Before Often Grows the Wolf (AU vignettes, Sidious, Qui-Gon, Dooku, Yoda) (updated 7/14: Wall of Thorns)

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  1. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Often Grows the Wolf

    Qui-Gon changed the galaxy on Naboo. Now a Jedi Knight, he means to take on a deadlier challenge.

    A series of vignettes over thirteen years tracing the Jedi training of a Sith apprentice.
    Nine vignettes are completed - the series will stretch to thirteen.

    This is a compilation thread. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
  2. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Metastasis
    73 BBY

    When only the two senior members of the Council remained in the room, they brought up the other matter. Dooku's report was terse and emotionless. Qui-Gon's was longer and more of an argument. More of a plea, really. It was with trepidation he finished putting forth his case.

    "We can't let him go. He knows too much. And I can't in conscience..." Qui-Gon swallowed. "He is the responsibility of the Order, and should be trained." He stood straighter. "I'll do it."

    Yoda's eyes narrowed.

    "You're sure about this, Qui-Gon?" Master Dooku asked softly. He hadn't taken a seat, but instead had prowled around the edge of the room as Qui-Gon argued. Now he stood at one of the windows of the Council chamber, staring out on noonlit Coruscant.

    "<Of course he's sure>." Master Tyvokka was old enough that his brown fur was starting to show tinges of silver. The Wookiee barked a laugh. "<He's your apprentice. That doesn't mean he's right>." Master Yoda was expressionless now, but his gimer stick tapped arrhythmically on the arm of his chair.

    "He's not my apprentice anymore." Dooku murmured. Qui-Gon's Master ...former Master, rather... was today the newest member of the Jedi Council. Not a development Qui-Gon had anticipated, but the world had changed now. They had changed it together, in a more harrowing trial than the Council could ever have devised. "And he usually is right."

    "Not the task of a Knight, this is," Yoda said finally. "A Master's task this was. Left undone."

    Dooku's eyes narrowed as he turned. He sounded defensive. "It's the duty of a Master to honor commitments made by their apprentice - just as it is the responsibility of an apprentice not to make those commitments unwisely. Qui-Gon did not make the choice you or I would have made, but that does not mean his choice was wrong, Master Yoda."

    "We will see."

    "I don't see anyone else offering a solution." Qui-Gon said grimly. "You said I was a Knight. That I had earned it. That means I can take an apprentice."

    Dooku glanced at him. "Well, to be fair, I think Master Yoda prefers a more final solution."

    "It wouldn't have been very final with the both of us dead in some Gungan gutter and nobody the wiser," Qui-Gon snapped. "It wasn't just the right way out, it was the only way out."

    "<Don't be impertinent>." Tyvokka growled.

    Yoda stopped tapping his stick. "The right to take an apprentice, you have. The right to take this apprentice, you do not."

    "Maybe not." Qui-Gon's voice was quiet. "But I have the responsibility."

    "I trust Qui-Gon," Dooku said slowly. "And if the boy is willing, I will support them in this endeavor."

    Tyvokka lifted his head. "<Is the boy willing>?"

    Qui-Gon swallowed. "I haven't asked."

    ***

    The temporary secure housing room was stark and white. There was a shelf-like bed with a nine-year-old blue-eyed child on it. "Hi, Qui-Gon." he said.

    Qui-Gon swallowed again, aware of Dooku only a few yards away. "Hi there. Uh....do you have a name? A real name, I mean."

    "Not anymore." the kid said. "It's been boring in here. I thought there'd be more people."

    "Nobody knows you're here, really." Qui-Gon said.

    "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

    "I don't know. Did you have...parents, or anything?"

    The boy thought for a minute, and then shook his head.

    "I don't either. Uh...I'm going to try and see if I can look after you a while. Er. You know I'm a Jedi. A Jedi Knight now."

    The boy gave him a 'well, duh' look.

    "I was wondering if you'd want to be..." don't say apprentice "uh, learn from me? How to be a Jedi?"

    "You want to be my Master?" The boy sounded completely confused now.

    "Um...sort of...but not like that."

    "But what if I don't want to be a Jedi?"

    "That might be bad." Qui-Gon said quietly.

    "I see." The boy gave him a critical look. "I'm not sure you'd make a good Master."

    There was a small almost-amused noise from the hallway. Qui-Gon swallowed. "I'm going to tr
  3. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    The Naming of Beasts
    72 BBY

    "This is really rather unprecedented." The stout Drall healer stared beadily at the young boy on the table. "He has no medical records whatsoever?"

    "None we've been able to locate, Master Verna," Dooku said. "I want a full physical, inoculations, and blood tests as age appropriate. His file should be locked to my security clearance, with Qui-Gon and yourself also permitted access."

    If this surprised the dark-furred healer, she gave no sign."Very well. Name?"

    "Ulic." Qui-Gon said. Dooku raised his eyebrows, while 'Ulic' himself, a scrawny child with wispy reddish-blond hair, frowned.

    "I see. And how old is this youngling?"

    Qui-Gon glanced at Dooku, who shrugged. "About nine?"

