Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ardavenport, Jul 7, 2013.
There must be something with that tower.
= = = Part 10
"No! Keep that on!" Tykon shouted. He pointed and shouted louder when Qui-Gon just stared back.
"Turn that sssats thing back on!"
Pekku already had his com out. "Falgan's on his way."
Qui-Gon ignited his saber again. Tykon glared at it.
Soon the stout man in loose tan clothes came hurrying in. His shirt had a huge purple stain down the front. Tykon pointed an accusing finger at Qui-Gon's lightsaber.
"Look at that!"
"Oh." Falgan put his hand to his mouth. "I didn't know they came in that color."
"Did you look at those holos AT ALL?" Tykon threw his hands up. "Do you know how much time we wasted arguing about the colors of these things?"
"Well, which one is going to have the green one?"
"Actually, both Minigan and Keth carried blue lightsaber blades," Qui-Gon told them. But he only got an apologetic glance from Pecku. Completely ignoring the Jedi, Tykon decreed that Minigan would carry a green lightsaber for esthetic reasons and to distinguish him from Keth for the audience. Falgan left to take care of it.
"Now," Tykon turned back to Qui-Gon, "show me what you two can do."
Sighing, Qui-Gon again turned back to Obi-Wan, who took his position and saluted again.
At first Qui-Gon backed up as he parried. Obi-Wan felt the Force, his lightsaber acting as an extension of his arm. Since this was only a sparring match, he had no intention of striking Qui-Gon. No boundary line had been set; the goal was to either drive his opponent into an unwinnable position, or disarm without any body contact with the blade.
Swinging in a horizontal arc, Obi-Wan lunged long when his Master suddenly hopped back two steps.
Obi-Wan's saber clacked on the stone floor under the powerful blow from Qui-Gon, delivered at the base of his blade. Flexing his fingers from the shock, he shook his arm. Tychon started pacing around them.
Qui-Gon lunged back in a defensive stance, his saber held high and pointed at him. Exhaling, Obi-Wan spread his fingers, palm out to his fallen saber, a Force impression of it warmed his hand and then it was there, the sting and numbness vanishing immediately.
He swung low, but Qui-Gon blocked his blade, diverting it high. Then the taller man twirled, quickly getting behind him. Obi-Wan felt a light slap from the back of Qui-Gon's hand on his face, an unsubtle warning about where he had left an opening in his defense. Then he flipped his blade up and back, a simultaneous jab and block. He did not lose his saber again when Qui-Gon struck the base of his blade again.
Ducking back and to the side, he slashed back across Qui-Gon's middle and then up, aiming to place his blade under his Master's chin. But Qui-Gon flowed like water in the Force around him. He got another slap, this time on his buttocks, when his Master passed behind him.
He lunged repeatedly, but did not let Qui-Gon lure him into getting off-balance. Only the tips of their sabers engaged. Qui-Gon used his greater arm length to keep him back. His only hope of success was to get inside his defenses, but as he swung and thrust with his saber, no possible dash forward, no forward attack felt right; his focus settled on keeping Qui-Gon from counter-attacking.
The next time Qui-Gon closed with him, there was no hand slap.
The crowd watched. Obi-Wan knew his whole attention should remain on the sparring, but they were an unavoidable presence in the Force. Tykon continued pacing, coming out from behind Qui-Gon.
Qui-Gon's eyes flicked back toward the Director.
Obi-Wan lunged forward.
His swing stopped, halfway to its target, the glowing blue blade held high in a frozen attack. Qui-Gon's blade was down. It vanished and he stood, no longer in a fighting stance. He had disengaged, his gaze now turned to Tykon. Obi-Wan deactivated his saber.
Tykon scowled. "Keep going!"
Qui-Gon clipped his saber to his belt. "I believe that it would be best if you observed us from a greater distance."
Tykon let out a big, dramatic sigh. "I realize that you have been unwell. And that you arrived late." He spit out 'late' as he took a step forward, his eyes locked on Qui-Gon. "But we really don't have time for you to catch up.
Qui-Gon remaine silent, facing off against him.
"On this production," Tykon lectured, "we have over fifty thesps, a full orchestra of eighty-five, a stage gang of thirty-three, plus a technical crew of twenty-four, twenty-seven body decorators, eighteen fabricators, a creative Committee of seven, three assistant directors. And one," he held up a definitive finger, "Director." The finger pointed backward. "That would be me. With all that and with us already behind schedule, I don't have time for any extra privileges or Venerate niceties; I just need you to do what I tell you. No more, no less," he finished, his face less than an arms length from Qui-Gon.
Cringing, Obi-wan watched his Master's expression go increasingly cold as Tykon recited all that he was in charge of. For reasons that Obi-Wan did not understand, Qui-Gon was silently challenging the Director, whose small army of Darth Yarrs watched, tense and fearful. Qui-Gon gave Tykon no response at all, his face immobile.
Apparently satisfied that he had established his authority, Tykon stepped back. His arm shot out from his side.
"Thwurn! Saber prop!"
An energetic woman in crisp, clean tan clothes and shoulder length straight brown hair, trotted up, tossed Tykon one of their lightsticks and withdrew. Tykon caught it easily and flicked the glowing rod out. This one was red, apparently the type of prop that the Sith performers would be using.
"Now, your demonstration has been helpful. Clearly we need to add some things to the choreography. I am going to attack and then you will show me your response." He waved an arm toward the Yarrs. "This will be from the top of Scene 3 and then the middle of Scene 11. I expect you to all know these steps because now you're going to have to pay careful attention to the changes." He waved the lightstick at Qui-Gon.
"Now - - - "
Qui-Gon's lightsaber flashed bright green and went out.
Gray and dark, the pole of the red lightstick rolled away from Tykon's feet. The end, still in his hand, sparked and went dead.
Qui-Gon clipped his lightsaber back onto his belt.
Obi-Wan grit his teeth.
Mouth gaping in undisguised surprise, Tykon looked up from the destroyed prop to Qui-Gon. He then kicked the stick away toward the Yarrs and threw the other end after it. The Yarrs ducked.
"That," he said angrily as he again placed himself oppressively close to the Jedi Master, "was not what I asked for."
Looking intentionally bored, Qui-Gon said nothing.
"Thwurn! Two saber props!"
Again, the brown-haired woman trotted up with new lightsticks. Tykon took one and activated it, backed up and whipped it around in a rapid swirl. Qui-Gon accepted his with some disdain. He activated the lightstick. This one was blue.
"Now," Tykon lunged back, low and graceful, his red, glowing stick held up in a vertical salute, "I will attack and you will defend." He swept his stick back, arm out in front of him for balance. His stick swung high and down.
Qui-Gon blocked it.
Tykon twirled and cut a horizontal arc in the air, the simulated blade making a faint whistle in the air with its electronic hum.
Qui-Gon quickly stepped forward, grasping Tykon's wrist with one hand, and bringing his own stick hard up under the Director's chin with the other. Tykon's hand twitched under the Jedi's grasp and his prop fell to the ground.
"Aaaaauugghh!" Going up on his toes, Tykon choked. The stick under his chin pushed his head back.
Qui-Gon released him.
Stumbling back and rubbing his neck, Tykon glared. "That was NOT what I asked for!"
"My apologies. Perhaps you have different definitions for 'attack' and 'defend'?"
Exhaling through clinched teeth, the Director again closed on Obi-Wan's Master. "We don't have time for these games."
"I agree," Qui-Gon answered, folding his arms before him. "So, if you can tell me exactly what you are trying to accomplish, then perhaps I can help you."
Tykon stepped toward Qui-Gon, leaning forward into his space. But Qui-Gon didn't budge.
"Can you dance?" he demanded through tight lips.
Obi-Wan saw his Master's dark blue eyes widen in surprise.
His expression triumphant, Tykon swiftly backed up. He raised his arm. "Pecku, music! After the song, Scene 5!" Then he waved a warning to the Yarrs. "Pay attention!"
The music started.
Tykon suddenly leapt to attention and flourished his lightstick before him in a salute. He held perfectly still through a pause in the music and lept forward in a wide attack as soon as the beat began.
Obi-Wan could not imagine anyone fighting like that, but Tykon's body seemed to be set free. He swung the stick out in beautiful, wide arcs, his coordination and precise stieps in perfect unison with the music. Swing, step, step, step, twirl, lunge, slash, slash. Qui-Gon narrowed his eyes at the performance and walked in the same direction. Tykon stopped at another pause in the music, twirled around when it started again with a spinning, rising tone.
Qui-Gon twirled with him.
Step, lunge, slash, twirl, kick, step, step, step, step.
Obi-Wan hastily backed away. His Master anticipated every one of Tykon's movements. Kick, slash, back-slash, twirl, step, slash, slash. Where the Director's body was fluid, his body like an instrument played to the music, Qui-Gon was just quick and powerful. His movements did not have the same effortless flow as the Director, but he matched every motion the Director made, down to the finger gestures.
Tykon's eye briefly widened in surprise, but he kept up the pace. His expression hardened, as if he really was in a fight, while Qui-Gon's face was calm, his movements guided totally by the Force.
It was a game that younglings learned in the Jedi Temple. One person moved while the second person mirrored what first one did as they did it. But while Obi-Wan needed to prepare and concentrate to do it for fighting moves, Qui-Gon mirrored Tykon's dance with serene detachment and the practiced ease and focus of a Jedi Master immersed in the Force.
Step, slash, step, slash, step, slash. Tykon lept into the air and posed, his arms out with angry determination, but Qui-Gon followed every movement like a shadow.
Turn, twirl, step, twirl, step, slash, slash, slash, step, turn, twirl, leap - -
Qui-Gon's turned too far in the air, landing with his foot bent under him. He hit the ground hard on his shoulder. Tykon stopped in mid-stride, eyes wide in shock. He reached Qui-Gon before Obi-Wan did.
"I've signaled the healers!"
"I don't want a nose-wiping healer! I was a floater up from that med-center they've got down below! Right now!" He laid a firm hand on Qui-Gon's shoulder. "Don't get up! I've seen careers ended on falls less than that. They've got a real med-center and droids in the lower levels of this place."
Obi-Wan knelt on Qui-Gon's other side. His Master looked more surprised by Tykon's sudden change in attitude than hurt. He stayed down. The Yarrs advanced warily, but kept a respectful distance from their Director who demanded that Qui-Gon demonstrate that he could move his hands and feet. Then he ordered Obi-Wan to take his Master's boots off. With Qui-Gon's wordless consent, Obi-Wan unbuckled them and slid them off.
By the time he was finished, Pecku had a medical floater and two Castle staff to help ease Qui-Gon onto it. Qui-Gon looked up at Tykon with amusement.
"It would appear that I cannot dance after all."
Tykon scowled. "You can dance all right." He crossed his arms. "Just don't give up your day job."
= = = End Part 10
This reminds me so much of times when I've been ill myself. Those first few days when you're getting better enough to be impatient are a pain in the neck, to be sure.
Ha, I can just imagine the chaos with actors trying to deal with actual lightsabers. Think the Council was right...
Oh my goodness, and it's a musical. I'm trying to imagine Obi-Wan's face here and it's quite blank and entirely hilarious.
Wow, Tykon doesn't ask much, does he? They all need about twenty years of practice, I think.
