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

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

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 17

    Obi-Wan woke. It was early morning, the sky outside the thin white curtains was brightened by the coming day and Maarzim’s largest moon hanging over the forested hills along with one of the smaller ones over the plain. He and Qui-Gon had trained and meditated for the rest of the previous day and part of the evening, stopping only to eat and then wash before retiring early to opposite sleeping areas in the apartment. But while Obi-Wan settled down to sleep, he saw the outline of his Master sitting up in meditation.

    The air in the apartment was fresh and cool, but warm under the coverings. It was tempting to stay, but Obi-Wan threw them off and rose. Bare feet on the cold wood floor, he went to the fresher. He saw his Master sitting on the bench at the end of the sleeping platform, head up, eyes closed, meditating. Exactly in the same place he had been the night before.

    While he went about his usual morning business in the fresher Obi-Wan wondered if it was likely that his Master had meditated the whole night. Jedi Masters certainly did that. But it was just as likely that he retired late and rose early. He had no doubt about what Qui-Gon was contemplating.

    It had to be about Darth Yarr’s holocron.

    Qui-Gon must have learned something about it during his meeting with the Creative Committee. But there had been no compromise in his stern expression the day before. Obi-Wan knew that to even hint about the holocron in passing would be disobedient. It was rumored that the Jedi Archives had Sith artifacts, live ones, not broken pieces, in their deepest and most secure vaults and that only the Jedi Council and the most senior Masters were ever allowed to view them. Qui-Gon was a Master senior enough to be included among them. In fact, he almost certainly was since he had been assigned to this mission.

    Obi-Wan finished and slipped out of the fresher. The room was growing lighter, the sky noticeably bluer. His Master had not moved. He quietly padded back to his side of the apartment and sat cross-legged on the padded bench at the end of his own sleeping platform. Straightening, he relaxed his shoulders, feeling every part of his body. If the Force would give him an answer about Darth Yarr’s holocron, he would gladly accept it.

    He closed his eyes and cleared his mind.


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


    Sebo arrived to tend the garden as Obi-Wan finished putting away the cleaned dishes from their breakfast. Wearing her usual pale yellow pants and long shirt and scarf, hands clasped before her, she inclined her head to them.

    "Good morning, Qui-Gon. I hope you are well. And I hope that you might join me in the garden. I thought we might discuss . . ." Her eyes shifted toward Obi-Wan, standing by the table, watching with interest. " . . . Director Tykon’s offer for you to participate in the History Play."

    Obi-Wan’s eyebrows rose.

    "There is nothing to discuss," Qui-Gon rose from his chair, "Since I will not be participating."

    Sebo shrugged. "I told Director Tykon that I would ask. I did not promise him any results."

    He looked at his Padawan. "Obi-Wan, go downstairs. You should be able to exercise there."

    Obi-Wan drew in a breath, but stopped whatever he was about to say. He bowed his head. "Yes, Master." First going to his sleeping area to retrieve his robe, he went to the lift. Neither Jedi Master or Maarzim Venerate said anything until he was gone, the lift hatch closed and sealed flush to the floor.

    "I have been wondering about what happened yesterday." Sebo strolled toward the table and paused to touch Qui-Gon’s robe, hanging off of his chair.

    "You have a question," he stated.

    Her eyes looked up at him. "Yes." She moved beyond the table and clasped her hands before her before speaking. "You saw something, when I revealed Darth Yarr’s lightsaber. And I am burning to know what it was."

    He looked her up and down, but did not answer.

    "Is it something that Jedi do not discuss with outsiders?" she persisted.

    "Yes."

    She waited for more, but he saw no reason to go on. Her face clouded with annoyance. She went to a food prep area, slid open a cabinet and took out a basket. "I can guess." She marched out to the garden. Qui-Gon glanced down at his robe, running his hand on the soft, textured fabric before leaving it behind to follow Sebo outside. While there were wide patches of blue sky visible, the sun was overcast with gray and white clouds hanging low over the forested mountans.

    His boots clumped heavily on the boards of the verdanda. Coming around a tall, dark green and thickly-leafed bush, he found her, a simple tool in hand, snipping dead leaves into a bucket, the food-gathering basket laid aside.

    "It would not be wise to speculate."

    "Why?" Still annoyed, she lowered her garden tool.

    "Because you will be wrong."

    "Really? I don’t think so." She claimed a few more withered leaves for her bucket. "I know you felt something. I saw it in your eyes. They were almost wild. And they were not seeing me."

    "Did you see anything?"

    The tool went down again. "No," she admitted. "I saw nothing. I felt . . . nothing. At least nothing other than what I usually feel when I speak the Mystery."

    "Do you do it often?"

    "No." She smiled at him. "Only for specific occasions. The investiture of Venerates to the Castle when we reveal the Mysteries. Yarr’s relics are hardly the only Mystery sealed down below, though her Mystery is only revealed to senior Venerates. And, of course, on the year anniversary of Darth Yarr’s fall. And Nirid’s reclaimation."

    Qui-Gon shook his head. "That is not possible for a Sith."

    "Why?"

    "The Sith follow the Dark Path to their own destruction, after they have destroyed the lives of many others. They don’t just take on a new name when they fall to the Dark Side; the people they once were are consumed and remade into Dark Lords. They are changed forever once the lust for power is burned into them.

    "So you think that this," she gestured to herself, "my life," and to the garden and apartment, "is all just a myth? Do you think that little of me now?"

    "Yes," he answered directly."While it might be a faniciful and romantic tale that a Sith could be reclaimed by love. It could not happen. And this fantasy that you perpetuate is offensive to me."

    He looked around at the peaceful green garden, reached up to touch the long slender leaves of an overhanging plant and the flowers in white cluster. "Anyone who goes down the Dark Path leaves a trail of destruction in their wake, lives ended and twisted in worse ways than death. A Sith gains strength from subjugating and destroying others and they desire that more than their own lives." He towered over Sebo who had backed up against the plant beds. "To commemorate any Sith, as you do, is to also commemorate their acts." He backed up, allowing her an escape if she wished it. "No Sith would, or could forske their desire for more and more power to live a peaceful life here."

    Unmoving, she glared back up at him. "Not even if they were exiled as a prisoner? That even if she still desired her old power, that Nirid no longer had a choice?"

    Qui-Gon shook his head. "No. This place could never hold a Sith."

    She looked very skeptical. "And why not?"

    "Because it could never hold a Jedi."

    She quirked a smile up at him. He couldn’t help smiling back. Then he inhaled deeply, throwing his head back, feeling the Force, a great, rising stream of light rising up through his body. Effortlessly, he swung his arms, down and up and the light carried him high into the air. He spread his arms wide, letting it carry him up and around and down, his feet landing, his knees bending, the Force placing him exactly where he needed to be.

    Qui-Gon looked up at the tower. High overhead, amidst the bushes and the rows of decoractive and dangerous spikes that ringed the tower, Sebo stared down, her mouth open, her eyes wide.

    Qui-Gon whirled about, the Force carrying him again, practically dancing over the roof of the Castle. One. Two. Three. Four steps. A final leap into the air. His arms out again, he pulled his legs into a tight roll, going around and around until the flow of light pulled him upright again, his boots solidly landed on stone, again, his knees bending, the Force easily absorbing the impact.

    "Aaah!"

    Four very surprised young people in loose, pastel pants and tunics leaped back from the Jedi who had just landed in their midst. Others beyond them on the other garden paths stared at him in shock.

    Qui-Gon again looked up to the tower, but Sebo was gone.

    He strode toward the large open doors leading into Tamwa Hall. Crew and cast member from the Play jumped out of his way. Even with the quarantine and the delay in rehersals, they were allowed out for exercise. His Padawan met him at the door.

    "Master!"

    He held up a warning hand, not slowing down. "Stay here, Obi-Wan." But a few steps later he slowed, stopped and went back. He stood close, towering over the young man.

    "Obi-Wan, if I have not returned by sundown, and if you cannot locate me, you are to inform the Jedi Council immediately and have them send someone to assist you. Do you understand?"

    Eyes as wide as the dancers’ Obi-Wan’s mouth opened.

    "Do you understand, Obi-Wan?" he demanded.

    Obi-Wan’s mouth closed and he responded with short, jerky head bow. "Yes, Master."

    Qui-Gon whirled around again, striding across the hall to the large staircase up to the gallery, through a doorway, down a corridor to a spiral staircase. He went round and round to the base below ground. He turned left to a blank wall and raised his hand, pulling it left to right and it was as if it touched the rough surface, the Force felt so solid on his palm. The mechanisms inside the wall surrendered and it smoothly slid aside. He entered.

    The gray door at the end of the stone corridor yielded to him as well. He descened, down and down, the long echoless stairways, the lights flitting on and off as he went. Finally reaching the bottom, he strode down the narrow corridor to the anteroom to the Hall of Mysteries. He pointed as he approached and the heavy doors parted, the stone as thick as the breadth of his shoulders, the lights coming on transformed the blackness inside into the simple sacred room from the day before. Going to the center of the patterned floor, he turned around, raising his arm, sweeping a complete circle. The walls were featureless between the columns, but a rough heat touched his palm and the panel concealing Darth Yarr’s artifacts slid aside. He stepped up to it carefully. The compartment was a simple stone cube recess, the metal tray of artifacts on the bottom. He reached out, fingers extended toward the lightsaber.

    He closed his hand, lowered it and stepped back to the center of the room. He went to his knees. Closing his eyes, he raised his hands, palms out. The tray and its contents rose up and out of the recess and floated to him, the Force a sheen of power, extending out from him. But the touch of the Force on it was no different than on the floor or walls around him. The ancient Sith artifacts were more ordinary and unremarkable than the Hall of Mysteries itself. The floor and walls had very slightly different hues of age and use.

    The tray came to rest on the floor before him as the sounds of running footsteps intruded on his senses, descending and getting louder.

    "Qui-Gon Jinn!" Sebo’s voice cracked over a high pitch of outrage. He did not move or respond to her in any way. She gasped, panting, her feet slapping the floor as she stopped.

    "Aaah!" He sob of anguish was followed the grinding of heavy stone on stone, the doors to the Hall of Mysteries closing. When he opened his eyes and turned his head to her, she had her back to the door, now looking the same as the fixed walls of the chamber.

    "How DARE you!" Her outrage burst from her in a near shriek. She pushed away from the walls, her pale yellow scarf disarrayed and hanging loose over her shoulders. "To just come in here as you please? And you left the doors open!" She waved back at the closed entryway. "If I did anything like that I would rightfully be cast out! Defrocked and forbidden to ever set foot in any of the Living History Lands. Have my name and whole life banished from any archive to leave my memory to wither and die to ashes." She shook her hand at him. "You have taken too much liberty of our hospitality." Arms extended, she dove forward.

    Fzz-zzzz-tttt!!

    Qui-Gon’s lightsaber was off his belt and activated in a flash. He did not even extend his arm, but she threw herself backward away from the tray of artifacts and from the deadly green blade pointing at her.

    "It is no less a sacrilege for you than it is for me to see a Sith holocron venerated, concealed and hoarded intact." He flicked off the lightsaber and clipped it back to his belt. Yarr’s holocron was nestled on black cloth between the mask and the lightsaber hilt. "They are too dangerous to be in the possession of non-Jedi."

    Glaring scornfully down at him, Sebo stayed back. "You have seen so many of them, have you?"

    Qui-Gon lifted his eyes to her. "I have."

    The derision drained from her face.

    "Are you surprised?" he asked. Raising his arm, he slowly passed his hand, palm down, over the holocron. "The Jedi Order has Sith holocrons in the most secure parts of our Archives." He pinned her with a hard stare. "This is something that is not spoken of outside the Jedi Order. And only then among the Council and senior Masters. I would expect you to keep this confidence."

    She tidied her scarf around her neck, put her hands together, palms pressed to each other. "I am the vessel of the sacred past, the Mystery that I guard with my life."

    Qui-Gon nodded, accepting her vow. "A Sith makes a holocron for the same reasons that a Jedi does. To preserve knowledge. But not just data, it holds the essence of what they know, and what they are. And imbued with the Force, they are alive in their own way. They can only be made, un-made and accessed by those skilled in the Jedi arts.

    "A Sith holocron contains all the desire, the ambition, the evil that drives its maker. The Dark Side of the Force is a path to unspeakable power that leaves no room for compassion or love. It is the antithesis of them. It is a power that needs to dominate and twists the thoughts of its possessor to delight in achieving more and greater power. All other beings become insignificant at best, useful tools possibly, or fodder for the Sith’s ambition, blind to any other pleasure but the power of the Dark Side, but always craving more."

    Yarr’s holocron wobbled before rising up in the air under the Jedi’s hand.

    "That is what I felt yesterday in this Hall. For one instant, before it vanished." He had averted his eyes from it before but now he dared to look deep into it’s center. The edges of its cube shape were sealed in tarnished gold metalloid. Silver lines and etching spidered out in patterns over parts of gold-tinted, semi-tanslucent sides, stained with black soot on the inside as if a circuit within had burned out. It was clearly very old, but now, examining it closely, he felt nothing from it, as if it were merely a decorative bauble.