    "Does he have a Judicial Calendar birthdate?"

    "Ulic, what's your birthday?" Qui-Gon asked.

    The boy took a few seconds to realize he was being addressed. "Don't know," he said uncomfortably.

    "Homeworld?"

    Dooku sighed. "Put down Naboo."

    "And you are, indeed, male?" Verna squinted at the boy

    "What? Yes."

    Master Verna noted that down. "Ulic, please take off your clothes and step into the medical imager."

    ***

    "Is that what I look like on the inside?" Ulic asked. His attitude had ranged from tolerant to near-rebellious over the course of the physical, but the translucent blue hologram seemed to fascinate him. Master Verna zoomed in on various internal organs, making noises to herself. "Left kidney slightly abnormal in size, and that's odd....how often have you been in a bacta tank, Ulic?"

    "'bout every few weeks."

    "Every..." the Drall sounded faintly appalled, but at a curt gesture from Dooku she continued, focusing on the teeth. "Well, Ulic, it looks like your first premolars are about to come in. Also, based on the scan, I'm adjusting your age up to ten Coruscant years."

    Ulic nodded absently, still craning his neck at the hologram.

    "Today's your birthday, Ulic!" Qui-Gon said, smiling.

    "Oh. Okay." His new apprentice frowned. "I've never really had a birthday before. Is it supposed to involve people poking you and making you cough?"

    Qui-Gon winced. "Er..."

    "That's what I thought." Ulic said. He stuck a finger in his mouth, experimentally poking at his teeth. "Which ones are the premolars?"

    "Those ones." Verna pointed them out on the medical scan, then turned away to pick up a blood tester from the tray behind her. "Please hold still, Ulic."

    "I'm not fidg...." Ulic's head whipped back as he sensed the woman trying to poke him. Qui-Gon wasn't sure exactly how it happened, but a whorl of fury manifested in the Force, and the lancet exploded. Verna warded off a fragment heading towards her face, all her fur now standing on end.

    "Jinn, control your apprentice!"

    Qui-Gon's first instinct was to look at Dooku, but Dooku seemed content to let him handle it, instead drawing Master Verna aside and speaking quietly and urgently to her in a language he didn't know. He wasn't sure quite what to do, but he carefully approached the child.

    "Ulic, it's not acceptable to attack the healers." he said. It sounded lame even to him.

    "She attacked me!" the boy snapped. "That's not acceptable either!"

    "She is a healer and you are her charge right now." Dooku said from across the room. Verna's fur was still ruffled, but she seemed to be calming down.

    Ulic's eyes narrowed. "She's not my Master, though, so that doesn't matter. I don't want her putting things in my body."

    "She wasn't. She was just taking blood." Qui-Gon sighed. "There's a standard set of immunizations that every Temple child gets. You're going to get a set of...five injections, I think, that will protect you from some very nasty diseases."

    Ulic sniffed. "That's what the Force is for. Commanding the little creatures to leave you alone."

    Qui-Gon tried to be patient. "What the injections do is tell your body to kill bad things for you. It's more efficient."

    "You're being stupid about this." Ulic said. Out of the corner of his eye Qui-Gon saw Dooku d
  4. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Svefnmal
    71 BBY

    It was dawn in the Jedi Temple, and for the four hundred and fifth day in a row Qui-Gon wished he could sleep in. Instead he faced the new day.

    "Hi!" Ulic chirped, the exact second the door opened.Qui-Gon thought it slightly unnatural that his apprentice was so awake and alert this early. It reminded him of Master Dooku, who he'd lived with for eight years. In Dooku?s case it had been unnatural - Dooku's need to be in control of his life had extended to his sleep schedule. They'd ended up sleeping in shifts, both because of preference and because otherwise they would have driven each other crazy. Ulic wasn't like Dooku though. Dooku had reliably meditated in the very early evening, but Ulic slept rarely and lightly. He'd woken up once in the pre-dawn hours to find Ulic sitting in a corner of his room and silently staring at him. Qui-Gon had finally accepted that there were going to be a few hours while he was sleeping when his apprentice would be awake and puttering around doing idiosyncratic Ulic-things.

    Right now he seemed to be working on a holocube full of logic puzzles Master Dooku had given him. The Temple did not skimp on basic schooling for Padawans, but the high-security reality of their lives meant that Ulic's choice of instructors was limited. Dooku handled mathematics, the one subject Ulic seemed to struggle with at all. He was still very good at it, but not nearly as good as he was at reading, writing, or science.

    ?Good morning, Ulic,? he said tiredly. Ulic tucked his padawan braid behind his ear and looked alert.

    ?Are we doing anything interesting today??

    ?Well?.Master Yoda?s agreed to introduce you to a youngling clan.?

    ?Oh, the other people??

    Qui-Gon frowned. ?What do you mean??

    ?Well, it?s obvious there?s a lot more people than you, and a saw a bunch my first few days, but I?ve only met?? Ulic counted on his fingers. ?Twelve,? he concluded happily. ?But this place is bigger than a place for twelve, and I can hear them a little.?

    ?Some of the other people,? Qui-Gon said cautiously.

