Saga One Prick to Bleed - an AU beginning in AotC (Obi, Ani, Sabe, Yoda) - Mar. 1

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Amidolee, Jun 24, 2005.

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  1. DarthSilious Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2006
    star 1
    I agree wholeheartedly! I really want to see where this story is going. Any chance of ebing added to the PM update list should there be any further updates? [face_praying]

    Just noticed - this is my 50th post. [face_dancing]
  2. Miana Kenobi Admin Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2000
    star 8
    Tsk tsk, letting this fall so far!

    Any news on an update for this??
  3. Amidolee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 8, 2000
    star 5
    ::shouts to the void:: Hellooooo?!

    hellooo ... ooo ...

    So ... I can't believe it's been a year and a half since I've posted! Well, I can a little. My OPtB folder on my laptop has 4 different Chapter 18's that just never got very far, read horribly, etc. I wanted to get further on with the story before posting more, but then I got rather sidelined by, oh, demotivation, self-deprecation, and DRL. However, I've slowly started to pick at this again, and I hesitated at posting because I didn't want to get readers' hopes up and then disappear again. But I'm making a contract with myself to finish this, and if I don't start posting, it's basically signing the bloody thing. So here goes! This first entry is a year and half old!


    Chapter Eighteen

    Obi-Wan had been in many a wilderness storm on over dozens of planets, always somehow managing to balance in torrents of howling wind and screaming rain, ice, dust, insects, anything and everything. Walking the lower canyon levels of Coruscant felt a bit riskier, though much homier and preferable to traversing horrendous planetary elements. If he allowed some folly, he would admit to enjoying the clandestine, unorthodox outings into the labyrinthine dregs of the capital planet. Tonight, however, he strode through narrow, twisting gangways and near-tunnels, feeling weary, chilled, and altogether beaten by the turbulent winds.

    The Jedi Knight, senses full alert, knew the derelict alcove he casually passed was presently empty. It did not disappoint, nor did it fill him with relief. He forced his mind and emotions to remain clear and empty for this. Anticipation, any sort of predisposition, could be disastrous. He did not know. Yet even as his footsteps took him past the shadowed place of no address but he and Anakin knew in all familiarity, Obi-Wan could not deny his quickened pulse.

    The message. Anakin wanted to meet him here. For what, he did not know, but Obi-Wan was astute enough to know this was absolutely clandestine. He meditated before coming. Obi-Wan did not bring anything with him but himself. Not the Council or the Order or tenuous mastership. Just Obi-Wan. He would hear Anakin out, whatever it was, and take things from there. If he could take anything at all.

    A faint prickling in the Force urged him to amble back to the alcove. Vacant, but he sensed not for long. The shadows, symbiotic creatures in the variant glow of Coruscant night, closed around him. Another canyon opened up before the Jedi as he came to the slashed lines of scaffolding overlooking a forgotten speeder passage. Sheer whistling wind obscured any sounds of approach, but Obi-Wan knew no sound would be made, anyway.

    He turned when the prickle sharpened. A darker shadow undulated from the narrow alcove. Obi-Wan shivered inwardly. Walking here, Anakin and Padawan had been synonymous. He could not experience the embodiment of one word without the other. But then Anakin seemed to form out of the night, and it was Anakin, every vibration in the Force, every shadowed feature kept distant from Obi-Wan, everything said, Yes, this is Anakin. But nothing said, and he is your Padawan. The severance wasn?t even painful; it simply was. Blunt and direct.

    ?Anakin.?

    ?Obi-Wan.?

    Not a greeting, not a challenge. Obi-Wan could not look away from the cold, shadowed face of the young man, but it burned his eyes, urging them to examine the rotting structure encasing them. Then his gaze fastened on something concrete. The Padawan braid?it was gone.

    ?You deserve to be told,? said Anakin. So calm, so hard. ?I won?t explain it to you or make excuses, but?? He paused, and here Obi-Wan expected those once boyish eyes to shift, the sheepish mouth to quirk. They did not. Anakin stared directly at him, more solid than the steel beams criss-crossing in the dark above them. ?You deserve to be told.?

