume and prop makers. Falgan gave them a cross look when they peered into his work area. There were no advanced droids at all, just simple work machines and binaries. The Castle was maintained and operated as it had been for thousands of years though they did have compact power generators and other conveniences in the lower levels.

    All the Castle staff politely bowed to Obi-Wan and addressed him as Venerate as they offered him assistance or explained their duties. But they frowned toward the three performers with him without saying anything. Yana told him that all the cast and crew of the History Play were limited to their assigned living, practice and performing areas. But as a visiting Venerate, Obi-Wan (and anyone with him) could go nearly anywhere he liked. Timoz and Jutwa seemed to enjoy the extra privileges and never got around to finding a good place to practice.

    The one place where they were not allowed to go were the music rooms. They heard the sound of the orchestra coming from a large room as someone exited from it. Two people by the door refused to let them them go in. One passing Castle staff member looked scandalized that they would deny Obi-Wan entry and promised to report them to her superiors, but the music techs held their ground. Not wanting to get anyone in trouble, he denied that there was any problem and withdrew quickly, his three companions following.

    "Sssats, Mwemas and Aka must think they're running the whole production," Jutwa complained, his pale brows lowered. "It's not like we haven't had to memorize almost the whole score already."

    "Didn’t they write it?" Obi-Wan asked. He remembered the names from the mission briefing. Roobi Mwemas was the Music Director in charge of the orchestra and singing, Thwurn Aka was the Composer, along with Quembu Smetin who co-wrote the story and the lyrics; they and Director Tykon had worked on it for over a year. And they were the artistic representatives of the Committee in charge of the Play. Custodian Tykon, the Lady of the Tower and Qui-Gon were the Venerates of the History Play, with Director Tykon as head of the whole Committee.

    "Well, yes, but they don’t own it. Not even Tykon owns it, but I guess, since Mwemas and Tykon were together for awhile, she thinks that she's on his level." Yana snapped. Then she grimaced as if she wanted to take her words back. "Sorry, Venerate Jedi Obi-Wan, I didn’t mean to speak so sharply. They just . . . well, they didn’t have any right to keep you out. It's not like that's not a hidden door or anything and they’re not working in any of the hallowed, sacred places here."

    Obi-Wan was pretty sure that he was not the one who the music techs wanted to keep out, and he especially wanted to stay away from any conflicts about who was in charge. "I don’t need to see any of that anyway. I’m not a musician." All three performers looked relieved that he was not offended thought they still gave the music rooms behind them some cross glances.

    Continuing down a corridor, they turned a corner and entered a wide hallway with tall windows. He could see most of the Castle towers, including the one Qui-Gon now rested in, more than twice as tall as all the others. To change the subject, he asked what was in the other towers.

    "Us!" Jutwa laughed, her cheerfulness immediately returning. The others joined in. With most of the Play cast and crew and the staff, the Castle was accomodating more than three times the number of people who usually stayed there. All the other towers had been converted to dormitory rooms, with sleeping cots and portable freshers everywhere. Even Custodian Tykon had two other members of her staff staying in her rooms.

    "Its a good thing everyone is so tired at the end of the day or we'd be on each other's nerves a lot more than we are," Yana told him.

    Obi-Wan was a little embarrassed to tell them how much space that he and Qui-Gon had in the tower apartment. They eagerly listened to anything he had to say about it. Almost no one except the Lady of the Tower went up there and she was known as some kind of holy hermit. Yana and her friends were even more impressed that he had actually met her.

    "Maybe we could practice up there?" Timoz suggested, looking out a tall window up toward the tower apartment. Obi-Wan shook his head.

    "We're the only ones allowed up there, other than the Castle staff. And besides, my Master is resting there now."

    "Oh, no! We know we can't go up there. That is a hallowed place," Yana laughed the suggestion off. "Going into any of the places that are off limits here could get us bounced from the Play, and besides, going up there would be sacrilege. Almost as bad as exposing the Mystery before the Play."