    "Did you see her?" Sebo whispered loudly, stepping forward in the silent, sealed room. "I know that Jedi see visions." She leaned close, her voice urgent. "Did you see her? Did you see Nirid?" Her tone held the yearning of decades of privation and isolation.

    Qui-Gon shook his head. "No. I did not see the past. Only the Dark Side." He raised his other hand and slowly brought it up inder the holocron while lowering the hand above. They got closer and closer to the holocron until he hesitated, just short of actually touching it. He let out a long exhale . . . .

    . . . . it dropped into his palm.

    It was as cool and dense as a stone, metal and smooth ceramic. He closed his eyes and stroked the top of it, feeling the fine lines of edges, angles and faces. He inhaled, the Force solid and calm within him; slow and dliberate, it spread up to his arm, his hand, the fingers touching the holocron that warmed under his touch.

    He gave it nothing. His fingertips on the outside felt the barrenness on the inside. It was well worn, a hard, fixed center, smooth as if melted, but ordinary and inert. Drawing the Force tighter into himself, more discipline than power, he felt Sebo, very close to him, intensly alive. And outward from her, the room and far above the Castle and its inhabitants.

    The holocron gave him nothing in return.

    He inhaled deeply again. And extended himself down through his fingers as he did when he held his lightsaber. The holocron became warm in his hands. But the only life in it was his own reflection.

    He opened his eyes. A gentle blue-green glow emanated from the center of the holocron, shining on Sebo’s face. Sighing, he let it go and the light faded.

    "There is nothing here." He put the holocron back in its place on the tray. "I do not understand." It was the same as his meditations, late into the night and early that morning, he could sense no trace of that flash of evil, as if it had never been there at all.

    Looking disappointed, Sebo straightened, her eyes on the tray on the floor before the Jedi.

    "The Jedi Archives has Sith holocrons far older than this one and they are still very active and very dangerous." He sat back with an exhale of frustration. "The power of the Sith does not fade this completely in time." He looked up at Sebo who smiled serenely down at him. "It feels as if this holocron was never used. I do not understand."

    "Then perhaps, Qui-Gon, Nirid and Keths’ love was stronger than you thought after all."

    Shaking his head, Qui-Gon climbed to his feet. Then he bent to retrieve the tray. Sebo stopped him.

    "I should do it."

    He stepped back while she picked it up and went to the recess in the stone wall. But she stopped, and narrowed her eyes at him.

    "Please, Qui-Gon, Turn around."

    He tilted his head at her, a bit surprised by the futileness of her request.

    "Please," she repeated.

    Sighing, he turned around, obliging her ritual. He heard the stone close up on Yarr’s artifacts. She rejoined him in the center of the floor.

    "I regret that you are so offended by me and our History. Why do you hate them so much?"

    "I do not hate them," he snapped back without thinking. And then immediately he regretted the obvious contradiction between his words and tone. Anger and hate were the tools of the Dark Side. "At least, I strive not to.

    "But the peaceful life you lead in your tower is a complete contradiction to everything that the Sith were. I cannot believe that you comprehend anything of their true nature. So, I find this pretense that you maintain here to be . . ." he paused, searching for a kinder word, but none came to him, " . . . pathetic."

    She half smiled, pretensiously wise. "You don't know everything."

    She went toward the door. Raising his arm, he waved his hand, the Force easily pushing the immese door aside. Sebo whirled around to glare back at him.

    "Sebo!"

    Custodian Tykon rushed forward. And then stopped at the threshold as if there was a force field. She fell to her knees, rushing through an entry prayer at barely intelligible speed. Stunningly spry for a woman of her great bulk, she leapt up again, her huge bosom bouncing.

    "Sebo!"

    Her fellow Venerate smiled, just as amused by Custodian Tykon’s performance as Qui-Gon was.

    "Are you, are you well? Did, did - - " her voice firmed up, going low and ominous remarkably quickly as she glared at Qui-Gon "did anything happen?"

    "No," she answered, the picture of innocence. "At least . . . . nothing that did not need to happen."

    Eyes flicking around the room, Tykon looked unsatisfied. "Then we will leave."

    The two women took positions at the open door, Tykon’s face stern while Sebo grinned. Qui-Gon cooperated better with this part of the ritual. He fell to his knees and accepted their permission to leave. Once the doors to the Hall of Mysteries were closed, Qui-Gon preceded them up the long stairs, the two women following.

    "I was told," Custodian Tykon began, "that there was some kind of disturbance."

    "There was a bit," Sebo confessed. "Qui-Gon needed to discuss some Jedi mysteries that could not be spoken anywhere else. And that cannot be shared."

    "Well, I suppose that would be proper," Tykon grumbled, trudging up the stairs, She raised her voice. "And I suppose that it is proper for Jedi to leap off of their Temple on Coruscant as well."

    Built up over thousands of years by many, many generations of Jedi, the Temple was a mammoth structure that dwarfted the Naardin Castle, but still, jumping from its parapits or towers was not an unusual occurance though it was generally frowned upon.

    "Yes," Qui-Gon agreed with a grin that the women behind him could not see, "And it is quite exhilarating."



    = = = End Part 17
  2. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    A mysterious Sith holocron and Qui-Gon figuring things out?
  3. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Yeah, that holocron isn't doing what Sith holocrons usually do, which is nothing, which is a good thing for Sebo at least. Thanks for reading. :)
  4. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 18


    Obi-Wan sat with Yana and her friends in a foursome on the floor of Tamwa Hall. Other peformers and Play crew members sat together in their own groups where the Castle staff had told them to sit. Even the people working on the stage beyond the sound-muffling field wall were idle, sitting in small groups, waiting for something to happen.

    After Qui-Gon left him to wonder what his instructions meant, Yana, Timoz and Jutwa found him. The three dancers greeted him warmly, though they did not touch him. Obi-Wan wasn't sure if it was deference to his rank or fear that he still might be contagious. The quarantine did not seem to have changed the Castle routine much. Access was already restricted because of the Play preparations. But the auditions were still suspended until confirmation of no new sephrada cases, giving the performers some time off, though the stage crew continued their construction work.

    Very soon after Qui-Gon left, Yana pointed at the gallery overlooking the hall. When Obi-Wan looked, he saw Sebo, her pale yellow clothes distinctive from the performers, who all seemed to have been issued the same loose tan pants, light gray tunics and plain beige shoes. The performers were in awe of her, which initially surprised Obi-Wan. But Sebo lived the life of the exiled Lady of the Tower. She was rarely seen outside of it since she had taken her position decades ago. She was also the senior Venerate for the History Play, something that Yana and her friends would only talk about in hushed tones.

    Soon after Sebo followed Qui-Gon down the entry to a corridor, Castle staff in blue tunics and robes appeared; they shouted orders for everyone to not move, stand and sit wherever they were. Any violators were to be considered for expulsion from the Living History Lands. Everyone involved in the Play immediately did as they were told. Obi-Wan was not sure if the edict applied to him, but he followed their instructions anyway.

    What had his Master done?

    While they waited, Yana, Jutwa and Timoz speculated about the possible new parts for the Play.

    "Will there be new auditions for the new parts?" Obi-Wan asked.

    "Oh, no," Yana shook her head. "If there are any new parts they won't be major. The main characters are set."

    "And they won't be big parts, but they could be solos." Timoz grinned at the prospect of a new prize to win.

    "That'll depend on who's doing the changes," Jutwa added with a grimace. "I hope it's Tykon; I don't think Mwemas likes me for anything."

    "Of course it'll be Tykon. You've heard what they've been saying," Timoz finished in a near whisper. Both Yana and Jutwa winced back.

    "What have they been saying?" Obi-Wan finally asked, leaning toward them.

    "There've been a lot of replacements on the Creative Committee and that almost never happens," Yana confessed after glancing around them, as if she did not want the secret to escape from their little group. "Kiklum Gwos was the original writer and composer, but she didn't get along with Tykon. And then they brought in Lizm Was Tur after she left, but he didn't last either. Then they brought in Aka, Smetin and Mwemas because they've all worked with Tykon before."

    "And the Chancellor is supposed to have threatened to cancel the History Play if Tykon couldn't get along with them." Timoz leaned into their little comspiracy as well.

    "Even the Chancellor wouldn't have done that. Tykon would've been stuck here until Yarr's Mystery was revealed and that could've been years. It's fine if Gwos and Was Tur have to stick it out; they're not that popular. And they're not that good. But Tykon? He's too big."

    "Why would Tykon have to stay here if the Play were cancelled?"

    The three performers looked back at him. "Because if you've been told the Mystery, you're bound to the Living History Lands, like the Venerates. You can't leave until it's revealed, no matter how long it takes," Yana explained.

    Timoz pointed upward, in the general direction of the Mountain part of the Castle. "Gwos and Was Tur are supposed to be staying in a cottage around here and they haven't been seen since they resigned."

    Jutwa nodded. "They'll be at the Play for sure."

    Obi-Wan was quite certain that this little detail had not been in his mission briefing. Had they told Qui-Gon the Mystery? If the Play was cancelled by the quarantine, would they be obliged to stay? He doubted the Jedi Council would agree to that. Was that why Qui-Gon had so suddenly jumped out of the tower? He looked up to where Qui-Gon and Sebo had gone.

    "I hope they don't cancel the Play," he said seriously.

    "They won't," Yana said with confidence. "Tykon's too important. He's Tykon. There would be 'Free Ebsi Tykon' protests all over the Living History Lands if they tried. He's supposed to be working on a holo-series right after this."

    "Even Tykon isn't bigger than History," Timoz muttered. Yana gave her a cross glare, but she did not back down. "I'm not down-grading Tykon, but he hasn't directed or written any big projects in over five years, not since 'The Sealed Door'."

    "What about 'Green Leaves'?"

    "That one wasn't his; he was just in it! And, yeah, he stole the whole show, but it was only a small part and he was just acting like himself. He hasn't written a major work for a few years now." Timoz leaned forward. "And I heard from Gwoor that Twunar wasn't even sick after all."

    "What has that got to do with anything?" Yana demanded.

    "Because the quarantine gives Tykon and a few of the other Directors more time to work on their Plays. Tykon's supposed to have made a deal so Twunar could have an excuse for not being in the Play and the Healers went along with it because they want the quarantine, too."

    "He wouldn't do that!" Yana hissed.

    "Sssssshhhhhh!!"

    Both women turned their ire on Jutwa Eris for a second before they realized what he was looking at. One of the Castle Custodians frowned in their direction, instantly ending the rising tempers.

    "Aaah! Something’s happening!" He pointed..

    The line of pale blue tunics that blocked the doorway where Qui-Gon had gone broke up. A moment later Qui-Gon appeared, taller than the others, his pale tunics standing out from the blue ones that hastily moved out of his way. He strode down the gallery. A voice called out and the Jedi stopped, turned around, his long brown hair hanging down his broad back.

    Obi-Wan’s three companions gasped and pointed when they saw Sebo’s yellow tunic among the blues. Custodian Tykon’s large bulk joined Sebo and Qui-Gon while the other Castle staff left the gallery. A group came down the stairs to the Great Hall and spread out, speaking quietly to the others.

    Director Tykon, in tight yellow pants and green shirt, appeared from the archway leading to the rest of the Castle, spotted the people in the gallery and ran up the stairs, his assistant, Pecku right behind him. Soon after that, Sebo left with Tykon and Pecku. Qui-Gon turned to go and then stopped. He looked down at Tamwa Hall.

    "Obi-Wan."

    He leaped up, nodding a farwell to the others and sweeping his robe off the floor as he ran across the Hall and up the stairs. The Castle staff stepped aside for him as he passed. Down in the Hall, the same person who had gone about announcing that everyone should stop what they were doing and stand or sit in place was now calling out that everyone should resume their previous activities.

    Qui-Gon met him in the gallery. "The quarantine will end the day after tomorrow if there are no reports of new sickness. We will spend that time in the tower until we are needed again for the next audition." Qui-Gon did not wait for his answer and he fell in step behind as they headed upstairs.

    Obi-Wan said nothing as they went up the long spiral staircase. Qui-Gon’s long legs could climb up two steps as a time, so Obi-Wan had to quick-trot after him. He kept his eyes up at his Master’s back while he mentally went over what he would have to say.

    As soon as the lift hatch closed, Obi-Wan took a deep breath.

    And then let it out again as Qui-Gon headed for the fresher.

    Alone in the open central area of the apartment, he turned around in a circle, throwing his head back. He bounced on his feet, to dispel the queasy chill in his stomach. He had to ask. It was not just curiosity Qui-Gon’s instruction for him to notify the Temple if he did not return by sundown meant that he expected danger. Was it the holocron?

    At the moment, the only danger Obi-Wan could sense was the severe rebuke he would get from Qui-Gon for defying his instruction to not ask about the Sith holocron again. It was so clear and simple, when the senior Masters in the Temple instructed Padawans to question their own Masters if they felt they were wrong. But in real life, it was very difficult.

    The Master must learn from the Padawan, just as the Padawan learns from the Master.

    That sounded so easy in theory.

