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Saga Next Step - one-post - Obi-Wan in exile with ghostie Qui-Gon

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ardavenport, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. ardavenport

    ardavenport Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 16, 2004
    Title: Next Step
    Author: ardavenport
    Timeframe: between trilogies
    Genre: Saga
    Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn
    Keywords: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Tatooine, Force, Jedi
    Summary: Obi-Wan has to tend to his day-to-day needs in his isolated hut on Tatooine.
    Notes: Typo is my middle name, with missing words and errors that spell checkers do not catch being my specialty - if you see any, just post a reply or send a PM with the what and where and I will kill them with no mercy.
    Disclaimer: All characters and the Star Wars universe belong to Disney and Lucasfilm; I am just playing in their sandbox.

    Obi-Wan poured the can of parts out on the rough stone tabletop. Some clattered and spilled over the sides before he could catch them. He stopped himself from diving down and grabbing them, sitting up and breathing deeply, exhaling his sudden flare of anger.

    He got up and on his hands and knees he collected the escaped bits, his eyes half closed, letting his hands, guided by the Force, find them. His fingers curled around the last one, caught in the wide sleeve of his worn brown robe. His knee and lower back twinged as he got up and laid them down next to the pile on the table. Sitting down, he inhaled the Force over the pains of aging and scars of old injuries and exhaled, letting it go. Then he bent forward and, one at a time, pulled the shapes away from the pile and pushed them into new 'no' and 'maybe' piles.

    Too big - no.

    Too small - no.

    Round with a hole in the middle, corroded - maybe.

    Square - no.

    Long and bent - no.

    He started pushing the 'no's' into different piles. He should have sorted these ages ago, but as long as they were in their can, he knew where they were. Barely a quarter of the way through the pile, he had a tiny collection of things to try. He scooped them up and made his way outside.

    Tugging his hood on, shading himself from the morning sun, he went to the ridge beside his hut where the vaporator extracted life-sustaining water from Tatooine's humid air.

    When it was working.

    The disassembled condenser controller lay on a board on the ground, covered with a ragged sheet to keep the sand out. Everything had sand in it on Tatooine, but less was always better, especially in machinery. Kneeling beside his work, he tried out his best choice on the exposed flow outlet.

    It was just a tiny bit too small. He did not try to force it; that never worked. With disheartening predictability none of his other choices fit either. His hand closed tightly on the failures and he resisted the urge to hurl them along with the broken part that had spoiled his morning into the sky. That never worked either. Sighing, he went back inside to look for more candidates.

    Using the piece with the nearest fit as a guide, he picked out more and sorted out many others into the 'no' piles. There was still more than half the pile from the can left. Again he went outside. All of the new ones were just a tiny bit loose. Sitting back on a rock, he hung his head and seriously considered just putting in the closest one and putting everything back together. It would work. Probably. For a while. Until the flow outlet bent or broke from the vibrations.

    No, a close fit would not do. Second rate parts were why the refurbished vaporator he had was in the shape it was. It had been on a streak of breakdowns lately, each time something new. His only victory was that he had taken it apart and put it back together so many times that he was finding the problems relatively quickly now. He trudged back inside to hunt for more possibilities.

    Suppressing his hopes over one shiny metalloid circle, he took it and the third batch of 'maybe's' out. It if was right, it would fit, anticipating that would not affect the outcome and bring on a new flash of frustration when it didn't.

    It fit.

    Sighing, he sat back, allowing himself a little rest from the tedium. He had to sweep out the hut again. Sand was always getting in. Then he had to check the power generator; it had fewer moving parts and was secondary to the vaporator, but it needed maintenance before it broke down. He hung his head down, not thinking, his senses spreading outward in the Force into the desert around him. There were no large creatures or sentients anywhere near his hut's bluff, nor on the plains below it.

    Finally opening his eyes, he gazed up at the vaporator. It needed maintenance before it broke down. Again. But being more than twice as tall as he was, it was always difficult to take apart. Weary, he got up and went back into his hut. First, he ate a food bar and washed it down with a cup from his filtered water tank. There was enough for a few days, but without the vaporator to extract more from the atmosphere he would be driven to Anchorhead to get what he needed. In his exile, hidden from the Empire, the less contact he had with any of the local inhabitants, the better.

    He got an old supply container and collected everything he thought could be used on the vaporator. Broken controllers, bits of wire, old tubing and bent brackets went in with more conventional spare parts. Out in the middle of the Jundland Wastes nothing was discarded just in case it could be useful. He carried it outside into the full midday sun. Laying out board and sheeting on the ground, he started taking out the main components of the vaporator; controllers, conduits, power cells. He opened the main tanks and inspected the insides with growing dismay. There was a residue of scummy water in the bottom that clearly never got expelled when he emptied the tank; there was a problem with the drainage. That and the corrosion around the seams meant that the tank would need to be replaced. He had been having problems with night vermin scratching around his hut; obviously they were being attracted by the scent of moisture. Adding that to all the other problems meant that he might as well just get a new vaporator and just keep this one going long enough for him to take an excursion into Mos Eisley.