    "There's no place I need to go in here for me to risk that," Jutwa agreed, "but we really need to get back to practicing the other parts." He sighed glumly. "I don't have a good feeling about Keth, but there's more than one part in this thing, and I'm going to get one." Some wordless expressions of determination passed between the three dancers. Yana turned her brown eyes to Obi-Wan.

    "I'm sure you'll all do well." It was an empty statement, but he did not have a better way to respond to their earnest and naked ambition.

    By the time they returned to the great hall, the Play crew droids were laying out tables and chairs for evening meal. The sun was low in the sky, the golden yellow light coming in from the tall windows. Yana invited him to sit and eat with them and practice with them later, but he excused himself to go up and check on Qui-Gon.

    She and the others looked disappointed. "You couldn't come down later, for a little extra practice with us?"

    He shook his head. "I don't think I can."

    Yana's expression remained soured for a second before her smile returned. "I hope your Venerate Jedi Master is feeling better tomorrow."

    "I think he will be. The healers were very aggressive." He frowned, remembering the treatment they had both gotten the night before. "They said they had to be, to keep the virus from spreading."

    Yana, Timoz and Jutwa looked back at him with confounded expressions. "We heard he had food poisoning," Yana explained.

    Obi-Wan shook his head. "They called it a serphrada virus. They had to give me a shot for it, too, so I wouldn't spread it." Mentally, he could still feel where Healer Zhenum had stuck the needle in."

    Timoz gasped and Yana explained again. "We heard that they had serphrada in the Majwaru and the Poonkagree Lands, but we didn't know anyone in Naardin had it, too."

    "The healers said that they wanted a quarantine," Obi-Wan told them. "They were very unhappy that they didn't get one after my Master became ill. Is it serious?"

    "Well," Jutwa looked a little uncertain, "only if you get it. My father had it and it's not too bad if you get treated right away."

    "Speak for yourself." Timoz's lip curled. "I've had it and it's awful."

    "Then you don't have anything to worry about; you're immune," she shot back.

    "That's not what we have to worry about," Yana spoke seriously. "If there's an epidemic; even a little one, they could cancel everything."

    "They wouldn't!" Timoz denied, blue eyes wide. "They can't! With all the work they've put into it. And Tykon would never stand for it. They'd just delay things at worst."

    Yana shook her head. "For how long? And if it's really bad, Mwetta could be blamed that they didn't stop it sooner; she could even lose her position." The three friends exchanged worried looks. At worst, their mission would only be a wasted trip for the Jedi. But he could sense their dread. They had worked so hard.

    "You shouldn't worry." The three dancers looked at him. "If it happens, then we will all deal with it then. Fearing what will happen . . . " he paused, not sure if they would understand if he finished with 'leads to the Dark Side', " . . . will only make it worse," he finished, paraphrasing that common Jedi teaching.

    Yana gave him a little bit of a smile and the tension lessened. "You're right. Worrying about the Play being canceled will just jinx the auditions for us if it isn't." The others agreed.

    "See you tomorrow." Yana reached to hug him and then very obviously pulled back and he was not sure it was entirely because o his rank as a Venerate. The healer had told him that he wasn't contagious, but he understood her sudden reticence.

    Obi-Wan watched them go for a moment, back to their friends gathering for the meal, laughing, hugging, chatting, before he turned to go up the stairs to the gallery and then up to the tower back to his Master.


    %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %%


    The walls were closing in.

    Images of curved wooden struts and carved pillars glowed under his eyelids. Everywhere swirling lined patterns, and a light smoothness under his fingertips.

    He could not stay. It was killing him. Draining the life from him, minute by minute.

    But he had to stay. It was only thing he had left, the staying. The only thing that was him. His whole existence was staying in that place while time slid past.

    Snip. Snip. Snip.

    Qui-Gon's eyes opened.

    The light had changed. The shadows had moved into late afternoon. He had slept most of the day.

    He lifted his head from the pillow, pushed himself up on his elbows, threw back the clean coverings and swung his legs over the side to the floor, smooth and cool under his bare feet.

    Snip. Snip. Snip.

    Sebo was still in the garden, tending the plants. Or perhaps she had gone and come back.

