Before Paying the Cost of Being a Jedi (Obi-Wan AU) Completed April 8, 2003

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Aunecah_Skywalker, Apr 5, 2003.

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  1. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    Title: Paying the Cost of Being a Jedi
    Author: Aunecah_Skywalker
    Timeframe: JA (Obi-Wan is fourteen)
    Genre: Drama, angst (AU)
    Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, OC (Melna)
    Keywords: vision, experiments, night vision, infrared
    Summary: Obi-Wan came to Lur for a vacation knowing that he wasn't lucky enough for it, but even he couldn't have imagined what horrors await him there.
    Author's Note: I try not to work on more than two 'fics at a time, but this one just struck me. It's a short story, I'm thinking, shouldn't be more than ten posts long, but we'll see how well it goes.
    Style Note: /.../ = communication through the Force. I don't have the thoughts italicized, but I think it's pretty obvious when somebody's thinking.
    Archive? Ask me first please
    Disclaimer: Star Wars doesn't belong to me, and neither does Obi-Wan Kenobi. All recognizable characters are sole properties of GL and LucasFilms. Any unrecognizable characters are my property. I'm not writing this for profit, unless you want to consider feedback as one. [face_mischief]

    -------------------
    Paying the Cost of Being a Jedi
    by Aunecah_Skywalker

    Obi-Wan, his hands bound behind his back, and a cloth tied over his eyes, was led down a labyrinth of corridors.

    After coming home from a series of grueling missions, Obi-Wan and Master had been forced off Coruscant to take a nice long vacation. Of course, when Obi-Wan had come to Lur, he hadn't been expecting his visit to go smoothly. Considering his history, he would be lucky if he was used only for target practice by angry mobs. On the other hand, being kidnapped by sadistic Lurians riding on Grebnars couldn't exactly be called "normal," either.

    The guards who were roughly prodding him down the corridors finally pushed him through what sounded like a door. They took off the cloth tied around Obi-Wan's eyes, but they didn't remove his bonds. They didn't go away.

    Obi-Wan opened his eyes. After the long period in darkness, even the dim lighting of the room was glaring, and his eyes snapped shut again, a flare of pain reaching out in a bubble under his eyelids. Waiting until the pain subsided to more bearable levels, Obi-Wan blinked and slowly opened his eyes again.

    He seemed to be in some sort of a room. It was modestly large and filled with all kinds of strange machinery, one of which was particularly tall and threatening, that Obi-Wan had never seen in the fourteen years of his life. Several doors, all being flanked by guards who stood as still as stone, led into the room. A wet chill slithered up his spine as one of the doors opened and a woman entered.

    Judging from the silver of her hair, she was very old, older than Master, but her eyes were sharp, cold, and predatory. They pierced Obi-Wan's very soul as her gaze fixed in on him. A thin smile appeared on her wrinkled face, creasing her already furrowed brow. Obi-Wan had a strange feeling that he should know this woman. He had seen her before. Well, he hadn't exactly seen her; her presence was rather unfamiliar. But Obi-Wan knew that he had seen her somewhere. Maybe she had been in the news, or maybe he had read something about her.

    "Good job," she told heartily to her underlings. "I take it there were no problems in bringing him?"

    One of the human males who had kidnapped Obi-Wan stepped forward. He was much younger than the woman, and not all that much older than Obi-Wan, but his eyes held the same predatory look as the woman's. "No, Melna. We found him when they were touring the Dijka museum. His Master was busy talking to Dijka's manager about an artifact. And you know how long that drags on."

    "Yes, I do know." Melna's smile was thin and rapacious as her gaze slithered over onto Obi-Wan again. "Don't worry, little Jedi, your Master will be safe as long as he keeps his nose out of our business and where it belongs."

    "What do you want?" Obi-Wan asked quietly.

    Melna's w
  2. Arwen-Jade_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2002
    star 5
    [face_shocked]

    OMG!! You are blinding him!!! Evil evil evil!!!!