    Obi-Wan waited. Clear and empty he must remain, but everything waited on tenterhooks.

    ?Our destinies lie elsewhere,? Anakin said, takin
  4. Obischick Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2001
    star 4
    Wow... I had forgotten how much I love this fic! I'm so glad you're back and that you're finishing!!

    I really liked the little bit here, the description of Anakin as black oil was just... chilling.

    Can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve next!

    ~Obischick~[face_peace]
  5. Miana Kenobi Admin Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2000
    star 8
    YAYs! So glad you decided to finish this, hun!
  6. Amidolee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 8, 2000
    star 5
    :eek: Readers came back! Ok, I can't promise any sort of scheduled posting rate, but I'll give you another because I'm all excited!





    There was nothing left to do.

    She?d been here before. Sabé?s eyes were closed. The non-color of the chambers walls were meant to be soothing, she knew, because they eliminated the physical place, became nonexistent so minds could travel beyond ? But she did see. The leaves, the sunlight on the lake water, the invisible stirrings in the air, in the Force ? they were all lined in silver-green, all one essence, only divided in the eye.

    Cleaned, recycled air filled her lungs in a long breath, but it came from the crisp mountain air across the galaxy. There was nothing left to do but breathe it in, fill her cells, and then exhale, giving it to the leaves, and then returning to the air.

    She was not here to find peace or an answer. As she sat cross-legged on the chamber floor and stood barefoot on the stone balcony overlooking the lake, she simply existed to breathe through this place of nothing. A mute point, a sliver, in existence. She didn?t need to turn her head to catch the flash of silver as she took aim at her target; she did not see it, but knew it was possible that she woke calmly, no longer a handmaiden, and faced the new nothingness, nodded, and then stepped onto another path. It was possible, once.

    A figure, so like her but wholly someone else, stood silently under the arched entryway of the villa. Another, lost along the knoll, gazing away over the water, had appeared before the other, but there was no real time here to measure his arrival. Maybe he had always been there. The third stood in the shadows behind the first, absorbing the silver-green sheen into further shadow. The fourth she could not see and knew she would not even if she searched. Perhaps she never should have sought him out.

    If she sought peace or resolution, the figure behind her would have shifted through the shimmer, through the breeze dancing over the water. But that was an illusion, and this was not.

    Sabé closed her eyes there, here. Breathe deep, without effort. She didn?t need effort when there was nothing left to do.

    Well, just one thing.

    The figures shimmered and stilled. They faded, but she could not witness the change from being there to ? not. They were still there, she sensed it in the silver-green sheen, but her focus fell to something less ethereal, something tangible, blunt. Words, concepts, oaths ? they faded and shimmered like the figures, and she felt the one thing. It was not ?right? or ?wrong? but a must. It felt solid, draped over her shoulder, and she could see the path form before her, stretching up the knoll into the whispering trees. It was narrow and short, with an outcome that would not shatter. The Force did not need to tell her.

    ~*~*~

    ?You?re certain.?

    Razak nodded. A short, curt dip of a horned chin. He never wasted energy, unless he was phasing. Then he had a flare Count Dooku found tiresome and certainly unnecessary in a fight.

    The Sith Lord folded his hands behind his back in contemplation. Good, he thought, letting Razak stand in silence. The Balzantar?s information was always as accurate as his mark. The enterprising creature seemed to have his claws everywhere, yet Dooku had never found any trace of how. Torture would probably out, but Razak would be useless after that. When he ceased to be useful or became a little too enterprising ? well, then he would die.

    Dooku stared over Razak?s hide-armored shoulder into the lighted pulse of Coruscant. He?d just been handed a wild card and a worrisome bid. A lesser man would have considered the information a gift, a sign the Dark side had chosen him to inherit the greatness that was to come. But he was not a fool.