    The fresher door opened.

    "Master."

    Obi-Wan stood up straight, arms formally folded into the opposite sleeves of his robe. At first, Qui-Gon only glanced at him, but then he stopped and turned to face him.

    "Padawan."

    "You have returned before sundown. Will there be any need to contact the Jedi Temple in the future?" That seemed a safe enough inquiry to start with.

    "No. My concerns were unfounded." Qui-Gon looked only slightly annoyed and his tone was neutral.

    "Your warning implied a danger. Should I not know what that danger is? To be prepared for it?"

    There was a pause, Qui-Gon’s dark blue eyes lowering thoughtfully.

    "No." He walked around his surprised apprentice to go to the small table by the food prep area.

    "Master," Obi-Wan followed him. "If there is a danger, I should be told about it."

    Qui-Gon picked up his robe from the back of one of the chairs. "I have confirmed that there is no danger. There is nothing more to be said about it."

    "Is it Darth Yarr’s holocron?" he persisted.

    "Obi-Wan!"

    He startled, but he did not back down, matching Qui-Gon’s glare with his own. After a long silence it was the older man who broke the stand-off. Putting his robe back, he gestured to the other chair. Stiff-backed, Obi-Wan sat down with him.

    Qui-Gon stared off past his right ear for a moment before speaking in a much more subdued tone.

    "The Maarzim have more of Yarr’s artifacts than just the holocron. They will all be released to us after the performance of the History Play."

    "What else do they have?"

    Qui-Gon held up a hand as if to ward off the question. "I am not at liberty to discuss anything about Sith artifacts with you. You know that."

    Obi-Wan reluctantly nodded. Even the artifacts of the Sith, especially their holocrons, were Dark and corrupting, though Obi-Wan still wondered what that really meant. "Why were they concealed here for so long? Why did the Council not know about them?"

    "I cannot discuss that either, though the Maarzim’s motives will be revealed in the History Play." Qui-Gon leaned forward, elbows on the table. "The Maarzim version of the defeat of Darth Yarr differs significantly from what is in the Archives."

    "How? Was Yarr not defeated?"

    "I am bound by our hosts to not reveal anything about it, Obi-Wan. The Mystery will be revealed in the Play. Then it will up to the Council to decide on its validity." He looked almost defeated.

    "Is this Mystery true?"

    Shaking his head, Qui-Gon looked off past him again. "I do not know."

    They sat in silence; Obi-Wan looked out the window, past the larger sleeping area, to the forested mountains and wondered how the Jedi Archives could be wrong, especially about a Sith, or what the Jedi Council would think when they reported the difference. That reminded him about something Yana and her friends told him.

    "Master, the performers told me that anyone who is told a Mystery is forbidden to leave the Living History Lands, at least until it is revealed. I do not recall that in our mission briefing."

    "Nor do I. Though I suppose that could be a problem." Qui-Gon looked completely unconcerned.

    "Should we not tell the Maarzim that you cannot stay, even if the Play is canceled?"

    Now his Master openly smiled. "Why? Nothing like that has happened."

    "But - - "

    "Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon's raised a hand stopped him. "This is primarily a diplomatic mission, and one key part of diplomany is to never act on crises that have not occurred. We will be mindful of it, yes. But if the Play proceeds, then the issue never needs to come up." He sat back in his chair, arm resting on the table, and smiled. "Though we will have to report to the Jedi Council that they should be more careful about their agreements.


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


    Fog rolled in that night, obscuring the moons-lit mountain top, then the forests, finally settling in around the Castle. Hazy blobs of light glowed from below. Looking down from the tower garden, Qui-Gon Jinn watched the lights of the town and then the Castle slowly disappear into the dark, drifting puffs. The air chilled with the oncoming moisture that freshened the air. The fog muffled the usual background night creatures and noises of civilization, a generator hum, almost too low to be heard but still felt, the distant movement of vehicles, an occasional shout.

    He heard the lift activating, but he did not move, letting Obi-Wan welcome their guest.

    "Master?" Obi-Wan spoke from the door. "Sebo wishes to speak with you."

    He turned his head without really looking and nodded. Sebo joined him at the railing. Obi-Wan retreated back inside.

    "I hope you’re not going to jump again."

    Qui-Gon shrugged and smiled. "No. That might be . . . . excessive."

    "It was excessive the first time you did it. So, I do hope you don’t do it again."

    They stood together in silence of a time and the world below slowly disappeared under the rising fog bank.

    "Director Tykon desperately wants you to participate in the Play."

    Qui-Gon inhaled the crisp air through his nose. "Then he will have to learn to live with the disappointment."

    "He is used to getting his way."

    That was obvious to Qui-Gon. "Do you wish me to participate?"

    "Would that change your mind?"

    "No." He looked down at her, the light from inside shining on one side of her face. "Why was it necessary to reveal the Mystery to me? I have ceded my vote on the Committee to you. You did not need my permission to make the changes in the Play."

    "Tykon thought you would agree to do it, if you knew the true History. And it's tradition. You are an honored Venerate for this Play, so you must be on the Committee. If you are on the Committee then you must attend. What would be the point otherwise? And aside from the additions to the Play, Director Tykon wishes to use the relics when the Mystery is revealed."

    "How?"

    "The lightsaber, the mask, the gauntlets; he wants me wearing them in the shadow dance when Nirid renounces herself as Yarr."

    Frowning, he turned to her. "A lightsaber is not a weapon to be used by anyone other than a Jedi."

    Sebo was unfazed by his disapproval. "I have handled it for decades. The Venerates of this Castle have for millennia." Her smile turned mischievious. "I have never had any mishaps. Like damaging a floor, for example."

    Qui-Gon’s frown sank into a glower.

    "But I have been wondering," she tilted her head up at him, "Yarr’s lightsaber never holds a charge for very long. I always have to have a spare power pack for it. The solemnity of any ritual is always spoiled when Yarr’s lightsaber sputters out. But I have never, ever heard about Jedi needing to recharge their lightsabers. Never. I have even researched it. I’ve found nothing. Blasters and other weapons need to be recharged, or reloaded. But never lightsabers. Not even in stories. When do you do it?"

    Qui-Gon returned her smile. Hanging on his belt, his own lightsaber had the same power-pack that he had put in when he first built it. When he activated it, he wielded it as not just a weapon, but as a part of himself, the Force flowing through him, guiding him, giving him and the blade an inexhaustible source of energy from all the life around him and beyond.

    "We don’t."


    = = = End Part 18
  5. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Nice update. What will Tykon do?
  6. obimom Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2010
    star 4
    Just found this...very interesting start. I look forward to reading more.

    I so understand both youthful energy pent up and older fatigue...and of course Qui-Gon's relief that realizing his fatigue is not due to getting old but because of illness...;)
  7. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    earlybird-obi-wan: Tykon will continue to be unhappy about not getting his way with Qui-Gon. And Qui-Gon will just do what he must. ;)

    obimom: Glad you found the story. Yeah, I can sympathize with Qui-Gon, too, [face_relieved]

    Well, I have been all the way through the first draft again and there are definitely 34 parts, and I really want to have it all posted by the end of the month, so there might be a few times when I post every day, but mostly it will be every 2 days. Thanks all for reading.
  8. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 19


    "The Maarzim have more of Yarr’s artifacts than just the holocron. They will all be released to us after the performance of the History Play."

    Qui-Gon’s voice echoed in the darkness behind Obi-Wan’s eyelids. He listened for more, but did not reach for it. If the Force had something to reveal to him, then it would. Or not. It was not for him to decide. The voice returned.

    "The Maarzim have more of Yarr’s artifacts than just the holocron. They will all be released to us after the performance of the History Play."

    The words floated in darkness, colorless and separate from reality.

    "The Maarzim have more of Yarr’s artifacts than just the holocron."

    He saw shapes, pale auras of Yarr’s mask, long ropes, gloves, a black cape, a cube. Everything was cold and dusted with frost in pale blue light.

    "The Maarzim have more of Yarr’s artifacts than just the holocron."

    The light changed to warm yellow and the frost faded, but it brought no life to the Sith remains. They were old and worn and . . . . passionless.

    " . . .more of Yarr’s artifacts than just the holocron."

    Shadows whisked by, hands grabbing the artifacts as they went, people laughing as they ran by the bin of Falgan’s Play props.

    " . . . the holocron."

    " . . . the holocron."

    " . . . the holocron."

    "Huh!"

    Obi-Wan’s eyes flew open. He sat cross-legged on the padded bench at the end of his sleeping platform. It was morning, the windows bright white with fog that had not burned off yet.

    From the food prep area, Qui-Gon looked back at him, a spilled cup of water at his Master’s feet.

    "My apologies. I did not mean to disturb you."

    Obi-Wan got up. When he first woke up, the darkness beyond the windows was just beginning to turn gray. Even Qui-Gon had not awoken for his morning meditation.

    "No, I was finished anyway." In bare feet, he went to the fresher while Qui-Gon slid open cabinets, looking for something to clean up the mess with.

    At first he did nothing, just standing in place, his mind frozen on what he had seen in the Force. Then he moved through his usual morning routines, taking his time, relieveing himself, washing up, re-tying his Padawan’s lock on the back of his head, re-tying the end of his braid and checking himself in the mirror. Some of the images were bound to be the meaningless clutter that could turn up, but Qui-Gon had taught him that what he felt was most important. And he was now sure of something that Qui-Gon was barred from speaking to him about. And about which he was barred from asking.

    Darth Yarr’s holocron was not destroyed. It was whole and Qui-Gon had seen it.


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


    "There is a way. Into the Castle." The words echoing from the performer’s audition area of Tamwa Hall were followed by a long pause.

    Qui-Gon lunged, sweeping the air before him with his lightsaber. Obi-Wan nimbly lept back. Five hovering holo-recorders cirecled them. Pecku and Falgan paced at a safe distance with hand-held controllers. On one side of Tamwa Hall a recognizable stage had emerged from days of construction. The builders had worked through the three full days of the quarantine. On the other side of the Hall the audition voices continued.

    "Will you take us? Please, Nirid." A second person answered the first.

    "What will you do? Kill our Lord?"

    Qui-Gon jumped back, lightsaber blade horizontal in an upward defense against Obi-Wan’s downward slash, an arm’s length out of reach. On the other side of the Hall the Nirid auditions continued.

    "The Sith are evil. How many people has Yarr had put to death?"

    That morning, the quarantine had been officially declared over; no new cases of the sephrada virus had been diagnosed. The Healers had successfully pre-empted their predicted epidemic. Healer Mwassil had happily delivered the news to them that morning. They met her and Healer Zhenum at the foot of the tower stairs as they came down after their morning meal. The stouter male healer cast his eyes upward with a thankful sigh that he would not be climbing up to them.

    The auditions and preparations for the celebrations in all the Living History Lands were free to continue. When they arrived in the Hall, Pecku met them. The Nirid audition did not have any scenes with lightsabers, but he needed recordings for the new shadown dances. Except for one poisonous glare from Director Tykon, he ignored them as he and a couple of assistants lined the performers up into groups of three and had them read the same scene over and over.

    It was obviously something from the beginning of the Play. Keth and Minigan were trying to convince Nirid to help them into the Castle. There was no hint in the dialogue about the Mystery, that Nirid was actually Darth Yarr.

    Around them, Tamwa Hall was being transformed into a huge theater. The force field that muffled the noisy stage construction had been taken down. The stage at one end appeared to be finished, with a huge black platform, tilted with the back end noticeably higher than the front. Large black flats with projection walls hung behind it. An area in front of the stage had been fenced off and Qui-Gon spotted Roobi Mwemas and Thwurn Aka there with builders and technicians. Along the sides of the Hall, towers were in various stages of constructions. Daylight still shone down in through the windows, but huge black vertical panels now hung next to them, ready to seal the room from the outside light.

    Wearing gray skirt and tunic with a matching gray band holding back his longish hair, Pecku politely asked them to circle each other as they attacked back and forth. They lunged and evaded, their sabers stopping as if their slashes and blocks made contact though their blades never came within an arm’s length of each other. Pecku had explained that this was the nature of the shadow dances; they would be stylized lightsaber fights, mirroring the action on stage.

    Falgan arrived; Pecku raised his hand and the two Jedi stopped in mid-attack/defend, extinguished their sabers and stepped back. The two men conferred as the floating holo-recorders darted back into a holding pattern above.

    Falgan went to his props table and brought back two light sticks. Pecku took them and held them up.

    "Could you try it with these? So we can compare? Just do the same things that you’ve already been doing."

    Qui-Gon clipped his lightsaber to his belt and took the offered prop. His Padawan did the same.

    Touching the activation button on the silver and black tube, Qui-Gon grimaced at the fake blue lightsaber blade that snapped out. He would have felt better about sparring with a tree branch. Either one would have been just as inert a weapon in his hand, but the mock lightsaber felt especially wrong since it pretended to be something that it wasn’t. He gave it a few experimental twirls and swipes.

    "The handle should have more weight, to counter-balance the blade," he commented critically.

    "Ahhh!" Falgan tapped his own notes down on a hand-held terminal. "Good point. That will make the movement much more natural."