    I like this..more soon!!
  3. KrystalBlaze Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2002
    star 5
    YESSSSSSSSSSS! Great job! Truly excellent! I can't wait for more, it's awesome!
  4. forever_jedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 2002
    star 5
    Oh dear! A mad, vengeful scientist, and young Obi-Wan being blinded - this is terrible! In a good way, of course. ;) The blindness better be reversible, though; I wouldn't want the cost to Obi of being a Jedi to be all that high!
  5. LuvEwan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2002
    star 4
    Yay! A new story! :D

    Great start, Aunecah. And I agree...you're evil. ;)

    Wonderful style and plot. Love it so far. [face_mischief]
  6. masterobiwankenobi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2003
    star 1
    Wow that was really good, I'll be waiting for more. :)

    MOK
  7. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    Wow. I wasn't expecting this kind of reply. Thanks for responding, guys and girls - and Dugs and Jawas and scoundrels and princesses and Dinkos and Aiwhas and hopefully no Hutts, of course. 8-}

    Arwen: Thanks!

    KrystalBlaze: Thanks!

    fj: You'll just have to wait and see if the blindness is reversable or not, of course. It'll be revealed in the next post. [face_devil]

    LuvEwan: Thanks! Well, it's almost good that you added the 'so far.' I'm not entirely sure you'll like it after err. [face_devil]

    masterobiwankenobi: Thanks!

    I should have the next post up sometime later today. Since today's Sunday and I don't have to go to school, that is. [face_mischief]

    Aunecah
  8. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    -------------------

    Qui-Gon ran into the building complex, his lightsaber alight in his hands. So far, he had encountered at least a dozen droids and guards, but they hadn't managed to remain obstacles in his path for too long.

    He had been thinking about concluding his informational meeting with Dijka's manager, seeing as to how his apprentice wasn't the most patient person in the entire galaxy (yet), when he had heard Obi-Wan's plea through the Force. Not his exact words, of course, but Qui-Gon had sensed a lot of fear.

    Exiting the manager's office in a flat-out run, Qui-Gon had searched the museum for his apprentice but hadn't found him there. Finding and following Obi-Wan's presence-trail hadn't been a very easy task, and by now, Qui-Gon feared it was too late.

    Only moments earlier, he sensed utter pain and agony from Obi-Wan; so much, indeed, that it almost had a physical effect on Qui-Gon.

    Now, as he ran down the corridor and blasted his way into the room in which he sensed Obi-Wan's presence, he knew that it was too late. His sharp gaze quickly sought out the man-length machine in which Obi-Wan was being held. As he watched, the binders around his arms and legs were abruptly released and Obi-Wan collapsed down onto the floor, unconscious.

    For an entire moment, Qui-Gon stared at his unconscious Padawan, hearing the lingering echo of his screams, and everybody else in the room stared at him and his lightsaber. Then - after a split second's warning from the Force - the room was alight with blasterfire.

    Qui-Gon twisted his lightsaber in myriad movements in front of him, easily fending off the blasterfire while steadily moving forward toward his apprentice.

    Out of the corner of his eye, through the rain of red blasterbolts, Qui-Gon saw two guards ushering an old woman out of the room, but he didn't do anything to pursue them, despite the anger that was boiling within him, ordering him to kill her and everybody else who had put Obi-Wan through this misery.

    But Obi-Wan was his first and highest priority. He was just starting to regain conscious, and was obviously in pain. He needed medical attention, as quickly as possible.

    Three standard minutes later, when the room smelled off reek and scorched durasteel, and everybody was either dead or gone, Qui-Gon looked around himself as a last minute check, turned off his lightsaber, and dived toward his apprentice.

    Despite everything, Qui-Gon was thankful to the Force as he kneeled next to his moaning apprentice. Though Obi-Wan looked like he was in a lot of pain, Qui-Gon couldn't see any major or permanent damage. And that, Qui-Gon learned (after being with him for only one year), was a miracle indeed.

    Tenderly, he took Obi-Wan in his lap.

    Obi-Wan winced, tears spilling out of his eyes. Then, a second later, Qui-Gon felt a sudden, sharp pain from his apprentice, through the Force. It made tears pool into his own eyes.

    So young, so hurt, so much...

    "Padawan?" Qui-Gon said worriedly, gently stroking Obi-Wan's forehead. "Are you all right?"

    "I can't see, Master," Obi-Wan whispered.

    --------------------

    "Is there nothing we can do for him?"

    "I'm sorry, Qui-Gon, whoever did it was proficient in blinding him. There's nothing we can do for him."