That's really interesting. Takes a lot of dedication to do that for thirty years, I would think.
Nifty comparison and I think Qui-Gon picked just the right way to explain it. Though I also think Tykon is a jerk.
It rhymes! I really like the hints of the planet's culture that are being placed throughout. It sounds like an interesting place.
To another medical centre and trouble? Or are theJedi figuring it all out?
Kahara: Thanks for the reply! Oh, yeah, it's a musical. And it rhymes. But we all know that everyone in the GFFA can memorize everything on the first read. Thanks for the reply!
earlybird-obi-wan: Well, yeah to a medical center, but not for very long. Thanks for reading.
I was asking around in Resources and it appears that speed-posting an epic might make it hard for readers to keep up. I'll try to keep it down to a post every 2-3 days, but I reeeeeeallly want to get it out before the end of August, so they might come a little quicker near the end.
= = = Part 11
"I do not see any significant injury," Ee-Ee-Seven announced in its calm feminine tone. "However, I do detect some lingering symptoms of your serphrada infection. You should be wary of it for the next two days."
"I shall." Qui-Gon nodded and pushed himself off the examination table. Ee-Ee-Seven, a medical droid as efficient and well-programmed as any that might be found in the Jedi Temple, inclined its sleek angular head and withdrew. They were in the concealed medical center of the Naardin Castle, a modern anachronism that served it and the nearby town if historical methods were insufficient. While he was being examined by Ee-Ee-Seven, Healer Zhenum had stopped by, smirked at Obi-Wan and commented that he'd gotten his medical droid after all.
Qui-Gon straightened and inhaled a few long, deep breaths. The sudden dizziness that had caught him by surprise was gone, but it was just declining and dormant. Instead of grasping for balance this time, he had simply fallen, letting the Force absorb the impact.
Opening his eyes, he found Obi-Wan looking up at him. Qui-Gon held his arm out to the door.
"Shall we go?"
They left the small, but well equipped med-center in the lower levels of the Castle. A wooden door slid shut behind them. There was a medical symbol on it, but otherwise the entrance was flush with the wood wall paneling.
"Why would they wish to conceal their med-center down here? If someone were seriously injured, there could be a delay in getting them medical attention."
"It is the price they pay for their attention to historical detail, Obi-Wan." They climbed up a stone stairway. "They did not have medical droids available in the Naardin Castle's era." He sensed his Padawan's disapproval, but did not admonish him for it. At only sixteen, experience would have to teach him that one had to accept that people made their own choices.
At the top of the stairs, Obi-Wan led the way back to Tamwa Hall. He had made friends with some of the performers and they had shown him around the day before. But he slowed as they approached.
"Master," Obi-Wan lowered his eyes before looking up again. "Is it necessary to be so . . . confrontational with Director Tykon? As the Director pointed out, he is in charge. We are already late and it can only make our part in this more difficult."
Qui-Gon frowned. But he had to admit to himself that his Padawan had clearly warned him about Director Tykon's behavior, and yet he had still been taken aback by it. He folded his arms before answering. "No. It is not necessary. However, our mission is only to assist in his production. We are not under his authority; that was made clear at the briefing back at the Temple," he reminded. "And Director Tykon obviously only responds to actions, not words." He looked down at his Padawan speculatively. "You did sense Director Tykon's anger, did you not?"
"Did you sense its source?"
After a moment of intense thought, Obi-Wan shook his head.
"It comes from the most common source of much anger. Fear."
"What is he afraid of?"
Qui-Gon gazed over Obi-Wan's head toward Tamwa Hall. "He is unhappy with his Play and very afraid that he will not succeed with it. He believes that if he tightens his control over all parts of it, and drives it to be the best it can be, he may yet succeed." He sighed. "But he is convinced that it is not enough. He is afraid of that and it makes him angry. And he is spreading his fear to his performers who are competing against each other and already fearful for their own success."
"Do you sense what is wrong with the Play?" Obi-Wan asked with wide-eyed interest.
"No." He shrugged. "I have no idea. The artistic merits of this History Play are not our concern. But we would do no service to it by giving in to Director Tykon's tantrums. Or his fear."
Among the performers and crew of the holo-drama that he had been assigned to assist so many years ago, there had also been a lot of fear. They worried over their scenes, their clothes, their bodies, their voices. In constant tension, they bragged about old projects that they worked on and fictional new ones they expected to do. Whether they were happy or sad, or trying to get their serious Jedi advisor to laugh (and succeeding a few times), they were always performing, always lying and always afraid that whatever they were doing would not work. Even Roetee Zhazem, elderly, at the end of a successful career and confident that she would always be loved and admired, was at least partially driven by a deeply ingrained fear of failure and rejection.
A smile quirked at the corners of Obi-Wan's mouth as they continued back to the main hall. They heard the music, a quick tune from a single keyboard player, as they approached and stepped out from the darkened corridor to the daylit hall, blue sky showing through the its windows.
Director Tykon had arranged all the Yarrs into a large group performance, some standing in place, some waving their arms to the music, some prancing and twirling to music.
We all love the Sith
We will always be
Grateful for your charity
It's you we all are with
For all eternity
You're our only diety
Qui-Gon paused and raised his brows. It was a very pretty tune, energetically sung by the chorus, but the lyrics were a bit disquieting. He supposed that this part came early in the Play, before Yarr was defeated. A special recording of the final performance was to be sent to the Jedi Council and he wondered what their reactions would be.
His sixteen year-old Padawan stared with open-mouthed surprise. At his age, Obi-Wan would have only a limited education about Sith, which was only sensible to discourage the young from seeking out tempting, but dangerous knowledge. And since no Sith had been seen by any Jedi since their defeat nearly a thousand years ago they would have no practical experience with tham at all. That left younger Padawans like Obi-Wan a bit naïve about just how broad some different points of view could be about the Dark Side.
Pecku ran up to them, a flat comp-screen in his hand.
"Director Tykon thinks that it would be better if you worked more closely with me and Eris Mwat, our other assistant director." He pointed toward an unshaven man with frazzled dark hair in loose tan clothes. Pecku raised his arm, getting Mwat''s attention. He ran a hand over his thick, unkempt hair as he jogged up to them; Pecku introduced them and left.
Mwat rubbed his hands together nervously. "Ah, well, we're not quite ready for the Darth Yarr auditions yet," he looked behind him at the dancing Yarrs, obviously hoping that they were ready, "so, maybe we can . . . uh . . . "
"Perhaps you could show us the stage area and where we will participate in the play?" Qui-Gon politely suggested.
"Ahh!" Mwatt raised a hand with a big grin. "Excellent suggestion!" He led them around the practice area down to the far end of Tamwa Hall to where the stage was being constructed. They stopped at one of a number of new sound suppressor field posts where Mwatt touched a yellow control on it. A square portal opened and work noise, voices, banging and machinery squeals came out. They went inside, the door closing behind them. The workers there only glanced their way as they continued their tasks around and under the huge stage platform, dragging long cables, putting together technic components and inserting them into recesses in and around the stage.
Mwatt led them to a holo-table. On it glowed an image of the completed performance space. The outline of Tamwa Hall glowed pale yellow with the stage, orchestra area, seating areas in various shades of green and blue. The assistant director pointed out the different main areas before pointing to several towers along the sides of the Hall.
"And here," the towers lit up under Mwatt's fingers. "Are where you'll sit for the Play." The circular platforms at the top of the towers had tiny seats on them. "You'll enter after the general audience with the Venerates of the Castle and the other honored guests and you will be introduced before them, before the Play starts." He made a negative gesture with his hands. "You won't have to say anything, just bow, or whatever Jedi do. We'll work out the details before the final rehersals."
Qui-Gon nodded. "Will there be any intermissions?"
Mwatt held up one finger. "One. In the middle. We're still working out the details of what facilities you'll be using, but the Venerates and honored guests will have exclusive use of their own freshers and consumables."
"And after the performance?"
"The party starts right after the final accolades. Right after. The house lights go down to total black and then up to the party. It's tradition. Since you're from off-world we can't insist that you stay, but it would be nice if you could . . ." Mwatt seemed afraid to ask them to go to the party.
"We will be honored to attend," Qui-Gon assured him.
Mwatt’s hip bleeped and he took out a com unit.
"Where the sssats are those Jedi?!"
Tykon's complaint came out of the com loud enough to make some of the stage technicians nearby chuckle.
"Aaah, sounds like they need you again," Mwatt quickly led them back out of the stage area to where the Yarrs were practicing. Pecku hurried to meet them, pointing where they should stand, a certain disatance away from where the Director impatiently waited with five rows of Yarrs at attention behind him.
"Now, watch us," Tykon commanded. He took up a ready stance with a red lightstick, Pecku with a blue one.
Whack-whack! Eeeee-Fwack-whack! Whack-whack-whack! Eee-Fwack! Whack! Eeeeee-Fwack-whack-whack-whack! Whack! Fwack!
Lightstick whirling, Pecku attacked with a yell and a wild frenzy of blows, driving Tykon back a few paces before he parried, whirled and struck back. Their movements were fast and fluid, but otherwise it was truly awful fighting. Qui-Gon reminded himself that it was really dancing, even if it was done with pretend-lightsabers.
They finished, both retracting their lightsticks. Tykon pointed the stub of his at Qui-Gon.
"Now, show us that, or however you would do it."
Qui-Gon sighed. Tykon was no less intense, but he sensed that the Director had re-focused his aggression elsewhere. Unclipping his lightsaber, he turned to Obi-Wan. "You will attack, I will defend."
His Padawan nodded, unclipped his own weapon and stepped back. His arm swept upward, the blade igniting as he rushed forward. Qui-Gon evaded, backing up three steps before spining around and blocking the attack. They exchanged several more blows before Qui-Gon stepped back, ending the display, their lightsabers hissing off. Qui-Gon silently looked toward Tykon who paced at a respectful distance.
"Do it again, but make it different this time." He turned to the attentive rows of Yarrs. "Watch carefully!"
It seemed that if Tykon did not say anything about how they changed it, then presumably it was not important. Qui-Gon nodded to Obi-Wan and activated his lightsaber again. This time he did not back up to the attack; he blocked and dove to the side and forward so they switched places. They broke off after several more blows.
"Again!" Tykon commanded.
After the third attack, the Director allowed the Yarrs to form a circle, so they could all get a good view (from a safe distance) while Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan spared. Then Tykon paired off the Yarrs to imitate them; he loudly praised a few while shouting abuse at others, sometimes taking away their lightsticks and smacking them. After eight more attacks, the Castle staff was setting up the tables and chairs for midday repast. Pecku yelled out for a break.
Immediately, most of the Darth Yarrs pushed their masks back, revealing their relief. Clipping their lightsabers to their belts, the two Jedi watched Pecku and Tykon conferring over a potable comp unit on a side table, the holo-recorders descending down to them. A woman in a shapeless green poncho and gray pants, her hair a mass of blond curls trailing down her back, joined them.
Most of the dancers were getting touch ups and minor repairs to their costumes by the team of body techs - - apparently, the Darth Yarr costume required some maintenance - - so the food line was relatively short when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan got in it. There was hot stew, chopped fresh vegatables and leaves, a fruit and nut salad and crusty grain flats. They got their meals along with water, and took their trays to an end of one of the long tables.