    Obi-Wan touched the activation button on the prop in his hand. A glowing, bright red blade shot out. His eyes went wide, crimson reflected in them and he grasped the hilt with both hands.

    "Obi-Wan."

    Smiling at his apprentice’s reaction, Qui-Gon advised him, "It is only a Play prop, my young Padawan. Do your best," he instructed, swiping the air with his own lightstick.

    "Yes, Master." He responded with an up and down salute with the fake blade.

    Pecku had them repeat all of the same things they had done; he even played some of the recordings he had made of them using their own lightsabers on a hand-held viewer. Falgan made notes and occasionally commented on adjustments he needed to make to his lightsticks.

    "Interesting," Pecku told them during a break. "You don’t move the same way with these as you do with your own lightsabers."

    "Of course not," Qui-Gon confirmed, "these are not lightsabers."

    Pecku looked unimpressed with the difference. "Well, I think we can adjust the choreography to compensate."

    They all turned to see a tall older man in dark blue tunics, trimmed in silver, that went down to the tops of his blue shoes, approach.

    "Venerate Master Qui-Gon Jinn. Venerate Lady of the Tower wishes to speak with you. Privately." The man flicked a respectful glance toward Obi-Wan while keeping his head pointed forward.

    "Of course. Obi-Wan, please continue to assist Pecku while I am gone."

    He left, following the man up the stairs, past the gallery through a corridor under the tower. They headed toward the Castle archives, history laboratories, preservation studios and administrative offices. They passed through an open courtyard of covered tables surrounded by a tall forest of bushes. Qui-Gon’s guide led him back inside, down a corridor, a line of high, colored windows on one side, bare wall on the other. The man touched a wall control, opening a door for Qui-Gon, and then followed him in.

    Qui-Gon heard the door lock softly click as they descended a dimly lit stairwell. He stopped at a landing, waiting for his guide to lead him either through a door on that level or further down the stairs. He did neither, standing at attention before the Jedi.

    "Venerate Master Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn. I have been instructed to only lead you here. The Venerate Sebo told me that you would be able to open the doors on your own." Then stepping carefully, he turned his back.

    Eyebrows raised, Qui-Gon looked about. It was a plain corridor going all the way around the stairs, the walls roughly textured graying-blue with a pattern in black and dark green at the base, matching the railing and steps. There was a skylight high abover and a slight updraft of dusty air. He turned around; behind him was a corner. He closed his eyes, raised his hand. A slight pressure of the Force touched his palm and he drew it across the air at shoulder level. He heard a door softly sliding open. Opening his eyes, he turned his head, but the man in dark blue had not moved.

    He crossed into the dark space beyond. Raising one hand, he gestured behind him and a tug of the Force on his fingertips pulled the door closed again. He waited a moment, letting his eyes adjust to the gloom. He stood at the end of a corridor built of rough stone blocks with no doors or visible openings. He went to the other end where the corridor turned; light shone in from somewhere. Following the corridor back the same direction he had come, he went toward the other end of that corridor where there was another hall going back again. He wound around three more corridors and turns before he finally came to a black door, a light in the ceiling overhead. There was another identical, illuminated door on the wall at the far end of the hall, a blank dead end next to it.

    Looking from one to the other, he walked slowly down this last corridor. He suddenly stopped in the middle and turned his head toward the blank wall. He raised a hand and pulled it across the air. A section of wall, the real door, slid aside. He walked through the portal and with another gesture closed it.

    This new room had a short, long entryway leading into a large area with a high ceiling. Long artificial lights, the colors of Maarzim’s sun and moons hung down from the ceiling. Other lights shone down on human and humanoid statues in alcoves along the walls. All were physically muscular, smooth and youthful, their scantily clothed bodies posed to reveal various attractive curves and bulges, some of them very obviously sexually aroused. There were stone columns decorated in swirling carvings in the corners.

    Turning all the way around, Qui-Gon puzzled at the familiarity of the room, the dark, patterned tapestries, the low tables, chairs and padded lounges along the pale beige walls. At one end of the room, steps leading up to it, was an immense, heavy wooden table with padded benches on either side. It looked like a stage commanding the whole room.

    Qui-Gon smiled. This room was very similar to the projected scenery for the stage taking shape on the far end of Tamwa Hall.

    "Welcome Jedi."

    He turned around. He faced Darth Yarr.

    He recognized Sebo in the same black and red costume that Director Tykon’s performers had auditioned in. She did not have a youthful dancer’s physique, being a bit heavy in the hips and upper arms, but the outfit fit her well. The mask concealed her eyes. She strolled toward him. He supposed that her movements were meant to be seductive, but she was clearly out of practice. When she was within arm’s length, he quickly snatched off her mask.

    "Oooh!" She clapped her hand to her head where some of her hair had been pulled out.

    "If you were a real Sith Lord, I would be obligated to kill you immediately."

    Her cheeks flushing, she pulled back. Her graying brown hair was tied back, flat on her head, held in place with a red band. Qui-Gon took the mask in both hands, the eyeless black-and-white face staring up at him. "Is this room also preserved from Yarr’s time?"

    "Yes." She nodded. "This is where Yarr held court and where Nirid renounced her power. Jedi Keth died on this very floor . . . though the furnishings have been restored many times." She sighed as if she was disappointed in them for not being able to last eight thousand years without help. "It was sealed up when Nirid was exiled to the tower.

    "And this is where I have been staying while you occupy it," she admitted.

    He looked about. There were some visible metal doors, presumably leading to other rooms. "It is . . . unique. Why did you wish me to see it?"

    "You know the Mystery. There was no reason for you not to know. And after the Play, I will no longer preside here, either. Ever again." Her brown eyes stared up at him; there were green highlight in them. "I do not just serve as the Lady of the Tower. I was initiated as Venerate here, to be the living embodiment of Nirid. Ard Darth Yarr."

    Her hands grasped her black collar and ripped apart her tunic and armor. Underneath her bare skin was pale and stomach a little paunchy, her breasts were large and round, sagging only a little. She wore mostly metallic circles and thin straps that approximated minimal clothing. The pants came off next and she stepped toward him, locking her eyes on his.

    "Darth Yarr’s power was a power of passion." Her voice lowered to a husky whisper as she came closer, her eyes alight with religious fervor. "And you were aroused when I revealed Yarr’s lightsaber in the Hall of Mysteries."

    Qui-Gon drew in a breath, suddenly uncomfortable with her closeness. Frowning he did not answer. She continued.

    "I didn’t notice. I suppose I’ve spent too much time in the tower." She quirked a smile. "But Director Tykon saw it. Of course, he did. Roobi Mwemas and Quembu Smetin confirmed it ater." Her eyes ducked down below his waist. "You said you did not see Nirid." She advanced and he backed up. "What did you see?"

    Exposed, he did not have an answer. At least, not one he would speak out loud to someone who was so sadly devoted to an idealized memory of the Sith that she felt compelled to dress up as one. He turned his back to her, his body suddenly warm from within. But it was not just disgust, it was also the Force, a nova rising in the closed room of ancient stone; it sucked all the oxygen out with its stifling heat. His shadow suddenly grew huge, stretched out over the table and chairs above him; Outlined in blazing red and orange, the black shape swelled up the wall.

    His lightsaber flew off his belt into his hand and activated. Whirling around, he thrust his free hand out to push back at the massive, pulsing fireball hurtling at him.

    The fire suddenly snuffed out with a whoosh.

    A blinding light remained behind a lone figure on its knees before him. The silence hit him like a blow, leaving white noise in his ears, the room going cold, like vacuum in space. He felt the Force leaving him like air rushing ouf of his lungs. His saber went out, the hilt falling from his numb fingers and clattering away on the floor. He wanted to reach for the power, for life again, but it hurt too much. Tears streamed from his eyes. He was stripped bare of his past, the Force and life itself. He was clean.

    Ice crystals forned on the clouds of his breath in the bluish-white light. He sucked in freezing air and it barely gave him sustainence. But it was enough. And it was more than he deserved.

    He fell to his knees and the figure kneeling before him reached out a hand, touching the tears frozen on his face.

    The air suddenly rushed back, the bright light vanishing into room lighting that now looked as dim as twilight. Ordinary warmth returned. Every table, bench, chair in the room, vase was overturned. Some of the statues were toppled from their alcolves. Sebo stroked his wet cheek with the tip of one finger, her brown eyes wide.

    "What did you see?"



    = = = End Part 19
  9. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Trouble in that room Qui-Gon.

    Intriguing update
  10. obimom Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2010
    star 4
    Just read part 2 - don't know who was more uncomfortable, Qui-Gon or Obi-Wan ;)

    And now a big red needle for Obi-Wan - oh joy!! :D
  11. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    earlybird-obi-wan: Oh, there's nothing but trouble when it comes to Sith, but maybe not the trouble Qui-Gon expects.

    obimom: Yeah, we just love to torture the characters in our stories. [face_devil] I'm posting another part, but just save the link for the story -- no hurry on finishing.

    Thanks for reading!
  12. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 20


    Qui-Gon gaped back at her. He could remember every detail with a clarity beyond the capacity of memory. But he did not know what it meant, the sudden vision. He looked about the room. Dark or Light, places could retain the essence of the Force, an imprint of life that could last much longer than the time since Darth Yarr’s fall. And people who used the Force could perceive than imprint.

    With a clear mind, a Jedi could devine the source of that life energy and its true nature. But Qui-Gon had meditated on it in the apartment above for days and felt nothing. It was strange; he had been expecting some lingering traces of Yarr’s ancient presence and defeat, but there was nothing, as if it had never happened. Ir was possible that he was not strong enough in the Force to sense the imprint of the fall of that long ago darkness, but he had been on missions before he had taken Obi-Wan as his apprentice to much older Sith lairs and had no trouble meditiating on and seeing the aural traces of their distant events and people.

    Darkness in the Force could cloud a Jedi’s senses and judgement, but the murk of evil could be sensed even if what it concealed could not be, if the Dark Side was present at all. It was the difference between a fog that concealed a threat and a clear day in a place where there was nothing to see.

    Qui-Gon ignored Sebo’s question, sat back, his legs folded under him and closed his eyes.

    Sebo did not ask again. Eventually, she got up and walked away. There was the sound of movement by the walls and he shut the noise out, his focus turned inward. He let all thoughts drop away, even the purpose of his deep meditation, so that his sense of time itself left him. The Force, neither Dark not Light stretched out as a clean, unbroken plane, under and around him, blindingly blue-white and untroubled by the opaque patches of life in the world flowing through it. It was bliss and he felt himself as one of those countless entities, endlessly forming, growing thick and complex before dispersing into new beings. Except . . . .

    . . . . Jedi only truly joined the Force at death. Until then, they lived in the material world and Qui-Gon’s body weighed him down back with its needs. He inhaled and the Force flowed through his body and limbs and in that instant the weight of a whole planet would be nothing to him. But he did not need to lift planets.

    He exhaled, letting his perception of it go, releasing the conscious connection. Feeling his own weight on his legs, folder under him on the hard stone floor, he opened his eyes and then climbed to his feet.

    Sebo was gone. The room was not the same. The chairs, benches and tables were lined up along the walls, some of them broken. Some statues lay on the floor, loose pieces swept up next to them. There was a few severed heads, broken hands, fingers and male phalluses. Behind him, the large table on the elevated end of the room was broken in two, the chairs around it damaged, but put back upright.

    A side door opened and Sebo emerged wearing her usual pale yellow tunic and shawl. She walked over to him while he walked about, surveying the wreckage. Spotting his lightsaber he raised a hand . . .

    . . . . and then lowered it. Calling it to him with the Force seemed unnecessary. He knelt to pick it up, put it on his belt. Sebo faced him when he rose again.

    "The Jedi are legendary for their meditations. Now I know why."

    He straightened his robe and folded his hands before him. "I am sorry to have inconvenienced you."

    She smiled as if he had made a joke. "Inconvenience? I do not know what to call what happened here, but that is not it." She huffed to herself, looking about at the disarray in the room. "Can you answer my question now?"

    "Your question?"

    "What did you see?" Her tone turned intense.

    "I saw . . . the Dark Side. And then . . . it vanished."

    "The Dark Side. What does the Dark Side look like?"

    "It is desire, fire and passion beyond all reason and disregard for anything else but that. It is fear and hatred of any other life that may challenge or compete with those things. And it is the complete and unrestrained pleasure in the creation, the torment and the destruction of enemies."

    Sebo’s eyes went wide with wonder. "I see."

    "No, you do not." Qui-Gon sharp retort made her jump and she backed up. "This," stalked in a circle around her, waving an arm at the room, "Is a memorial to evil. The Sith are not to be venerated. They were and the Dark Side is evil." He bent close to her ear and she jerked away. "The Jedi Council would have come to claim Yarr’s artifacts a long time ago had they known that you not only kept them but also maintained this shrine to her." He paced around behind Sebo. "Are you aware of the history of any other Sith, other than this romantic fantasy that you live in? The worlds they destroyed? The levels of degradations inflicted on their victims?"

    He came around to her front. She might have looked less pathetic to him if he sensed any darkness, but he did not.