    ?What?s a youngling clan??

    ?It?s a group of younglings ? who have not yet been taken as a Padawan apprentice. Usually the process begins around your age and lasts a couple of years as Masters select apprentices.?

    ?Oh. Okay.?

    Don?t ask me why you?re different, Qui-Gon wished. And for once, his Padawan didn?t.
  5. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Gnawdoubt
    70 BBY

    It was five in the morning, Judicial time, and Dooku was playing with numbers.

    He found his mind focused better before dawn. No distractions, the mindsparks of his fellow Jedi muted and easily caged off. Best of all, no interruptions.

    It wasn?t that Dooku had disliked having an apprentice. But silence was valuable to him, and peace, and while both of those were artificial constructs even in the Jedi Temple, he didn?t mind.

    If necessary, one makes one?s own desolation, and inhabits it.

    The mind plays games, alone, and Dooku well knew it, and had coaxed his mind into entertaining itself on the public accounts of the Trade Federation.

    It was the year?s best work of fiction, after all. The numbers ordered themselves, and there were holes barely sensed, that Dooku leaned at mathematically until they resolved themselves, or didn?t. The perfidy of the Kuati was easily apparent ? the less-connected Neimoidians lied better, and less.

    There was something uneasy in the air, this night, though. He looked up, his mind distracted, threads of motive and profit tangling themselves in his mind.

    Somebody was about to call him.

    Then somebody did.

    ***

    The quarters of Qui-Gon Jinn were brightly-lit and empty. There was nothing for it. He picked up a comlink, and entered a combination so familiar he didn?t have to think about it,

    There was only one chime, then a soft click and silence after it.

    ?Ulic?s missing,? Qui-Gon said.

    There was the briefest of pauses. ?Go find him,? Dooku said mildly. ?Before I do.?

    There was another click. Qui-Gon?s stomach dropped. He threw on his cloak hurriedly, and looked at the door.

    His primary reaction was fear.

    Where was Ulic? Was Dooku actively murderous right now, or only annoyed at being interrupted? Now that Qui-Gon considered it, it worried him that he couldn?t tell.

    You are a Jedi, Qui-Gon thought. He stretched out his senses. There were only hints and ghosts of Ulic?s presence, most prominent in these rooms.

    He closed his eyes and left their quarters, head down. It felt like his path grew before him like a branching vine. He grasped it, traced it with a mental finger. Started walking.

    Doors opened ahead of him, and he heard the sounds of his footsteps and those of others, but he kept grimly on the trail. Yet it grew more and more fragmentary with distance. One last door opened for him, and he felt a breeze on his skin.

    He opened his eyes. He was on a balcony. The trail seemed to double back from here, and Qui-Gon realized it was an old one. From here Ulic had gone back to their quarters, maybe a week or two weeks before.

    That didn?t mean it betrayed nothing, though.

    He took a few last steps, and was at the balcony railing.

    Where was he going? he asked the Force. He was only twelve, after all. How far could he go?

    He was answered with only the certainty that Ulic wasn?t in the Temple. Wherever Ulic was, he was breathing the same industrial Coruscant air, ghosting along the thousands of streets and levels of the greatest of Galactic cities.

    He took a deep breath and looked out across the city. Smelled a fragmentary, distant, scent, as if of a thousand alien perfumes.

    The Senate Chamber?

    ***

    He?d felt he was getting closer as he reached the Senatorial complex, but it had taken hours of patient tracking to narrow things down further. He sensed in several places that Ulic had been there previously.

    The Library of the Republic was almost the last place he would have thought of looking, yet it was there he finally sensed a distracted Ulic-mind, and pinned it squirming with a mental thumb long enough to catch up.

    He hoped his disappointment and disapproval were clear in his voice. ?We?re going home, Ulic.? The boy nodded, and turned off the terminal he had been using.

    Qui-Gon?s mouth twisted. The Library respected the anonymity of its patrons. What had Ulic wanted to do unobserved that he?d escaped the Temple and fled across the many canyons o
  6. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Wall of Thorns
    69 BBY

    ?Ataru,? Dooku said. His face probably betrayed his disdain. ?Well, you?re short enough for it.?

    ?That?s how Master Qui-Gon fights, right??

    ?Well, yes.? That was about the only thing Dooku had never forgiven his apprentice for. Qui-Gon had the perfect build for Makashi. The wrong mindset, unfortunately.

    He glanced over the rack of wooden practice swords, running a hand across them before selecting the one most to his tastes. He realized it was the blade Tyvokka had used in his own training, and almost smiled.

    Usually combat training was a matter for an apprentice?s Master, but Qui-Gon had neglected it in the case of young Ulic. Dooku did not entirely disagree with his reasoning, but Qui-Gon wasn?t here.

    He looked at Ulic, then, sizing the child up, before picking a weapon and tossing it at him. Ulic caught it, and adjusted his grip.

    Even if Qui-Gon hadn't trained him, someone else had, once upon a time. As Dooku had suspected.

    "Do I need to run through the basics?" he asked.

    "No."

    "Good."