    He looked about and saw a dark brown lump with the rest of his things on the bench at the end of sleeping platform. He stood, extended his arms and stretched his whole body. The bones in his neck cracked; it felt very good. He went around to the bench, picked up his robe and put it on over the long plain tunic he wore.

    He took a step.

    No dizziness.

    He took another.

    No dizziness.

    He breathed in deeply, looking for it, lurking somewhere, but he felt nothing other than his own suspicion that something so persistent would not vanish so easily. He shrugged, straightening his robe. If it was to return, it would. He would not anticipate it.

    He found Sebo clipping withered leaves from the lower branches of a flowing tree in a big round pot by the outer railing of the balcony. Her hands moved nimbly, pulling out the yellow and brown leaves from the healthy ones and tucking them into a bag hung around her neck.

    A path of planks ran between the lush plants on either side of the wide balcony. Looking down both sides of the curve that encircled the apartment, Qui-Gon saw well-tended fruit trees and boxes of orderly greens. Blossoms and fragrant herbs scented the air. Tiny lizards and slow, hovering insects darted among the leaves.

    Sebo, her back still toward him moved on to a cluster of ferns, spilling out of a box at waist level. Beyond her, the foothills of the nearby mountain range rose up, snowy caps in the distance. The late afternoon light on them turned golden toward sunset. A light breeze pulled on the long, loose strands of Qui-Gon's hair.

    He saw forested hills beyond two tall bushes. Going to the balcony, he looked down at the layout of a garden courtyards and the sloped gray roofs of the rest of the Castle below. There were a few dwellings scattered up among the trees in the foothills with most of a nearby town on the other side toward the plain and lake. There were other towers, but the largest of them was less than half as tall as the apartment's spire. Immediately below the balcony, rows of curving metalwork and spikes encircled the entire tower. Behind and above, Qui-Gon saw the same elaborate decoration crowning the roof of the apartment with one enormous spike rising from the center. A large bird flew overhead, crossing the blue sky. It dove down to the gardens below and he followed it. . . . .

    Qui-Gon grabbed the railing tightly and locked his elbows, but he still felt as if he was falling forward. He remained frozen, conscious of his rigid body and the high, solid railing supporting him, but trapped by the swaying in his head. He closed his eyes.

    "Qui-Gon. . . . ?"


    = = = End Part 8
    Rainbow Knight Star likes this.
  23. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    What is happening to Qui-Gon? Something sinister is brewing.
  24. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Weeeeeellll, maybe something not too sinister. He's still recovering from his illness. Thanks for the reply. :)
  25. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 9


    Sebo had come up by his side. But she did not try to touch him.

    He inhaled the air and the Force, deeply. He felt its strength through his connection to everything around him. It magnified his own energies many times. The living garden around him, the tower, the Castle, the people in them, the town beyond. The dizziness abated, but . . . .

    . . . . not through his efforts. It was dying on its own. He let his head fall back and breathed until it was gone. He let go of the railing and stood back from it.

    "Qui-Gon, are you well?"

    He sighted. "Apparently not as well as I would have liked." He looked down at her. "But I am improving."

    She nodded uncertainly, offered to show him the apartment's garden and he accepted.

    They strolled together among the well maintained plants. Some were purely decorative but most served some function, food or a medicinal purpose. Among the plants, various worms, grubs and insects fed or were fed by the needs of the garden's ecology. Crawling and flying creatures came and went. Sebo did not like the tiny lizards. They were harmless, but they sometimes got into the apartment.

    Along with plants there was a full set of surprisingly primitive tools and compost bins. Water came from rain and there were collectors on the roof next to rows of sun-energy collectors as well. The water could also be pumped up from below to a tank above the apartment in case of drought. Qui-Gon complimented her on the results and the balance of her work.

    Qui-Gon looked at the brilliant sunset over the lake. The clouds and the snow on the mountains turned a deepening orange. The early evening breeze cooled his skin.

    "Master?"

    Startled, he whirled around, unhappy that his own apprentice returned without him noticing?

    His hand gripped the railing, his arm rigid. The dizziness returned and for a moment he didn't know if he was falling forward or backward. But when his vision cleared he was still upright. Obi-Wan tightly clasped his other arm.