    Yet fools had just as much if not more of an effect on the Force.

    The assassin would be in his hands. The possibilities ? The sun would be glaring off the skyscrapers before he finished thinking of all the possibilities of this jewel in his hand
  7. Obischick Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2001
    star 4
    Interesting... I would have thought it would be a bit longer before Sabe was shipped out. Her trip with Sache should be interesting... oh god, I so want her to bubble up and just tell Sache everything!

    I loved her vision at the beginning of the post... really beautiful and mildly creepy at the same time. I love the way you describe the Force, they way it gives her comfort and fills her. I wonder what, more specifically, what Dooku's plan is... veeeery interesting....

    You've got me stroking an imaginary beard, I'm so intruiged.

    Gah, what a bad mental image, scratch that. :p

    ~Obischick~ [face_peace]
  8. PadawanKitara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Iam really interested to see what Dooku has up his sleeve.
  9. VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2004
    star 8
    I'm so glad to see this story going again! :D

    ?Our destinies lie elsewhere,? Anakin said, taking the single stride to the alcove?s edge. The myriad glow of city lights outlined his profile in iridescent blue. ?My Jedi training has taken me to this turn in my path. The Order is no longer part of it. I have not,? here he seemed to hold up a finger without twitching a muscle, shifting his stance, ?revoked the Force or my teachings. I am not to be a Jedi, Obi-Wan. Not like you, not like any of the Order.?

    VERY well done! =D=
  10. Amidolee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 8, 2000
    star 5
    Alrighty, here's a good-sized post for y'all. :)


    ~*~*~

    Obi-Wan gazed over the long bay avenue toward the rectangular, lava-streaked view of another Coruscant sunset. Peculiar, wasn?t it, how the small, enclosed world of the Temple and particularly this bay seemed to encompass the greater world of a planet into such a tiny view? He might?ve smiled wryly at such introversion, but Obi-Wan?s face had been set too grim the past couple of days. He stood silent and waiting in the separated, confined world of the security balcony. The Jedi?s sharp eyes caught the approaching vessel before it flashed briefly in the blaze of the setting sun. He did not so much as hear the stationed Padawan?s verbal confirmation as absorb it.

    The sleek lines of the small, interstellar cruiser were familiar (Naboo ships were becoming all-too-familiar, in Obi-Wan?s opinion), but the deep silvery hull seemed to absorb the bay?s lights rather than reflect them. Years of study and experience trained the Jedi?s eyes to approximate ship ages, and this particular one was two decades older than anything under Naboo political service. Not that it mattered; Obi-Wan had no doubt the starship?s interior lines ran as smooth and clean as its intriguing façade. He watched the ship ease onto its spindly landing gear, uncomfortably aware of the Padawan?s surreptitious glance his way.

    Obi-Wan riled against the urge to rub his beard. The younger Jedi?he should care to learn the apprentice?s name?was only physically echoing his own thoughts. He should not be here, observing this transaction. Had he not proclaimed he would have nothing to do with this whole convoluted mess? Or her? That had failed two days ago?just two days??and his resolve, if it had ever warranted such status, failed now.

    A clipped, female voice in a familiar accent carried over the comm. channel. Saché Orzkal of Naboo Intelligence. Obi-Wan stirred his memory, piecing together a sketch of the former handmaiden. Another slip of a young woman, likely deadly behind her girlish laugh and mischievous smirk; only the fact she was a former handmaiden could attach the businesslike voice to the outdated impression. How much did service to Queen Amidala change a person? Obi-Wan wondered.

    He shifted, unable to contain all of his discomfort. Hearing Orzkal, her accent matched to Sabé?s, removed the barrier of distance the balcony provided. He remembered the young handmaiden telling him how she and Saché had grown up together, and then Sabé, blushing a little, ducked her head and said no doubt Obi-Wan would not want to hear about that. He?d had only the vaguest interest at the time, but now he wondered just how deep their friendship had run, and what all of this would mean to Sabé now.