They ate in silence, but Obi-Wan kept looking over his shoulder, presumably for the friends who had shown him around the Castle yesterday. Qui-Gon contemplatively chewed as he scanned the enormous hall. Eight thousand years ago, this Castle fortress had been the site of a Sith Lord's fall. Now, that was all History.
Obi-Wan's watchfulness was finally rewarded when three of the dancers approached, still dressed in Darth Yarr's black and red, but with their masks hanging from straps as they carried their food trays.
"Good day, Venerate Jedi Obi-Wan," the smallest one of the three greeted them. Obi-Wan introduced her, Yana Twarn, and her friends, Jutwa Eris and Timoz Wemi. They lowered their eyes as Obi-Wan introduced him to them, as if they were embarrassed to be noticed. Twarn sat next to Obi-Wan, but not too close. The others sat next to her, furthest away from him. Nobody else sat near them, though glances kept darting their way from the other tables.
"I hope you are feeling well, today. We are honored to meet you," Twarn said with well-rehearsed pleasantness, though she was all fearful nerves underneath. She was nearly monotone in color, brown skin with short hair only a few shades darker.
With a neutral smile, he inclined his head back to her. "Yes, I am quite recovered, thank-you."
Emboldened, she lowered her head and plowed on. "You danced very well; I think Director Tykon was especially surprised. Pleasantly so, I mean," she hurriedly added.
Qui-Gon knew that he had thoroughly irritated Tykon by challenging his absolute authority and he doubted that she was foolish enough to believe otherwise. She was just stating it politely. He nodded again. "Thank-you."
He ate, breaking and dipping crusty bread and crisp green vegetable sticks into the brown, savory stew.
"Do you think you did well in the practice?" Obi-Wan asked the three next to him.
"It’s really hard to see in those masks," the young man grumbled. "I kept up the pace, but I was swinging blind half the time."
"I got stuck with Feldwim and he messed me up almost every time. Especially when Tykon was looking. He’s barely good enough for a bit part," Yana complained.
"I kept getting hit. It’s a good thing these costumes are padded. Did you get hit with those sticks?" Timoz added, leaning over her plate to look at the Jedi. "Did you get hit?"
"Uh, no," Obi-Wan answered. Qui-Gon smiled and kept eating. He could think of a few touchy Jedi Masters who would have been quite offended to be asked if they accidentally ‘hit’ their Padawans during any practice session, even with just a lighted stick.
The performers warily looked at him, but he did not look back. Technically, he was a member of the Creative Committee that would decide their fates in the Play, so their interest in him was driven by their desperate longing to succeed. They did not know that he was going to cede his vote to the others, Nothing he could say would set them at ease, so he settled for saying nothing.
Sitting in the middle, Obi-Wan squirmed. Earnestly determined, Yana Twarn started up the converstion again.
"You never said that your Master could dance so well."
"I did not know it myself, until today." Obi-Wan's brows rose in his direction. Declining the invitation to join in, Qui-Gon took another bite. Twarn’s companions kept their heads down, their eyes darting back to their food when Qui-Gon glanced their way.
"Oh?" Twarn's dark brown eyes widened as she looked around Obi-Wan at him. Qui-Gon kept chewing.
"Well, I suppose that what we do is similar. We fight on stage, and I know that's supposed to be like fighting, but that's just pretending . . . to be fighting." Twarn's attempt to make conversation stumbled to a stop. Obi-Wan was looking a little cross at him.
Qui-Gon put his eating utensil down. "Will your auditon for this part be after our meal?"
The three dancers all jumped and Eris's eating utensil clattered to the floor. Twarn cleared her throat.
"There is always a rest after eating, then some more practice before another break and then the audition."
"Hmm, then I presume I will not be needed. I will take this time to tour the Castle on my own." He stood, sliding from between the table and and bench. Obi-Wan started to rise, too, but he held up a hand. "Stay. You can com me if I am needed." He bowed his head to them all and left.
= = = End Part 11
What will Qui-Gon do?
The part where all the practicing actors for Darth Yarr were kind of uncomfortable with the Jedi being there was amusing. I can only imagine how awkward that would feel. You're trying to get into the part of this Sith Lord, and then a real-life Jedi goes walking by. Kind of surreal.
Tykon and Qui-Gon's meeting was very interesting. Tykon is gaining some layers. He's driven and Qui-Gon's theory that he's afraid of failing seems spot on. All the yelling and bullying looks insecure. And yet, he's clearly experienced. He's already got a reputation as a talented director and reacts very decisively when Qui-Gon is injured. It looks like Tykon may be his own worst critic.
I'm sure the Council will just love the cheery Sith pop song. Bit of cultural differences there, I suspect. To these performers, the Sith are a historical novelty, where to the Jedi they're traditionally the enemy (extinct or not.)
earlybird-obi-wan: Ooooh, Qui-Gon will do what he must. Thanks for reading.
Kahara: Yeah, I couldn't resist having a room full of Yarrs for the auditions, but the Jedi can handle it, especially since they aren't real. I don't think the Council will be any happier with the Sith pop songs than Qui-Gon is with Tykon. Thanks for reading!
= = = Part 12
Obi-Wan heard Jutwa and Timoz sigh loudly as soon as Qui-Gon disappeared through the archway leading to the Lake wing of the Castle. Yana looked relieved as well.
"You never said your Master was so . . . intimidating."
He frowned. "He isn't usually that way. Really, he's very friendly."
"Friendly?" Jutwa looked skeptical. "I couldn't believe it when he chopped off Director Tykon's saber prop. He looked like he was going to chop up Tykon next."
"He wouldn't do that," Obi-Wan denied. How could anyone think that any Jedi could do anything like that just because someone yelled at them? "And what about Director Tykon? He's never satisfied, no matter how well you do, and he's always angry about it; how can you learn anything from that?"
"He's the Director, he has to push us," Yana told him as if this should be obvious, "and besides that, he's Tykon. He's made his own History. He directed his first History Play when he was right out of the Mweweer Academy and it just killed everything else. He's one of the original founders of the Twagri Group. He's one of the youngest persons to be installed in the Archives of History, ever. That means, sometime in the future, people will be writing History Plays about him."
"And the people he's with," Timoz said gesturing to himself and his friends. "And he's not just a Director; he's a performer like us, too. He did 'Green Leaves' and 'The Lies Under the King's Table' . . . I know those ones have made it to the popular holos on Coruscant."
"And he's not angry," Jutwa added. "It's passion. And you're not going to make good art without passion. You're not going to get any art without passion. It isn't even History if you don't feel it."
Obi-Wan could feel the difference between passion and anger; Tykon was angry when he didn't get what he wanted. And if his Master was right, that the Director was really dissatisfied with the Play itself, then none of the performers had any chance of gaining his approval. But he did not want to argue the point, especially since he had not seen anything more than the minimal biographics information from their briefing. He had never heard of Ebsi Tykon before this mission. Even if Jedi did pay attention to the misma of popular entertainment on the Core worlds, a few notable works from an Outer Rim artist would be lost in the avalanche of choices that came and went like day-flies.
Yana also seemed to not want to get into an argument; she leaned toward him. "Well, perhaps Venerate Jedi Master Jinn still wasn't feeling well when he was cross with Director Tykon."
Obi-Wan knew that was not true, but he did not contradict her. They obviously had a ready excuse for anything that Tykon did.
They finished eating. Obi-Wan wasn't very hungry and only finished half the food on his plate. They went for a walk outside. The Castle had extensive gardens, all the paths lined with well trimmed green bushes and shrubs. Dozens of other dances were outside as well, though none of the technical and stage crew joined them; they did not get a break after their meal. The Castle had felt stuffy inside and Obi-Wan was glad for the fresh air.
Pointing at a trio of unmasked Darth Yarrs stretching and spinning in a grassy flower-edged circle, Obi-Wan asked what they wanted to practice. Yana and her friends looked scandalized.
"We can't practice any of the Play parts we know out here," she explained, "We can't even talk about it. Not where anyone can see or hear. We're just going to exercise."
"But anyone can see you, your costumes I mean."
Timoz waved her hand dismissively. "Oh, everybody knows who's in the Play and what they look like. That's known history. But we're forbidden to speak or divulge anything specific about it outside the Castle."
"We could be banned for life from the stage if we ever exposed anything about the story of a History Play." Jutwa warned. "Even struck from the Records if it's really bad. And I for one, want a good part in this one. Having a lead role in one of Director Tykon's History Plays gets you a lot better things than just dancing and acting in the background for any of us."
"Not that we know anything about the Mystery, anyway," Yana assured him before spying an unoccupied open area. "We can exercise over there before practice; it's been long enough after the meal."
Sighing, Obi-Wan held back the questions he had wanted to ask about why they had been singing about loving the Sith; they would have to be saved for later. He did not want to casue any trouble for them; they had enough of that with auditioning for Tykon. But he felt badly ill-informed. Was it common knowledge that Yarr's subjects loved her? The Jedi who destroyed her were helped by a servant who betrayed her. Why would anyone do that if they loved her?
They went through the winding paths to an open space, paved with tan and gray stone in an interconnecting pattern and surrounded by low flowering bushes and short wide trees with trailing branches, strands of bright green leaves hanging down to the ground.
Obi-Wan stretched with them, automatically clearing his mind, feeling the Force in the garden around him, the trees, the bushes, through the plant-scented air . . . in the three black-clad dancers facing him. They started out, each pursing their own routine, but gradually they synchronized, the three dancers following him. The sunlight shined bright on Jutwa's pale hair, on the red triangles on Yana's sleeves as she extended her arms, on the white half of the mask hanging over Timoz's chest as he lunged forward.
Breathing deeply again, Obi-Wan reached for the Force; it was there, but it seemed clouded. The three dancers dressed as Sith Lords, along with more in other parts of the gardens, were a distraction; he accepted that. He stepped forward . . . forward . . . forward . . . turn . . . arm out, forward, up. Mindful of each move, he felt the Force flow into his body, from everything around him, through him, under and above. Sweep with the arm, the leg, turn, strike-PUSH . . .
A bush a few paces away rustled, losing a few yellow and orange flower petals. It wasn't much, but it was what it was. He accepted it with an exhale, the Force slipping back at once into the background again. The air felt stuffy again, losing it's freshness.
To the side, and behind him, Yana, Jutwa and Timoz dropped their stances. They didn't even glance at the bush; they probably hadn't noticed.
"Aaaah," Yana sighed, "that was nice."
"Yeah, Timoz agreed, "but we'd better get back in for some real practice."
The other Yarrs seemed to have the same idea. Most of them were milling about in the great hall. Pecku strolled in from the stage area and announced that they would have an open practice until the auditions before third meal. Director Tykon was nowhere to be seen and no explanation was given for where he was.
"Come on." Yana skipped forward to the box of lightsticks. "Let's go find a room to practice in before all the good ones are taken." They grabbed lightsticks, along with Another Yarr, a tall youthful looking man with blue eyes and black and yellow striped hair who got Obi-Wan's attention.
"Excuse me, Venerate Jedi Apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, could you stay here and practice with us? And perhaps show us some of the fighting techniques that you used with Venerate Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn?" Five other Yarrs, of varying sizes and shapes, their eyes respectfully making the same request, stood behind him.