    Ulic looked at him. Dooku started to pace.

    "The weapon in your hand is not the lightsaber you will build yourself. It is a thing of wood. Neverless, it is as much a part of the Force as you are. Close your eyes, Ulic. Extend your awareness. See if you can make it part of you."

    As Ulic closed his eyes, Dooku walked closer and stopped, blurring his presence in the Force, damping down any way Ulic could precisely sense him except touch.

    He waited.

    "Is this another exercise on patience, Master?"

    Glacially slow, Dooku reached out and touched the blade of the sword, lightly enough not to jar Ulic's hand.

    No response.

    "You need to reach outside yourself, Ulic, not just wait for the universe to come to you. Let the Force flow through your fingers. Make the weapon as much a part of you as your hand, or your foot, or your eye.

    The Force shifted around Ulic, the right way, this time. The boy was, as always, an alarmingly quick study. Dooku touched the sword again.

    "Oh!" Ulic said, startled, and jumped back, stumbling. "That tickles." He waved the sword around, dragging the tip against the floor. "How weird. I didn't know you could do that."

    "You need to know where your lightsaber is at all times. You need to have an awareness of it that is as precise as your knowledge of where your hand is, and more. It's a deadly weapon, and can kill you as easily as an enemy if you're clumsy." Dooku's brows furrowed as he sized Ulic's stance up. "Mind your posture. Don't set your legs like that. You need to be mobile. You need to be able to move at a moments notice to avoid a blow, or move with it. If you stay still with Ataru, you'll get killed."

    "I thought you used another form?"

    Dooku shrugged. "I know Ataru. Personally, I find it wastes energy and merely annoys the opponent, but Yoda thinks highly of it."

    "Maybe I should be learning from Yoda, then."

    "Maybe you should be learning from your own Master." Dooku said. "Master Yoda is extremely busy. As am I. Truly, though, the swordsman matters far more than the form he trains in. Any master of the five true forms views them as at best?guidelines."

    ?You hate me, don?t you,? Ulic said, as he practiced the block again.

    Dooku frowned at him. ?I don?t hate you.?

    "You're always there. Around the corner, a few rooms away. I can sense you always hovering at the limits of my senses. Watching me. Waiting for me to slip up."

    Dooku lowered his sword. "A master has a responsibility to an apprentice," he said. "A responsibility to teach all he knows, to guide his charge wisely, to raise up a child into a Jedi. The greatest honor a Jedi can attain is to have taught a Jedi greater than him."

    "You're not my master," Ulic said.

    A quiet chuckle. "Did I say I was? There is another responsibility a Master has, however. To know when he has failed. The Dark is devouring, and the student who betrays his training is first and foremost his Master's responsibility."

    "So??"

  7. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Terms of Surrender
    68 BBY
  8. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    The Essence of Lying
    67 BBY
  9. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Cold Horizon
    66 BBY
  10. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Ambatt
    65 BBY

    Her chip buzzed in a soft droid voice inside her head.

    ?Attention, girls. We have a visitor. Make yourselves presentable.?

    She exchanged a frantic glance with Rane. Drill? No? Adjusting her dress, she reached for the comb by the mirror.

    Sometimes she envied the Twi?lek girls. Her dark hair was sometimes trouble, and she?d been told to keep it longer than she?d like. It was an uglier sort of man that came in to look at the Twi?lek?s, though.

    They were all ugly inside, though, especially the Hutts. Rarely there were women ? once, a couple had come through without any warning, cooing unnaturally at them.

    That had been creepy, too much like old memories of?

    She winced, as a shock passed through. The girls were all closing the sleeping compartments, leaving the ward empty of everything but them. Her face felt numb, and she hoped it would wear off before the visitor came. She?d be punished for half her face drooping.

    Her hair was combed out. She looked at the dark hairs on the comb before putting it away. She was lucky hers behaved so well. One of the other girls was still struggling ? Zirrone had always had problems. She stared down at the line in the floor, and hoped Zirrone would finish in time. It was bad for all of them for one to be late on a drill. .

    ?Thirty seconds,? the voice said. She did her best to look alert as she sat on the stool by the mirror.

    Cargu himself was there, not one of the matrons. She recognized his shoes.

    Somebody else was walking behind him. His shoes looked practical and comfortable, but what she could see of his outfit was brightly colored and garish. He zeroed right in on the Twi?leks.

    Typical.

    ?Does milord see anything of interest?? Corgu asked, simpering.

    The voice that responded was oily, and she took an instant dislike to it. It wasn?t just the voice ? it was the feeling of something nasty in the room. Not that that was anything new. ?Have the green girl stand up?

    They weren?t addressing her, so she tuned out. They were monitored all the time, here, and if they started gossiping about anything they weren?t supposed to hear, they were punished. She kept an ear open for something related to her, but as long as they were over there she could zone out a little.

    That man was so nasty it itched. In her head. She tried to make herself look ugly to him. It usually worked.