    "No," she admitted. "My allegiance is to this world alone. But you just told me that you saw the Dark Side vanish." She smiled again and he saw the religious gleam in her eyes that she had shown him in her Darth Yarr costume. "Or banished. By Nirid when she renounced the Force for her love."

    Qui-Gon stared down at her. The Dark Side banished? . . . . that was exactly what he had felt. But once the Dark took hold, it never let go of those it corrupted. The path to the Dark Side went beyond any vice and any addiction. Those who embraced the Sith were consumed by it.

    "That is not possible," he answered, but he could not keep the doubt out of his voice.


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


    "May we sit here?"

    Obi-Wan automatically slid aside to make room, though there was plenty. Noboday sat next to him on the bench. Across the table from him, the expressions of Yana, Jutwa and Timoz turned frosty over their midday meal plates. The newcomer was a male, similer to Timoz but slimmer with longer blond hair. Another performer, a woman took a seat on the bench next to him.

    "Hello! I’m Adie Tykon-Tuzi." She had a broad smile, blue eyes, brown skin like Yana and pale blond hair, straight, hanging a little past her shoulders. "This is Lasru Trimwi." She touched her friend’s shoulder.

    "Hello." Obi-Wan nodded to them before glancing over his shoulder, looking for Qui-Gon. It was already past midday and he was beginning to wonder if his Master’s warning from the day before still applied. If he could not locate Qui-Gon by the end of the day should he contact the Jedi Temple? Obi-Wan had already decided that he would, but he sincerely wished to know what to tell them. He only saw the workers in tan and gray tunics, guiding lifters of equipment, setting up towers of lights and fixtures he did not recognize. No Qui-Gon. Yana, Timoz and Jutwa averted their eyes when he turned back.

    All of the performers wore the Nirid costume, a long tunic over a lighter-colored, floor-length under tunic in coarsely-woven pale brown colors, like sand, belted at the waist with a dark brown strap and plain sandals of similar material. The tunic hems and sleeves were decorated with a dark blue and white square pattern. The Keth and the Darth Yarr costumes had been more fitted to the body; it had tended to make them all look the same. But the drab, shapeless Nirid costume seemed to bring out all their differences, particularly for the men with broad-shoulders like Jutwa or the women with prominent chests, like Yana.

    "Have you ever participated in a Play like this?" Adie asked.

    Obi-Wan shook his head. "No, but my Master has. A holo-drama on Coruscant, years before I became his apprentice."

    All of the performers perked up at this news. Obi-Wan put his eating utensil down. Yana leaned forward over the remains on her plate, her brown eyes wide. "Really? Which one?"

    "Um," Obi-Wan’s brow furrowed, trying to recall the name of the holo-drama that Qui-Gon first mentioned when they were traveling to Maarzim, "Um . . . uh, it was called ‘Skyways’. But I haven’t seen it." His Master hadn’t seen it either. Yana gasped. Timoz and Jutwa joined her with Adie and Larsu adding their own expressions of recognition and amazement.

    "'Skyways'?" Yana breathed.

    "That’s one of the holos about Jedi that we studied for our pre-auditions," Adie joined her. "Roetee Zhazem was brilliant in it."

    "Did he work with Roetee Zhazem?" Timoz asked in awe.

    "Is he in the holo?" Not waiting for an answer, Jutwa looked to his friends. "There were other Jedi in the scene when the hover-platform crashed."

    "And at the dinner with the flatulent Gremstor," Larsu added.

    "Master Brak’cha was one of Zhazem’s last great roles. She practically ran away with the whole story," Adie continued. "She just broke your heart at the end and she did all the action scenes herself." Adie and Larsu looked toward Obi-Wan on the bench next to them.

    "I haven’t seen it," he repeated.

    "You could watch it with us," Yana suggested quickly as if she was trying to beat the others to it. "All our living areas have holo-projectors, so we can study when we’re not practicing or auditioning."

    "I think there is a holo-projector up in the tower." Aside from the conveniences in the food prep area, Sebo had also shown him the cabinets containing the coms, the public holo-net receiver as well as a large holo-projector system.

    A gasp from Adie caught his attention and he turned his head to where she was looking. Qui-Gon descended the stairway down from the gallery and strode across the large hall toward them. But he was intercepted by Pecku and Eris Mwat and a large round man with a tan tunic draped over his bulging belly. They conferred and then Qui-Gon looked over the heads of the other two. He raised a hand.

    "I have to go." He was up and out of his seat before they could say anything, but he caught a fleeting glance of their nods and wary stares at his Master. He ran over to them.

    "Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon gestured to the two others. "Please assist Pecku and Mwat in their preparations. I will be in the tower, meditating."

    "Yes, Master," he answered automatically.

    "My Padawan will assist you in whatever you need." Qui-Gon nodded and left, quickly crossing the floor and sweeping back up the wide staircase, leaving four astonished people behind. Pecku shrugged and turned to Obi-Wan.

    "Well, we don’t really need both of you for this. We’ve completed most of the physical structure for the stage and we’re working on the viewing platforms."

    "The viewing platforms?" Obi-Wan asked.

    "Where you’ll sit. Along with the new Chancellor, her staff and guests, the Castle Venerates and staff." Pecku explained. "This is Gunlan Thwurn," he extended a hand to the large man, who had pale, pink cheeks and thinning gray hair. "He is in charge of all stage structures and can explain the arrangements."

    Thwurn pulled out a holo-projector and held it up in one large, meaty hand, a bluish miniature of the completed construction appeared as he started out a narration of the arrangements in a thick, low voice. Out of the corner of his eye, Obi-Wan glimpsed Qui-Gon disappearing from the gallery on his way up to the tower apartment.


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


    Obi-Wan returned to the apartment just before sundown, intruding on Qui-Gon's meditation. The sky was partially overcast, but clear on the horizon and the golden light from Maarzim’s primary star shone on all the pale wooden surfaces casting a warm yellow hue to even out the room’s shadows. A fresh breeze rustled among the plants outside. The air in the main castle was dull and artificial compared to the nature-scented atmosphere in the apartment high above it.

    Qui-Gon had gained no new insights from long still hours with the Force; he sat on the padded bench in his sleeping area. His Padawan approached carefully.

    Opening his eyes, Qui-Gon unfolded his legs and slid off the bench.

    "Did the auditions go well?"

    "Yes, Master. At least the performers are enthusiastic about the new parts because of the changes in the Play. And they have begun construction of the viewing platforms where we will be seated."

    "Indeed." Qui-Gon nodded and went to the food prep area as they spoke. Sebo had come up to pick the day’s produce before she called him before their meeting. There was less than the day before, the garden designed to support only one person, but there was plenty of food to choose from in the cabinets and cold storage unit. Qui-Gon picked out a short stack of grain flats and looked in some drawers for the utensils. "Did you approve of the arrangements?"

    Obi-Wan looked a little uncertain as he opened the drawer with the utensils in it. "Yes. I saw no reason not to. We will be seated separately and presented to the audience during the preamble for the Play. We and all the officials will be in view of whole audience during the performance, except during the intermission half way through. The audience will be served refreshment in other parts of the Castle and in the outside gardens. We will have separate refreshments in a separate room with the Castle Venerates. There will be floater platforms to take us there from the viewing towers."

    Qui-Gon opened the cool storage unit and picked out a container of sauce. Cracking the lid, he deemed the savory aroma acceptable and put it in the heating unit. "I presume that we will ascend to the towers by floater as well?"

    "Yes, Master." He picked out some fruits and vegetable from the basket on the counter and after a nod from Qui-Gon began cutting them up onto a serving platter.

    Picking a couple of long vegetables, Qui-Gon began slicing them, leaving a purple oily residue on the cutting surface and his hands. They had a sour, spicy smell. He scooped them all into a heating bowl and replaced the now-hot sauce with it in the heating unit. Going to the water dispenser and tub, he ran it over his hands, rubbing a slab of a solid cleaser on them. The apartment did not have any modern sanitizers. Obi-Wan finished with the serving tray and he took it to the table with plate of grain flats. He remained thoughtfully silent as he retrieved cups of water for both of them and Qui-Gon brought the heated food and the plates and utensils for their meal.

    "Master," Obi-Wan paused as Qui-Gon took a couple of grain flats. "Was your meeting with Sebo productive?"

    "No. It only added more information that I cannot explain." Qui-Gon ignored his apprentice’s questioning eyes. Obi-Wan knew he could not ask for more and he did not, at least not about what Sebo had told him.

    "If you are in any meetings like that and I cannot locate you for too long, should I still contact the Jedi Temple?"

    Qui-Gon looked at his apprentice critically. This question seemed to be more aimed at fishing for information that was forbidden to him than a true inquiry. His eating utensil tapped against his plate. Obi-Wan lowered his eyes and Qui-Gon sighed, relenting. Jedi Padawans were instructed to not speculate unnecessarily, but that was not a realistic edict when there were too many unknowns.

    "I do not forsee any dangers. However, that would be a wise precaution to take." He served himself some vegetables and sauce. "With the delay from the quarantine, we will be here for several more days. Tomorrow will be the Minigan auditions. Then the final auditions on the next day. Then the day when the performers will be assigned their parts in the Play. After that will be three days of rehersals when we will not be needed."

    "Uh, we will be required to participate in a rehersal of the introduction of the Play on the last day," Obi-Wan broke in around a mouth full of food.

    Qui-Gon nodded and picked up his water. "Then we will be there. The next day will be the presentation of the Play. We will be leaving on a transport after presenting ourselves at the celebration. We will have Darth Yarr’s artifacts in a sealed container."

    "Will I . . ." Obi-Wan started cautiously. "Learn more about Darth Yarr when we are back at the Temple?"

    Qui-Gon now smiled at this almost shy inquiry. Back at the Temple there would be more Masters and the Jedi Council to admonish him much more severely for asking about Sith.

    "I believe you will learn as much as you need to from the History Play."


    = = = End Part 20
  13. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    So, Obi-Wan just has to be patient like us
  14. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Yep, patience is definitely in Qui-Gon's training plan for Obi-Wan. Thanks for reading!
  15. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 21

    Qui-Gon put his lightstick in the bin with an expression of distaste as sour as when he first sparred with it. Obi-Wan sympathized. Jedi trained to fight with all kinds of inanimate weapons, not just lightsabers. So, looked at that way, the saber props were not that different from Biranz fighting sticks or short staffs. But none of those 'pretended' to be lightsabers.

    Obi-Wan’s stick clattered in with the others. The blades were supposed to be retractable, but they sometimes got stuck in the extended position. Falgan’s assistants were looking into the problem.

    They had been working with the performers all morning. The Minigan audition would be after a rest and light exercise period after the midday meal. The Minigan costume had a dark gray tunic with dark gray belt and boots with pale pink obi, pants and tabbards, plus a pink and gray striped headband.

    They joined the line of people waiting for food. The performer Qui-Gon stood behind glanced backward, his eyes going wide before he turned around again. Obi-Wan caught a glimpse of a smile on his Master’s face. They got their food and went to the end of a long table. People at the other end looked up at Qui-Gon and then back down at their plates.

    Obi-Wan looked about the crowded room and saw Yana and her friends sitting at another table. He kept looking until she noticed. For one second their eyes locked before she hastily looked down. Timoz peered over her shoulder, recognized him and hastily looked away again. Jutwa did not even turn around. At the other end of the table they sat at, the people there got up and moved to another overcrowded one. During morning practice, Yana and all the others had concentrated only their dancing, singing and recitation of lines. Yana had even avoided eye contact. Obi-Wan had assumed that it was because Director Tykon was yelling at everyone, especially Qui-Gon, who just ignored it. But now it looked like there might be some other cause.

    "Master? I think we are being avoided."

    Qui-Gon glanced about. "It would appear so." He took a sip of water. "Are you concerned about it?"

    He was. He liked Yana and the other performers; they had explained a lot of things about the Play for him and he would rather share a meal with friends than not. "If we have given some offense, we should be aware of what it is."

    "Does anyone look offended?" Qui-Gon took a bit of a crispy grain flat.

    Obi-Wan glanced about the room again. Eyes darted away from him among anyone in the Minigan costume, but the technicians, Castle staff and stage crew went about their business without paying much attention to the Jedi; they chatted, carryied equipment, got multiple plates of food to take to others.

    "No. But the performers all look fearful," he admitted.

    "They are all fearful." He looked past Obi-Wan and raised a hand. A woman in Castle staff blue came to their table and bowed.

    "Venerate Master Jedi."

    "I wish to speak to Pecku. Could you please get him for me?"

    "Yes, Venerate." She ran off across the Hall to the archway to the other parts of the Castle. Pecku always left with Tykon for meals. They were partway through their meals before Pecku finally came jogging up to their table; he wore a loose tan skirt tied at the waist and a long brown shirt this day.

    "Venerate Jedi Master Qui-Gon. You needed to speak to me?"

    "Yes." Qui-Gon gestured to the empty long table where they sat and the others, overcrowded with Jedi Minigans with a few costume technicians and the keyboardist who played through the practice sessions. "We seem to be alone. Has something changed?"