"Of course," he answered immediately. "However I can help."
A big smile breaking out on his face, the tall young Yarr gestured to the side. "Could we line up, taking it in turns with you like we did yesterday? And if you could tell us, please, where you think we might improve."
Obi-Wan frowned. "I can only tell you what I know about fighting. I think that could be very different from what Director Tykon wants you to do." He did not want to mislead them by telling them something that was correct for real lightsaber fighting but completely wrong for the Play. But the young Yarr's smile just got a little bigger.
"You honor us with your presence, Venerate Jedi Apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi. And we are most grateful for the good luck you bring us." His eyes, and those of the other Yarr’s glowed with admiration that Obi-Wan did not feel was quite deserved.
The Yarrs hurried to form a line, placing their black, white and red masks over their faces again, ready to take their turn. Shrugging Obi-Wan, turned toward Yana and her friends.
She glared at the other Yarrs, but then she, Jutwa and Timoz startled when she realized he was looking at them. Averting their eyes, they went to the back of the line. Blinking back surprise, Obi-Wan watched them go, but they put on their masks and did not look back at him.
Turning back to the tall Yarr, he asked what they needed. He and his friends gave him a quick demonstration of the routine required for the audition. It was a series of slashing advances for Yarr and dodges and retreats for the Jedi (the Yarrs did not know if it was Keth or Minigan since that information about the Play was still withheld). He did it with one and then the others, one at a time. As soon as one finished, he or she went to the back of the line for another turn.
He gave Yana an encouraging smile when her turn came up, but her eyes stared blankly back at him from behind the mask, her entire focus on the dance and nothing more. Jutwa and Timoz did the same. He wondered if he had offended them.
Repeating the routine over and over with the Yarrs, he noticed that the line kept growing until he was sure that every Yarr in the audition was there. After everyone had one turn they started coming after him faster, though hardly fast enough to challenge his training. At least he thought so at first, but as the dancers came around for their third turn he found himself tiring; the Castle air felt stuffy again. The Force was there but he felt out-of-synch with it and he relied on his own muscle memory and repetition to keep up the dance with the Yarrs. He could imagine Qui-Gon's voice in his head, telling him to focus.
"All right, auditions!"
Pekku's sudden annoucement jolted him out of the haze of automatic movement and the Yarr he practiced with jumped back. The whole group of them broke up, scattered and reformed into their neat lines. Tykon strolled up to them as if for an inspection. Behind him, Pekku with Qui-Gon, watched. Surprised, Obi-Wan wondered when his Master had returned from his tour of the Castle. Or had he come in with Pekku?
"This is the second audition. Your second chance for greatness." Tykon stared them all down. Behind him, Pecku and a stage technician set loose the hovering holo-droids. "Form a line!"
The Yarrs broke up again and reformed into a line. Some of the technicians ran up to them, checking their costumes for anything that might have come loose or needed repair. Obi-Wan looked down at the lightstick in his hand and up again, expecting Tykon to call him to his position. But he did not.
"Pecku!" Tykon called out. His assistant came forward with a lightsaber prop and stopped in front of Qui-Gon.
"You will do this audition with Venerate Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn!" the Director announced to his Yarrs.
Qui-Gon's eyebrown rose.
"You are a Sith Lord! Fighting a Jedi Knight!" Tykon pointed at Qui-Gon. "Your mortal enemy who is sworn to destroy you!" He paced before his performers again. "I expect your performances to show it!"
Holding the prop lightstick up with disdain, Qui-Gon curled his lip at it and then at Tykon. Obi-Wan looked from the Director to his Master. His Master didn't know any of the steps; he had not been practicing with any of the dancers.
Tykon pointed at the first Yarr in line and she stepped forward.
The music started. Darth Yarr lunged.
Click! Click! Click!
The lightsticks tapped together, Qui-Gon simply blocking the dancer's swings as he backed up. This Yarr was following the routine perfectly, but Obi-Wan was sure it was too slow. The routine finished and the Yarr backed up to start again.
"Pick it up! You are fighting your deadliest enemy, not playing a sssats garden game!"
Click! Click! Click!
The Yarr attacked faster this time. But after the third step, Qui-Gon suddenly whirled to the side, bringing his stick down - - clik! - - quickly back up, then he backed up to the side as the Yarr pursued two more steps. He darted to the side, swinging his saber prop upward, knocking the Yarr's stick out of the way and then slashing his down again.
The next time, Qui-Gon changed his part after only two steps, but the Yarr seemed to be ready for him and reacted faster, still driving him back. The single keyboardist relentlessly played the music with the action. After doing the routine two more times Tykon told the Yarr to stop and he went into consultation with Pecku. The Director ignored Qui-Gon, left standing holding his lightstick.
The next Yarr came after Qui-Gon with more speed, but he startled and backed up when Qui-Gon changed the routine on him as well. The second time he tripped, fell rolling on the ground and coming up facing the Jedi. Tykon ordered him off after he did the routine only twice.
The auditions proceded that way and Obi-Wan lost count of how many had their turn, except for the dwindling number of Darth Yarrs in the line. After their audition, all of them went to an exit, presumably to take their costumes off.
Sitting on a bench, Obi-Wan grew weary of the auditioning; the keyboardist played the same music over and over and over. He could see that she wasn't paying any attention to it anymore; her hands danced over the keys on auto-pilot. Feeling very warm and uncomfortable, the young Jedi yawned and rubbed his eyes. He hoped that when the auditions were done, they could go back up to the apartment for dinner. He did not want to eat, but he could lay down and rest up in the tower. He knew he was sick. He realized he had been feeling it creeping up on him all afternoon. He just hoped he could leave quietly without notice.
When there were only two Yarrs left in the line, Obi-Wan thought seriously about going up to the tower before the auditons were done. He looked around for his robe and spotted it on a bench on the other side of the room. He wondered if it was worth the trouble to go get it. Then he wondered if he could make it all the way up the stairs to the apartment if he couldn't even cross Tamwa Hall to get his robe.
He stayed upright until the last Yarr finished. After seeing the determination of Yana and her friends, he did not want to ruin the audition for any them. But as soon as the music stopped, he lay down on the bench.
Footsteps pounded on the stone floor toward his bench.
"Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon touched his shoulder.
= = = End Part 12
I liked the conversation with Yana and the others. I didn't mention it before, but I find it pretty cool that the Play is apparently not typecast at all; they have everyone try out for each role. That's interesting when compared with the emphasis on keeping outward appearances the same in the building (hiding the medical center away because it's too modern and so on.) It must be incredibly complicated to put together a performance where none of the actors are allowed to know the whole story.
Hopefully, Obi-Wan just tired himself while practicing with all the Darth Yarrs and isn't having more virus symptoms.
Qui-Gon is getting a lot of practise fighting Sith
Kahara: Well, I think Obi-Wan will need a little TLC before he gets better. And I generally assume that everyone in the GFFA has unnaturally quick memories, so learning the Play won't be a problem, they're prepared for it. Thanks for the reply!
earlybird-obi-wan: Oh, yes, he's going to get more Sith than he wants. Thanks for reading!
I was looking at the calendar and I really want to get this story done by the end of August, so I'll have to post every 2 days, maybe every day a few times but not much.
= = = Part 13
The circle of smooth wood rose up from the floor under the curved silver hemispher fixed to the ceiling above it. Qui-Gon Jinn steadied his Padawan against his body. The last of Obi-Wan's grasp of the Force slipped away with his strength, but he kept standing, his head down, pressed next to Qui-Gon's chest as if seeking shelter.
"Obi-Wan." Arms holding his apprentice to his body, Qui-Gon turned toward the smaller sleeping area. Eyes still closed, Obi-Wan moved with him without stumbling as Qui-Gon left the circle of wooden pillars around the lift. Then letting his Padawan fall back into his arm, he scooped up his legs, hefting him up; he was hardly a burden for the large man. He crossed the apartment to the sleeping platform and laid his apprentice on it.
Opening his eyes, Obi-Wan looked stricken as if he had disobeyed some unspoken command that he should not need help if he was unwell. Qui-Gon discouraged that falacy by ignoring it as he bent to loosen the straps of his boots and pull them off. They thumped on the floor, first the right, then the left. Obi-Wan fumbled with his belt, but Qui-Gon brushed his hands aside and unbuckled it for him, taking the lightsaber off and putting it on the side table by the head of the sleeping platform along with a small medical case from Healer Zhenum. Obi-Wan's expression remained resolutely unhappy.
He had refused to let Qui-Gon carry him from Tamwa Hall, even after the performers and crew had been sent away. Director Tykon had eyed the Jedi with much intensity as they left. Healer Zhenum had also advised that he not walk, but Obi-Wan had stubbornly insisted that he only needed a little help. Privately, Qui-Gon had been quite proud of Obi-Wan's determination; he used the focus that a Jedi Knight needed. A Master could only guide their apprentice to it. He had relied on the Force for strength as much as Qui-Gon's support. But when they came to the foot of the stairs up to the tower, Qui-Gon overode his objections and picked him up. Zhenum had intended to go with them, but he took one look up at the spiral staircase and handed over a medical case along with his instructions and a promise that one of them would come up to check on Obi-Wan later.
Sliding the belt out from under him, Qui-Gon loosened his obi and tunic, then sat him up to get his arms out of the sleeves.
"Just relax. Let me take care of it," he instructed after Obi-Wan tried to help again and almost got an arm stuck. Tunic, tabards, obi, then pants and undertunic all came off. Turning his head on the pillow, Obi-Wan reached up, but Qui-Gon stopped him again and gently pulled off the band from his tail lock, put it aside and smoothed that long lock on the back of his head.
Qui-Gon tugged the blankets down from under Obi-Wan, covered him and then sat down on the edge of the sleeping platform and opened the medical case. He put the scanner on Obi-Wan's chest, recording the readings, then held up the sample collector. Obi-Wan winced when it jabbed his arm. Qui-Gon confirmed that the sample reading on the analyzer was good, saved it for the Healer to review later and put it away. He got up, went to the food prep area and came back with a cup of water. Returning to the case, he took out the one-dose of medicine that Zhenum had told him to give to Obi-Wan. It only diminished the symptoms, but from his own experience that was adequate compensation for the taste.
Mixing it with the water, he sat down next to Obi-Wan and helped him sit up.
"It is best to drink it all at once."
Eyes locked on the cup, Obi-Wan took it and upended it. A tiny line of the cloudy liquid ran down his chin as he gulped it down with a sour grimace. Then he flinched away when Qui-Gon wiped the dribble with the elge of his sleeve.
"Lie back down. Rest." Qui-Gon covered him. "I'll be near if you need anything." He stood up.
Qui-Gon turned. Obi-Wan's fingers curled around the edge of the coverings, pushing them back down from his neck and shoulders. "Will the Play be canceled if they order a quarantine?"
He sat down again.