    This time, though, she got the feeling someone was looking at her. But as far as she could tell Corgu and the other man were still talking. Haggling, now. They?d moved on to Rane, who was an unfortunate shade of yellow, but very pretty. The man was dubious about Rane?s age. The Twi?lek probably wasn?t as old as Corgu said ? she had shown up the last time they?d come here, after all.

    She could tell the deal wasn?t about to go through.

    ?Those three,? the man said. ?What are their prices??

    ?Fourteen thousand, four hundred for the human. Sixteen thousand for one of the Rodians, or fifteen each for the pair.?

    The man drifted closer, eyeing one of the Rodians ?Her face is pudgy,? he said.

    Corgu shrugged. ?She?ll grow out of it.?

    ?I?m not convinced.? Suddenly she felt his calculating gaze on her. ?You, girl. Look at me.?

    She looked up. The man addressing her was dressed in dark red, with a shimmering red jacket. Blondish hair. A man, maybe, but very young. His eyes were blue. He was smiling at her, but his eyes weren?t in it.

    ?Well, maybe this one?s not so bad. Stand up. You can stand, right??

    She stood up.

    ?Turn around.?

    She did so.

    ?Hmm.? As the man eyed her, Corgu paged to her details on the datapad he was holding and offered them to him. The man read them, seemed to page through a few of the other girls to compare, then handed it back.

    She kept herself still as he touched her face. He seemed very thoughtful, as if he was debating something with himself.

    ?She?ll do.?

    Corgu beamed. ?Excellent! She shall serve you well.?

    ?I expect so.? The buyer looked her over. A hint of doubt seeme
  11. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Queen of the Mists
    64 BBY
  12. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    By Fate Mastered
    63 BBY

    ?I think that at this point we have to resign ourselves to the fact you?re probably not going to get much taller, Padawan? Qui-Gon said.

    ?Huh.? his apprentice said. Ulic was sketching out a missive of some sort and didn?t look up. Possibly a letter to that young Hapan lady. Qui-Gon didn?t read Ulic?s correspondence, but he was aware that Dooku almost certainly did. Ulic was probably well aware of that too. Sometimes he wondered who exactly his former Master thought he was, anyway.

    ?I keep expecting you to grow another ten centimeters,? Qui-Gon confessed. Ulic gave him a pained teenage look and closed the writing tablet.

    ?Fortunately freakish height?s not contagious, Master,? he said with a straight face.

    Qui-Gon frowned mildly at him. Ulic suppressed a chuckle.

    ?As I was about to say, my very short apprentice, I think it?s time you gave some thought to constructing a lightsaber.?

    Ulic leaned forward, giving him a sharp, interested look. ?Really??

    Qui-Gon could almost see the thoughts swirling in Ulic?s head, the same as any young padawan, considering fantastic colors and twenty different controls and bizarre shapes and sizes.

    Still, he remembered being young. Thankfully Dooku had restrained himself from laughing outright at his first attempt at a hilt.

    Most Jedi Ulic?s age had had a full lightsaber for five or six years, rebuilding as they outgrew or lost theirs. Ulic, however, had only been permitted a training saber. He?d learned to use it in ways that Qui-Gon was certain Master Yoda wouldn?t quite approve of ? but nobody had ever doubted Ulic?s creativity.

    ?You?ll build the hilt here,? Qui-Gon said. ?I have basic materials. There?s information in the Jedi Archives at length if you need it.?

    ?I might take a look,? Ulic said.

    ?I?d advise as your Master to start with a simple design. What you make of it in the Temple at Ilum won?t be what you bring in. I learned that the hard way.?

    A small grin from his apprentice. ?Of course you make of it what you bring in. Did you mean to say what you make of it isn?t what you ?think- you?ll be making of it??

    Qui-Gon snorted. ?Padawans who are being too clever for their own good cook dinner.?

    ?Clever Padawans know better than to let you try to cook anyway,? Ulic parried. And with that, he wandered off to the kitchen, humming.

    ***

    Ilum was a wall of ice.

    Certainly, there was a world somewhere around them, but when the landing platform was halfway up a smooth, featureless, almost mirror-clear wall, one focused on the wall, and one?s precarious footing on it.

    Qui-Gon had been here several times before, when crystals of his had been destroyed or cracked. He could see the last Jedi footholds well above, cut a day or so before. They were fresh enough to use.

    Because of those, it would be a relatively easy climb today. The cliffs were often lashed with freezing rain, coating them with new ice and making them treacherous. The landing pad cut into the cliff was shielded, but soon it would have to be moved again.

    He?d been here once when the air had thawed dangerously, and the cliffs had turned into many sunfed rivulets, rushing down in a thin, freezing-cold waterfall ten kilometers across or more.

    ?That doesn?t look so bad,? Ulic said.

    Qui-Gon remembered his cold weather gear caked with ice, being so cold and wet that it seemed even the Force wouldn?t be able to keep his fingers from freezing. Climbing alone - the ice dangerous, giving way all too easily.

    ?Ilum is treacherous,? he said.

    Ulic nodded. ?For a sheer wall of ice, I mean.?

    ?Usually it?s worse than this. This is good weather. We should try to make time while we can."