    "Master? Are you well?"

    He took a long, deep breath before answering. "Apparently not as well as I wished."

    "Oh, but you are doing much better."

    Qui-Gon found another surprise at his arm, Healer Mwassil. She barely came up to the center of his chest; somehow he had thought that she was taller. Going to his other side, she curved her arm around his, pulling him away from the railing so he had to steady himself on her and Obi-Wan.

    "Other than dizziness, are you feeling unwell?"

    Qui-Gon frowned down at her beaming face. "No. And the dizziness was momentary."

    "Excellent," she replied back up at him. "Now, let's just get you inside." She led and Obi-Wan helped. By the time they sat him down on the sleeping platform he felt like he had regained his balance, but he had to lie down so Mwassil could scan him. She hummed a few tuneless notes as she passed her instrument over him. Obi-Wan peered around her, trying to read the display.

    "Oh you are doing wonderfully," Mwassil exclaimed with bubbly enthusiasm. She patted his stomach and he resisted the impulse to seize her wrist and pinch a nerve. "You must be very healthy under normal circumstances."

    "Yes." He gave her a glare that made Obi-Wan flinch, but she was quite immune to it.

    "Of course you are. Now Obi-Wan here has told me that you ate at midday. Have we had any snackies since then?"

    "No."

    "Well, we're just going to have to get you something. Something easy and gentle." Healer Mwassil patted him on the stomach and bustled off, taking Obi-Wan with her to the food prep area.

    Standing by the window, Sebo remained, watching him. He could see her out of the corner of his eye. He was lying in her bed. The bed she had slept in as the living embodiment of the woman of the tower for how many years?

    Sebo started to move off. Qui-Gon turned his head on the pillow toward her.

    "How long have you served as the Lady of the Tower?"

    She looked surprised that he had spoken.

    "Over half my life."

    "Indeed," he answered thoughtfully. "It seems a high price to pay for your service to the History of your world."

    "No more that yours." She clasped her hands before her, her expression calm.

    He sighed. They had each devoted their lives to their own callings.

    "Tell, me Sebo . . . . why was the Lady of the Tower imprisoned here?"



    %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %%



    "Here."

    Obi-Wan looked up at the mirrored hemisphere over the floor covering the lift.

    "Anyone entering can see the whole room. This area is clear of any obstructions. So, the danger from ambush has been minimized. And the eating area," Qui-Gon pointed and led his apprentice over to the alcove of cabinets and counters. "All the provisions are finger foods, vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts. Nothing that requires any sturdy utensils or cutters, nothing that can be easily made into an effective weapon." Qui-Gon pulled out a sliding compartment and Obi-Wan peered down at the scatter of wooden and plastoid rods and shapes. Then he looked over his shoulder back at the portable food preparers and cold storage unit, a stand of shiny utensils next to it.

    "What about these?" he asked, looking up at his Master, who shook his head.

    "Those were brought in specially for us." Qui-Gon put his hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder and led him out of the alcove, past the table with the remains of their evening meal still on it. They went out to the garden. Obi-Wan tugged his robe a little closer to him and looked carefully at his Master for any more signs of illness.

    Qui-Gon picked up a digging implement from a bin. It was all wood and bone, bound with natural twine, simple and primitive. Much more primitive than the technology of the era that Sebo adhered to. Obi-Wan took out a simple clawed tool for turning soil and examined its smooth, carved prongs, stained with soil. The produce of the garden was sufficient to sustain a single occupant who tended it, minimizing the need for anyone to come or go along with the risk of escape. The tower apartment was not only a prison, it was exile.

    The night breeze was brisk and it carried the scent of the trees from the nearby mountain, a tblack shape against a slightly less black sky. The lights of the rest of the Castle glowed below, some pointing upward. Yellow, white and pink town lights sprinkled the slopes below with a few scattered in the foothils. Everywhere else was dark, only faintly illuminated by the bluish white glow of the planet's smaller moons and sparse twinkling stars. The body of the galactic core, obscured by clouds of stellar dust, was not visible in the Outer Rim skies of Maarzim.