    "Ah." Pecku leaned over their end of the table, his posture inviting them to lean closer to him. "We noticed some questionable associations yesterday and we spoke with our thesps about it last night." He patted the air with his hands as if smoothing down the offense. "The fault is purely ours. It is so rare to have offworld Venerates participating in a History Play that we did not pay proper attention to the customary protocols.

    "While your status is not clearly defined, Venerate Jedi Apprentice Obi-Wan, and it is not forbidden, it is not customary for any Venerates to socialize with the Play thesps. But it is inappropriate for them to interact socially with any member of the Creative Committee," he almost apologized to Qui-Gon. "We were assuming that you would simply retire to the tower for your meals. But I understand that it is quite a hike up there."

    "I understand," Qui-Gon replied with a nod toward Obi-Wan, "We will certainly comply. But," he gestured again toward the length of the empty table they sat at, "It might be more efficient if you provided us with a small, separate table to eat at."

    Pecku lifted his head. "I see your point. I’ll have one brought in right away." He left and very soon afterwards three Castle staff appeared, one with a small table and the other two carrying chairs. They placed them by the wall behind the base of the staircase leading up to the gallery. Without even a glance toward the Jedi, they left. Qui-Gon picked up his plate, utensils and cup first; Obi-Wan did the same and followed him. When they were seated again, Qui-Gon had his back to the room. Obi-Wan saw the excess people from the other long tables immediately migrate to the now empty one. Yana moved her plate and cup with the others and she saw him looking as she sat down. She grinned and pumped her fist up and down under the table. Obi-Wan gave her a half smile and made the same gesture by his knee so she could see it.

    Qui-Gon smiled as he bit into a crispy grain flat.


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


    Standing among some taller bushes on the balcony garden in the late-evening twilight, Obi-Wan sniffed the air. "It’s going to rain."

    "Yes." Qui-Gon smiled, putting an arm around his apprentice’s shoulders. They had finished eating and cleaning up after dinner. With the Minigan auditions done for the day, there would be only one more day of auditions, this one for all the minor parts of the Hiistory Play. After that would be the day of assigning the performers to their Play parts and then three days of rehersals before finally the performance. With so much time available, Qui-Gon saw an opportunity to add some mindfulness training to their mission. The tower apartment was an excellent setting for it. The Jedi Temple was strong with the Force, but its completely controlled, weatherless enclosures offered little variation.

    "Now," he pointed Obi-Wan toward the outer railing, over a raised bed of ferns and flowering shrubs, the lights of the Castle and the town beyond it shining from below. "Feel this place and how it is connected to everything around us."

    They both stood for long moments, eyes closed, the Force a pervasive warmth among the plants and echoed down through the distant jostling clusters of people shining thought the other parts of the Castle and town and reflecting from the forested hills. Obi-Wan opened his eyes first.

    "Someone is coming."

    Qui-Gon smiled. "Yes."

    They walked around the curve of the walkway to the nearest door by Obi-Wan’s sleeping area. The head of a young Castle staff member emerged from the floor and they faced her as the lift locked into place.

    She bowed low, her hands clasped tightly before the front of her pale blue tunic. "Venerate Jedi, Custodian Tykon has sent me to inform you that the extra preparations you requestions for transport of the holy artifacts are ready for inspection."

    Qui-Gon inclined his head back to her. She had shoulder length blond hair and nervous brown eyes. "Thank-you. I wish to do so now." He looked down at his apprentice. "Meditate on what we have discussed while I am gone."

    "Yes, Master."

    Qui-Gon stepped forward to the lift. The young staff member was slight and shorter than Obi-Wan, and from her expression, she had not been expecting him to want to come back with her. She activated the lift and then averted her eyes while they shared the enforced closeness for the ride down. As soon as the lift stopped she hopped off and led him down the many spiraling steps of the tower. They descended to the gallery, then down to and across Tamwa Hall to the Mountain Wing where the Custodians maintained facilities archiving, re-creating period clothes, tools, repair and any other functions they needed for the upkeep of the entire Naardin Living History Lands. Going down a couple of levels, they finally arrived at a locked door. With only a slight quaver in her voice, the young staff member politely asked Qui-Gon to turn his back while she opened a door. Afterwards she ushered him into the workroom without going in herself. The door slid closed him.

    Custodian Tykon and two others in lighter shades of blue huddled at an alcove at the opposide end of a long, low-ceilinged room of pristine white walls, glass-doored cabinets and silver fixtures. Qui-Gon scanned the sharp-angled and mirrored wall panels that seemed to triple the size of the windowless room. Bright lights shone down on long metal work tables. A few technicians in light blue tunics and pants darted glances toward him as they bent over their work. The place was an isolated anachronism of plastoid technology hidden in a Castle of ancient stone.

    Parting with her comrades, Tykon bustled toward him with a dull gold metalloid box.

    "Master Qui-Gon." She set the box on an empty end of a long table. "I have the transport container that you requested." She touched a corner and the sides of the box flipped outward revealing another gold metalloid box. She touched a corner of the second box and its side flipped open and a dull sliver box inside shot upward on an internal pedestal. One final touch opened the last box.

    "As you can see," Tykon pointed at recessed portions of the black interior, "the inside is fitted to each artifact, the lightsaber, the holocron and the rest. It is triple sealed. The outer layers are zellite, completely impenetrable to sensors or blaster fire, the inner container is cry-carbon reinforced zellite." She held up a slim flat device, less than half the width of her hand. "This key will lock each container separately. But it cannot unlock them. It can only record the unlock codes. Once the relics are sealed, we will transmit the unlock codes, by a secure channel, to the Jedi Archives; they are already prepared to receive them. You will not be able to open it, as you requested. Only another key - - and we have sent the specifications to your Archives - - can open it."

    Qui-Gon accepted the key from her. It had only three square buttons on it in a neat column and a function indicator at the top.

    "The key is not activated yet. It will only be activated after the History Play when the relics are presented to you."

    "Of course," Qui-Gon agreed, handing the device back to her. "However, I wish to test this container out. On the actual artifacts."

    Tykon’s expression darkened, her brows lowered, her mouth hardening into a severe frown. "They are in the Hall of Mysteries."

    "Yes. I believe you can escort me there."

    "We have exact measurement of all the relics. The interior of this box is specifically designed for them."

    "I am sure it is. But I think it best that this be confirmed. I would not wish any unforeseen error to delay us any further than we already have been."

    Tykon noisly sucked in air through her nose, her jowly jaw clenched. Qui-Gon calmly stood over her, waiting.

    With a huff, she relented. "Then I will escort you."


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


    Sitting on a cushion on the floor, Obi-Wan inhaled the night air coming in through the open door. Thick with the scents of flowers, plants, soil and now a gentle rain that had encouraged him to go inside. Sitting on the cushion, he straightened his back, relaxing his shoulders. He closed his eyes and cleared his mind. Stray thoughts only clouded a Jedi’s connection with the Force.


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


    Custodian Tykon’s mouth seemed to be set into a permanent scowl. She held the tray of Darth Yarr’s artifacts tightly against her wide body. The transport box sat open, on the floor as Qui-Gon floated each item into it, testing their fit as they nestled down into their respective niche. The holocron was last.

    Qui-Gon guided it up into the air before him. Even if Tykon had not slapped his hand back from laying hand on any of the artifacts, he did not wish to touch the holocron. Though it remained lifeless, containing neither Dark nor Light, he still did not trust that it not to conceal some hidden and dangerous secrets.

    Tykon started with a little gasp when the blue light shone faintly from within, growing brighter. Qui-Gon saw in his mind the rough and very empty interior of it. It felt old and swept clean long ago, leaving no trace of what it might have been, a story forgotten, or maybe never told.

    He guided the holocron over and down to the box.

    The blue light flared, bright and shimmering. He felt it on his face, brisk and cool, a window opened, letting in fresh clean air.

    "Huh!"

    He jerked his guiding hand back and the light winked out. The holocron fell with a muffled thump, landing precisely into its place in the box.


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


    The Force stretched out from the Castle, a pervasive haze inside and outside everything, stronger in some places, a little thinner in others, but always there. It clung to the thick foliage of the balcony garden that ringed the apartment, an aura of life. All things in balance, peaceful and alive.

    Obi-Wan let his senses drift outward. Down toward the people below, the Castle, the grounds; there were pens of animals, small insects and night flyers in the air. He could feel them all connected to everything.

    The haze thickened, collecting into a pillar. Obi-Wan did not react, his mind remaining still, part of the background of the Force that would not distort the new vision. The wisps of energy formed an outline of a person, a woman, dressed like Sebo, long tunic, loose pants, shawl around her neck and draped over her head. She looked a little younger then Sebo, dark shoulder-length straight hair, pale eyes, pointed chin and age lines beginning to show around around her eyes and nose.

    She held a baby, wrapped in a coarse blanket. It was a girl.

    She held it out to him, her face questioning.

    Then she pulled her back to her breast, half turning away. She handed the baby to the extended hands of three women who took it and vanished. The woman turned back to him, folded her arms before her and bowed low before throwing her head back, arms out. Obi-Wan felt sad, as if he would never see the Jedi Temple again, everyone in it turned to dust and gone. He felt clean, but the Force was cold. Not Light or Dark, just cold. And it did not connect him to the world. It just blew through him, like a chill breeze rushing through a wide open canyon with nothing there to stop it.

    The woman before him dissolved into the wind.

    "Huh!" Obi-Wan started. The world, and his ordinary senses suddenly wiped out the vision like a light coming on. But it was dark outside and raining harder, the wind blowing some of it inside. There were only a few isolated islands of light in the apartment, the rest of it in black shadow. He climbed to his feet and closed the open door.


    = = = End Part 21
  16. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Yarr's holocron and things are quite confusing in Qui-Gon's experiences -- first malice, then nada, then what almost sounds like a light side residue. Very weird. Also weird is Sebo's sudden awkward seduction attempt -- though I suppose she has been living alone in a tower for quite a long time and maybe doesn't have as much of a social life as she might... o_O It all definitely has me wondering what the deal is, especially with Obi-Wan's vision. None of the stories we've heard so far mentioned Yarr having a child (assuming that was Yarr and not some other poor shmuck who got locked in the tower instead.) I'm increasingly wondering if either the Maarzim or the Jedi have the full story there. Glad to see that Obi-Wan's actor friends aren't shunning them out of some perceived slight. And I'm curious why Qui-Gon is going to such lengths to see to it that he can't access the relics on the way to the Temple (see, I would never make it to Jedi Knight; curiosity killed the nexu!) ;)
  17. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Strange things are happening there.
    Dissolving women and a strange Force
  18. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Kahara: Yeah, Sebo doesn't have much of a social life, do her attempt to go after Qui-Gon isn't the best. And even though they look dead, Qui-Gon just can't trust those Sith things. And a special box keeps Obi-Wan away from them, too.

    earlybird-obi-wan: The Force is definitely disturbed. [face_mischief]


    Thanks for the comments!
  19. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 22


    Qui-Gon listened to his Padawan’s account of his vision.

    As soon as he returned to the apartment, Obi-Wan told him what he had been doing. They meditated every day. His apprentice was exceptional and dedicated but only after years of training would his senses be developed to the level of a Jedi Knight. But visons had more to do with the will of the Force than the Jedi.

    "And then she vanished. Well, no, she didn’t vanish. She dissolved. Into the Force, I think. But there was nothing left. I felt it." Obi-Wan licked his lips, his eyes upward, waiting for his Master’s appraisal.

    Frowning, Qui-Gon let him wait for a bit. Obi-Wan had been deliberately meditating about Darth Yarr’s holocron and he had deduced that it was intact. While he had not been directly or intentionally meditating on the Dark Side, using a Sith artifact as his focus and without his Master’s guidance was bad enough.

    It could have been worse. This vision sounded relatively benign, not at all like the flashes of evil that Qui-Gon had been struck by. He started to pace, head down, thinking carefully about his response. Obi-Wan’s expression of hopeful anticipation sank into worry.

    "You have just told me that you were using the Force, meditating to discover the mystery surrounding Darth Yarr’s holocron."

    "You indicated that there might be some danger involved with it . . ." Obi-Wan’s excuse died under his Master’s cool glance before he continued pacing.

    "I agree that I communicated to you that there might be some danger. And perhaps I was over-cautious with my warning for you to contact the Jedi Temple if you could not locate me." He stopped, staring toward the food prep area of the apartment, pausing before turning around and passing in from of his Padawan again. "Perhaps the lack of information for you - - details that I am duty bound to withhold - - made my concerns more . . . dramatic and exciting than I intended." He stopped again, lifting his head, staring toward the fresher unit. He turned around again. Obi-Wan’s eyes followed him as he passed.

    "Whatever your reasons might be for wanting to help, I must ask you, my Padawan, do you believe your training, so far, to be sufficient for containing or challenging the danger of an active Sith holocron?" Facing the food prep area again, he looked past Obi-Wan's right shoulder. His apprentice lowered his eyes, bowing his head.

    "No, Master."

    Qui-Gon turned around, slowing pacing again. "And if that situation arose, what would our best course of action be. For either of us?" He stopped, facing his sixteen year-old apprentice again.