"Possibly. But it is more likely to only be delayed, if the Healers have their way." While Zhenum examined Obi-Wan, Director Tykon had ordered his performers to the opposite end of the room, clearly concerned about contagion. Zhenum had assured him that Obi-Wan had already been treated and could not be a carrier. But one of the Darth Yarrs asked about a dancer who had left the auditions the previous day, complaining about not feeling well. Zhenum immediately demanded to know who it was and where they were. Tykon had scoffed that the person, a dancer named Twunar, was sick and that any claim of illness was just an excuse from a slacker who was too cowardly to meet the Director's standards. The Healer scolded Tykon about his lack of qualifications in medicine and decreed that any possible illness should have been reported immediately. Zhenum had commed the other Healers about locating the ailing Twunar.
Qui-Gon laid a hand on his apprentice's arm. "You are concerned."
"Yana and the others are determined to do well in the auditions." Obi-Wan lowered his eyes for a moment. "They would be very disappointed if they were not allowed to perform."
"Yes, I suppose they would be." Tykon and the performers might fear a cancellation less than failure. An unperformed Play could still be claimed to be an unfulfilled success . "But that is not our concern, Obi-Wan."
"Will they still give us the remains of the holocron if the Play is canceled?"
Qui-Gon frowned. "Chancellor Mwetta and her Executive Council agreed to give the remains of Darth Yarr's holocron to the Jedi Order if we participated in their celebration. No conditions were set for them to withhold the holocron. If there are any problems we shall contact the Jedi Council. Though I doubt there will be any," he finished, reassuring, but Obi-Wan still looked worried. "There is something else?"
"Not about the holocron." He frowned. "Master, when we came back to the Hall, they were singing about loving the Sith. Why would they do that? Weren't the Sith cruel and oppressive to the people they ruled?"
"That would not stop people from loving their oppressors." Qui-Gon saw the confusion in his young Padawan's eyes. "Even cruelty and violence can look benevolent and kind from the right point of view. And Darth Yarr was known for corrupting the point of view of her people to her advantage."
"Our briefing for this mission did not mention any of that."
"It is in the Jedi Archives."
"Any information about the Sith is restricted. You need to be present for me to access it."
"Ah." He nodded. The Jedi Order did not allow adventurous and curious Padawans access to potentially dark paths in their training. Only senior Padawans and Knights were allowed free access to anything beyond the basic facts about the Sith. And some things were restricted to only Masters and the Jedi Council. He spotted a stool by the window-wall, retrieved it and sat down. "What do you surmise about 'The Tragedy of Darth Yarr' from the the auditions we have seen?"
Obi-Wan's brows furrowed with concentration. "Knights Keth and Minigin come to defeat Darth Yarr, but the people she rules love her. And Keth and Minigan are helped by a person in Yarr's Castle, but there is some disagreenment between them about it. That is what happened? Keth and Minigan were aided by a servant in Yarr's fortress?"
Qui-Gon nodded. "Yes. The servant who betrayed Yarr did love her, but she had seen clearly the evil of the Dark Side. So, when the Jedi came, she gave them access to Yarr's fortress, this Castle," he gestured, his eyes flicking downward. "Keth and Minigan were able to confront Yarr alone, without her supporters and she was defeated, though Keth was killed as well."
"Yarr had an apprentice."
Qui-Gon nodded. "Yes, Hulus. He was killed when he confronted Keth and Minigan when they first arrived. Yarr heard of this and her supporters rallied around her in her fortress where Keth and Minigan could not reach her. That is why the betrayal was so important. Yarr was an isolated Sith on an Outer Rim world. As so many Sith apprentices did, she had murdered her own Master, Lord Barras, years ago and she had no alliances. There were far more dangerous and strategically located Sith Lords in the galaxy then. The Jedi could not spare anyone to challenge with Yarr for some time."
Obi-Wan nodded and lowered his eyes. Qui-Gon though he might fall asleep but his blue-gray eyes opened again. "How did Darth Yarr make the people love her?"
Gazing down at his apprentice, Qui-Gon chose his answer carefully, the answer that ObiWan or any other curious Padawan would never be allowed to read or view by themselves in the Jedi Archives.
"Yarr was known for being attractive, even social; people are drawn to confidence and power and she had those in abundance. She did use the Force to influence minds, but more often she seduced them. Sith prize and acquire power over everything. Yarr measured her power by the love of her people. Love was the weapon she favored best. She flattered her subjects, gave them food and gifts, protected them, crushed their enemies. When she ruthelessly punished them, they would fault themselves, not any injustice in Sith law, and try harder to please her. Their gratitude and adoration fed her lust for power.
"She also literally seduced them; she was a woman of strong appetites with dozens of lovers at any one time. She often inspired them to fight for her, either in competitions for her favor, or against anyone who might challenge her. But in the end,Yarr always won these contests, often with her champions dying with her name on their lips."
Beyond the thin, pale curtains and the veranda garden, the sun hung low over the plains and the sea beyond them. It was the same landscape in the time of Darth Yarr, accurately preserved in the Living History Lands. But Qui-Gon could not see into the past when Sith and Jedi fought in wars between Dark and Light. That past seemed unimaginably distant and his words empty of their true meaning. He had no experience of those times, no living Jedi did. And his meditations in this place had only left him empty of any insight into them. But his life experience had shown him why the Dark path could be attractive, desirable under the right conditions.
"Yarr was reputed to have said that love was the greatest power in the Universe. Even greater than the Force. But her love was one of possession, greed and deception. And in the end her version of love brought her down just as much as the Dark Side did." He looked down at his Padawan.
Obi-Wan's eyes were closed, his breathing even and slow. Reaching out a hand, Qui-Gon brushed the young Jedi's cheek, his fingers trailing on the Padawan's braid laying on the white pillow. He did not stir.
Sitting back and folding his hands into the sleeves of his robe, Qui-Gon again looked out the window to the horizon for a meditation focus.
%% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %%
There were voices.
Obi-Wan recognized one of them as Qui-Gon. Not loud, calm. And the other one was . . .. cheerful . . . Healer Mwassil? The voices faded back again. The silence dragged on.
"Hhh!?" He started awake. Everything looked different, curving pale wood above, artificial light, dark shadows; the ceiling and walls were gray . . .
"Hhh!?" Flinching away from the sudden touch, he turned his head and his Master withdrew his hand. Embarrassed that he had been startled, he settled back on the pillow. Qui-Gon smiled down at him.
"Would you like something to eat?"
The malaise and dizziness had faded. He did not feel nauseous at least, and he supposed he needed to eat. The windows of the apartment were black. It was night, but he could not tell how late it was. He nodded.
Qui-Gon left and Obi-Wan pushed the blankets back. His Master returned with a tray; he must have had it ready. Putting it down for a moment, he rearranged the pillows so Obi-Wan could sit up properly before placing the meal before him. A bowl of warm stew with chopped green leaves spinkled on the surface, some fairly bland crackers, sliced fruits and berries from the garden and water.
Obi-Wan picked up the spoon while Qui-Gon sat down next to him.
"Chancellor Mwetta has announced a four day delay in the celebrations. The Healers have their quarantine. Healer Mwassil is very pleased."
His mouth full, Obi-Wan stared back and then swallowed. "Will the History Play be canceled then?"
Qui-Gon shook his head. "No. Only delayed. Apparently one of the dancers who left the auditions yesterday complained that it was because he was feeling unwell, though his status is unconfirmed. And there have been more individual cases of the serphrada virus in the other Living History Lands. Not an epidemic and the Healers are eager to keep it that way. Venerate Custodian Tykon has informed me that Director Tykon has sequestered himself with his writers and composers to use the time to improve the Play."
Obi-Wan nodded and continued eating. The food made him feel better, his head clearer as he thought about Tykon and his Play, Yana and the other performers. A film of crumb-dust covered his fingertips as he broke the crackers into the stew. When he with the meal, he wiped his hands and mouth on a napkin, making sure that he had not left any crumbs on the coverings. Qui-Gon took the tray away.
Instead of leaving, he stopped at the curving wood columns by the lift.
"I need to report to the Jedi Council about the delay. Will you need anything before I go?"
"Master." He pushed himself up and winced from a slight tilt of dizziness before continuing. "If people are drawn to a leader, even if they are abused, is it the Dark Side that they are drawn to?"
Qui-Gon folded his arms into the sleeves of his dark brown robe. "Only if that leader is using the Force is the Dark Side truly involved, which is very rare. Otherwise, their relationship is simply unhealthy."
"Then would you say that Director Tykon's relationship with his performers is unhealthy?"
His Master's eyes widened and looked aside as if there was an answer in a corner of the room. Obi-Wan waited.
"I had not noticed the similarity until you asked," he admitted, stepping onto the lift and activated it. "We will meditate on this tomorrow." He disappeared into the floor with a thoughtful smile on his lips. The lift hatch closed flush to the floor.
Alone, Obi-Wan slumped back down onto the pillows.
= = = End Part 13
Interesting discussions about Sith and now with Obi-Wan sick what's happening?
Sounds very familiar. History will repeat itself, though not in the same exact way.
The comparison of Yarr and Tykon is interesting, and I liked seeing more background on who Darth Yarr was. Very different styles of leadership, but Obi-Wan does raise an intriguing question about what they may have in common.
earlybird-obi-wanh, I think Obi-Wan will get better.
Kahara: Very different styles of leadership. Tykon may be angry and abusive, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't choke people.
= = = Part 14
The lift activated. The cup floating between the two Jedi dipped and almost hit the floor before Obi-Wan caught it.
"Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon chided, his eyes closed, his focus on the two plates and three pieces of fruit he held floating above them, supported only by the Force. Obi-Wan exhaled carefully; his cup drifted upward to join the bowl and root floating before him.
Still in the mediation, Qui-Gon opened his eyes half-way. Custodian Tykon and Sebo emerged from the floor. They stepped off, warily eyeing their Jedi guests seated on cushions on the floor, morning sunlight shining in through the windows. Seen through the Force, their living bodies seemed to have an extra dimension that touched everything around them. The same beautiful, vibrant shimmer held the ordinary objects up between him and his apprentice. Closing his eyes again, Qui-Gon felt it glowing and extending out from himself to the fruit and plates and beyond.
Inhaling and exhaling, Qui-Gon signaled the end to their meditation. The shimmer receded, melting to the back of his perception again, taking with it the deeply serene sense that he could touch anything because it was all a part of him. Obi-Wan's exhale came out more like a long sigh, as both of them stood and flexed their bodies. On the floor, Qui-Gon's two plates were stacked, the fruit forming a neat triangle on the top one. Obi-Wan's cup and bowl and root lay in random places on the floor and he looked a little embarrassed about being sloppy.
Qui-Gon straightened and bowed to Custodian Tykon and Sebo.
"I am pleased to see you again." He inclined his head to Sebo, not mentioning their last meeting when she had fled from his questions.
"As am I, Qui-Gon," she answered, warily composed.
"Master Qui-Gon," Custodian Tykon clasped her hands before her very generous bosom. "I apologize for waiting so long to come to welcome you as a member of the Creative Committee for the History Play."
"That is quite all right, given my illness. And I expect my part in your Committee to be minimal. The Jedi do not wish to interfere."
"That is very kind of you to say, but we have been remiss in not including you sooner." Custodian Tykon's sigh reflected the disquiet inside her. "Unfortunately, this delay has stirred up the Director and he has made the completely un-called for and unwise choice to revise the Play. And we must meet to decide on what will be done." Her eyes shifted away from the Jedi to her fellow Venerate who gave her no support. Qui-Gon suspected that the Creative Committee had already informally met and that strong opinions had already been exchanged.