    "This can't be, Mace, he's so young. He shouldn't suffer so much. The Force can't be this cruel!"

    "I know," Mace answered heavily. He was looking at his old friend, Qui-Gon, his eyes heavy with sorrow and pain. Even though he wasn't Obi-Wan's Master, he still loved the boy dearly. "But we can't do anything about it."

    Qui-Gon, who had been looking out the window, turned around to face his crèche friend. "Mace, I have to be blatant. You know the rules."

    "Yes, Qui-Gon," Mace answered heavily. "But it will destroy him."

    "I know. But it's impossible for him to continue to train under me."

    "He can train under nobody, Qui-Gon."

    "Yes." Qui-Gon's eyes were dim and lifeless, his voice low, as he spoke. His gaze flitted over to the unconscious form of
  9. KrystalBlaze Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2002
    star 5
    Don't expell him! Mace, you evil person! How can you do this to Obi? There's a way out, right? They can help him regain his eyesight, right? TELL ME HE'S NOT TO BE EXPELLED!

    AGGGGGGHHHH!!!!

    *ignites lightsaber*

    *kills herself*

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
  10. forever_jedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 2002
    star 5
    Dear Force, the story just took a turn very different from what I was expecting! My jaw is on the floor! But, twisted being that I am, I am waiting to see an expelled Obi and tons of Qui-Gon angst! ;)
  11. masterobiwankenobi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2003
    star 1
    Wow... Obi and Qui angst at one time. ;) I can't wait for more, and I hope that there is a way that Obi can stay in the order, or maybe somehow regain his eyesigt.... :) :D
  12. Undomiel_Kenobi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2002
    star 1
    [face_shocked] [face_shocked] [face_shocked] [face_shocked] [face_shocked]

    ............ :_|

    ............Will Obi be... :confused: *throat constricts* :_|

    Yousa bad, Aunecah! You're making me say that over and over again in each of your stories! :(

    It's not good all the time you know... oh, what am I saying? I love your stories...but...

    You share one of my hobbies: torturing Obi! [face_devil]

    But you seem to be better at it! :mad:

    Keep writing!!! :D ;) 8-}
  13. PatttyB0123 RSA Latin America

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2003
    star 6
    Nice post "poor Obi" I am tears.
    Hey nice job!
  14. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    Honestly, no time for personal responses. In between running school errands, but I wanted to post the next post (no pun intended) before I didn't have ANY time left to do it.

    You'll be glad to know, I think, that I finished this story in a marathon writing episode yesterday ? it's all of twenty-one pages long, and its sequel is in planning. It will be called Marks of Fire. For anyone who had been with me from the beginning, you'll know that MoF is the first story I wrote after coming here ? it's a horrible, horrible story and should be read by no one! This version of MoF is going to be 90% different and 10% the same, so I'll keep it under that name. :)

    Just so you know ? the next post is two posts compressed into one. ;) We are around halfway done. [face_shocked]

    Aunecah

    --------------------
    Twilight was washing across the cityscape when Obi-Wan entered the palestra. From what he could sense through the Force, it was completely deserted except for him. Not very surprised, because (as far as he knew) he was practically the only person to ever have put these palestrae in the Temple to any use, Obi-Wan, one hand on the wall, guided himself toward the cabinet in the corner.

    Nearly six months had passed since he had lost his sight, and Obi-Wan had become fairly used to being blind. What he wasn't used to, and was probably not going to ever get used to, was being a crèche master.

    True to his words, Qui-Gon had gone before the Council and told them that Obi-Wan couldn't continue to train as his Padawan because of Obi-Wan's handicap. It had been a humiliating episode in Obi-Wan's life, one that he would never forget, one which still brought tears to his eyes every time he thought about it.

    While had been stripped off his rank as an apprentice, he had been allowed to stay in the Temple, because of the very same handicap. When Obi-Wan had stoutly refused to "live off the crumbs they threw at him out of their kindness," Master Yoda had told Obi-Wan that he would be assisting Master Nihra in the crèche in overseeing twelve delinquent children.

    The Jedi paid Obi-Wan a salary, and Obi-Wan usually tried to keep himself out of places where Masters trained their apprentices in the Force.

    He came to the palestrae often. Exercising took his mind off the unfortunate turn of his life, and even a brief respite from his misery was a blessing to Obi-Wan.