    "Here." Qui-Gon pointed and Obi-Wan peered over the high railing of the balcony garden, between two potted trees. "The spikes and statuary immediately below would make climbing down difficult and slow, and if anyone fell, fatal. And even if an occupant of this tower were to try, this tower is visible to all parts of the Castle. No one could try to escape without being seen."

    "Some of the performers took me on a tour during a break in their training. This tower was visible through all the parts of the Castle that I saw," Obi-Wan said, looking surprised that he had just realized this.

    "Indeed." Qui-Gon folded his arms before him through the opposite sleeves of his robe. The night was cooling. He led his apprentice inside again, sliding the manual door closed behind them.

    "But why would Sebo react so badly to your question?" Obi-Wan asked, still confused. "Surely it is known who was kept prisoner here and why?"

    "Surely it is not, my young apprentice," Qui-Gon answered with a smile. "Sebo is sworn to preserve the Mystery of the person whose life she has assumed. That is part of the purpose of the Living History Lands. The Maarzim believe that they must keep their past alive if they are to have a future. And one way of doing that is preserving the secrets of their past through the acolytes who live it."

    His apprentice looked thoughtful. "And revealing their secrets in a Play with song and dance?"

    He smiled. "A ritual celebration. But whatever it is, the secrets of the Lady of the Tower and Darth Yarr are unlikely to be of any consequence to us." He lowered his brows. If there was some secret about how Darth Yarr fell, that could be of interest to the Jedi, though he doubted that it would be useful, having happened so long ago. And the Sith had been extinct for nearly a thousand years. Obi-Wan's next questions interrupted his private speculation.

    "Master, why would they want to keep secrets about their past?"

    He smiled. "Hidden knowledge is always more desirable. And because they enjoy it." Qui-Gon extended a hand to open space in the apartment. They would exercise and meditate before retiring. And perhaps he would be able to think of some way to explain a Mystery to Obi-Wan.

    Or perhaps not.


    %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %%


    Obi-Wan had woken at dawn, and found his Master already up and exercising. To his relief, the illness seemed to have completely gone. Healer Mwassil showed up as they finished eating and beamed at their good health as she passed her scanners over them. But when she pulled out one of her swabs, Qui-Gon seized her wrist, making her jump. He politely took the swab, put it up his own nose and then presented it to her.

    "Well, I suppose that will do." She popped it into a sample bottle and it disappeared into her case. Smiling, she politely hoped that she would not need to see them again. The forecast epidemic had not emerged with only a few new cases in the other Living History Lands, but the Healers were gathering for a special meeting with the new Chancellor to demand the quarantine they wanted.

    "We will get it," she assured them as the lift took her down."

    Qui-Gon nodded with a shrug. "I'm sure they will do their best." They got up and cleaned the leavings from their morning and then after getting their robes, left as well. At his Master's invitation, Obi-Wan preceded him down the long spiral stairway of the tower.

    Finally at the bottom of the stairs, Obi-Wan touched the door control and glanced over his shoulder. Qui-Gon nodded for him to continue. There was no one in the gray upper hallways, adorned with only a few simple tapestries of geometric shapes in dull colors. They descended the stairway that led to the gallery. At the bottom of it they saw. . . . Darth Yarr.

    It was actually a tall male, dressed as Darth Yarr. Apparently one of the performers. He paced back and forth, silently rehearsing motions, lunging steps, outstretched arms and turns. He took one last turn and froze, seeing the two Jedi watching him.

    As far as Obi-Wan could tell, the costume was accurate. Sith Lords of that era had dressed as flamboyantly as Republic senators. Yarr wore black clothes with a line of red triangle shapes running down the sides of the pants and sleeves, a red body sash, black belt and tall black boots. The red triangles ran down the edges of the overlapping tunic front. There was black and red shoulder and forearm armor over the sleeves and a mask that covered the whole face, half white, half black, with large triangles of contrasting colors on the cheeks. The red triangle on the black left side pointed down. The black triangle on the white side pointed up.

    Yarr had also been female. Except for that detail, this male dancer recreated the Sith Lord very well.