"The Committee is meeting now, Qui-Gon." Sebo's quiet voice announced and the Castle Custodian gave her an unhappy look. "We would be honored by your presence."
"Of course." He turned to Obi-Wan. "Carry on. Do not overtax yourself."
When he got his apprentice up that morning, he seemed almost completely recovered thanks to the preventative treatment the Healers had given him and he certainly had a healthy appetite when they sat down to eat. But as Qui-Gon had experienced, he was still vulnerable to lingering dizziness from the virus.
He bowed his head. "Yes, Master."
The lift could take three if they all stood together, their outer clothes touching in a stoic triad looking past each other until they reached the bottom. Tykon led the way down the winding stairs, down to the gallery overlooking the great hall. The Custodian led them through a doorway, down another corridor to another spiral stairway that took them below ground. Tykon ignored the closed door at the base of the stairs and went left to a blank stone wall.
"Qui-Gon," Sebo spoke from behind him and he turned to look down at her. But she just smiled in return. A whisper of sound and a shift in the air grazed the back of his hair and when he turned back, the stone wall had slid aside, leaving a dark portal for them to enter. With a glance toward her fellow Castle Venerate, Tykon went in first, then Qui-Gon with Sebo following.
"Master Qui-Gon." The stout Custodian faced him; the short, dimly lit stone corridor before them ended in a plain gray door. "For this meeting of the Creative Committee we must convene in the Hall of Mysteries, to address the changes in the History Play that Director Tykon is insisting upon. I do not question your place here or that you respect our customs, but it is my duty here to remind you of them now."
Behind him, he heard the whisper of the concealed door closing, sealing them in. He bowed to the Custodian.
"I come to serve, Custodian Tykon."
Nodding back, she turned and went to the door. She kept her body between him and what she did to open it. The plain barrier slid aside to admit them with a slight grinding sound of stone against stone. Again Tykon led, Sebo followed with Qui-Gon between them. As they descended, their footsteps the only sound on the ancient steps, the Jedi felt an increasing sense of the age of the place. The Hall of Mysteries was the most sacred place of any large building or structure of governance on Maarzim. That tradition had existed on this world for millennia, even before the time of Darth Yarr. Lights came on above as they advanced and went out as they passed leaving solid blackness behind them as if the ordinary world above had been erased.
As they reached the bottom of one last stairway, Qui-Gon heard quiet voices that hushed as he followed Tykon down a narrow corridor and turned.
The other members of the Creative Committee waited before a large double door. Temba, his light blue tunic almost gray in the low, yellow light, stood with them and met Custodian Tykon. They exchanged hushed comments, Tykon's white hair close to Temba's light brown. Qui-Gon's attention was drawn to the other members of the Creative Committee.
Wearing loose pants and tunic in historically compatible grays, quite unlike the close-fitting colorful clothes from the day before, Director Ebsi Tykon stood taller than all of them except Qui-Gon. Arms tensely folded over his chest, he watched the two Castle Custodians. Roobi Mwemas, the music Director watched Director Tykon with a similar expression. Qui-Gon had seen her the day before when he toured the Castle, but had not spoken to her. Wearing grayish green shirt and skirt with a pale sash tied about her middle, she was of medium height and built, middling in years with dark angular facial features and long curling blond hair with a tint of gray to it.
Next to her, standing together and also wearing plain, loose-fitting period clothes were the writer, Quembu Smetin, and the composer, Thwurn Aka, for the History Play. Qui-Gon had never met them; he only knew them from the holo briefing back at the Jedi Temple. Both were similarly sized men of late middle years, jowly-faced with wary eyes and both shorter than Mwemas. Smetin had a little more brownish gray hair and his body a little thinner. Aka had less hair, completely bald on top, and was paunchier. Qui-Gon gave them a neutral look; they flinched back together and whispered to each other.
Temba finally bowed to the senior Custodian and left, hurrying down the corridor to the stairs, darkness closing in behind him. Everyone turned their attention to the elder Tykon.
"Thank-you all for coming for this assembly. Normally we would have met in a Council chamber upstairs." She nodded toward Qui-Gon. "But the revisions to the History Play that Director Tykon has proposed require a more serious discussion.
Sebo continued. "Qui-Gon, as a Jedi you are a Venerate in your own right, but your are still an outsider. I must again remind you that the Hall of Mysteries is our most sacred ground and it must be respected.
"Of course." He bowed low to her and Sebo, and wondered what they were afraid he would do.
"We begin," Sebo spoke softly.
Together, the others turned their backs on the two women and Qui-Gon joined them. After the quiet sounds of the women's sandals on the stone floor and the rustle of fabric, a deep rumble followed. Stealing a glance, the Jedi saw that all the others kept their eyes fixed away from the sound, staring at the wall, carved with ancient scenes of people gathering, fighting, dancing, working.
"Come!" Tykon spoke, her voice very loud in the entryway.
Turning around, they all faced a large open door leading into a columned circular room, yellow-white artificial lights shining down from the ceiling and from recesses high on the walls. The floor was patterned in light and dark shades of smooth stone. With Sebo and Tykon standing sentry on either side, Qui-Gon watched the others enter, one by one, Mwemas, Director Tykon, Aka and then Smetin. They each fell to their knees between the two women and bowed their heads to the floor until the two touched their heads and gave their blessing. When it was his turn, Qui-Gon did the same and he felt their hands on his head where his long hair was tied back.
"Welcome and enter Venerate Jedi; it is time for you to learn the Mystery." Sebo spoke directly over him. When they were all inside, standing in a circle, all the others turned their backs to the door. Again, Qui-Gon followed their lead. After the slow grinding sound of the door closing, sealing them in, Sebo and Tykon joined their circle with Sebo signing for Qui-Gon to stand on her right; Custodian Tykon was on her left.
"Director Ebsi Tykon has requested some significant additions to the History Play that the whole Creative Committee must agree upon." Frowning, Custodian Tykon nodded her head to him.
The Director nodded back, then knelt and bowed low, hands on the stone floor in front of him, facing Sebo. "Noble Venerates, I am grateful that you have entrusted me and my fellow artists with the sacred task of bringing life to your Mystery. And I now beg for your permission to add new life to the work."
Qui-Gon's brows rose. Director Tykon spoke the formal words like a prayer. He was completely sincere, subservient to the Venerates.
Custodian Tykon scowled. "It is very late to make changes, now."
"Stand and speak here now, what you propose to do." Sebo spoke kindly and the Director stood, his arrogance reasserting itself.
"The Play needs shadow dances. Dark against light. Jedi against Sith." He looked directly at Qui-Gon as he said that. "For all the scenes where they are opposed. We can use our dancers for them. But for the climax, I want the Jedi to be part of it."
"This was discarded from your earlier draft. It was unbalanced. We don't have any Sith to match the Jedi. And the Jedi Council quite plainly said that they would not be active participants in the Play itself." Custodian Tykon answered."
"Oh, we know that." Quembu Smetin raised a hand as if to ask permission to speak, then he stepped forward without waiting for it. "But there is one way to do it. If it's just the climax, the Jedi could be paired with Venerate Sebo. It would be two Venerates paired off. And since it's the climax, it's not even really a fight, just a confrontation. It should work splendidly."
"It will be magnificent." The Director grinned triumphantly. "And Venerate Sebo has agreed to do it. All we need now is the Jedi." Again his glare landed on Qui-Gon.
"Sebo!" Custodian Tykon looked offended. Her fellow senior Venerate shrugged one shoulder.
"It feels right, Begu." She gazed back at the artists. "If I am to relinquish the Mystery, I should be part of the revelation." She lowered her eyes and looked up at Qui-Gon. "If Master Qui-Gon is willing."
He raised his brows, his gaze turning back to Director Tykon, impatiently waiting.
"Well? Well? Jedi Master Venerate Qui-Gon Jinn? We need you to be part of this. I already know you can make it look good."
"Thank-you for your confidence, Director," he answered. "But the Jedi Council was quite explicit in this agreement. The Jedi will officiate in return for the remains of Darth Yarr's holocron. No more." Qui-Gon folded his hands into the opposite sleeves of his robe. "I must decline."
The Director's eyes widened in surprise tinged with a little bit of fear. "You can't just say no! You don't know what you're saying no to!" He pointed at Sebo. "Show him the Mystery! That's what we're down here for."
"Director Tykon! You do NOT order us around! Certainly not here!" The sharpness of Custodian Tykon's rebuke seemed to take him by surprise. Smetin shrank back next to Aka while Mwemas glared at the Director.
He fell to his knees before Sebo, shockingly subservient again. "I beg forgiveness." He looked up, his eyes imploring. "But you must show him. He cannot refuse once he knows the Mystery. It is everything. I have vowed to put all of my energy, my life, all that I am into this. Show him. Please."
Sebo now looked a little worried and again turned back to him. "Qui-Gon, you have waved all your rights on the Creative Committee. But Director Tykon, Director Mwemas, Creators Smetin and Aka believe that revealing the Mystery to you will change your position on this. You do have a right to know."
"I do not see how. But I will listen," he answered politely. He had some discretion on how much he might participate, but had no intention of joining Tykon's troop of performers.
"Then observe, Master Jedi."
= = = End Part 14
= = = Part 15
The light in the room changed, growing brighter in the middle where Sebo took her place. The others withdrew to the shadowed edges of the floor pattern and Qui-Gon did as well.
Sebo spread her arms out, her palms upward, a priestess calling down her gods and goddesses.
"I am the Lady of the Tower, whose name was so dangerous it was taken from her, who grew old and died there before Cloras the First united this world again from the chaos after the fall of the Sith Lord. I am the keeper of her name. I hold the Mystery. I live her life.
"She was Nirid, daughter of a servant of this Fortress and a herder, but destined to be more than the life her ancestors gave her. She was smart and quick, a pretty girl who was loved well by family and friends and she loved them with the pure innocence of the young. But above all those, she loved a boy; he was handsome and smart, but gentle and he listened to her and poured his own heart out to her in return as they went on long walks together. And with the flowering of their youth, one long walk inevitably turned into physical love. Sweaty and clumsy, but intense and passionate. And it was the first time for both of them.
"But the next day, a Jedi, Master Orkut Zim came and recognized the boy, Keth Neem-Dolahkos, as one who could be trained in the Jedi ways. In those times, those with potential were trained, no matter what their age, if they were deemed worthy. And even amidst the vast distances of space, among the uncounted individuals on uncounted worlds, the special powers of the Jedi led them to find their initiates.
"Keth was eager. The life of a Jedi was much better than that of the son of cook and a crafter. He impetuously committed himself to be an apprentice of the Jedi. Only later did he think to tell Nirid and then ask Master Orkut to take her with them. His new Master was dismayed, for he saw that she also had potential to be a Jedi, a potential he had initially failed to see. The only two from this world for generations, and they had found each other and were in love. But he said nothing of this to the girl, who was also excited to leave and see the galaxy."
Qui-Gon remained expressionless during the narration, his arms folded into the broad sleeves of his robe.