    "Contact the Jedi Temple immediately and warn them."

    "Yes. That is exactly what should be done, should any Jedi encounter any active Sith artifact." He stood over Obi-Wan; the tension in his apprentice increased with his growing realization of the magnitude of his error. The little sounds of the apartment filled the silence between them, the gentle wind outside blowing a few stray drop of rain on the roof and veranda; the leaves of the bushes rustling; Obi-Wan licked his lips and swallowed.

    Qui-Gon sighed; he laid a hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder. "Come." He guided him toward the padded bench in his Padawan’s side of the apartment. Sitting him down, Qui-Gon sat next to him, arm over his shoulders.

    "I have examined Sith holocrons in the Jedi Archives."

    Obi-Wan wide eyes looked up at him.

    "Only senior Masters and members of the Council are allowed access to them." He paused, remembering. "They are incomparably evil. Imagine instead of being in balance with the Force, you use it like food, or a drug, never wanting to let it go and always craving more.

    "The Sith gained power from controlling and taking the lives of others. The Force does not flow through a Sith, it flows into them and from them. Aside from their consquests and wars, the Sith need to control life, not live in balance with it. For Sith, there is no cooperation, there is no sharing or loyalty, even with their own. In the end, a Sith, either apprentice or master, always uses power simply to acquire more power. They are never satisfied, no matter how many people and worlds they manipulate, corrupt and destroy.

    "A Sith holocron would embody all of that and it could be a dangerous temptation for any Jedi to examine and become corrupted. As tempting, I suppose, as a mystery would be."

    Obi-Wan lowered his eyes, thinking for a long minute. "I do not understand how that could be desirable."

    Qui-Gon smiled. "I hope you never do. No Jedi living, not even Master Yoda, has ever fought a Sith. They have been gone for nearly a millennia. Some think they are extinct, but the last known Sith was not destroyed. The holocrons are their last remaining essences. And they are kept so we would recognize the Sith in case they returned."

    He rubbed Obi-Wan’s shoulders, feeling the tension easing in his Padawan. "And if we are fortunate, it will be at least another millennia before anything like that happens. If it ever happens at all."


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


    Director Tykon started yelling at Qui-Gon almost as soon as they arrived in Tamwa Hall that morning for the final day of auditions. It was a sunny day, blue sky and the cratered face of the planet’s largest moon visible through the high windows, enormous black panels hanging between them. The stage looked complete though technicians kept emerging from and disappearing underneath it. All the viewing platforms, four tall and another six shorter ones were complete with workers installing chairs and fixtures at their tops. The musicians had emerged from their private practice rooms and were testing the seating arrangements in front of the stage with their instruments. The writers and composers for the play, Roobi Mwemas, Thrwun Aka and Quembu Smetin conferred with the keyboardist who had played through all the auditions along with four other musicians who would be also be playing for the final trials.

    Tykon first complained that Qui-Gon was late; then he complained about where Qui-Gon was standing; then he lectured his performers about the seriousness of this final day and that even though these auditions were for the minor parts of the History Play, they were no less important than the leads and that their full effort was expected. Especially if other people did not exert themselves for their own selfish reasons, he finished with a poisonous glare toward the older Jedi.

    Obi-Wan watched his Master, who did not react at all to Tykon’s repeated insults, both direct and implied. Qui-Gon had said that Tykon wanted him to participate in the Play itself. Obviously, the Director did not accept his refusal well.

    "Pecku!" Tykon called for his assistant, who came running up as his superior stomped off to the sidelines. Pecku had his longish brown hair tied back with a pale gray strip of cloth that matched his skirt.

    "As you know, we are only having auditions today. You have all been practicing. We will start with the Hulus auditions, singing and dancing, break for midday meal and then finish with servant and guard medlies for the final minor parts." Pecku turned to the Jedi. "We will need both of you for the Hulus auditions."

    He gestured and Obi-Wan went to where he pointed. "You will be the first attacker. And you," He pointed again and Qui-Gon went to a spot several paces away," will harass without making contact when he drives the candidate toward you."

    Glancing toward the rows of dancers, Obi-Wan was doubtful. "Should we not practice before the auditions? Neither one of us has seen any of the steps."

    Pecku waved a hand. "No, no. We are testing for improvisation. We’ve already evaluated everyone for skill and precision," he reassured. "Basko! Two saber props. One green, one blue."

    Dressed in neutral pants with tunics belted at the waists with pale green sashes, the dancers watched attentively. The Hulus costume was not required for this audition. It was a small part since the Sith apprentice was killed almost immediately after the Jedi arrived on the planet.

    There in the front row was Yana Twarn and Timoz Wemi. Yana grinned and gave him a covert fist pump gesture while keeping her arms at her sides. Leary of showing favoritism, Obi-Wan only half-smiled in her general direction as he accepted a light stick from a young energetic man who brought it over from the prop box. He clicked the switch. He had the green one. The man trotted over to Qui-Gon with the second prop.

    "No!"

    They all turned their heads toward Director Tykon, at the side of the practice area. The humming holo-recorders zoomed up overhead.

    "Use the real one!" Tykon waved at Qui-Gon and the young man froze, the prop in hand. Pecku turned around, staring.

    Qui-Gon folded his arms before him. "No. I will not."

    Tykon’s mouth snapped shut, his face going blank. Then his expression darkened. "You what?"

    "No. I will not threaten anyone with my lightsaber for such a frivolous reason."

    Taking a step back, Obi-Wan watched the temperature going up on Tykon’s anger on his left and his Master’s ruthless calm on his right.

    "Frivolous?" He marched toward Qui-Gon and stopped. All the performers flinched back as if he was coming for them.

    "Yes." Qui-Gon nodded. "Frivolous." His voice lowered to a more ominous tone. "The lightsaber is the symbol of the Jedi, our ideals, our Code, the Force itself. It is just as much a sacred symbol as all the trapping of your History here." He raised his hands and gazed up around Tamwa Hall. "A lightsaber is not a prop for your entertainment."

    "Entertainment?" Tykon echoed in a near whisper. He exhaled, his face going blank, the growing tension dropping from his shoulders. The wide-eyed performers stood frozen in place.

    Ssssatsim," he cursed softly at Qui-Gon. "I had no idea that you Jedi were so sssats IGNORANT!" Tykon’s fury returned full force, his outrage echoing from the vaulted ceiling high above them as he advanced again. "Well, I suppose you know all about it then, don’t you? We should just model this whole thing on that colorless, lifeless Jedi Code that you live by? No emotion, no fear, no fire, no passion, no music, no acting and we can watch all our work fall into DUST!"

    Tykon strode up to Qui-Gon who did not move at all. "When you were standing around for a bit part in a third-rate holo, twenty years ago, I was making HISTORY! And I do not take direction from pretenders like you! And I will say when we will use a real lightsaber or not!"

    Obi-Wan felt the Force, like a low, inaudible rumble of thunder. Qui-Gon raised a hand. "Of course you will. But you don’t need one now." The hand passed before Tykon's face, a deceptively gentle motion. "But it would be much too distracting for the audition. The saber props will suffice."

    "The saber props will suffice," Tykon repeated blandly with a mindless nod. His brow furrowed for a moment. "Pecku!"

    Qui-Gon’s hand went up again. "No need to shout. We can all hear you. The acoustics in this Hall are quite adaquet. And the auditions will go much more smoothly if you show your . . . appreciation for everyone’s hard work."

    "Yes." Tykon nodded. "Yes. Pecku. Please, give him the prop. And you’ve been doing a very good job, even with these delays and re-writes, keeping things going, thank-you. Good job." Tykon’s gaze swept somewhere past Pecku’s left shoulder toward the performers. "Yes, you've all been working very hard. I like that. You're going to need it. Good job everyone."

    Obi-Wan cringed at the look of total horror on Pecku’s face. The rows of performers stared in shock at the transformation of their volatile Director. The keyboardist, musicians and composers stared, their mouths open.

    Qui-Gon took the prop from Pecku and stepped back. "Shall we begin?" he invited. Pecku did not move and Tykon looked too confused to know what came next.

    The composers and musicians approached slowly. Pecku started shaking Tykon who very politely asked him if he needed something from him. Qui-Gon let out a sigh and went back to his place for the audition. The eyes of all the performers followed him. Obi-Wan felt as if he had failed a task, but he know it was not his failure. He went to Qui-Gon and stood before him, eyes upward.

    "You made them afraid of us."

    Qui-Gon opened his mouth and then stopped, his dark blue eyes wide with surprise. He looked down at him and Obi-Wan knew that his Master had not realized the effect he’d had on everyone else watching.

    Qui-Gon closed his mouth without saying anything.


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


    Roobi Mwemas and Quembu Smetin came over, but it was unclear if they wanted to help. Mwemas loudly demanded that Pecku give her a holo-copy from the recorders still circling above. All the performers hastily averted their eyes when Qui-Gon caught them looking at him. He sighed. His Padawan was right. He had only succeeded in making everyone afraid of him. They feared Tykon because they feared failing or disappointing him. Now they feared him because they believed he could hurt Tykon. And by default he could hurt them, ruin their auditions and their futures. Fear was never a good motivator, but the fear that Tykon routinely inspired in others had its own narrow purpose, driving the performers to work hard for the Play.

    Pecku abandoned Tykon to follow Mwemas who was going after the droid controllers on a long table beside the audition area. Smetin stayed back and stared at Tykon who still had not regained his line of thought. Qui-Gon had simply impressed upon him the feeling that his History Play was going very well, something that the Director badly wanted. But Tykon’s brain knew what his Play's shortcomings were and it fought the undeserved expectation of glory while the other half of his mind fiercely clung to it, leaving him wavering between the two.

    Obi-Wan turned and marched back to Tykon. He raised his hand.

    "My Master is sssats ignorant and you should not listen to what he says."

    Brows furrowed, Tykon’s befuddled brain took a few seconds to register this information. Then his face transformed.

    "Aaaaaaaauuuuuggggghhhh!!!!"

    Swiftly turning his body sideways, Obi-Wan evaded Tykon’s downward swing. The saber stick missing its target and clicked on the ground. Obi-Wan’s own saber stick blocked the next three blows aimed at his head. Qui-Gon stepped back. It was obvious that even an enraged Tykon could not hurt his apprentice.

    Obi-Wan dodged to the side and Tykon whirled around, saber stick sweeping low. Obi-Wan jumped high, flipping over Tykon’s head and landing behind him. He snapped a blow at the back of Tykon’s knees and then another to his buttocks, driving him down to the ground. Tykon caught himself and swung around blindly, but Obi-Wan bent back, just out of reach of the wild swing. His stick smacked onto the Director’s wrist and the saber props dropped and rolled away.

    Qui-Gon smiled. The Force was strong with his Padawan; his defense had been perfectly executed, exactly as he had been trained.

    Eyes wild with rage, Tykon glared up the length of Obi-Wan’s weapon.

    "There!" he turned to his performers, dragging himself away. "I want fighting like that!" Jumping to his feet, he waved an arm at them. "And I had better see it in your auditions!"


    = = = End Part 22
  20. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Nice work on Tykon. He deserved that.
  21. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Yeah, Tykon was kind of asking for it and Qui-Gon just got tired of getting yelled at[face_mischief] , but Obi-Wan is right about Qui-Gon 'over-doing it'. Thanks for the reply!

    I still have twelve more parts to post on this in the next 2 weeks, so there will be some next day posting getting closer to the end. I'm looking at the hit-counter (very handy device) to see when the hits slow down before I post a new one.
  22. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    So this nice story will be finished before I am away on a trip[face_dancing]
  23. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    = = = Part 23


    They returned to the apartment before sunset. The auditions seemed to have gone well. Tykon did not request that either of them use their lightsabers again; the subject never came up again, as if it or the confrontation had not happened.

    After the auditions, he and Qui-Gon had eaten at their solitary small table and the performers and even the musicians, props and costume technicians avoided looking their way. Obi-Wan caught Yana’s eye a few times, but she always looked away and she did not return any of his gestures under the table. There was too much fear. He did not like it. It seemed so unnecessary.

    His Master was unrepentant about influencing Tykon, though he agreed that the result had been unfortunate. And after being attacked, Obi-Wan could not now say that he was entirely wrong to have done it. A very nervous Eris Mwat had shown them around the stage, the back stage, the orchestra section and the completed platform where they would be seated. Qui-Gon had raised a hand and almost influenced Mwat to be more calm, but a warming glare from Obi-Wan had stopped him.

    They took their robes off and hung them over the chairs in the eating area before they heard footsteps outside. In her pale yellow outfit, Sebo entered with a basket laden with fresh fruit, vegetables and a few nuts.

    "I won’t be coming tend the garden," she told them as she put her basket on the table. "I will be helping with the rehearsals and of course, presenting the Mystery to the thesps tomorrow." She turned to face them. "In fact, I may not be returning to this place ever again."

    Qui-Gon raised his eyebrows. "Will you be forbidden from returning then? After your Mystery is revealed in the Play?"