    ?Copy that, Knight T?lana,? said the station Padawan. He studiously ignored Obi-Wan, though the Knight was sure his intense stillness was disturbing the young Bothan.

    He should not be here. But where else was he to be? Anakin was gone.

    Just as his mind?s eye saw Anakin disappear into the dark mire, the lift doors to the bay opened with a quick, rectangular blink. Three figures strode out, Ropjo and T?lana flanking the smaller figure in her muted gray. The Naboo ship?s ramp lowered as the figures approached. Even from up here, Obi-Wan could see the weariness in Sabé?s stride and slope of her shoulders. He?d not seen her since Senator Amidala?s visitation, but she?d definitely been too much on his mind.

    What did she mean the truth would hurt him? And why when she said it did she look like death had come upon her? It could be a mind game, but Obi-Wan doubted it. Sabé, aside from her stint as a decoy, had never shown any predilection for such prevarication. He?d been up and down the spectrum of wild possibilities. If he knew whoever had sent her after Anakin, it would hurt him. Perhaps because he would feel betrayed? If betrayal was it, then this person was a friend, ally, or someone within the Order. The last was preposterous. And yet . . . she was traine
  11. Sara_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2000
    star 7
    I really enjoy your story, Amidolee. It's great to see you back! :)


  12. PadawanKitara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Sorry Sache, you should have blown him off and gone with your original destination... you are headed for a trap!! of course it could be the good guys or the bad guys at the other end. I guess I will just have to wait and see :)
  13. Miana Kenobi Admin Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2000
    star 8
    [image=http://photo.gangus.com/d/26788-2/ackbar.jpg]



    YAY for updating! Boo for the mess they're about to get into!
  14. MiraxK Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Ooh, this story's back! Yay! I agree when I say this is one of my fav fanfics ever, lol.

    Is it completely evil of me to actually want Sabe to join Count Dooku (where I think this is heading?) just so she can get revenge on Padme?
  15. Obischick Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2001
    star 4
    *sigh* It's just one of those moments when you want to jump into the story, screaming "no you fools!! It's a trap, don't you see!! DUHHHH!!!" and shake them.

    Fortunately for them, I cannot do this. I can, however, *headdesk* myself quite a few times.

    My overriding question is, however, who has set this trap? Dooku seems to be the obvious choice, but given Padme and even Anakin's previous behaviors in this fic, I wouldn't put it past either one of them or both of them combined... hmmm....

    *squee!* can't wait to find out!

    ~Obischick~
  16. VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2004
    star 8
    No, no, no! Don't do it! [face_shame_on_you] :eek:

    I don't think they're listening to us.... :p

    Another great update! =D=
  17. Amidolee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 8, 2000
    star 5
    Hee, glad to see the bold, underlined signs were not missed! ;) Really, Malcolm Reynolds needed to step in there ...


    Ok, if you would like me to notify you by PM when there's a new post, just let me know, k? I've been sending some PMs out now that I've started writing, mostly working off memory, but I don't want to bother people who are either not reading anymore (due to it's deadness, life, disinterest, etc), or those who simply don't want to be spammed. So, just drop a line here or PM me if you want to be on an update list.










    Chapter Nineteen

    Space spiraled into a mottled limbo, suspending them from reach of outside worlds. Sabé stared into it, feeling like a band that had just been stretched past snapping point and now lay finished and discarded on the floor.

    Saché sighed and leaned back in her seat. A minute of silence hung between them, and then she tapped the edge of the control panel.

    ?So.? Another pause. ?You are being taken to the wastelands.?

    ?Yes.? Sabé?s throat felt dry and itchy, but she resisted the urge to clear it. Too much noise, too much effort.

    Saché pressed her lips together, then turned to Sabé, her jaw decidedly businesslike but her dark, familiar eyes uncertain and hesitant. ?Most of the ? particulars have been taken care of.?