    He sat down on a rock and stared up at the dismembered vaporator and finally gave in to his loathing for the device. He hated servicing it. He hated fixing it, which it needed far too often. He hated when it leaked. He hated when it failed in the middle of the night and then squeaking out only a brown trickle as it had that morning. His former Padawan, Anakin Skywalker, would have kept it running perfectly with only a bundle of wire and a broken illuminator, and he would have enjoyed doing it. But Anakin was gone.

    Gone to the Dark Side.

    Obi-Wan stared forward for long minutes at the tan and gray surfaces before him, not seeing the parts, the sand, the vaporator, the rocky ridge, his hatred of all that falling away, crushed under the weight of grief. For what Anakin became, for his own failure in not seeing the approaching danger of his Padawan's fall.

    Was that why he hated working on this blasted vaporator so much? Or repairing any of the other devices he needed to survive in this desolate wasteland? Because it was something that Anakin would have loved doing?

    Suspended between the grinding tedium of his isolation and the loss of his old life and the entire Jedi Order, he seemed to detach from both. The Force spread out from him, from the rock he sat on, an aura that reached into and through every miserable part of the vaporator, out over the Jundland Wastes where the creatures of the desert survived, languidly absorbing the midday heat or devouring each other, and beyond them were the lines of huge vaporators of the Lars farm and the homestead where young Luke, the youngling that his mother never lived to see, lived a safely anonymous life, raised by his grandmother's adopted family.

    Luke was walking, talking and just beginning to learn to read, but Obi-Wan could sense the same potential in him that his father had. With his life's work reduced to one task, Obi-Wan could feel the Force in him, untapped, untrained and unknown to the Sith, the same potential that Qui-Gon had sensed in Anakin Skywalker.

    The image of young Luke morphed and grew into Anakin, then expanded into shiny blackness, a malevolent machine carrying Darth Vader's bloody lightsaber and beside him the Emperor, twisted and deformed into his true Sith-Lord persona, robed in black and presiding over a conquering Empire.

    Flashing, clashing blue blades cut through the blackness and Obi-Wan saw his emotionless lightsaer, guided by the Force alone, strike off Vader's limbs, leaving him alive to fall back into the sulphurous, burning red lava, consuming and charring skin and muscle, leaving only the fire of hatred that sustained him long enough to become the monster that his true Master made of him. The young boy with so much potential was gone, turned to ashes that reeked of the Dark Side.

    The Emperor's cheek twitched. He lifted his nose under his black hood as if scenting something unpleasant in the air.

    Obi-Wan fell pulled away, his vision flying back across the vast distances past stars and stellar gas that meant nothing to the Force.

    Blinking in the double sunlight, he breathed in the clean desert air. The vaporator rose tall above him against the bright blue sky, its inner parts spread out on the boards and sheeting on the sand at his feet. It was well past noon.

    //You have finally taken the next step.//

    A comfortable warmth, quite apart from the double suns dominating the sky, passed over him. He sighed, stood and stretched.

    "It was time."

    He spoke out loud to his old Master, Qui-Gon Jinn. With his head back, his eyes closed, it almost felt as if the spurious presence was real, standing just behind him. He relaxed; the vaporator was not important now.

    "And I was right. It is dangerous. The Emperor felt my presence."

    //The Light Side of the Force clouds his vision just as much as the Dark Side masked that of the Jedi.//

    "Not enough yet to be safe from him. Or Vader."

    //And what did you see, now that you have finally looked?//

    The memory of the shiny black plastoid lines and angles, the machine limbs and organs padded and wrapped in cloth returned to him along with the smell of the singed air and molten rock of Mustafar. "He is angry. All the time. About what he lost, what he is. It gives him power and he enjoys it and he always wants more. And the Emperor encourages it, to bind him closer to the Dark Side. But Vader will never be as strong as the Emperor. Not now." Obi-Wan lowered his hand and wiped his eyes, suddenly damp.

    //You must let go of the past, Obi-Wan.//

    "I don't know if I know how." He exhaled, opening his eyes. "Perhaps that's my problem." He turned around quickly, but only saw his hut, sand and rocks and the desert plain below. His throat tightened at his disappointment, finding only emptiness behind him after all. Turning back again, his heart sank further as he faced his morning frustration.

    "I still wish I had Anakin to finish this."