"She could not go. The Jedi even then held their vows to their order above those to any friend, lover or family. She could not be trained by the Jedi for that would put her near Keth. And he foresaw that Keth would farsake his Jedi vows for her if she was near at hand.
"So, he gave Keth Neem-Dolahkos a cruel choice. He could come or go as he willed. But if he chose to go, he would go alone. As a Jedi.
"Heart aching, he sat up all night, in a place where he and Nirid used to go and talk. But it was Nirid who made the choice and told him to go. It was better that at least one of them go out to see the center of the galaxy, than both stay to their plain lives. And she told him that if the Jedi could find him among all the planets and systems in the galaxy, then she believed that she would find him again.
"So, Keth left Nirid behind, to become a Jedi Knight. But she did not lead an ordinary plain life. For the same power that drew Jedi together also drew the dark powers as well. And when the Dark Lord, Darth Baras came to this world, seeking power and conquest; it was not long before Nirid caught his attention.
"He was old and corrupt and she despised him at first sight. That was her first lesson on the dark path, how to hate. He captured her and killed her family. And killed their allies, including Keth’s kin, but that was unknown to him since he had abandoned family and home along with Nirid to follow the Jedi.
"With her as his prisoner, Darth Baras taught her the Sith ways through abuse and cruelty. She learned to desire power, first to destroy him, but that very quickly turned to a lust for power itself. And when it did, he stripped her of her old life and took her as his apprentice, naming her Darth Yarr."
Sebo lifted her chin, her calm face turned upward to the light above, her body in shadow, her story paused in the echoless room. Qui-Gon closed his eyes, feeling the Force, close around him, the others in the room as still as he. The facts generally agreed with the Jedi Archives, but Qui-Gon had seen nothing about any early connection between Keth and Yarr save that they came from the same planet. Since Yarr’s holocron had been destroyed, there were few personal details and nothing about her origins. He sensed that Sebo was telling the truth, so far as she knew it, that her life’s work was to be the living embodiment of a woman who became a Sith Lord, defeated eight-thousand years ago.
"But the student exceeded the Master."
Qui-Gon saw Sebo through the Force as a pillar of faint light, with no darkness or evil in her, linked to the Force as all living things were, but no more or less than the others in the room.
"Darth Yarr knew how to love as passionately as Nirid had. And she saw the power in it. She kept her old name, secret from her Sith Master, and as Nirid she learned all the things that could not be gained through fear and conquest. As Darth Yarr, she grew strong and powerful, and desirable to her Master. She made him want her. She made him need her. And when she killed him to become the Master herself, as was the way of Sith Lords, he died from loving her."
The air in the chamber grew heavy with the breath of the gathered people as if it thickened with the history Sebo told them.
"Yarr grew strong, acquiring followers, admirers who willingly supported her conquests that engulfed the planet. Her successes drew the attention of other Sith. This world was too distant to be of any strategic gain, but a worthy Sith apprentice came to Maarzim, Hulus, a Turidni young man. He was ambitious and strong, but had been raised in a harsh and cruel land and was an easy target for Yarr’s passions."
Qui-Gon saw blackness behind his eyelids. No images, no power came to him from Sebo’s story. It was as lifeless to him as data in a computer.
"Through conquest and seduction, Darth Yarr’s rule expanded to consume all of Maarzim. She grew powerful enough to draw the attention of the Jedi. And the Jedi Order sent one who already knew this world. Keth, a full Jedi Knight who no longer used his old family name. And Minigan, a young Knight, the former apprentice of Master Trioni, a friend and age-mate of Keth. And who had been killed by the Sith.
That part of the story matched what Qui-Gon knew from the Jedi Archives, but it was still cold facts, stirring no extra insight in the Force.
"The Sith knew that the Jedi were there as soon as they landed and Hulus, eager to please his Master, went out to meet them. But he had more initiative than skill; Keth and Minigan cut him down and they evaded the soldiers who attacked. When Hulus's body was found, the death of the favorite of their beloved Lord raised the passion of the people to hunt down and capture the Jedi, who were completely surprised by it. They had expected violence and opposition the soldiers of the Sith, not devotion and fanaticism from the people for their Sith Overlord."
The story diverged again from the Jedi Archives. Keth and Minigan had killed Yarr’s apprentice soon after arriving and were forced to hide from Yarr’s troops. But there were no reports of unusual ‘devotion and fanaticism’.
"Yarr went out as Nirid, to find the Jedi. And was herself captured by her own passion and desire, when she recognized Keth. Decades had passed, but he was still slim and strong. And now a powerful Jedi and she wanted him as much as she had when they first coupled so many years ago."
Qui-Gon straightened, head high, as if trying to recapture a scent. The Force was utterly still and unresponsive to Sebo’s liturgy.
"Nirid appeared to them and under the guise of helping them, she led them to her fortress, this castle, where they were attacked and separated. The Sith Lord herself walked the floor of this very room when she conquered it. Hulus was captured and taken as Yarr's prisoner. But Nirid led Keth, who was injured, to a secret room. To Keth, Nirid was his long lost love and a lowly Castle servant who conspires to help him escape. To Mimigan, the Dark Lord came to deliver her cruel torture and seduction.
"Minigan had the confidence of youth and little experience. Darth Yarr enjoyed breaking him and she poured all of her lust into dominating him. But to Keth, Nirid only showed gentle compassion. She planned to reveal her Sith nature to him, to coerce him to the Darkness, but when they were alone, Keth only reminded her, Nirid, of a time when she was young and just Nirid, with a family and a boy who returned her love."
The story had diverged considerably from the Jedi Archives. Minigan and Keth were captured; Minigan was more seriously injured, and Keth was able to escape with the help of a Castle servant who wished to be freed from the Sith. Keth then confronted Yarr who was killed in a duel of lightsabers that also left Keth mortally wounded. Minigan was the only survivor to return and report their success to the Jedi Council. Qui-Gon knew all of this from the Archives, but he felt no insight at all, either supporting the Archives or Sebo’s narrative.
"Nirid never felt more distant from her Darth Yarr self than when she lay with Keth. But her lust poured out from Darth Yarr into Minigan. She broke him too well. While she planned her seduction of Keth, Minigan, full of rage and Darkness, escaped. And he confronted Yarr with murderous intent. They fought. They would have killed each other, but Keth, having found his own escape called to Nirid.
"He had known all along who she was. She had deceived herself into thinking that she could conceal her Dark Lord identity to a man who loved her so much. Tears, running down his face, he renounced his vows to the Jedi, because they had led him to leave her behind to fall into Darkness so long ago. He swore to never use the power of the Force again, if she would only forgive him for so coldly leaving her behind. Yarr dropped her weapon, her heart pierced by the purity of his love for her. It far outshined her passion, a swelling sun enfolding her." Sebo’s voice roughened with emotion and she drew a breath before going on.
"But Minigan was enraged. He struck with blind fury. Keth threw Nirid aside and took the blow. Minigan's lightsaber plunged through his body, a mortal blow. Screaming, Yarr caught him, cradling him in her arms, her own tears flowing freely, she asked why he did not defend himself.
"Completely at peace, Keth smiled up at her, his eyes joyous. He had vowed to renounce all use of the Force, if she would forgive him.
"And so, Keth broke Darth Yarr, and she became Nirid for the last moment of his life." Sebo paused again, her voice gone high and weak. "She held him. And she vowed to never use the power of the Force ever again for the rest of her days, for love of him.
"But Keth also broke Minigan, too. When he saw the two lovers at his feet and realized what he had done, his rage left him. Dropping his weapon, he fell to his knees and begged for Keth’s forgiveness.
"Keth granted it willingly. But he extracted a promise from Minigan. That he would leave that world as a Jedi Knight and report that Darth Yarr died. Because the Jedi Council would never believe that Nirid was no longer a Dark Lord and they would send others to hunt her down to kill her.
Sebo’s voice grew firm again. Qui-Gon heard movement, footsteps, stone moving against stone.
"Minigan promised. And Keth died. His body was burned in the Jedi way, the ashes scattered on the hills beyond this Castle. And Nirid renounced all claim to power, accepting her fate. She had made many enemies, but she cared not if they killed her.
"One of her lieutenants claimed her throne. He had no special powers, but he was strong and ambitious, enough to be a war lord. He had learned about cruelty from Darth Yarr. So, he sentenced her to live; to die of old age, imprisoned in this fortress. He stripped her of her name, because it was too dangerous; a word from her could ignite her followers’ passions to rise up against him. And he took the symbols of the Sith, claimed their power by sealing them up here."
Qui-Gon’s vision suddenly flared bright red, a star exploding, expanding into fiery, crimson plasma, filling the room with fear, anger, heat, rushing at him. He gasped and it filled his lungs with a dizzying fever, going down his whole body to his loins. It was the Force, boiling through him with strength and power. Electricity danced on his fingertips; he could so easily close his hand and squeeze hard for more and sieze the ecstasy of it. The heat increased, rising from him, shifting from red to orange to yellow and white.
His lightsaber flew to his hand and the green blade hissed out, an extension of his hand, arm, body. Leaping forward, he grasped the hilt tightly with both hands and exhaled, pushing out the hot greedy power and breathing in the cool balance of of body and blade. The Force felt strong and sure and he pulled his arms back to strike.
The sudden storm vanished as if it had been swept out into vacuum through an open airlock. The muted lighting in the circular stone room looked dark and gloomy compared to the red nova an instant ago, Except for the bright red light of the lightsaber blade, held up vertically by Sebo, her eyes closed, expression calm, head tilted back. A finger moved and the red blade vanished. She fell to her knees before him, her body sweeping forward, and lay the black and silver hilt on the ground. Then she spread her arms out, tilting her head back, exposing her neck.
Shocked by what her gesture implied, he drew back, extinguishing his own blade. Behind her, Custodian Tykon gaped at him in near terror. She held a tray of objects, crystalline shards, shiny black lumps, a white and black mask with a red triangle.
And nestled among them was a dark, whole and quite intact Sith holocron.
= = = End Part 15
Nice to know the history from Darth Yar.
A real Sith holocron
Yes, Qui-Gon is not happy to see that holocron. He'll have words with them about it. Thanks for reading!
= = = Part 16
Qui-Gon sucked in air, the Force washing through him. Usually, it warmed his whole body, but this time it was cold after the blazing, consuming fire he had just been through. Recovering from his shock, he raised his hand. The Sith lightsaber rose up in the air to his eye level. Most of it was black, with a long black hand grip and a round pommel, black emitter with three long sharp prongs, red and silver recessed buttons on a silver and black body. It turned slowly under the cold light from above.
It was a lightsaber, cold and emotionless as a blaster or power cell. Looking over Sebo’s head, he extended his other hand.
Custodian Tykon gasped as all of the objects on her tray lifted into the air. Qui-Gon brought them to him; floating with the lightsaber, a pair of black gauntlets, a length of thick black cord with hooks on the ends, a small control box, corroded at the edges, Darth Yarr’s mask, a heavy black metal belt, three dark red crystals, one of them cracked, metal and transparent plates and shards, and the unbroken holocron, a cube shape a little bigger than his hand, dark and dead in the center.
"What is this?" Qui-Gon’s eyes remained fixed on the holocron drifting in the middle of the Sith debris.