    Sabé knew what her old friend was trying to say, and she could make it easier, but her mouth was dried shut. When a person was sent to the wastelands, he or she was effectively erased from society. The wastelands weren?t a prison or retreat or rehabilitation center. Those places served a purpose, as did those who occupied them. You vanished. You didn?t die or go ?missing.? Those people had records, legacies, trails. All records of her would disappear. Any money or property she had would be absorbed by charity without bearing the tax or records, with a certain percentage going toward the wastelands. Throughout Naboo?s history, some had protested that family members should inherit ?lost? money and property, but it was always agreed that the wastelands would become dumping grounds for those victimized by conniving family members (not that anyone wanted to admit any Naboo would stoop to such measures).

    But her family would realize what had happened. When her share in her father?s guild disappeared and all evidence of her apart from their own memories vanished ? they would know.

    Sabé closed her eyes and bit her inner lip.

    ?Do you ? do you want me to talk to them?? Saché asked quietly.

    ?No.? She sucked in a breath through her nose and looked pointedly at the other woman. ?You?re not allowed.?

    ?I know.? Matter-of-fact, so like Saché.

    Sabé looked away at the vortex of hyperspace. Would she forever be left in hyperspace? That?s what the wastelands were, another displaced emptiness, only it rarely carried a being anywhere beyond the carved void. No defined term, no tasks. Prisoners across the galaxy were often employed to manufacture, assemble, or repair items or provide services; they were giving back to society. Stripping her of even that ? the Senator had chosen her punishment well, and the former handmaiden doubted her former queen would issue a pardon.

    Saché sighed. ?I wonder if the old Sabé is still in there.?

    Looking down at the hands folded in her lap, Sabé thought, ?I don?t even know the answer to that.?

    ?Or you?re afraid of it.?

    Sabé looked up sharply?she?d spoken aloud. Then she quickly faced the hyperspace swirl. Saché had always known her so well.

    In the silence that fell between them, Saché reached over to the knotted braid, soon to be the only evidence of Sabé?s deed and existence. Delicately, as if the thick weave was made of glass, Saché picked up the braid, her brow furrowed as she studied it with the same intensity she used years ago on Queen Amidala?s braids. Sabé?s stomached lurched; she looked away into the hyper-void, hoping to become hypnotized by stars mutated into lines that dissolved into warbled swirls. It was unwise to stare into it for long, like staring into a sun ?

    ?S
  18. MiraxK Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Ooh cliffhanger! For a moment there, I thought it was really Anakin who was there. Anyways, can't wait for the next post.

    Can you add me to the PM list? Please and thanks. :D
  19. Obischick Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2001
    star 4
    Sache!!! Noooooooooo!!!!!!

    Ha! Anakin and Padme I see... I wonder what nefarious things they are up to today....

    I loved the talk between Sache and Sabe there, it was very well done, the anxiety and awkwardness of their former relationship and new relationship colliding beautifully. It is so in character for this to happen, but I just so so so want Sabe to just sigh and watch them sit around with drinks and her just blab to Sache everything... I think I've mentioned this many times before :p and you always (wisely) ignore it and do the correct thing.

    As for a PM, if you want to, feel free to send them, but I have this habit of checking for updates religously on anything I'm reading (pulls out walker) I remember back when it was the reader's responsibility to make sure they were updated (puts away walker) okay, I'll shuddap now. :)

    Excellent update!

    ~Obischick~
  20. Amidolee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 8, 2000
    star 5
    Short post today, but the next one will be longer.


    ~*~*~
    A hiss and beat signaled Razak that the air decompression was complete. He didn?t spare a glance to the body now floating outside the NT-Gazer?s hull, though he did pass the ship a look, promising to return for it. The small nob of an instrument, fastened just under the nook for a disengaged drag fin, gave a quick yellow link. It was not as thorough as a cloaking device, but it caused less disruption than a scrambler. With so little traffic passing through the Koornacht Cluster, he doubted the pseudo-cloaker even had a need, but he wasn?t about to give the NT-Gazer away if he didn?t have to.