    Ulic put his gloved hand on the wall, and reached for his cable launcher. He closed his eyes, and fired the cable up the cliff.

    They couldn?t hear the thunk, but the line tested well, and Ulic started up, the cable slowly spooling in. Qui-Gon set his own line and followed. They?d need several cables-length, so he would spot while U
  13. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Traitor's Gate
    62 BBY

    Names are powerful. It is often a tool of the Jedi to strip an inconvenient name away and assign a new one. An attempt to remake the person into what they will. The Sith do the same.

    From more than ten years before this, I?d gone by the name Ulic, after a long-dead Alderaanian who rejected the Sith, lost the Force, and died by being shot in the back. This was not an example I particularly wanted to emulate.


    ***

    It was an otherwise average evening, and I listened from the other room as Qui-Gon?s old Master dropped in for a little chat.

    About me, it turned out.

    ?There are none who doubt your apprentice?s ability, Qui-Gon,? Dooku said. ?Nevertheless, there are areas in which we ? and by that I mean the Council - are uncertain of his commitment to the Jedi Order. Master Yoda has decided on a test of his own. He will be taking your apprentice to Korriban.?

    ??What??

    ?That?s what I said. It shouldn?t take more than a few days. Yoda wants him starting tonight. Alone.?

    There was a pause of a few seconds. ?It would have been nice for him to tell me himself. We have plans.?

    ?You may, of course, take it up with him, but the Council is backing him right now.?

    ?Including you??

    ?That?s not your concern, Qui-Gon.?

    Mild sarcasm. ?Good evening to you too, Master.?

    The door closed, and Qui-Gon wandered into the room I was in. ?You heard, didn?t you.? His lip twisted.

    ?Yes,? I said.

    ?What do you think??

    I tried to think of what Yoda was trying to accomplish, and came up blank, but there was a sick feeling rising in my stomach. ?What could he possibly want me to do on Korriban??

    A shrug. ?Write 'Ulic was here' on the tomb of Exar Kun?? Qui-Gon?s body language was uncomfortable. As well it should be ? despite being my actual master and all, he apparently wasn?t invited.

    ?Kun?s not there,? I said. ?And vandalizing the tombs is a very bad idea.? I shook my head. ?I?m not happy about this.?

    ?I?m not either,? Qui-Gon admitted. ?We?ve made a lot of progress and I?m getting tired of the Council?s distrust. But remember, the Force is with you.? He studied me for a moment. ?I have faith in you, Ulic. You?ll do well.?

    ***

    I don?t think what I was then is what Lord Plagueis would have made of me, had he granted me full apprenticeship. I learned a lot, and some of it was things he would never have taught me. And some of the teachings were good, and some of them were useful, and some of them were right.

    Nevertheless?


    -from the Alderaan Holocron

    ***

    Korriban was?different.

    Compared to the Jedi Temple, the planet swam with the long influence of the Sith, and felt like echoes of another life. The massive gravity of the world pulled him down, and Yoda seemed even more hunched and frail. On the ramp of their little ship, Sidious hesitated, before he was firmly prodded down. Concealing his annoyance, he gave Master Yoda a wry grin. ?Sorry.?

    Yoda harrumphed. ?Been here before, have you??

    ?Yes,? Sidious said.

    ?There is a place here that bring you to I will. Brought me when I was a child, my master did, and a long time ago that was.?

    ?Who was your master??

    Yoda kept walking. ?A slayer of Sith.?

    Sidious stopped. ?Who??

    ?Come, Padawan,? Yoda said. ?Take you to that hall where the first of the new Sith was slain, and where lingers still he does past death into madness.?

    The young man just mutely shook his head.

    ?Fear the dead, do you??

    ?I respect the dead,? Sidious said slowly.

    ?Not a man to be respected, Bane was,? Yoda said, ?As misused the Force he did, rightly he feared death. Jedi know better, and are better. There are beings here that dead are, and at the same time not dead, but once their tombs crumble into dust die they will screaming. As nothing return to the Dark Side, they do.?

    ?Master??

    ?Speak to them you will,? Yoda said. He smiled slowly, catlike. ?And tell them what you?ve become. Interested to hear it, I am.?

    Sidious swallowed. ?Master Yoda, that?s an? incre
  14. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Last Homecoming
    61 BBY

    The circle of seats in the Jedi Council chambers had always symbolized equality, but in practice, all eyes had been drawn to a chair that was now empty.

    Qui-Gon, unusually, was a spectator. Forbidden to speak now that his testimony had been given and considered, he stood by the doors while they silently deliberated, consensus arrived at by the exchange of glances, by seeking the will of the Force. He had only been allowed this privilege because Ulic was ? had been ? his Padawan.

    No longer. A rift had been driven between them. Fateful words had been spoken in numbing grief and anger, and witnessed by the Council.

    It worried him that he did not regret them.

    The doors slid open and Ulic stepped in again, with a bare glance at Qui-Gon. His gaze swept around the Council Chamber, meeting the eyes of each in turn. Master Slnne?s back was to Qui-Gon, so he didn?t feel comfortable trying to read her mood. Dark-skinned Master Zivari was uneasy, though, his lekku atwitch, while Astaal Vilbum?s wide mouth was gaping in thought.

