Title: My Fallen Apprentice Author: NobodyIX Characters: Qui-Gon, Xanatos Genre: AU, drama. Summary: Qui-Gon receives an unexpected message from his former Apprentice. Notes: This is for the First Sentence Challenge My first sentence was from Nobody's Boy by Hector Malot (love the title Chyntuck!) "I was a foundling, but until I was eight years of age I thought I had a mother, like other children." Special thanks to Ewok Poet for the beta read! I've made changes since she saw it though, so all errors are my own. My Fallen Apprentice I was a foundling, but until I was eight years of age I thought I had a mother, like other children. The early days of training as a young Padawan were eased, knowing I had someone even far away that loved me. But after I became an initiate I had inquired briefly about my birth mother. "Don't concentrate on the past, Qui-Gon.. That leads to suffering." Jedi Master Tonshu offered this advice as we gazed up at the stars. But I could never take no for an answer. Deep under the cover of night I infiltrated the archives and found that truth only leads to more questions. I had been given to the Jedi not from my birth mother, but by the most repulsive of traders in Coruscant. I had buried the truth deep down, mentioning it once in a moment of folly. The only person who knew my secret was my fallen apprentice Xanatos. The datacard I received was a just a few words but they hit me with the force of a vibroblade. 'I know who she is.' . Those words could only come from Xanatos. Coordinates and a date set for three standard days were included below. It had been months since Xanatos' fall to the dark side. And now, after all this time, he beckoned me. I had no doubt that Xanatos hated me and would do anything to exact revenge. I blamed myself for his fall, for killing his father, and not making things right. The hatred in my apprentice's eyes, the absolute anger as he knelt beside his father could never be erased from my mind. Xanatos changed at that moment into something I didn't recognize. 'Forever lost, he is,' Yoda said sadly, hunched over his stick as he walked away from me. Xanatos must go before the Jedi Council and be punished. I was reprimanded by the Council for refusing to go after him. Perhaps my greatest weakness is seeing hope where clearly there is none. **** None of my fellow Jedi knew my intent as I chartered a freighter. I would be chastised, or worse, expelled. The right thing to do was give the information to the Council. I hesitated as I set the coordinates. It may well be the last thing I ever do. I watched as Coruscant disappeared beneath me, and my ship locked into hyperspace. My course and my destiny were set and my mind soon wandered to my Padawan. Despite all that had happened, there was a bond between myself and Xanatos that I never fully grasped. He had been an outsider in the early days as a youngling. Kept mostly to himself, and his own thoughts. But when he stepped out onto the floor in combat, he became different: focused and decisive. Sabaac was never the same. He could anticipate my moves far beyond anyone I'd challenged. And I soon realized that his quiet nature hid an analytical mind, absorbing everything, and bringing it back to his advantage. Sometimes I feel he knows me better than I know myself. I gazed out the windows as I left hyperspace and watched the world of Bandomeer loomed on my main screen. As I dropped into the atmosphere, I saw the harsh winter had buried the mining industry under a layer of deep ice and snow. The terrain was inhospitable save for the main city and an icy landing platform that I touched down upon. An odd insignia was plastered along a wall of the landing strip and among the tallest skyscrapers in town.. It was the logo for Telos Mining. The same company Xanatos' father had run. My apprentice had done well after his father's death. I hesitated before departing the ship. I could sense Xanatos now... There was no hatred, and I could sense no danger but he excelled at shielding his emotions. I stepped out into the bitter cold, seeing my breath in the air as I waited below my ship. If he was going to kill me it would be soon and I willed myself to stop shivering. I sensed his presence behind me but I did not turn around. I was not expecting the warm blanket he placed over my shoulders. The gesture touched me beyond words. I turned to face him, and felt a profound sense of loss. He had embraced the dark and there was little left of the young Padawan I once knew. "Qui-Gon," he said at last with no hint of emotion. "You came." Xanatos had aged since I last saw him. Hair was longer and tied in the back, and those dark unreadable eyes had seen sleepless nights.. The scar from our last days together had healed into a broken circle on his cheekbone. I nodded as I watched him closely. "I only wish Xan," I paused, "I could undo what has been done." Xanatos stepped closer to me and I did not move. "I don't fault you for my father's death, Qui-Gon. Not any more. It took me some time, but I've found my peace." His words were sincere. I only wished that I could come to the same understanding. I regarded his ship, it was a Corellian Starship, sleek in design, and worth more credits that I could ever imagine. "It looks as though you have done well for yourself. Your father would be proud." Xanatos straightened at my words and motioned to his ship. "Come inside." He inclined his head. "It's cold out here." I no more wanted to go onto Xanatos' ship, than be thrown in the Bandomeer ocean. "I can't do that, Xan. We can talk in my ship." I nodded to my humble freighter behind me. He suppressed a chuckle and shook his head. "So you can shackle me and bring me back to your Jedi?" "No Xan. Your worries are unfounded. I'm not bringing you back." The words hung in the air. We were at an impasse. Xanatos looked back at his ship. His voice lowered to a whisper. "Your mother, Qui-Gon. I found her." He watched as I tried to hide my emotions. He spoke again. “You have a choice. You can leave now,” he nodded to my ship, “or you can come with me.." And there was the shiv. The one piece of information that I could never let go. Xanatos knew very well I couldn't walk away. He extended a gloved hand. I watched him for a moment and accepted his hand. He helped me over the ice, to his ship, where the hatch hissed open and a plank lowered. Two uniformed men saluted him and gazed at me with hands on their blasters. Xanatos motioned to them and they stood at ease as I passed. The ship was up to date with the most current technology and many devices I had never seen before. I followed Xanatos into a large holding room with a table and holo-screen and he motioned me to a chair... The screen lit up as Xanatos sat beside me. An unknown planet loomed on the screen, then focused down towards green pastures and a stone house settled between two towering trees. An elderly woman with short gray hair stepped out and called out, several younglings came at her beckoning. I stood and stepped closer to the picture and resisted the urge to touch the screen. I had seen her face many times in dreams. All these years I had wondered about her presence, but never sought her out. "Stop," I ordered Xanatos. I turned away.from the screen, longing to be in the solitude of my ship. My voice was no longer even.. "How long ago was this?" "Several standard years," Xanatos replied. "Their planet is in trouble." I now felt a sense of urgency as I turned to leave his ship.. Xanatos spoke the truth. ."I will bring it to the attention of the Jedi Council," I said hastily. My head throbbed. I shut the door to my past years ago, and now that it was open, I felt truly lost. "And tell them what?" Xanatos called after me. "That you saw your birth mother? The Jedi are well aware of the problems on Terran VI. They've kept a blind eye for years." I stopped and shook my head. The Jedi Council would do nothing. They had their hands full with other matters. Xanatos stood and came to my side. "I'm offering to help, Qui-Gon. I have acquired the means to do so." He motioned to his ship. "I am offering to go with you." "Why?" I asked. Xanatos turned to face me.. "Because it's the right thing to do. Come with me,” he paused and stepped in front of the hatch, “ for a few days. That's all I ask." "A few days," I murmured. A few days could do many things. What did I fear? Yes, I feared Xanatos. But perhaps I feared that my loyalty to the Jedi would waver. "Just a few days and then I must return." I heard the words come out of my mouth before I could register them in my mind. Xanatos gave me a genuine smile. It was almost infectious. "Excellent," he said, "I will show you to your quarters." This, at last was what he planned. To take me away from the Jedi. The fact that I was going with him spoke volumes. Both to myself and obviously to Xanatos.