    Being resourceful and utilizing both living and material assets were at the core of Razak?s philosophy. No honor code, that was for sure. Honor codes got in the way. He?d seen what they did to others in this business of skillful, hired help. It led to shot backs, betrayal, and complications in tense situations. Some employers respected honor codes; it boiled down to misplaced trust in the code and hired help. If someone didn?t take advantage of your honorable philosophy, that code would take care of you. And how did you blast a personal code without hitting yourself?

    Razak settled into the crash seat, flexed his double-jointed fingers over his skiff?s controls.

    This had been an easy assignment. Smooth, as the Count?s tended to be. The man had a taste for power and the flamboyant, but he kept the latter reserved for special occasions. Well-connected, well-funded, and well-minded ? that was how Razak liked them. Of course, he didn?t trust the Count anymore than the Count trusted him. The moment Razak took a misstep or ceased to be useful, the Count would no doubt kill him?but Razak intended to be long gone by then. And the Count knew this, too, because Razak believed in an upfront working relationship.

    He was not in this for the bloodthirst, like so many out there, nor did he have naïve aspirations of striking the right job and retiring on some paradise moon, surrounded by concubines, riches, and not a care in the galaxy. That was boring and stupid. No, he was good, this was interesting, and he intended to be where the power was at.

    He ran a thin tongue over his pointed teeth as he powered the No Drop?s engines and angled the skiff toward Kutag, it?s sun, Doornik-881, nothing more than another hazy orb in the distance.

    The power certainly was not where it once was, and the galaxy was slowly starting to catch on. Razak would ride ahead of the crest. The Count was not his only present employer, and Razak had a mind enough to know the Count would not be pleased where else Razak was dipping his claws. Oh yes, Razak knew the power was not necessarily seeping out of the Republic. In fact, it was gathering at its core, and he wondered almost absently how the rocks would shatter when that wave punched against the shoreline.

    But he was not about to underestimate the Count, either.

    It would almost be a pity when that wave hit the shore. Both his top employers were content to let Razak take other jobs between their assignments because they understood the need to weave and gather?his assets would become theirs?and he was more than happy to take advantage of their own. A symbiotic relationship, if one wanted to get warm and fuzzy about it. But when it all broke loose, he would doubted he would have quite as many opportunities. He might even have to make a life or death alliance choice.

    Razak flipped to autopilot and unfolded his taut limbs from the crash seat. He hadn?t bothered closing the cockpit to the other compartments. Idly, he ambled over to the prone figure strapped on a crash bench aft of the ?fresher closet. He crouched, the back claw behind each heel rising as his legs folded. He tilted his head to the side, scanning the unconscious woman. With the claw of his index digit, he moved the uneven hair away from her face. A faint red line marked his path across her nose and cheek.

    This small human had captured and killed a top bounty hunter.
  21. Miana Kenobi Admin Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2000
    star 8
    PM me!


    And ohs nos! Is Sache captive too?

    Obi, I think you need to get sent on a rescue mission SOON.
  22. Obischick Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2001
    star 4
    Did you just kill Sache???

    :eek: :eek: :eek:

    Wow... that was a twist. But then... Padme and Anakin? But... so confused. Looking very much forward to the revalation of all. Fantastic writing again, loved the little hints of the life Razak has, like his armor and such. Really exciting! Though sad if what I think happened, happened. Very distresting!

    ~Obischick~
  23. EGKenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2005
    star 3
    Good story so far. Please PM me when you update.

    EG
  24. Amidolee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 8, 2000
    star 5
    Ack! Obischick - No, Padme and Anakin aren't behind Razak. Guess I should've been clearer. Sabe had a tiny flashback when she took aim when Razak was about the enter the ship. And, yes, Sache is the body Razak barely acknowledged floating outside of the NT-Gazer's hull. :( Razak is the creepy little dude Dooku was chattin' with a few posts back. I think I posted too fast, because afterwards I kept thinking of little things to add to the post. *sigh* Oh well. I'll just let the next post simmer a bit after it's written (which might not be until Sunday, I'm a weekend editor at the paper - we rotate - so it'll be a bit. But a lengthier post!)