    Master Plett, who Qui-Gon counted a personal friend, looked dismayed, while dark-haired Jocasta Nu?s expression was unfathomable. Master Nu was not a familiar face - she was perhaps fifty, and had only replaced Master T?un on the Council the week before.

    Not one of Master Prisquar?s feathers was out of place either, but that was expected. The chair next to the Mrlssi was empty, and that emptiness hit Qui-Gon like a weight in his chest every time he looked at it.

    Beyond Yoda?s seat, Master Tyvokka?s eyes were fixed on Ulic. As the senior life appointment to the Council present, all currently were deferring to him, but the situation seemed unnatural. Perhaps more so to Tyvokka, in his third century on the Council, than to the younger, more temporary members.

    Aged Master Voschuld did not look to be in a forgiving mood. She was the last of the old Selonian bloc on the council, having outlived nearly all of her many Jedi sisters. Beside her, Master Rancisis was wary, his expression as always hidden under his Thisspiasian beard.

    T?ra Saa?s molded features certainly belied her age. While Master Tyvokka had been on the Council for over two hundred years, Master Saa had served longer, in appointments scattered over the last millennium. Her expression was one of grave concern.

    All in all, Qui-Gon thought, they were doing a rather poor job of pretending nothing had happened.

    Youngest and last, Dooku met Ulic?s gaze thoughtfully. He nodded curtly, and Ulic turned back towards Tyvokka.

    The young man bowed. ?Masters,? he said, ?I defer to your judgment.

    ?<The High Council,>? the Wookiee said in his own tongue. ?<in the matter of the death of Master Yoda, has decided this. He went into peril knowingly, and of this peril you have spoken much, but not completely. He was under no compulsion to walk on the forbidden world, yet he did so. The Council does not consider you at fault.>?

    Ulic nodded. Tyvokka glanced to Prisquar.

    ?On the matter of your apprenticeship, your Master has repudiated you as his apprentice, and has confirmed this before the Council,? Master Prisquar said. ?Do you understand that by this, you are no longer his Padawan??

    Ulic took a deep breath. ?I understand,? he said.

    Master Vilbum rumbled. ?There is a choice before you now. You may leave the Jedi Order, as any youngling not chosen may, for service elsewhere. Or you may remain in the Order in the hope that a Jedi will choose to complete your training.?

    For the first time, his former apprentice looked less sure of himself. ?May I consider this a moment, Masters??

    Prisquar and Vilbum glanced to Tyvokka, who indicated his assent. At that, Ulic closed his eyes, and the Force drew close around him. His breathing stilled, the faint echo of his mind becoming inscrutable to the surrounding Jedi.

    A minute passed in silence.

    ?You must choose now,? Jocasta Nu said.

    Ulic nodded and took a deep breath. ?I will stay.?

    ?Excellent,? Dooku said, and stoo
  15. Charmisjess Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2003
    star 3
    Ohh!! You speak the truth! Shiny, and good, and new!


    I love this Ilum bit. I've always been fascinated by the planet concept, but never really happy with how the various canon authors have portrayed the place--you have such a good feeling for places in your writing. (I still cannot part your version of Serenno from Deep Sky from my personal concept of the place, it made such a distinct impression--which is a problem, cos I really had wanted to write it at some point!) But it's such vivid, tactile writing. I feel colder at reading it. I feel like I've almost been there, which is corny, but guh, true.

    Again, I've mentioned this to you before, the play between Qui-Gon and Ulic is brilliant--almost reminds me of the Anakin/Obi dynamic, but more naturally suiting the characters, and much (*ahem*) less annoying. >.> You have a good sense of dialogue.

    The ending of the update was very chilling. The brilliant inhuman gold...oh! Your writing is so rare-good! And, goodness, this story, I adore it, but I can't shake the distinct, foreshadowed feeling that you're very much about to spring something brilliantly horrific for Qui-Gon's Sith-training attempt.

    *eyes* What have you got up your sleeves, Master Sab?
  16. Ulrike Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 8, 2000
    star 1
    I love this AU. Palpatine is still Palpatine although not evil. He seems to me to be a light shade of grey. The other characters feel very real to me.
  17. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 9, 2000
    star 6
    This is all awesome. It deserves a great big UP!!! :D

    And some updates. ;)

    - The Imperial Ewok
  18. 1Yodimus_Prime Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2004
    star 4
    This story. Is. Awesome.



    I'll leave it at that.
    If I dare say anything more, I'll fill six pages.
  19. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    And that's a bad thing? o_O

    Another part(Last Homecoming, after the last one)has been posted.
  20. 1Yodimus_Prime Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2004
    star 4
    It is when you don't have any time to write six pages. :p
    (but I do now, sucka)


    I'll start at the end:
    Ulic ambled back towards him with a new Padawan in tow, a wooly-haired boy with an awkward braid. There was a glint of amusement in his cold blue eyes as he looked at Qui-Gon.

    ?Master Jinn,? Ulic said. ?May I introduce my apprentice, Mace Windu.?