    He backed up a pace away from them, hastily bowed and fled down the length of the gallery to the stairs leading below.

    Qui-Gon raised his brows. Together, they went to the gallery and looked down into the Castle's main hall. It was full of Darth Yarrs. At the other end of Tamwa Hall, the builders and droids had completed a tilted black stage and busily unloaded equipment from room-sized open crates. They made curiously little sound as they worked, possibly because of the faint and hazy red field wall emanating from a line of tall black posts that separated their end of the hall.

    Master and apprentice went to the stairs leading down to the floor of the hall.

    There were Darth Yarrs standing, sitting, exercising, chatting in groups, lying down. And more coming in through the doors. But every time they turned around and saw the Jedi they would hastily back away and find some other place to go. Obi-Wan looked for Yana or Jutwa or Timoz, but it was impossible to be sure of who was who with the masks.

    Someone called out from the center of the room. It was Pecku, announcing the day of the audition for Darth Yarr.

    Qui-Gon led the way through the crowd to a group of Castle Custodians, technicians and Director Tykon. The volatile director, dressed in bright blue leggings and green and white striped sleeveless shirt, turned around and saw him.

    "Finally!" He marched up to Qui-Gon, his face less than a hand's length away from the Jedi Master. They were the same height.

    Obi-Wan saw his Master lean back away slightly, as if in the stiff breeze of Tykon's scrutiny, his eyes widening. But he quickly recovered and even leaned slightly toward the Director, who did not back away.

    "If you were one of my thesps, I would have thrown you out for missing a primary audition, but since the Chancellor wants authentic Jedi Venerates to be part of this, then I hope you can make yourself useful for the remaining ones."

    Qui-Gon's expression turned neutral. "We come to serve." He did not give the customary bow that went with that salutation.

    Tykon reluctantly broke eye contact first to whirl around to his assistant. "Pekku! Get them lined up!"

    Both Jedi watched Pecku and two other Play assistants herd fifty Darth Yarrs into place. A couple came in running from other rooms, hastily adjusting their masks. Finally they had five rows of ten Darth Yarrs each. Tykon paced in front of them.

    "This is the audition for the second major part of this History drama. ANY of you who thinks that Darth Yarr is the villain in the story can leave this company right now! Darth Yarr is a leader who commands the loyalty of thousands. She is fast. She is powerful. And she is loved by her subjects and she knows it! If you do not know this to the core or your being I promise you I will see it in your performance!"

    A few of the Darth Yarrs visibly shrank back from Tykon's threat, but most of them remained grimly stoic, their shoulders tense and determined, their masks covering up their unease. They were like a troop of soldiers anticipating a skirmish.

    "Now, since Venerate Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn has finally presented himself, we can begin. Pekku!"

    Pekku came running up with two lightsticks. He handed the red one to Tykon and kept the blue for himself. Tykon smoothly twirled the glowing red stick in exactly the same why Obi-Wan had done the day before, which surprised the young apprentice. He had not seen the drama Director do anything more than demonstrate some of the dance moves.

    "We will be auditioning the climactic battle between Yarr and Keth, with you performing the part of Yarr. Like this!"

    Immediately Director and assistant assumed fighting positions.

    Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eee-Fwack!

    Both of them 'fought' with fast and wildly exaggerated moves that left their bodies open to obvious attacks. Pecku backed up while Tykon advanced. The rows of Darth Yarr's watched attentively.

    "Now!" Tykon broke contact with Pecku's lightstick and he snapped the extendible blade back into its hilt. "I want you two Jedi to show everyone here how you move in a fight like this, so we can top off the choreography."

    With a bemused expression, Qui-Gon inclined his head to the Director. He let his robe fall from his shoulders, caught it and tossed it away. A second later Obi-Wan's robe followed it. Then he faced his apprentice, unclipped his lightsaber and Obi-Wan did the same.

    "You will attack," Qui-Gon instructed. They ignited their sabers, holding them up vertically in a brief salute.

    "PEKKU!"

    Their sabers went out. Qui-Gon turned an annoyed glare at Tykon.



    = = = End Part 9
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