    [face_coffee] Time for my morning coffee!

  25. Amidolee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 8, 2000
    star 5
    The week didn't go quite as I planned, but here's the next post!



    ~*~*~

    Over the past decade, Obi-Wan had grown somewhat used to the curious eyes that tended to follow his travels through the Jedi Temple. He doubted he would ever be comfortable with the scrutiny and speculation, but he?d come to accept it as an element of training Anakin Skywalker, the potential Chosen One, and how he?d come to that position. If he was walking alone, he could usually pass unnoticed; Anakin had a tendency to command all eyes to him and usually managed to ?accidentally? overstep Obi-Wan?s shoulder because ?his legs were longer.? The older Jedi pretended to pay the following gazes no mind, so most stares and furtive glances came from Padawans and younglings.

    But now Obi-Wan walked alone.

    And all eyes followed him.

    Obi-Wan had taken to service passages and obscure, roundabout corridors as much as possible. Although Jedi were imbued with the art of discretion from an early age, word of Anakin?s departure from the Order had gotten around these past couple of days. No one had approached him about it, but the usually serene haven buzzed with heady whispers, its walls were alive with wondering minds. How far the speculation went, Obi-Wan didn?t know, nor did he care to find out. Did they think Anakin left or was forced out? Obi-Wan supposed he should clarify that Anakin left on his own accord, but that did not seem entirely accurate of the Council?s stance and decision, had they been given the chance to motion and approve the former Padawan?s dismissal.

    Furthermore?and Obi-Wan loathed himself for it?he was not entirely certain Anakin deserved a clean break. Looking at the facts, both great and small, seeing how they worked together to form the Unifying Force ? he was good at that, but it was tempting to dwell in the Living Force already lost in the past. Whenever he entered the empty apartment, Obi-Wan only felt the vacuum of memories of Anakin?insolent, mischievous, astounding, volatile ? and sincere. Whatever Anakin was at any given moment, he was genuine and sincere. Pure.

    Even when he was lying. Anakin usually lied for a greater reason. Even when it was selfish, the ultimate intent had a serving cause.

    Well, usually.

    The apartment had become a suffocating trap, so Obi-Wan sought peace in meditation chambers, the Room of a Thousand Waterfalls, buried and distracted in the Archives ? to no avail. Once out in the corridors, he wanted to hide from the wondering gazes, the murmurs of those who were saying they?d expected this all along or wanted to express their concern. But he couldn?t hide. Nor could he run, as yet another journey through the Temple was proving.

    Obi-Wan found himself wandering down one of the lesser used service passages. The door on the end was open to a greater chamber beyond, and as he neared it, he realized it was one of the reserve hangars. Lights were on, and he could faintly hear the whir of a maintenance droid. This hangar he?d only occasioned once or twice before for missions that weren?t on record. Seasoned Knights and Masters were aware of the unmarked Jedi fleet, and although it was not directly said, those off-the-record missions were becoming more frequent these past few years. (Of course, how could you accurately measure that without the record?)

    The frequency was about to increase, Obi-Wan was willing to bet. Outside the Temple?s great walls, Coruscant was vibrating with news bigger than the dissension of a Jedi Padawan. Battle had broken on the Outer Rim, and several more worlds had announced their intentions to join the Confederacy of Independent Systems.

    The galaxy was exploding around him, and yet all Obi-Wan could do was wander aimlessly. It had only just occurred to him a couple hours earlier as he?d emerged from the Room of a Thousand Waterfalls, after an only somewhat productive meditation, what Anakin?s failure to become a Jedi would mean beyond Obi-Wan?s emotions and personal misgivings.

    Jedi Knights were not deemed failures if their Padawans did not succeed
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