    That sent shivers down my spine. Of course he would choose the youngling who's the most agressively Force-strong. What really makes me enjoy this story is how, no matter how much we get to know "Ulic," it's almost impossible to trust him. There's a specific point...


    "Nobody asked me about being named after some stupid Ulic." his apprentice muttered.

    "Ulic Qel-Droma was a Jedi who..." Master Dooku began sternly.

    "I know who he was." Ulic said with a superior smirk.

    Dooku stared coldly down at the boy at the interruption. "You should be honored to bear his name, then."

    Ulic shrugged. "It's weird answering to it."

    "You don't like it?" Qui-Gon asked.

    "No, it's okay. I have a lot of practice pretending to be different people."

    Qui-Gon frowned. "This isn't pretend."

    "I didn't mean it like that," Ulic said quickly. Qui-Gon wasn't sure he believed him.



    ...that betrays just how much he'd learned before Plagueis had been killed...however that may have happened. You get the wary inpression that, at least for a while, "Ulic" fully intends to serve two Masters. To be a Jedi superficially, and a Sith secretly. Evidence:

    Qui-Gon?s mouth twisted. The Library respected the anonymity of its patrons. What had Ulic wanted to do unobserved that he?d escaped the Temple and fled across the many canyons of Coruscant?


    Yes, what. [face_thinking]


    I suspect that when other years get filled in, the significance behind this will be revealed. Until then, I can only guess.
    But I get the impression that Yoda is the only one who gets him. Qui Gon is too caught up in the details to see. He dismisses the boy's sleeping habits much to quickly, and writes off the other strange things as "ideosyncratic" Sure they become close, and exchange friendly banter, but in the end - details. Dooku is too hands-off and the rest of the Council is too suspicious, too...dare I say it...fearful. But Yoda sees the thing Ulic is trying to do, convinces himself it is a fool's errand, and does everything in his power to show this error to Ulic, knowing that to allow him to screw up on his own would be exceedingly dangerous, if not outright disasterous. Korriban is the perfect place for Ulic to fall, if he must, because - at least in your rendition - you really see how impotent the Dark Side is there. Sure, it looks impressive. But the planet ultimately does nothing beyond defending it's own dying, crumbling memories, that will soon be lost anyhow. (bravo on that, by the way. No matter how big and bad the beastie was, I never lost the feeling that this was all just a pathetic desplay of outdated power) I regret that you killed Yoda, but the final chapter defends that decision well, since it serves as a wake up call to the Council that A) Ulic was EXTREMELY close to falling because of their and Qui Gon's complacency and B) he is not only redeemed because of the experience, but stronger and more honorable for having gone through it, even if there are still faults to be had.

    ..and then the chapter goes on the seed us with doubt about all those things. Is it possible he's been playing the entire Jedi Order for eleven years? Well...it sort of is. Then again, maybe not. We did read that segment through a biased POV, after all. Clever. And evil. Mostly evil.



    What came next? That was his charge, and he would fulfill it. The Force sang in his heart in confirmation, and he thought he heard an old Jedi chuckle.

    Ulic looked out over Korriban one last ti
  21. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    There was a lot on Korriban for Ulic to be scared of, but nothing for Yoda to fear. Yoda, I think, -gets- 'there is no death, there is the Force'. And that's the most important thing Ulic needs to be taught, and it's something Qui-Gon can't teach him, because I'm don't think Qui-Gon's quite mastered it himself at this point. I tried to really stress the difference between the all too fragile Sith 'immortality' and the Jedi sort. His death wasn't a loss - like Yoda said, it was a win. It was Luke throwing down his saber in front of the Emperor and saying "No."

    Once Ulic conquers his Sith fear of death, there's really nothing that can stand in his way ;)

    Yoda knew what he was doing. That's all I'm saying. :)

  22. 1Yodimus_Prime Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2004
    star 4
    I do somewhat regret not putting in Qui-Gon and Dooku's reactions over Yoda's body, but there's no good place to stick them in. It would help explain why Qui-Gon changes his mind - I was worried that was too sudden.
    An epilogue, perhaps? I don't know what more there is to say, though. On that matter, at least.

    One question: Palpatine should be a good couple decades older than Qui Gon, but he's not. So, is the anachronism that Ulic was born later, or that Qui was born earlier?
  23. sabarte Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2005
    star 4
    Actually not - I'm using the established canon ages. Sidious is 10 years younger than Qui-Gon, who's 10 years younger than Dooku. Born 82 years, 92 years, and 102 years before the Battle of Yavin, respectively.

    edit: And Mace and Shmi, in turn, are 10 years younger than Sidious. You can tell they established the canon ages in TPM by "oh, he's 10, he's 50, he's 60, he's 40, he's 25", etc.
  24. raisedbywolves Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2005
    star 2
    Have I not replied to this before?

    It's absolutely fascinating!
  25. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    Aaaaaah, but it's such an intriguing re-combination of the saga character roles. Even Sidious could have had a Jedi path. Whenever a new chapter turns up I have to go back and review the others. The whole series has a nice mood of destiny about it.
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