    When he came to the end of the wall, where the cabinet was situated, Obi-Wan felt for the handle and opened it. Inside were several mini-droids that were programmed to evade being shot at; Obi-Wan found them particularly useful for target-practice because of the dull drone that they produced when they moved.

    Taking one mini-droid in his hands, he felt around for the button that would turn it on. As soon as he pressed the button in, the mini-droid zoomed out of Obi-Wan's hands. Obi-Wan took out a blaster from his belt.

    He wasn't worried about shooting anybody other than the mini-droid or the walls; not wanting to risk it should he not sense their presence through the Force, he had locked the door to the palestra so no one else could enter.

    Stretching his hands out fully in front of him, Obi-Wan followed the mini-droid around with his blaster. After doing this for five months, Obi-Wan had become quite proficient in using his ears to make up for not being able to see. Using the money he had saved up during the five months, Obi-Wan had bought a sub-audio pickup device.

    Without its help, he could hear a pin drop five meters' in distance, even if it wasn't completely quiet in the room. With the sub-audio pickup's help, he could hear everything that went around him up to ten meters.

    Something clicked in the Force and Obi-Wan knew that he had a lock on the mini-droid. He squeezed the trigger. A second later, he heard the mini-droid fall down onto the floor with a particularly loud thud.

    A small smile playing on his lips, he lowered his blaster, put it back in its holster, and started toward where he had h
  15. Lurkalidth Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2003
    star 2
    Oh no!

    Please don't say that Obi-Wan will go through tons o' torment, (perhaps) will regain his vision again, only to have Master Buckethead select good ol' Anakin as his apprentice once more.

    Yikes!

    Anyways, interesting series, fraught w/ lotsa possibilities. I'm looking forward to your next post.

    Thanks for sharing this. :D
  16. forever_jedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 2002
    star 5
    Obi-Wan was kept on in the Temple:)
    He so quickly agreed to go back to Melnadacor since she was the one who hurt him in the first place :confused:
    Qui-Gon still cares for him :)
    Is Anakin on Tatooine [face_shocked]
    Will Melna find Anakin? [face_devil]
  17. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    This is a fairly light-hearted story - well, at least as light-hearted as a story gets when your shining Knight in pseudo-armor (kind of!) is blinded.

    And - the story's 20 pages long, and we're about half way done. Do you REALLY think I can somehow include Anakin in this one - yet? [face_devil]

    I have the whole story written, so I might just post it today to put you all out of your misery - as little as it is in this story. :D Then sometime later, I'll start the Marks of Fire. I hope it's going to be good - I tried to write it ahead of time, but I simply can't work on more than three 'fics at a time - especilly with DRL being as bad as it is. :(

    Anyway, see you later. (Still trying to figure out whether or not to post it today. ;))

    Aunecah
  18. Lurkalidth Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2003
    star 2
    Um, whoops! Sorry. :(
    I'm always doing that with books or movies: something happens and I extrapolate out the worst possibility. No offense intended.
    Well, I will look forward to whenever you post more.
  19. forever_jedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 2002
    star 5
    I didn't think the story was lighthearted, so far. Obi-Wan blind, depressed, how can this be light? Glad to know that it IS lighthearted and there is still hope for Obi. According to canon, Obi-Wan is about 16 years older than Anakin. So, I guess, I too was jumping to conclusion thinking that Anakin was involved! hey, a lot can happen in twenty pages!

    Anyway, a little more today? Not all; what would we do tomorrow, then?
  20. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    I hope I haven't offended anybody! I was being light-hearted, cuty, whimsy sarcastic, mischievous ... you get the idea. If my tone came out as sharp - then I certainly didn't intend it!

    Anyway, here's the next post (and you can think fj, for not getting all 8-}):

    Aunecah

    --------------------



    " ? Moisture farms for the most part, but also a few indigenous tribes and scavengers ? " Master trailed off into silence. He was explaining Tatooine's socio-climate to Obi-Wan, who had never been here before and couldn't see it with his own eyes.

    "I sense a lot of fear," Obi-Wan said quietly.

    "The few spaceports like this one are havens for those who do not wish to be found," Master said wryly. "And there's the bar that our friend's been talking about. Come on." Master took Obi-Wan's sweaty hand and led him across the road at an angle.

    The Tatooine system had twin suns, and the planet was way too close to its suns to be anything more than one large desert. The air was smoldering and hot, burning the back of Obi-Wan's neck.

    So, when Obi-Wan entered the shade of the bar, he was willing to forgive the stink that quickly blasted into his nostrils. Holding onto Master's hand tightly, Obi-Wan let himself be led in a meandering path through tables and chairs. Master sat him down in a chair and then sat down in front of him.

    "How are we going to recognize them?" asked Obi-Wan worriedly.

    "I'm sure the Force will show us a way," Master answered smoothly.

    And that did nothing to soothe Obi-Wan's worries. If anything, it only made Obi-Wan angry that Master would take his concern so lightly, as if it carried no weight.

    "Master. Jinn."

    "I don't know, Obi-Wan," answered Master. If he noticed Obi-Wan's slip, he didn't say anything about it. "Let's hope they'll be able to recognize us."

    "I know Melna's presence," Obi-Wan offered.

    "Yes, Obi-Wan," Master answered, his voice containing that irritating note of patience.

    Anger, frustration, worry, they weren't the path of a Jedi. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Obi-Wan leaned back in his chair and tried to become as comfortable as you could when you couldn't see.

    After what felt like an eternity, Obi-Wan sensed a slight disturbance in the Force. He sat up straighter, and felt his Master do the same.

    "Are they here?" Obi-Wan whispered.

    "Yes, little Jedi," a thin voice ? definitely not Melna's ? said sarcastically from beside him.

    Obi-Wan drew back slightly, feeling tears well up his throat for no reason whatsoever.

    The man talked to Master. "Your work is done, Jedi," he sneered. "You were only meant to get him from Coruscant to Tatooine. We'll take care of the rest from here."

    "This is my ? this is a Jedi that we're talking about," said Master. Another flare of pain stabbed at Obi-Wan's heart. "I can't just hand him over to you, especially knowing what kind of thugs you are ? "

    "It's okay, Master Jinn," Obi-Wan said quietly. "You don't have to worry about me. I'll go."

    "Obi-Wan," said Master warningly.

    "No, Master Jinn," Obi-Wan said resolutely. He was NOT going to back down. He did NOT want to be a burden on anybody. "I'm not a Jedi anymore. Neither am I an apprentice. I'm not your responsibility any longer."

    "You are my responsibility," Master answered irritably. "If you die here and I return empty-handed to Coruscant, what am I to say to Mace and ? ?"

    "Tell them I made my choice, Master. Jinn." Obi-Wan stood up. "I can do that now. Let's go," he said to the man.

    "Obi-Wan," said Master very quietly.

    "It's all right, Master Jinn. I'll be fine. May the Force be with you." Obi-Wan turned away quickly as tears threatened to spill out of his eyes.

    "Let's go then," said the man dryly.

    He pushed Obi-Wan forward roughly.

    -------------------

    Wherever it was that Melna's labs were located, it took six standard days to get there. That narrowed down the possible planets somewhat, but not really. The galaxy was a big place, and there
  21. LuvEwan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2002
    star 4
    GREAT updates, Aunecah. It's so terrible that Obi would not only lose his sight, but his place at his Master's sight as well...

    :_|

    Love the story (as well as 'An Order and One' HINT HINT UPDATE!) and can't wait to see what else you have in store for our heroic Obi!

    :D

    **Do you find it kinda challenging sometimes to write blind scenes? :confused: You do it very well.
  22. forever_jedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 2002
    star 5
    What exactly happened? Obi could see; that was good, but what is this strange new headache? Hope he is not going from bad to worse. I hope Qui-Gon followed Obi from Tatooine, otherwise I will be quite upset.

    I don't like Melna and I hope something suitably bad happens to her.
  23. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    It's difficult, LuvEwan. You don't know how many times I've found myself having Obi-Wan see stuff. I drove myself paraonid today while proofreading this post - because I found probably three or four instances where that happened. *shudders*

    Thanks!

    Anyway, guys and girls - and you know the rest of the string - looks like there's going to be an interlude series of stories between this one and Marks of Fire. I swore to myself that this was the last time I'm ever going to rewrite that 'fic, and I'm not starting the rewrite until I have a definitive plotline down.

    However, there are going to be some potentially interesting stories in between - short, I hope. 8-}

    This one's sequel, The Clock's Melting, has its planning done (well - doesn't have a plot yet, but that's okay) so you can look for it as soon as this 'fic is done - a.k.a., this 'fic will be done tomorrow, so the sequel will be up on Wednesday unless MAJOR DRL strikes up. :)

    Aunecah
  24. dianethx Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    Hi Aunecah - Well done. Good angst..I always love angst and your handling of Obi-Wan's blindness was well-done.

    Poor guy - I hope you can resolve this so there is at least a semi-happy ending. Am looking forward to the next post!!
  25. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    Hence, here's the conclusion - like I said this is a fairly light-hearted 'fic. Also, as a note, I told you I would write a sequel to this, right? Well, that's probably going to be delayed just a little bit. I have this gem of an idea - okay, maybe it's only a germ - that I got yesterday while working my Economics homework (I know, out of all the places, I get my story ideas from my ... homework?) and I think I'm going to write that one first.

    I'll edit this later to give you the link - it's probably going to be in the Saga forum. :)

    Thanks everyone for reading this!

    --------------------

    "Are you sure it's only temporary?" Obi-Wan asked for the thousandth time.

    He had been fitted once again with the device, which worked quite independently of the machine that it had been attached to yesterday night. Only in black and white, but that was infinitely better than not being able to see at all.

    "No," said Melna easily. "But if I were to guess, I would say it's temporary."

    Obi-Wan had had three more attacks of agonizing migraines before night had passed into day, and Melna had agreed with him (surprisingly) that they were probably the result of the device, particularly the increase of voltage.

    "What if it isn't?" Obi-Wan asked testily.

    "Too bad for you."

    Obi-Wan frowned slightly. They were walking down a dimly-lighted corridor, Melna in the lead. There were four guards behind them, all of them men, all of them holding their heavy blasters at ready. Melna had ordered them too shot him if he even looked like he was about to try to escape.

    As much as he would have loved to see how he would fare against the four guards and their blasters, Obi-Wan didn't think it was a good thing to escape before he figured out these headaches and how to stop them.

    Melna stopped in front of a door. Looking in, Obi-Wan saw a room ? or should he say a cell? A tingle of foreboding snaked up his spine. In surprise, Obi-Wan stared at Melna. Wherever he had been expecting her to take him, it definitely wasn't a detention cell.

    "Get in."

    Obi-Wan, pain stinging at his heart, considered arguing, but he kept his mouth firmly shut and entered with a nod. "You can't sell these devices, you know," he said, keeping his back firmly to the door. "The Health Hazard committee in the senate will never ? "

    "Unless you can buy them into it," Melna interrupted easily.

    The door closed shut behind him.

    Obi-Wan heaved out a sigh. At the same time, he was attacked by the headache again, and he lost sense of everything.

    --------------------

    "I'm picking up heat signatures in the northern subcontinent."

    Qui-Gon stood up from the pilot chair and walked over gracefully to where Depa Billaba, Mace Windu's apprentice, sat. When Obi-Wan had been taken away by Melnadacor's people, Qui-Gon had considered simply leaving Obi-Wan in their hands and returning to Coruscant. After the way Obi-Wan acted, he deserved it.

    But then, as he had been doing his preflight checks, Qui-Gon had realized that he could never abandon Obi-Wan, not if the other spit in his face and told him to go to hell. Even though he and Obi-Wan had known each other for only an year, Qui-Gon loved the boy too deeply to let him get hurt.

    So, he had immediately run to the Mos Espa spaceport, where he still had sensed Obi-Wan's presence. He had gotten there just as the ship had taken off. It had taken him ("only!" the Dug sitting at the counter had hissed) ten thousand local credits to find out where the ship had taken off.

    The Dug had told him that the ship had sophisticated anti-tracking devices, but people here on Coruscant were as shady as Melnadacor, and had managed to place homing beacons into the ship, whose tracking device they had given to Qui-Gon. ("Anything at the right price.")

    Qui-Gon stored it away as future information to not be so foolish as to think he was completely fine if only he made a couple of random jumps before heading to his real destination.

    As soon as he had gotten the tracking device, Qui-Gon
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