    Qui-Gon chuckled. //You have everything you need to finish it.//

    He looked down at all the loose parts, his spirit wilting at the hours it would take to get everything back together, correctly, with the prospect of it soon breaking down again. "If you say so." Jedi ghosts did not need to drink water. "But at least Anakin would have enjoyed doing it."

    //Don't think about enjoying it, Obi-Wan. Feel. This vaporator is your life.//

    He blinked at his Master's words. "This isn't a lightsaber. It's a common machine. A tool."

    //So is a lightsaber. But a lightsaber does not give you water and this machine does. You know everything you need."

    Skeptical of what his Master was implying, he sat down on his rock again and closed his eyes. Drawing the Force to him like the currents in an aural sea, he sent it out before him. It flowed and curled around the clutter of parts and the vaporator body. Components and bits rose up in the air, finding their natural places and gliding together. Clusters of parts became larger units that rose higher still and clicked into empty slots and recesses. The final access panel slid shut with only a tiny grinding noise of rough, refurbished metalloid.

    Obi-wan lowered his hands. He did not remember raising them, but it was an automatic gesture when using the Force, one that he nor any other Jedi ever thought about. The vaporator was whole and intact. He stepped over and around the box and loose leftovers still on the ground and reached a hand out to touch the side of the main tank. Tiny imperceptible vibrations hummed under his fingertips. It seemed to be operating normally again.

    //You see. You can do it.//

    He felt the impression of a reassuring hand on his shoulder and he did not discourage the illusion.

    "I'm still going have to replace it with a new model," he commented skeptically, "hopefully before it breaks down again." The vaporator echoed from his dismissive rap as he turned away and knelt to collect the parts and chuck them back into the box.

    Qui-Gon chuckled.

    //There is still more, my Padawan.//

    "Yes, after I clean all this up out here, I have to put it away so I can find it again. And then I have to turn the bedding over to keep the parasites out, which I should have already done before this happened." It was amazing how many little tasks were needed to just maintain a comfortable survival in exile.

    //You need to take the next step.//

    Another heavy part clunked into the box. He looked up as if annoyed at the cloudless blue sky. "I already took the next step. I looked at Vader . . . " Without choking up when he finally saw in the Force what Anakin had become. He did not utter the thought, but he was sure that his Master heard it anyway.

    //There is always another next step. Surely you've learned this by now.// The implied impatience was out-weighed by Qui-Gon's amusement.

    He sighed. That was true. With Qui-Gon, there was always another lesson.

    Getting up, he tugged his hood over his face, shielding it from the afternoon sun. Sitting back on his rock, he cleared his mind again. It was surprising how many living creatures moved about in the oppressive heat, but most of it was small, much of it microscopic, the living base of the food cycle that fed the whole eco-system. The only large beings were far off in the rocky hills and on the plain tending to the production vaporators and child-raising tasks on the Lars farmstead.

    He floated on the currents of the Force; if Qui-Gon wished to lead him to the next step, he was prepared to take it. Small events from his years as a Jedi drifted by. Getting a new set of tunics after he tore his old ones that he had nearly grown out of. The smell of warm tea that Qui-Gon drank. The roof of the Temple and the crowd of Padawans waiting for the unknown lesson coming while their annoyingly confidence Masters stood to the side. The stab of a red lightsaber going through Qui-Gon's chest. Anakin asking 'why' about nearly every line of the Jedi Code in the Archives while other Jedi at other desks covertly peered in their direction. Two dozen battle cruisers destroyed in a surprise attack and General Grievous' communication demanding surrender. The Jedi Council room, half the members holographic images because they were on distant system directing the Grand Army of the Republic, the sun on the horizon, the sunset bloody. Master Yoda looked up, her large eyes sad.

    The red hues shifted to shadowy greens and browns and firelight shining on the rounded ceiling of a simple mud hut. It was raining outside.

    "Master Yoda." Joy crested though him to see his fellow Jedi - - the last living Jedi that he knew of. He held the connection to Yoda's much wetter refuge world with calm. They had not spoken in years, not since they parted after the Jedi's fall. Now he sensed a return happiness from his fellow exile.

    "Much you have learned, Qui-Gon has told me," Yoda's gravelly voice spoke in his mind.

    In the dry world around his physical body, the sun was getting low in the sky. But that did not matter. Behind him and with Yoda, he sensed Qui-Gon's presence as real as when he had been living.

    "Much to learn, I still have," he answered.

    ### ### END ### ###
  2. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    An excellent piece showing what Obi-Wan is learning during his exile
  3. Cael-Fenton

    Cael-Fenton Jedi Master star 3

    Jun 22, 2006
    I love its quiet, subtle sense of hope. You draw out such real, genuine emotional resonances from the most mundane matter!
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent insights and reflections. =D=
  5. serendipityaey

    serendipityaey Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 24, 2004
    Wonderful piece!