    She shook her head, her hands clasped before her. "No. I just may not want to come back." She went to the lift. "The Castle staff will tend the gardens while you are here. They will not disturb you." She took her place on the lift in the center of the circle of curved pillars.

    "And if you wish to change your mind about your part in the Play, you will be welcome at any time at the rehearsals. Any time." She smiled invitingly.

    Qui-Gon shook his hear. "No, I do not believe I will be

    She shrugged, unoffended by his rejection. "I told Director Tykon, and Smetin and Aka, that I would ask again." She reached into a pocket for the lift control, but Qui-Gon held up a hand.

    "Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon turned to him, "would you please tell Sebo what you saw during your meditation while I was examining the transport arrangements for Darth Yarr’s artifacts?"

    Surprised, he opened his mouth without speaking. It was very unusal to share such things with non-Jedi, but Qui-Gon nodded his head in ascent. So, he told Sebo about his vision, described the woman with the baby, dressed like her, surrendering her baby before vanishing into the cold.

    Sebo’s eyes teared up as he spoke, her hands clutched before her. She wiped her nose on her shawl but did not speak for a time.

    "Thank-you, Master Qui-Gon. You Jedi see through all our hidden doors and moving walls and distractions right to our Mysteries." She fumbled in her pocket for the lift control again before she descended into the floor and was gone.


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


    The air in Tamwa Hall was thick with anticipation. The desire and fear in the performers washed over Qui-Gon as he waited with Obi-Wan and the other members of the Creative Committee. They stood on the stage. The anti-gravs had been activated so even though he felt as if he was standing on solid ground, the rest of the room was weirdly tilted toward him. The performers stood in the orchestra area, their faces nervously upturned toward them. The morning light dimmed as each of the tall windows of Tamwa Hall was covered and blacked out. Custodian Tykon stood at stage center, Sebo at her side.

    Finally all the outside light was gone, the doors and archways closed, the only remaining light coming from a row of glowing golden dots at the edge of the stage. When the room was finally silent, Tykon took in a long breath, the performers following the rise of her huge bosom with increasing anticipation.

    "You have all peformed well. And we thank-you for your hard work and dedication. The Committee has made its choices and are agreed. But - - "

    An arc of dread cut through the anticipation.

    " - - your places in the History Play cannot be revealed without revealing part of the Mystery itself. So, we must retire to Acren Hall, the true place of Darth Yarr’s defeat. - - "

    The performers exhaled with a muffled moan of disappointment. Their waiting would be prolonged.

    " - - Be you all warned that this is a scared place. Acren Hall holds more Mysteries than Yarr’s and it is not to be revealed by any of you. You will learn your places and you will rehearse the play there. The Custodians of this Castle will lead you there now and you will not leave until the final day of rehersals."

    Over forty of the Castle staff stood at the back of the rows of performers. Now they took out black hoods and sorted them into groups of five or six. And not just the performers went. Falgan and his staff, technicians and musicians were hooded and lined up as well into little lines of people, led by a custodian with blind followers firmly gripping the waist of the person before them and herded along by one or two others in pale blue tunics. They were reasonably efficient with organizing it all, but with so many groups and only one allowed to leave every few minutes the exodus took some time. The Creative Committee and Obi-Wan came last, solemnly following Custodian and Director Tykon through the corridors of the fortress. They reached the open courtyard of covered tables and bushes, then going inside the long corridor of colored windows and through the doorway into the stairwell.

    Obi-Wan looked all around. His earlier tour of the Castle had obviously not included this place. They descended the stairwell and dutifully turned their backs as Custodian Tykon opened the door though Sebo gave Qui-Gon a sly look. They entered and she closed the door behind them.

    Qui-Gon had found his own way the first time he entered. Now he followed the others down the dark corridors and turns. They followed Sebo down the halls, around the corners, back the way they had come, single file. When they came to the false door, they had to turn around again while Sebo went down the final corridor. They finally emerged through the concealed door into Acren Hall.

    It was quite full of people and Qui-Gon heard a gentle whir of air recyclers from overhead. Nearly everyone still had their hoods on, even some of the Castle staff, the ones in the palest, lowest-ranking blue tunics and robes. The lights hanging from the ceiling were at half-brightness. They filed around the crowd, passing the alcove statues, which had been either replaced or repaired, and up onto the stage at the head of the room. Their heavy footsteps roused the hooded crowd, though there were no voices or whispers. They took seats on the bench at the heavy wooden table with Custodian Tykon directing Obi-Wan to stand behind Qui-Gon’s chair. The crack down the center of the table where it had broken was hardly visible.

    Director Tykon took a position in the center of the raised platform. He nodded back to Custodian Tykon, seated at the end of the long table and the lights came up. A bell sounded three times. The hoods came off, performers and play crew and lower ranking Castle staff blinking, smoothing back ruffled hair.

    "It is time for you to know the Mystery!"

    At once, all the performers’ eyes snapped to Director Tykon. Sebo stood, stepping away from the bench, the soft sounds of her clothes and then her light footsteps loud in the silence. She walked around the table and Tykon stepped aside for her. She suddenly spread her arms out, her palms upward.

    "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."

    Sitting at the table behind her, Qui-Gon watched Sebo spin her tale. It was the same as what he had heard, word for word. The story of Nirid. And Keth. Their love. Him leaving her behind on the planet. The Sith arriving. Yarr’s rise. Keth’s return. Keth's death. Yarr’s fall. Minigan’s fall.

    He glanced back up at his apprentice whose eyes were wide with interest. Qui-Gon sighed. This version of Yarr’s fall differed radically from the one in the Jedi Archives, the one he had recounted to Obi-Wan only a few days ago. He would have to explain the difference. But he had no explanation.

    Sebo finished the story to the hushed crowd; it was a religious ritual and they were properly impressed and respectful. Even Director Tykon had not moved, staying at attention off to the side. When Sebo finally bowed and went back to sit behind the long table with the other members of the Creative Committee, Director Tykon took the stage again.

    "Now you know. The parts of Nirid and Darth Yarr will be played by the same person." The crowd murmured its defuse reaction and fell silent as Tykon raised a hand held screen and began reading names.

    "For the Chorus alone: Mastwa Flir, Hutra Yeoz, Zmela, Jutwa Eris . . ."

    Qui-Gon closed his eyes and inhaled, feeling the intensity of the reactions, inflated bubbles of anticipation bursting. These were the minor participants, the performers who would be reminded many times that it was still an honor to be participating in the History Play at all. Success was not found in hard work or learning or even wisdom. It was measured by being judged better than others. By beating them, climbing over them and pushing them out of the way to the most glory. Some of the performers cried out their anguish aloud, but the heartbreak of the silent ones was just as strong in the Force.

    "For Shadow dancers alone: Greahshtrin Luru, Shurew . . . "

    Qui-Gon had already heard the lists. Sebo had come before sunrise for him to attend and approve the final selections of the Creative Committee. There was only minor discussion about the Play parts. Director Tykon got his way on all of his choices. Qui-Gon acquiesced. As ugly and abusive the Director’s methods were, they were the traditions of this world and the Jedi had no place to judge them, no matter how little they had to do with art, music or dance.

    "For Chorus and Shadow Dancers: Herra Tooz, Alhren, Nak Mwenno . . ."

    He wondered that any beauty could survive amidst all the fear. But it did. It even flourished.

    "The role of first guard: Lasru Trimwi. The role of second guard: Yana Twarn. The role of third guard: Loodri . . ."

    These were the minor roles, disappointing, but less so than the background parts. Someone yelped in elation. Another cried out the injustice.

    "The part of Hulus: Mwatt."

    The flares of fear and anguish had subsided leaving soaring joy from the few who had not been assigned the lesser roles.

    "The part of Minigan: Zwarus Shwar."

    "The part of Keth: Distah Mwul."

    "The parts of Nirid and Yarr: Adie Tykon-Tuzi."

    Qui-Gon opened his eyes. The performers had sorted themselves out. Losers in back, winners in front. The four leads stood proud and tall, two men, two women. One had sat at their table before the Jedi were separated from the performers, Adie Tykon-Tuzi, longish blond hair, brown skin, blue eyes wide with awe and gratitude focused entirely up at her tyrannical Director.

    A gong sounded.

    Standing up with the others, Qui-Gon bowed his acceptance of the presentation of the performers to the Venerates of the Creative Committee. Custodian Tykon spoke the formal words for them. The storms of tension in the room had broken, all the performaers’ hopes and fears realized. Even the ones most heart-broken were relieved. The torturous waiting was over; they at least knew their places now.

    Roobi Mwemas, Thwurn Aka and Quembu Smetin joined Ebsi Tykon and they descended from the raised platform to stand before their Play performers. With a nod from Sebo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan followed the two senior Castle Venerates to the hidden entrance.

    With all the Castle staff assembled, everyone turned their back as a senior Custodian opened the door. The performers and Play crew not only had their backs to them, their hands were up, covering their eyes.

    They filed out, one at the time into the long narrow corridors with Custodian Tykon closing the door behind them. Sebo remained with the performers, Play crew, composers and Director Tykon in the secret room.


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


    "The next few days will be critical, Master Qui-Gon."

    Obi-Wan Kenobi followed behind his Master as Custodian Tykon explained what they were to do while the History Play was rehearsed as she walked with them on their way through the Castle back to the tower.

    Apparently, they were to do nothing.

    "Now that the shields have gone up, no one is allowed to leave until after the performance. Ugh." Custodian Tykon waved her hands, her gesture matching the exasperation in her tone. "There have already been breaches at three of the other Living History Lands. I am always appalled by how many people are willing to commit sacrilege and spoil the Mysteries, though my predecessor assured me that the problem used to be much worse.

    "Of course we will make every effort, Master Qui-Gon, but I cannot guarantee that some of the spy-droids of the popular media won’t get through. You see, that tower has always been a problem for us for any of these festivals. They do not happen very often as you can imagine - - Sebo has only reigned over three during her entire tenure - - and the Techs always give us a horrendous quote for shielding the tower, too, so we always end up sequestering Sebo in Acren Hall until it’s all over.

    "And naturally, we would offer you places in the protected towers vacated by all those thesps, but we need to ready suites for the officials who will be arriving the night before the Play. So, if you could be patient for a few more days - -"

    Qui-Gon raised a reassuring hand to the woman. "Of course, Custodian Tykon. The accomodations in the tower are excellent, we will be happy to wait there. And if there are any intrusions, we are quite capable of handling them."

    They passed into a windowless corridor that ran directly under the tower they spoke of.

    "I believe that staying inside and going down below until they are driven out would be the best course, Master Qui-Gon. The law favors the public information media, inless they are caught directly over the Castle itself and then there is only a fine which is not nearly large enough." They emerged into the gallery over Tamwa Hall, now transformed into an enormous theater, the windows blocked, the entrances at ground level replaced with gateways that could be sealed. A decorative gate fenced off the stairway leading up to the gallery from the Hall below. The metalloid and stone-like facades had been styled after the ancient Hall, save for the conspicuous control panels and blinking status lights. If the new physical barriers were not enough the Castle Custodians were prepared to back them up with energy fields.

    "We shall wait until you call on us the morning of the final rehersals." Qui-Gon bowed to her.

    "Thank-you Master, Qui-Gon. Someone will be sent up every morning to tend the garden, but otherwise we will leave you and your apprentice undisturbed until then."

    After both Jedi bowed a polite farewell to Tykon, Obi-Wan followed his Master up the long winding stairway back to the apartment. It was midday and they were both hungry. Someone had already been up to tend the plants and there was a basket of fresh food on the table. There were also fresh cleaning and washing cloths in the storage compartments and fresher, and newly cleaned coverings on the sleeping platforms. It looked nearly as it did when they first arrived.

    "Master, is the Mystery true? Did Darth Yarr surrender her powers because she loved Keth? Was . . . ," Obi-Wan paused, drawing Qui-Gon’s full attention, "was the woman I saw in my vision Nirid? And the baby?"

    Qui-Gon sighed, lowering his eyes before looking up again. "She could not be. Sith do not renounce their power. Ever, Obi-Wan." He shook his head, his long hair hanging down over his shoulders. "I cannot account for the discrepancy between their version and the events recorded in the Jedi Archives." He stepped up to him and laid a hand on his shoulder. "You must undertand, Obi-Wan, that the path to the Dark Side is all consuming. It is desire beyond reason, beyond purpose, beyond anything but the acquisition of power. Everything, every other goal, every cause, every person becomes subservient to that. And if people must suffer or die for that goal then the corrupting influence of the Dark Side convinces the Sith that this is good. Sith increase their power by imposing it on others. Do you understand, Obi-Wan?"

    Looking back up into his Master's dark blue eyes, he nodded. "Yes, Master."

    Qui-Gon's lips curled in a sad smile. "No, you do not."


    = = = End Part 23
  24. Rainbow Knight Star Game Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2005
    star 5
    I am not caught up yet, but I am really enjoying this story. So, Qui-Gon Jinn can dance. My my, amazing. I like the way he stands up to the director, but understands why the director is so strict with the performers.

    Excellent story! Keep up the awesome work.

    :)
  25. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    will more be revealed at the final play?
Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade