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Before the Saga Cold Harvet (Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Multi-Chapter Mission Story)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by devilinthedetails, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: Cold Harvest

    Author: devilinthedetails

    Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi; Qui-Gon Jinn; Yoda; Original Characters.

    Genre: Adventure, General, and Friendship.

    Timeline: Set before TPM when Obi-Wan is Qui-Gon's Padawan.

    Summary: A routine mission becomes not so routine when Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are sent to a cold world to determine a baby's suitability to train as a Jedi.

    Routine Assignment

    “I won’t be sad to see this world turn to stardust behind us,” Obi-Wan observed as he helped his Master finish the pre-flight checks in the cockpit of the starship they’d been assigned when they departed on this thankless mission to Anobis weeks ago. They were finally preparing to fly out of the ramshackle settlement that masqueraded as a capital city on Anobis by virtue of being the largest of its sparsely populated villages. It was an all-together depressing Mid-Rim planet devoted to agricultural and mining interest that Obi-Wan would not regret leaving for the much brighter lights of Coruscant.

    “You didn’t find it educational, Padawan?” Qui-Gon’s eyes twinkled at him.

    “Oh, very educational,” answered Obi-Wan wryly. “I learned more than I ever wanted to know about mining and mining disputes.”

    That was what had dragged them to this galactic hinterland: the resolution of a dispute over miners’ rights between a large corporation and its union workers that had threatened to become the latest in a long line of civil wars on Anobis. Civil war on this occasion had been averted through deft Jedi diplomacy. It would be mining rather than warfare that left scars and craters pockmarking the landscape for at least the next few years, which meant the mission could be classified as a successful if not inspiring one.

    “Good to hear you got something out of it.” Qui-Gon sounded unperturbed by Obi-Wan’s sarcasm, which Obi-Wan took as a license to push the bounds of humor still further on this score.

    “I always get something out of all my adventures with you, Master.” Obi-Wan fixed his mentor with his cheekiest grin before shifting his attention to the navicomputer.

    His fingers were poised over it—about to input the triple zero coordinates that would transport them to the beating heart of Republic civilization and space—when the console lit with an incoming transmission. When he accepted it with a flick of his finger, Yoda, Grand Master of the Jedi Order, winked into wavering blue hologram form.

    “Master Qui-Gon, finished your mission on Anobis is but entered hyerspace you have not.” How Master Yoda managed to sense across half a galaxy that they had concluded their most recent assignment when they hadn’t yet had a chance to submit their final report was unfathomable to Obi-Wan, a mystery that could only have been explained and understood by Master Yoda, who would likely prove cryptic and evasive if asked.

    “Yes, Master.” Qui-Gon inclined his head. “We were about to return to the Temple.”

    “Return to the Temple you should but take a detour for me first you might.” The cane of the miniature Master Yoda waved.

    “You know me, Master Yoda. I never refuse an opportunity for a detour.” Qui-Gon’s words were ones with which Obi-Wan fervently agreed. Not only was Qui-Gon determined to take every detour he encountered on a mission, he seemed to have made it his goal in life to meet and embrace as many morally dubious characters and pathetic lifeforms as possible. In fact, the more pointless the detour and hopeless the lifeform, the more inexplicably and more enthusiastically Qui-Gon appeared to be drawn to the detour or lifeform in question. It was enough to drive any erstwhile young Padawan mad as a territorial hawk-bat defending its nests from all challengers.

    “A mission I have for you and your Padawan.” The orbs of Yoda’s eyes flickered from Qui-Gon to Obi-Wan and back again. “Heard of Ruusha, have you?”

    “No, Master.” Obi-Wan shook his head, interpreting his ignorance of the planet as an ominous omen that they were about to be sent to the hind end of nowhere again.

    “Should we have?” Qui-Gon’s question cut to the core of the issue rather neatly, Obi-Wan thought. He would have to remember to use such phrasing himself in the future…

    “Only because going there now you are.” Yoda’s hands folded atop his cane. “A large but thinly populated Mid Rim planet in the next sector from Anobis Ruusha is.”

    As Obi-Wan noted inwardly that sparsely populated planets were becoming something of a speciality for him and his Master, Yoda continued, “Sparsely populated it is because bitterly cold it is. Dominated by tundra and taiga the landscape is. Mined for space fuel is the tundra. Logged for lumber are the coniferous forests. The windswept steppes a short, cold growing season have. A harsh world with harder people it is.”

    Obi-Wan was hoping that the Force hadn’t willed for him and Qui-Gon to resolve another mining dispute so it was a relief when Yoda concluded, “A farming family contacted the Temple has. Believe their daughter is Force-sensitive they do. Evaluate her suitability to become a Jedi you must.”

    “A routine mission.” Qui-Gon stroked his beard.

    “So sure, are you?” Yoda’s ears twitched in a sign the he was either amused or regarded Qui-Gon’s comment as immensely foolhardy. “With you, routine nothing is. Have Master Jocasta Nu send you holofiles on Ruusha and the family who contacted the Temple, I will.”

    As Yoda’s holographic body vanished from the console, Obi-Wan searched the navicomputer for Ruusha’s location and then ordered it to plot a route there. While the computer calculated, he couldn’t resist remarking as he recalled their mission to investigate a Force-sensitive baby girl on the remote world of Kegan, “For the record, I agree with Master Yoda. Last time we went on a mission like this, I ended up imprisoned in a creepy school built for brainwashing.”

    “What are the odds of that misfortune befalling you again?” Qui-Gon smiled as the navicomputer flashed an alert that it had finished mapping the requested route to Ruusha.

    “With my luck, distressingly high,” Obi-Wan, who on bad days regarded himself as the least fortunate person in the galaxy, grumbled.

    “You don’t mean half the things you say, my young apprentice.” Qui-Gon’s smile warmed into a chuckle.

    “No, I don’t.” Obi-Wan stared out the viewport, bracing himself for another jump to lightspeed that would take him to another strange, lonely planet to complete another difficult mission on his lifelong Jedi journey, as Qui-Gon steered the ship into atmosphere. Soon Obi-Wan would blink and Anobis would truly be stardust behind him. The thought did make him sad, after all, despite what he had said to Qui-Gon earlier. His Master was right. He didn’t mean half the things he said. “The beauty of being always sarcastic is people don’t know what half I mean.”

    “I think I know what half you mean.” Qui-Gon’s gaze shone with affection, the light in them reflected in the golden streaks of a thousand stars as their ship leapt to lightspeed, bound for Ruusha.

    “You do, but that’s only because you’re my Master.” Obi-Wan was reassured, not irked, by the fact that his Master knew him so well. It felt comfortable to have a Master who understood him so deeply, who could read his thoughts and feelings like a holobook. It made being around Qui-Gon feel easy and uncomplicated—like slipping into a worn-in pair of boots that fit his soles just right, never constricting and never blistering.
     
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    How happy I am this is the WIP entered in for the WIPuary challenge. I enjoyed the snark and the comfy worn-in shoes vibe between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon.
    You can absolutely get the sense that Obi-Wan is making sure to cherish all these little moments after even uninspiring missions, grousing aside.

    Yoda's wit and wisdom were totally in character also.
     
  3. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    And I enjoyed lyrical snippets like this one:

    Qui-Gon’s gaze shone with affection, the light in them reflected in the golden streaks of a thousand stars as their ship leapt to lightspeed, bound for Ruusha.

    =D=
     
  4. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for commenting!:) I'm glad that you're so happy that this is the WIP entered into the WIPuary challenge. Hopefully I'll be able to give regular updates throughout the month of February and really move this story that has sort of been marinating in my head for awhile along in an interesting way. I always have fun writing some snark between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon so I'm so happy that you enjoyed reading it. The comfy, worn-in shoe vibe between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon with their sort of easy familiarity with one another is one of my favorite things about this Master-Padawan duo so it was nice for me to be able to showcase that this chapter. More bonding should be possible between them as the story progresses.

    @AzureAngel2 As always, thank you so much for your kind comments and support!:) That line you quoted was one of my favorites from this chapter and I enjoyed being able to give a sort of brief poetic flourish so I'm so pleased that you chose to highlight that line.
     
  5. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    Messages Across Space

    “The family lives three hundred and ninety kilometers outside Yekaterinbirsk.” Qui-Gon drew up the profile of the family Master Nu had sent on his datapad.

    They were sitting at a small table in what passed for the ship’s lounge. Optimistically, the ship’s lounge was compact; pessimistically, it was cramped. Either way, it had room only for the sparse furniture of a tiny table and slight chairs that seemed to cringe with an apology for existing. At the table, there was barely enough space to lay their datapads side by side. Certainly there was no elbow room available, Obi-Wan thought. If he moved his elbow to the left, he would bruise his funny bone against the wall, which would be the exact opposite of funny to him, and if he moved his elbow to the right, he would ram his Master squarely in the chest. It was lucky there was even room for breathing…

    To take his mind off the constricting lounge, Obi-Wan pulled up a map of Ruusha Master Nu had sent them on his own datapad. Locating Yekaterinbirsk—marked on the legend as a medium city by Ruusha standards—on the map surrounded by what appeared to be vast tracks of vacant land, he pointed it out. “There’s Yekaterinbirsk”—he trailed his finger above the screen, flying over empty terrain until it was hovering where the map scale indicated three hundred and ninety kilometers away would be, a spot that appeared to be conveniently adjacent to a sizable mountain range—“and there is where the happy family lives.”

    “We’ll land in Yekaterinbirsk and rent a berth in the city hangar. In the city, we should be able to rent a speeder—preferably one with a functioning heater— and fly it out to speak with the family about their daughter.” Qui-Gon called up what seemed to be a holovideo of the family’s message to the Temple. “Now that we’ve decided how we intend to meet the family in person, let’s meet them virtually.”

    Once Qui-Gon clicked to start the holovideo, a man with straw-colored hair waved his hand frantically before the recorder and shouted as if he believed he needed to project his voice loudly enough to be heard across the space-time continuum, “Is this thing on? Can you hear me?”

    “It must be on. See that light.” A woman, hair tucked under her kerchief, standing beside him, jerked her chin at what was doubtlessly the green glowing light on their recorder. Lake blue eyes flitting around her like an anxious, caged bird’s, she spoke in barely more than a whisper. “Do keep your voice down, Nikolai. You don’t want to wake the whole house.”

    “Right you are, Alyona dear.” The man obediently lowered his tone to little more than a whisper as well. Obi-Wan had to lean forward to hear as the man performed an awkward and somewhat unnecessary introduction. “My name is Nikolai Komov, and this is my wife, Alyona Komova. We’re tenant farmers on Ruusha. We live three hundred and ninety miles outside Yekaterinbirsk, and we’ve never traveled beyond that city, but tales of the Jedi and their strange abilities have reached us even on our isolated farm.”

    “We have five children.” The woman’s hands tugged at her dress as if she couldn’t find anything else to do with them but couldn’t bear to keep them still. “The first four are plain folk—destined to be tenant farmers of the windswept steppe like us—but our fifth child, a daughter, is different…”

    She trailed off, fumbling for words to describe her daughter’s strange abilities, and her husband filled the void. “Our Vasilisa, our baby, she can move objects with her brain, she can. We’ve never seen anything like it in our lives and only heard of such being possible for the Jedi.”

    “We think you should come see our daughter.” The woman’s voice and face were cracking, but she was engaging in a valiant effort to speak again. “If you think she has your strange abilities, we might let you take her away to your Temple. We might give her up to your training. We know that it might be possible that she’ll be happier in your care—that she won’t grow up to fit on Ruusha.”

    As the holovideo came to a close, Qui-Gon shifted his gaze from the screen of his datapad to Obi-Wan. “What are your impressions, Padawan?”

    “I’d put the odds in the ninetieth percentile that the girl is strong enough in the Force to be a Jedi if she’s able to move objects with her mind. I doubt her parents are hallucinating that.” Obi-Wan wasn’t certain what more detailed analysis Qui-Gon expected to hear. “The difficult part will not be determining if the girl is Force-sensistive but convincing her parents that what is best for her is to surrender her to our care.”

    “Yes, it can be a challenge to convince parents to entrust their children to the Jedi Order.” Qui-Gon stroked his beard. “Do Alyona and Nikolai seem like trusting folks to you, Obi-Wan?”

    “I couldn’t say.” Obi-Wan’s forehead furrowed. “I haven’t met them yet.”

    “You’ve met them through a holovideo where you could see their faces and their body language.” Qui-Gon plainly wasn’t about to let him dodge the question that easily. “A large chunk of sentient communication is accomplished through body language and facial expressions. What do your instincts and intuition tell you? What does the Living Force tell you?”

    Obi-Wan stifled a sigh. Qui-Gon was verging on being too obsessed with the Living Force again—trying to get him to sense it through a recording. Not entirely sure that anything leaving his mouth was anything other than arrant nonsense, he said slowly, “They seemed nervous. The mother in particular was glancing around nervously and worried about her husband waking up the whole house. She was also tugging at her dress.”

    “Yes.” Qui-Gon nodded his approval. “Their anxiety seemed to be rooted in more than mere parental indecision about giving their child up to the Jedi. We must determine the cause of that excessive anxiety and do what we can to resolve it. We’ll have to be alert for any clues as soon as we arrive on Ruusha and hawk-bat sharp in our research now.”
     
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent as we get a true sense of the isolation of the farm family from the nearest urban area. The nervousness struck me too; it may be rooted in not just the uncertainty over Vasilisa's fate/future but also how others in the community will react to the entire situation. [face_thinking]
     
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    I'm caught up with this now, and glad I am! As always, you do a great job with this master-padawan pair; their banter is spot-on and all their interactions are perfectly in character, so much so that I can even hear Neeson and MacGregor's voices. I have a feeling there is going to be more than meets the eye to this assignment on Ruusha and that this is going to end up being not just a routine "milk run" for a Force-sensitive child (as hinted Master Yoda has! :yoda: I wonder if he knows more about the Komovs' situation than he's letting on... [face_thinking] ). The parents' reactions are very telling; their words seem to suggest they're at least potentially OK with having their daughter taken for training, but all the "mights" and all the nervous glancing around does indeed hint that they're afraid of something, and possibly something big. Very intrigued to see where this will go from here, and especially now that I've started it I, too, am glad you'll be working on this over WIPuary! Thanks for sharing, as always! =D=
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
  8. Valiowk

    Valiowk Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    With the baby in concern having the name Vasilisa, I'm almost prepared to read about Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan encountering Koschei the Deathless or Baba Yaga later on. ;) :p Very curious to find out what the situation in Alyona and Nikolai's community is.

    Ooh, I love it when someone uses a turn of phrase that I can learn from, even if it's just a character in a story. :D
     
  9. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for commenting!:D I definitely wanted to establish just how isolated the farm where Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon will be going is, so I'm happy to hear you felt I succeeded with that. There should be even more of a sense of isolation built up as the story progresses. You are definitely wise to suspect that the couple's nervousness may be rooted in more than just uncertainty about their daughter's fate and future. The community reaction is certainly an important concern and consideration especially for future chapters.

    @Findswoman As always, thank you so much for your detailed and thoughtful reviews! :D I'm so glad that you're caught up with this story and enjoying it. Hopefully I'll be able to post another chapter some time this week if my schedule takes some pity on me. I really love writing fanfciton featuring Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon so I'm so pleased to hear you thought I did a great job capturing their personalities and banter. Nothing could be more flattering than knowing you could hear the actors' voices in your head as you read. I think you're definitely write that there will end up being more to this situation than meets the eye as Yoda hinted. I agree that the parents' reactions are very telling. I do believe that at least in theory, they are okay with their daughter training to be a Jedi or else they wouldn't have contacted the Temple, but they are also afraid of something else, something else quite big that might become a bit clearer as the story progresses. I'm so glad that you're intrigued by what I've written so far, and I really hope you'll enjoy where the story goes next. Hopefully I can get a lot of work done on this story for WIPuary!

    @Valiowk Thank you so much for commenting! There really is a lot of interesting history surrounding the name Vasilisa, though I admit that my biggest draw to the name was really liking the sound of it and how it is spelled. ;) Glad you're interested to learn more about the situation with Alyona and Nikolai's community since that should be a focus for upcoming chapters. And so happy Qui-Gon could give you a turn of phrase you can learn from. Sometimes fictional characters have the best turns of phrases.
     
  10. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Hmm, I'm intrigued by what could possibly go wrong (? :confused:;)) in this apparently routine mission. I do like that Qui-Gon and Obi-wan went with the idea that the parents were simply nervous about doing the wrong thing and not because as my brain kept telling me that they were definitely (most definitely) walking into a trap! Also I love both the banter between them as well as Qui-Gon's patience at trying to teach his padawan to look beyond the obvious to what may lie beneath.
     
  11. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    I feel like the so-called routine mission will turn out to be anything but. [face_thinking] I adore the gentle teasing and obvious affection between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. Their relationship is always a favorite part of any story for me and you're writing them very well. :)

    I'm intrigued by the "might". The family seems to fully believe that their daughter is force-sensitive, but not fully committed to letting the Jedi take her. I'm curious to find out what they may want in return.

    Really wonderful first two chapters. Looking forward to more. :)=D=
     
  12. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    @Kit' Thank you so much for commenting! I think as Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon continue with this mission, they'll discover all the things that could possibly go wrong because that's just how life works sometimes. Something seems like it'll be routine and then it morphs into something far more complicated. :p

    I think it could be a very normal thing for parents to wonder if they are doing the right thing so send their kid off to train with the Jedi (it is a lot for a parent to sacrifice, I imagine) so hopefully the Jedi can be sensitive to that in this story. More about what might be worrying the parents should also come up in future chapters. For now, perhaps it will create some suspense and intrigue for two of our favorite Jedi.

    The banter is always one of my favorite things about writing Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon so I'm so glad you enjoyed that so far in this story. Hopefully you'll continue to enjoy their interactions.:D

    @JediMaster_Jen Thanks so much for commenting! :D I think you're right to worry that this routine mission will turn out to be anything but normal...

    I'm so glad you like the gentle teasing and obvious affection between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. I always have so much fun writing them together, and it always makes me so happy if someone else enjoys how I write them.

    The family are a bit mysterious, aren't they? I agree with you that they seem sure their daughter is Force-sensitive but still hesitant to send her away to train as a Jedi even though they reached out to contact the Jedi. They will definitely be an intriguing family to meet. [face_thinking]
     
  13. RX_Sith

    RX_Sith C&G Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Mar 13, 2006
    It must be hard to decide whether to give up a child to the Jedi not knowing if they will come back. It's almost like the military when a son or daughter who can be hurt in harm's way when deployed. You worry, but hope for the best that nothing serious will happen to them.
     
  14. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    @RX_Sith Thank you so much for commenting! I agree that it must be a hard decision to choose to give up a child to the Jedi, knowing that child will never come back and could easily be hurt or killed in service to the Jedi. It is a big sacrifice and I think we will see the family wrestle with this decision.




    Curt Communications and Generous Donations

    As they entered Ruusha’s atmopshere, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon were hailed by the terse tones of planet security. If one could consider such a curt challenge hailing, Obi-Wan thought.

    “Identify yourselves and your destination or risk being blown out of the atmosphere in the name of Tzar Kazimir.” The comm cackled with the reference to the person the security officer no doubt regarded as the most important being in the galaxy. The tzar, Obi-Wan had learned during his research en route to Ruusha, was the title for the absolutist monarch of Ruusha, the latest ruler in a dynasty that had endured for centuries since the first settlement of the planet as a center for fuel and fur trade. He was seen as an almost paternal authority to the Ruushans, Obi-Wan understood, wielding the same power to protect and discipline his subjects as a father did the members of his family. Ruushan society, he had discovered quickly in his reading, did not permit much in the way of personal expression or independent decision-making.

    “We’re Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Qui-Gon answered, voice steady. It would take far more than a planet security officer on a power trip to rattle his composure. “We come to your planet in peace seeking a berth at the Yekaterinbirsk spaceport.”

    “Tzar Kazimir honors his obligation to the Republic by allowing Jedi who come in peace to land on our planet. Transmitting coordinates to a landing pad at the Yekaterinbirsk spaceport now.” The navicomputer glowed with the transmitted coordinates as the security officer continued, crisp, curt, and still not welcoming, “There will be a mandatory inspection upon landing. Please lower your ramp to allow our security officers access to your craft and have your identicards prepared for review. Failure to comply with these measures will be seen as an act of hostility warranting detention or expulsion from the planet depending on the specific nature of the offense.”

    “Acknowledged,” Qui-Gon said before the connection ended so the security officer could no doubt continue extending more warm welcomes to travelers unlucky enough to have business to attend to on Ruusha.

    “It’s a miserable planet,” Obi-Wan muttered as Qui-Gon steered the ship toward the coordinates they had been provided by the irascible security officer. “Their security officers could at least make up for it by being pleasant.”

    “I’ve been all over the galaxy, Padawan.” Qui-Gon was now guiding the ship over the jagged peaks of a mountain range and then long kilometers of empty steppe. “The pleasant security officers I’ve met have been few and far between. Irritability in security officers is hardly a uniquely Ruushan trait.”

    They were flying over a city that seemed to have sprung suddenly out of the wide, vacant expanse of the steppe. Obi-Wan was expecting to see dreary, dull gray skytowers that would complete the impression of cheerlessness Ruusha had so far made upon him. However, instead he was astonished by gracefully curving buildings with rounded dome tops painted in every rich color of the spectrum visible to human eyes.

    From the ground and from the sky, he suspected that each dome would appear a triumph of art and architecture. Still, as it occurred to him that each dome bore a notable resemblance to a root vegetable that could be dug out of the soil, he couldn’t resist a caustic comment: “Of course an agricultural world would have roofs shaped uncannily like root vegetables.”

    “I don’t think the roofs were designed to resemble vegetables,” remarked Qui-Gon as their approach vector took them over twin blue lakes in the heart of the city. The spaceport overlooked these two lakes, and Qui-Gon curled their vessel into the hangar, landing it at their designated landing pad. “I believe the dome roofs were designed so that snow would slide off them during the harsh winters. I find the domes beautiful and practical.”

    “I didn’t say they were ugly.” Obi-Wan hit the button to lower the landing ramp as a pair of security officers in red uniforms approached their craft with rifles strapped to their shoulders and a large scent hound leashed to the security officer on the left.

    The cockpit echoed with the sound of marching as Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon pulled out their identicards before the security officers reached the cockpit. When the officers arrived in the cockpit with the scent hound that was hip-high to a grown man and covered with fur thick and white as the mantles of snow that would blanket this word in winter, Obi-Wan saw that each of them had brown fur-lined boots and fur caps with flaps that protected their ears to complement the red of their uniforms.

    “Identicards.” The security officer on the right held out his hand for Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon’s proof of identity. As he accepted and studied the identicards presented to him for proof that the Jedi were anyone other than whom they claimed to be, he said as the other officer disappeared to inspect the rest of the ship with the sniffing scent hound in tow, “My partner will conduct a mandatory search for contraband goods such as spice. You are not transporting any contraband goods such as spice?”

    “We’re Jedi.” Obi-Wan bristled. “Not spice runners.”

    “A routine question. There’s no need to take offense.” The security officer waved a red-gloved hand that reminded Obi-Wan of a palm soaked in blood. “If you aren’t transporting spice, my next question is what are you doing on Ruusha?”

    “A family of farmers contacted the Jedi regarding their daughter.” Qui-Gon spoke up, shooting Obi-Wan a look that ordered him not to offer any more snide remarks to security officers. “They believe their daughter is Force-sensitive and wish the Jedi to determine if that is the case.”

    “Hmm.” The security officer’s glove stroked his beard. “What will you do if you determine the child is Force-sensitive? Will you take her off-planet?”

    “Only with the permission of her parents.” Qui-Gon was calm, even as Obi-Wan thought bitterly that the Jedi weren’t kidnappers no matter how many galactic rumors might label them such. “Ruusha is a signatory to the Republic treaty that requires Jedi to be able to inspect Force-sensitive children and remove them off-planet for training with parental permission, is it not?”

    “It is, but the Jedi would need to fill out much official paperwork to obtain the necessary permissions that would have to come through a higher authority than myself. That would take many days or even weeks.” The security officer glanced up from writing what appeared to be a legal record of their arrival and business on Ruusha. “I could mark you down as being here for human trafficking, but that wouldn’t sound so good, would it? Or I could put you down as being here for tourism in the countryside and no further questions would be asked and no more paperwork necessary with a generous donation to the Yekaterinbirsk Children’s Fund run by officers concerned with children’s welfare such as myself?”

    Obi-Wan stiffened again at this blatant invitation to bribery, but Qui-Gon offered a pile of credits. As Obi-Wan stared at him in disbelief, Qui-Gon responded levelly, “The Jedi share your concern for children’s welfare and are happy to make a generous donation on their behalf. We also are eager to explore the great steppes are your planet. Please mark us as being here for tourism.”

    “Of course.” With a satisfied smile, the security officer whisked the credits into his pocket in an eyeblink as his fellow officer returned to the cockpit with the leashed scent hound, whose sharp nose had obviously detected no contraband aboard the vessel. He made a few more notes on the form. As the security officer finished filling out the form, he added what Obi-Wan could only consider to be very expensive advice, “You’ll want a speeder with heat and a roof to travel the steppes at this time of year. Oleg rents out the most reliable speeders down at street level—his prices aren’t the cheapest but the speeders won’t break down on you in the middle of the steppe, and you’ll want reliability over affordability on the steppes. If you’re hungry, Pavel two levels up has a cantina where he sells the food and drink least likely to make you vomit at this spaceport. Tell him I sent you and he might pour you a strong one for free.”
     
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Very intriguing new details as we encounter security officers eager for a handout :p [face_thinking] Makes you wonder what those who live there have to do to get things done. :rolleyes:

    As a person with integrity, you know it irks Obi-Wan to realize one would have to resort to kickbacks and payoffs.
     
  16. Valiowk

    Valiowk Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    At least their security officers acknowledge that their routine questions are ridiculous. At some spaceports on the planet Earth, I have encountered ridiculous routine questions asked by security officers as though they aren't ridiculous. ;)

    In response to the discussion about the difficulty of deciding whether or not to give up a child to the Jedi, I would imagine that the parents would be concerned not only with the sacrifice on their part, but also whether or not their child would feel that they had made the correct decision in the future.
     
  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Well, now, this is quite a different world—though not unlike some on our own Earth, with the endless bureaucracy, bribery, and backscratching! That said, I really hope Qui-Gon knows what he's doing with this course of action (I somehow doubt all or even most of that money will go to the children's fund...) and that it won't come back to haunt him. But then too. he's always been very much a "do what needs to be done" type, and in this kind of environment I suppose that's what one might be forced to go with—especially as it will undoubtedly save him and Obi-Wan some time (which I sense is of the essence). Looking forward to seeing how their trip out to the steppes will go, and I hope our two Jedi won't meet with any further bureaucratic hold-ups!
     
  18. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Legit Space! Russia here. And having seen pictures of St. Peter's Basilica in Moscow, I must agree that the onion does are quite pretty.
     
  19. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for commenting! :DGlad you find the new details on this society intriguing. Next chapter should give even more chance for new details on this society to emerge. Unfortunately for those that live there, they might have to get used to paying money to speed things along or relying on personal connections to get things done. I can definitely understand why it would irk Obi-Wan, a person of integrity as you say, to resort to payoffs. I think he might express some of that irritation next chapter (which I had hoped to post this weekend, but won't happen due to graduate school work...).

    @Valiowk Thank you so much for commenting! :D It is true that at least these security officers are self-aware enough to acknowledge the pointlessness of some of the security questions they ask the Jedi. it is definitely true that on Earth there are plenty of security officers who do not acknowledge how ridiculous their questions can be. That is a good point that parents have to be worried as well about what their child will think of their decision in the future. It is a very weighty decision to make.

    @Findswoman As always, thank you so much for commenting!:D I agree that all the bribery and endless bureaucracy does resemble some of our societies on Earth, and that Qui-Gon has to be careful navigating a society like this. I think you're right that money will not be going to a children's fund at all, and Qui-Gon is going to have to be careful how he proceeds on this planet. You are right, though, that he does have this practical, "do what needs to be done" side that leads to him making some potentially unconventional for a Jedi choices. His choice will likely save him and Obi-Wan some time in getting out to the steppes. Hopefully, you'll enjoy reading about their trip out to the steppes. The good thing for the Jedi is there may be less governmental bureaucracy out in the steppes but other factors to deal with might emerge...

    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Thank you so much for commenting!:D Yes, Russia is very much the inspiration for this society, though I guess a slightly AU Russia that still has a royal ruler and is in a galaxy far, far away. Domes might be my favorite feature of Russian architecture so I had to include the domes in my story, but I couldn't call them onion domes since I thought onion was too obviously Earth-related but I did hope people might visualize them in the same way.
     
  20. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    Strange Stories and Disturbing Rituals

    “Where do you want to go first: the cantina or the speeder rental shop?” Obi-Wan asked Qui-Gon as they stood in front of a information kiosk plastered with a large map. It included a helpful “You are Here” label and arrow in glaring red font and was conveniently located before a bank of turbolifts in the main concourse of the Yekaterinbirsk spaceport that was bustling with beings decked out in winter furs though it was still autumn in the city. Since Obi-Wan was hungry enough to eat a rancor, he was hoping that Qui-Gon would answer with the former.

    “It only makes sense to eat first, I suppose.” Qui-Gon gazed at Obi-Wan with a twinkle in his eyes that suggested he knew exactly what Obi-Wan was thinking. “Then when we rent our speeder, we can leave at once.”

    “I was hoping you’d say that.” Obi-Wan scanned the map for the cantina two levels up the security officer had recommended to Qui-Gon after a bribe to lubricate the greasy wheels of bureaucracy. Perhaps because he was ravenous and still resentful of the hefty amount of credits his Master had given to a corrupt official, he couldn’t resist a snide remark as he pointed out the cantina. “There’s the cantina your new friend suggested. It’s a wonder he didn’t give you the name of the place. Maybe that costs extra.”

    Not that the cantina was difficult to locate given that its name was simply Pavel’s Cantina. In the matter of naming their businesses at least, the Ruushans seemed to prefer the straightforward to the obstructing.

    “You’re upset with my donation to the Yekaterinbirsk Children’s Fund, aren’t you?” Qui-Gon pressed a button to summon an ascending turbolift.

    “Only because I suspect you know as well as I do that the Yekaterinbirsk Children’s Fund is an invented entity for the spaceport security officers to conceal the bribes they take from travelers.” Obi-Wan stepped onto an opening and otherwise empty turbolift that had just arrived with a chime to announce its appearance. “You know as well as I do that the needy children of Yekaterinbirsk will never see much or any of your charity.”

    “The credits will line the security officers back pockets, but security officers in Ruusha are paid a pittance for their work. They must provide for their families somehow.” Qui-Gon shot Obi-Wan a sidelong glance as the turbolift doors clanged shut and the turbolift began a jerky, creaky rise that caused Obi-Wan to contemplate just how old the turbolift was and whether it might have been safer to take the stairs. “We can think of our donation to the Yekaterinbirsk Children’s Fund as ensuring that the security officers’ children have boots and warm coats this winter.”

    “Whatever makes you feel better, Master.” Obi-Wan put a slight emphasis on the “you” to indicate that this didn’t make him feel any better about bribery. He felt a tightening in his stomach that had little to do with the uneven ascent of the turbolift.

    “We can’t root out every bit of corruption in the galaxy, Padawan.” Qui-Gon sighed.

    “I’m not asking to root out every bit of corruption in the galaxy.” Obi-Wan shook his head stubbornly as the turbolift came to a teeth-rattling stop that was far more sudden than gradual. “I’m just wondering whether we have to add to the corruption in the galaxy with our own bribes.”

    “Our mission is to discover whether a girl is Force-sensitive enough to train as a Jedi.” Qui-Gon’s tone was the borderline terse one that usually meant Obi-Wan had pushed his patience too far in an argument. The turbolift doors—somewhat to Obi-Wan’s relief that they were still reliably functional—swung open and both of them exited onto another level of concourse that looked identical to the one they had just left. Only the names of the establishments lining the sides of the concourse were different. “It’s not to uproot the entire civil structure of Ruusha. We must not get distracted from our mission, my young apprentice.”

    Qui-Gon was sometimes too practical, too ends-justfy-the-means in his morality for Obi-Wan’s comfort, but he supposed that in return he was too rigid, to likely to define right and wrong by the rulebook for Qui-Gon’s taste.

    Obi-Wan subsided into a reflective silence as he and Qui-Gon slipped into the stream of travelers and pilots thronging the concourse. Ahead Obi-Wan could see a flashing holosign with half its letters seemingly burned out blaring “Pavel’s Cantina” where the map had stated it should be. The Ruushans must have kept their maps updated even if they didn’t follow the same practice with their turbolifts and holosigns.

    Acceding to his Master’s judgment as they entered Pavel’s cantina and raising his voice slightly to be heard above what Obi-Wan’s ears considered to be very harsh, metallic-sounding music, Obi-Wan bowed his head. “Yes, Master.”

    The two Jedi wove a twisting path between full tables that were crammed about against one another so beings dined almost elbow-to-elbow until they reached a bar. At the end of the bar, they found a pair of empty seats beside a man with flyaway brown hair wearing a bantha leather jacket and matching pants that Obi-Wan had the impression were more designed for fashion than for warmth or functionality.

    A gigantic holoscreen behind the bar was running a local news report on how Tzar Kazimir and his family would be arriving at the Winter Palace for the season in a couple of weeks. As the female holoreporter rambled through a list of the preparations that were underway for the arrival of the Tzar and his family at the Winter Palace, the man beside them muttered, “Blast, the traffic will be a nightmare when the Tzar comes.” Obi-Wan had assumed this complaint wasn’t intended as a conversation starter with him and Qui-Gon, but apparently it was because the man whirled slightly in his seat to add, “I’m Roodi, a fur tradesman who travels in and out of Ruusha often for my work. Originally from Corellia, but I’ve turned Ruusha into something of a second home, you could say.”

    “Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan noted inwardly, was always in the mood to strike up a conversation with a random stranger. It never seemed to be awkward for him as it was for Obi-Wan, who often discovered himself adrift in strange conversational waters, unsure of what to say next. “From Coruscant.”

    “Ah, the bright center of the universe.” Roodi sipped at a steaming flagon of ale. “This your first time on Ruusha?”

    “Yes, it is.” Qui-Gon nodded as the bartender, refilling a mug for a patron at the far end of the bar, seemed to notice their presence for the first time and started approaching them after finishing the other customer’s refill.

    “You’ll be staying in Yekaterinbirsk the whole time?” Roodi continued to drink from his flagon.

    “No, we’ll be traveling out to the steppes.” Qui-Gon shook his head.

    Roodi opened his mouth as if to provide some caution but was cut off before he could begin by the bartender—a man with hair and eyes dark as black holes above a vaguely triangular chin—approached to ask Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, “The security officer two levels down send you up to me?”

    “He did indeed.” Qui-Gon smiled. “He said you had the food and drink least likely to make us vomit at this spaceport.”

    “High praise and he’s always so generous with it.” The bartender grunted as he grabbed a shot glass and poured a liberal serving of the famously strong Ruushan vodka into it. Ruushans, Obi-Wan suspected, needed strong vodka to keep them warm during the long, cold winter months as the winds howled across their vast steppes. Once the shot glass was filled, the bartender nudged it across the counter to Qui-Gon. “Here’s the vodka he no doubt promised you. He’s even more generous with my vodka than he is with his praise. Anything else I can get you?”

    Qui-Gon ordered a fish loaf washed down with a flagon of the warmed ale Roodi was drinking, and this seemed to cheer the bartender up for he wore a friendlier expression as he turned to Obi-Wan.

    Obi-Wan glanced at the menu in the holder in front of him before pointing at a soup of meat and pickled vegetables. “I’ll have that and a bottled water please.”

    It was always safest to ask for bottled water on a strange world, Obi-Wan believed. It was hard to know what minerals the local population was accustomed to consuming that would bother an outsider’s digestive tract for a week during a rough adjustment period…

    “That soup’s not very good.” The bartender leaned across the counter to offer this blunt assessment of the quality of the food at this establishment without a trace of shame visible on his features.

    “Why’s it on the menu then?” Obi-Wan’s eyebrow lifted.

    “Because someone might want it even though it’s not very good.” The bartender shrugged. “I just thought I’d warn you that it’s not very good.”

    Giving up on understanding the weird ways of another backwater world, Obi-Wan changed his line of inquiry. “What would you recommend that’s very good?”

    “You could have the fish loaf he’s having.” The bartender tilted his triangular chin at Qui-Gon.

    “That sounds great.” Obi-Wan was beginning to think that anything that ended the conversation sounded great.

    “I’ll put you down for that then.” The bartender disappeared into what was presumably the kitchen to place their order.

    As the bartender disappeared, Qui-Gon swallowed his vodka. His eyes watered at the strength of the drink, but he didn’t sputter even if Obi-Wan sensed he was on the cusp of it.

    “Impressive.” Roodi eyed Qui-Gon in blatant assessment. “I coughed up a lung the first time I drank Ruushan vodka. You’ll need that sort of strong stomach if half the strange stories I’ve heard about life on the steppe are true.”

    “What have you heard?” Qui-Gon posed the question that was suddenly burning a hole in Obi-Wan’s tongue.

    “Some kids trickle into the city from the steppes around planting and harvest times.” Roodi’s finger stroked the rim of his still-steaming flagon. “They tell strange stories of escaping disturbing rituals on the steppes.”

    “What sort of rituals?” Obi-Wan pressed, forehead furrowing.

    “Rituals of sacrifice.” Roodi stared into his ale, and Obi-Wan felt a shiver sweep up his spine like wind tearing across the endless Ruushan steppes. “The steppes are a primitive place sparsely populated with people who still adhere to the ancient beliefs. They’re crazy people out there amid the howling winds though who can blame them for being backwards when they are so far from any outpost of civilization? They don’t have any warmth in their cold hearts for outsiders either. They aren’t like Pavel the bartender. They don’t understand that outsiders are good for business. They don’t want anything to change on the steppes, and they don’t want any of their young to leave the steppes. They’d rather their young die on the steppes than escape to the city.”

    “Have you been to the steppes?” Qui-Gon wanted to know as Pavel returned with Qui-Gon’s ale and Obi-Wan’s bottled water along with a promise that their meals would be emerging from the kitchen soon.

    “Of course not.” Roodi’s gaze rose from his flagon to regard Qui-Gon as if the older Jedi were a shuffle short of a sabaac card. “I’d recommend you and your young companion didn’t venture out there either. As a Corellian, I respect the roaming impulse, but it’s a wide galaxy, after all, and some places in it—like the Ruushan steppes—are best left unseen, you know.”

    “We don’t exactly have a choice.” Qui-Gon took a serene sip of steaming ale. “Our business takes us out there.”

    Obi-Wan was certain that Qui-Gon truly meant their duty—their mission as Jedi—was taking them out there.

    "Corellians understand business interests as well.” Roodi gulped down the last of his ale and shoved the flagon across the counter along with a pile of credits to settle his tab. “Perhaps it’s time for you and your young companion to consider a new line of work?”

    With that final suggestion, Roodi stood and left the bar, weaving a passage out of the crowded cantina between the wedged-together tables.

    “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” murmured Qui-Gon, eyes following Roodi’s retreating back.

    “We’d better hope not.” Obi-Wan unscrewed the cap of his water bottle—grateful for the slight resistance that assured him the cap had been untampered with and the water was still untainted.

    “He’s never even been to the steppes,” Qui-Gon reminded him as if Obi-Wan had missed that detail.

    “No.” Obi-Wan fiddled with his cap to have something to do with his fingers. “Who can blame him? Not like the Ruushan steppes are about to appear on a list of the thousand most attractive tourist or business destinations in the galaxy any time this century.”
     
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    “There’s the cantina your new friend suggested. It’s a wonder he didn’t give you the name of the place. Maybe that costs extra.”

    Woo! Snarky! ;)

    “You’re upset with my donation to the Yekaterinbirsk Children’s Fund, aren’t you?” Qui-Gon pressed a button to summon an ascending turbolift.

    “Only because I suspect you know as well as I do that the Yekaterinbirsk Children’s Fund is an invented entity for the spaceport security officers to conceal the bribes they take from travelers.” Obi-Wan stepped onto an opening and otherwise empty turbolift that had just arrived with a chime to announce its appearance. “You know as well as I do that the needy children of Yekaterinbirsk will never see much or any of your charity.”
    “The credits will line the security officers back pockets, but security officers in Ruusha are paid a pittance for their work. They must provide for their families somehow.” Qui-Gon shot Obi-Wan a sidelong glance as the turbolift doors clanged shut and the turbolift began a jerky, creaky rise that caused Obi-Wan to contemplate just how old the turbolift was and whether it might have been safer to take the stairs. “We can think of our donation to the Yekaterinbirsk Children’s Fund as ensuring that the security officers’ children have boots and warm coats this winter.”

    “Whatever makes you feel better, Master.” Obi-Wan put a slight emphasis on the “you” to indicate that this didn’t make him feel any better about bribery. He felt a tightening in his stomach that had little to do with the uneven ascent of the turbolift.

    “We can’t root out every bit of corruption in the galaxy, Padawan.” Qui-Gon sighed.

    “I’m not asking to root out every bit of corruption in the galaxy.” Obi-Wan shook his head stubbornly as the turbolift came to a teeth-rattling stop that was far more sudden than gradual. “I’m just wondering whether we have to add to the corruption in the galaxy with our own bribes.”


    I adore this entire exchange! =D= =D= Frankly, I agree more with Obi-Wan. [face_thinking]
    Roodi's warnings about the steppes and the odd sinister happenings ... [face_worried]

    Eager for more!
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2020
  22. Valiowk

    Valiowk Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    I know a country where patients sometimes pay doctors extra under the table of their own will or give them gifts because they know the doctors are ridiculously underpaid. o_O It'll be an interesting experience for Obi-Wan in a world where the logic of Coruscant doesn't always apply.

    Interesting how Qui-Gon seems so sure here - I wonder if there's a story behind this? Speaking of which, in the first post we never learnt for sure whether or not Qui-Gon had heard of Ruusha.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2020
  23. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Interesting to meet Roodi and get a fellow outworlder's viewpoint on Ruusha. Even if he hasn't been to the steppes himself, I wonder if he does "know what he's talking about" more than Qui-Gon gives him credit for; his warning about the steppes and the disturbing rituals taking place out there adds a new dimension not only to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's mission in general but also to what we saw earlier with the Komovs' uncertainty and fearfulness when they first talked to the Jedi about their daughter (which really did seem almost like a kind of "what if someone else gets to her first" kind of fearfulness). Now I'm extra eager to see how things will go for our two Jedi out on the steppes, though a bit nervous, too! [face_nail_biting] Keep it coming!
     
  24. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for your kind comments! I must admit that snarky Obi-Wan might be my favorite Obi-Wan[face_laugh] I really enjoyed writing that exchange (it just flowed out of my head onto the page for me in a very nice way) so I'm so happy to hear that it stuck out to you in a good way. I think I'm naturally more of an Obi-Wan in this instance too, but at least Qui-Gon got to have his say. Roodi's warnings do set the tone for some sinister happenings out on the steppes which are starting to sound somewhat ominous...In future chapters, we will have time to discover how right or how wrong he is...I hope you continue to enjoy the story!

    @Valiowk Thanks so much for commenting! :DI agree that it will be an interesting experience for Obi-Wan to continue to navigate a world where the laws and rules of Coruscant don't apply.

    @Findswoman As always, thank you so much for your kind words!:D Roodi was a great character for providing me with a chance to see Ruusha from the perspective of another outworlder who perhaps has some more in the ground type experience. Roodi will have certainly heard a good number of stories living in the city closest to the steppes so while perhaps some might be exaggerated, Qui-Gon might be wrong to dismiss all of it as the guy not knowing what he is talking about. Sometimes secondhand information can still be better than no information but then of course misinformation is also worse than reliable information so it can all be so confusing knowing who to trust in a new place...You're absolutely right that Roodi's warnings do add a new dimension both to the mission and to the fears the Komovs have about their daughter. More of their fear might come into focus even further in future chapters. I don't think I'm spoilering anything if I say the Jedi should have quite an adventure on the steppes!
     
  25. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Like modern Russia and where is their dictator?