"They are the sacred artifacts of this Castle!" Custodian Tykon had found her voice and her outrage again. "Of our History! How dare you defile them!"
Qui-Gon’s index finger twitched and the tray whipped out of her hands, up and down, horizontal under the objects. They drifted down onto it. Tykon rushed forward, grabbing back the tray, and Qui-Gon let her have it. He glared down at her.
"Nothing was said of these things. The Jedi Order should have been told that you were hoarding Sith artifacts."
"I believe," Sebo climbed to her feet as she spoke, "that you will find in our agreement that we only specified them as ‘Sith artifacts’. The Jedi Council assumed that we had only the holocron fragments. We saw no reason to discourage this assumption. And," she gestured toward the tray’s contents. "It will all be yours, after the Play."
"A Sith holocron is an extremely dangerous device, even sealed in a vault like this. You should not have kept it." The holocron on the tray drew his eyes to it and he exhaled, almost pushing the Force away so he would not look too closely. Dull gold metalloid sealed it’s edges. Etchings of squares and wavy lines scored the faces with the glints of embedded fine silver wires. Like lightsabers, all holocrons were unique depending on the design and imprints of their makers. Qui-Gon averted his eyes.
Sebo’s brows lowered to a glare. "It has been in our care for eight-thousand years without mishap. This holocron died when Nirid renounced herself as Darth Yarr. And when she renounced the Force."
Qui-Gon shook his head. "That is not possible."
"Are you so learned in Sith that - - -"
"I don’t care!" Director Tykon stepped up to them, surprising Sebo and the Custodian into backing away from him. Qui-Gon turned his head to face the angry man. "You saw the Mystery. You have to be opposite Sebo in the last shadow dance, when Nirid renounces the Sith and she puts her lightsaber aside! It will be perfect!" He shook his fist in his excitement.
"No. I will not."
The intensity in Tykon’s brown eyes wavered, not taking in the answer. Qui-Gon turned to Sebo who only looked slightly sad to hear it. And now that he knew that she devoted her life to commemorate a Sith, she seemed much smaller to him. She had to be extraordinarily deluded about the true nature of the Sith. "I will not perform in your History Play. Our agreement is that I and my Padawan assist in the preparations and attend as guests of honor, which we shall do. After that we will take these artifacts and - - -"
"No!" Tykon put himself between Qui-Gon and Sebo. "You have to do it! You can’t refuse. You - - -."
"No he doesn't!" Roobi Mweemas suddenly had a good grip on Director Tykon’s hair and ruthlessly dragged him away, pulling his head backward and down to her eye level. "You made your request, on sacred ground. And he said, ‘NO’. That’s it." Then she grinned and put her face up to his. "And we are keeping the shadow dances without him. As we agreed?"
Mwemas twisted Tykon’s hair and snarled back, enunciating every word, "As. We. Agreed."
Eyes squeezed shut in pain, he nodded. "As we agreed!"
She released him, pushing him away from the Venerates and he stumbled before regaining his balance, hand on his abused hair.
Sebo looked up at Qui-Gon, her expression mild. "I must confess that I am disappointed. It is a great honor for a Venerate to participate in a History Play."
Qui-Gon shook his head. "I cannot. The story you told me is impossible. A Sith would never renounce her power. It has never happened - - -"
"Master Qui-Gon!" Custodian Tykon’s shout surprised him.
"You may hold whatever misguided Jedi beliefs you wish, but you will not speak sacrilege. Especially not here!" She walked right up to him, the contents of the tray she held rattling with every step; the top of her white head coming only half-way up his chest.
He opened his mouth, but remembered to step back and bow low to her before speaking. "My apologies, Custodian Tykon. I meant no offense."
Still cross, she continued to glare at him. Sebo bowed her head. Director Tykon hunched his shoulders while Mwemas, arms folded over her chest looked ready to attack if he moved. Smetin and Aka stood shoulder to shoulder, eyes wide and fixed on the head Custodian. Little noises became loud in the prolonged silence. Feet shifting on the floor, a rustle of clothes, Custodian Tykon’s breathing.
She gave out a final huff. "I am disappointed that I needed to warn you about such an offense, Master Qui-Gon Jinn. And I expect you will not need another. Director Tykon," she addressed him without taking her eyes off Qui-Gon. "You have your answer. Your proposed changes will not include Master Qui-Gon’s participation." She turned her head to her fellow Venerate, her tone softening. "Sebo, will you still participate in this?"
She nodded. "Yes, I shall, if I am still needed. It still feels right."
Tykon sighed; she turned around to the others, the tray of Sith artifacts still held under her chest. "Does the Creative Committee still wish to make the changes and allow Director Tykon to make them?"
"Aye." "Aye." "Aye." "Aye." They answered with conviction and a poisonous glare from Director Tykon aimed at the Jedi.
He nodded to the side. "I give my vote to Director Tykon." The Director's glare intensified.
Sebo smiled. "Aye."
Custodian Tykon sighed. "I still vote no. But the changes will be made. We will finish here now." She and Sebo went to a blank wall. The artists turned there backs to them. Qui-Gon turned his back to all of them. He closed his eyes and cleared his mind. He heard the sounds of stone moving on stone. The two women glowed with life, harmonious with their surroundings. But the artifacts that they sealed back into the hidden vault, all of them, were as plain and ordinary as stones.
%% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %% ]]]-x-[[[ === ]]]-x-[[[ %%
Snip. Snip. Snip.
Obi-Wan heard plants rustling; leaves fluttered.
Snip. Snip. Snip.
His eyes snapped open. He sat up, the coverings of the sleeping platform falling away from him. It was full midday. The sunlight came in from the skylights, making bright circles of light on the pale floor. Looking around, he spotted the outline of someone on the veranda through the semi-tranparent white curtains over the window-walls. Sebo, trimming the plants.
Pushing away the soft white coverings, he swung his legs over to the side and slowly rose, standing on the floor in his bare feet. His hands out, he checked his balance, but he felt nothing amiss. No dizziness. His eyes went to the open area of floor where he had been practicing lightsaber forms. And the long black gash that marred the pale wood.
He should have dropped it. He had been trained since he was a youngling to always drop his lightsaber if he felt any hint of a misstep, and that the Force itself would guide his hand to let go and let it extinguish. A lightaber undirected was as much a danger to the user as it was to any foe. But the sudden dizzy spell had so shocked him that he clutched the weapon tightly until the damage was done. It now rested on a side table with his belt, obi and tabbards. He had lain down to rest, but he had not intended to sleep the whole morning. Outside, Sebo moved away to tend more plants. But the rest of the apartment was empty. If she was back, where was Qui-Gon?
He went to the fresher to pee and wash his hands and face. After that, he dressed and made himself presentable. Putting his robe on, he slid a door aside onto the veranda.
It was warm and pleasant, the air scented with green leaves, flowers, fruits and healthy damp soil. Obi-Wan walked around the curved walkway between the potted plants and raised boxes and waited for Sebo to turn and acknowledge him with a smile and nod. He bowed low.
"My apologies for damaging your home. I was careless. I have no excuse."
Sebo continued to smile, clearly unconcerned. "The floor? You did that with your light sword?" She shrugged. "It can be fixed. There was no permanent damage. You did not injure yourself?"
He shook his head. "No. But my carelessness is inexcusable."
"Will Master Qui-Gon be angry with you?"
Surprised by the question, Obi-Wan shook his head. "No. A Jedi Master does not get angry with an apprentice. That would only teach the Dark Side. But, he will be disappointed in me."
"Aaaah." She nodded and turned back to a bush and resumed plucking small dark, multi-lobed berries and putting them into a small wicker basket. "I see. Only a Sith Master would use their anger to teach an apprentice."
Obi-Wan did not know what to say. He supposed that was true, but why would she comment about Sith?
"Has the Creative Committee adjourned?"
"For today." She reached into the bush to retrieve a last few ripe berries in the back. "Master Qui-Gon is consulting with the Castle Custodians; he wishes some special arrangements for the transport of Darth Yarr's artifacts."
Sebo put the little basket into a larger one containing greens and fruits and roots that she had already picked from the garden. "I did not ask. You will have to ask him."
They both turned at the soft hum of the lift, distinctive from the natural sounds of plants and wind outside. Obi-Wan went back inside and took a position, arms folded into the sleeves of his robe, facing Qui-Gon as he emerged from the floor. His Master’s eyes went to the black gash on the floor as he stepped away from the pillars around the lift. Obi-Wan went to his knees and bowed his head low, his braid touching the floor, and back up, still on his knees before speaking.
"I have failed to follow your teachings, my Master." Carelessnes with a lightsaber required a formal apology and accounting. He looked up at his Master’s face.
"I see." Qui-Gon folded his arms into the sleeves of his dark brown robe. "What happened?"
Obi-Wan continued looking up at him as he spoke. "I was practicing lunging forms, and I became suddenly dizzy. I did not drop my lightsaber as I fell."
"The damage can be repaired. I will no longer live here after the Mystery is revealed in the Play."
Sebo’s quiet voice came from behind, but Obi-Wan kept his eyes forward as she continued.
"This place will be modified to allow for the Castle tours. It will be very popular for a long time. I will become a scholar Venerate, either here or at a university. It will be my choice of where. It is considered a promotion."
"Indeed." Qui-Gon seemed to consider this. "But that is no concern of ours." There was a long pause. "You are finished with the garden for today?"
Sebo walked around Obi-Wan, her basket of produce in her arms. Her eyes shifted back and forth between Master and apprentice, the dismissal in Qui-Gon’s tone clear.
"I am." She suddenly shoved the basket at Qui-Gon and his arms automatically came up to take it. She went to the lift and left, her eyes on Qui-Gon the whole way down. When she was gone Qui-Gon turned back to his Padawan.
"Obi-Wan," he began before looking down at the basket of food. He went to the food prep area and put it on the table there. He shrugged off his robe, put it aside and then started loosening his belt.
"We will train," he stated. "Without lightsabers. I believe some exercise will sharpen your mindfulness." Putting aside his belt and lightsaber he unwound his obi. Obi-Wan joined him at the table and began to stripping down to bare chest as well.
"Sebo said that you were making special arrangements for the transport of the remains of the Sith holocron."
"Yes. I was. We will transport the artifacts in a sealed container."
Obi-Wan put his tunic on the pile on the table. "Will I be able to see it before it is sealed?"
Qui-Gon stripped his undertunic off his broad shoulders. "No. And we will not speak of this again, Obi-Wan." The undertunic went on the pile. Obi-Wan opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He bowed his head.
= = = End Part 16
This gets more and more fascinating. I can see how Qui-Gon would think that the Maarzim have everything wrong about Yarr, but given how long ago it all was... a lot can get lost in that time, especially if there's truth in the story that Minigan actually lied about her death. The confrontation over the artifacts was really intriguing; it's not an issue that I ever would have thought of. One person's respected historical artifacts being another's hazardous materials.
Those Sith things are getting more trouble?
earlybird-obi-wan: Oooooh, those Sith things are always trouble, but maybe not the trouble they expect.
Kahara: Yes, the locals have a very different perspective on the Sith than the Jedi do. 'Hazardous materials'..... yeah, I think that Jedi would look at Sith artifacts that way.
Just about halfway through this .......