The Sun Hasn't Yet Risen
A/N: This was inspired by the music for Schindler’s List.
The cell was not dank. On the contrary, it smelled rather of dust, among other unpleasant odors. The reason was easily enough ascertained – wherever they had been taken, it was some distance away, far enough away that the climate had changed to one much dryer and hotter. In the day, Qui-Gon felt like he was in an oven. Obi-Wan handled that part much easier, his body apparently better suited to hot climates. Like most deserts, though, it got much colder at night. That, Qui-Gon was better equipped to handle, and Obi-Wan less so.
For that reason, Obi-Wan was tucked by Qui-Gon’s side with Qui-Gon’s cloak wrapped around him. Qui-Gon suspected Obi-Wan didn’t realize how he also warmed Qui-Gon up, considering the boy’s embarrassed smile when he curled up against his Master at night. Their shared body heat made the night bearable.
At the moment, Obi-Wan was asleep, his head on Qui-Gon’s shoulder. He fitted there nicely, as his fourteen-year-old body was still small and Qui-Gon’s was most certainly the opposite. There were smudges of dirt on the boy’s face, along with a few scrapes and bruises, but the glow of youth showed through regardless of all that. Qui-Gon could see it even with the little light cast by the two moons through the small, barred opening at the top of the wall of their cell.
Obi-Wan was rather young for this mission, Qui-Gon believed, which consisted of convincing genocidal maniacs that they would not be in power one way or another. It was a pointless mission, really, done for political purposes. It would end in failure. He had brought the point of his Padawan’s youth and inexperience up with the Council, but they had seemed certain of Obi-Wan’s ability to handle it, and Qui-Gon’s ability to help him deal with it.
A slight scuffle reminded Qui-Gon they weren’t alone, and he raised his head to meet their cellmate’s red eyes.
Tawara was a young male Twi’lek, older than Obi-Wan, but not by much. He sat on the other side of the cell – a scant five feet from where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were – curled up in the closest thing he could manage to a ball. They had shared a cell for several days, and Qui-Gon had found him to be an intelligent young sentient.
At Qui-Gon’s glance, Tawara smiled faintly, obviously still awake. “It’s all right, Qui-Gon. I’m sure.”
Qui-Gon raised his eyebrows. “I didn’t say anything,” he noted mildly.
“I know. But even if you didn’t say it first, you were going to get around to it,” Tawara pointed out with a sharp grin. His pointed teeth rather added to the effect.
“Very well.” Qui-Gon paused momentarily. “It gets cold here, and your species is not meant for the cold. Obi-Wan and I could use the body heat, anyway.”
Tawara shook his head at Qui-Gon’s persistence, but Qui-Gon sensed he was heartened by it.
“Can’t sleep?” Tawara said instead, gesturing at Obi-Wan with his chin.
Qui-Gon looked down for a moment, reassuring himself that Obi-Wan still slept. “My mind is full of thoughts, different considerations,” Qui-Gon admitted. “It does not ease the transition into sleep.”
“I would think as a Jedi you would be able to, I don’t know . . . Put yourself to sleep, I guess,” Tawara said with a curious gaze. Like many, he had never met a Jedi before Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. He had been sent to talk with the Jedi concerning the Fewarain situation.
Qui-Gon shook his head. “Jedi can have difficulties with such things.” He sighed. “After all,” he added with a pointed look, “if Jedi were so powerful, we wouldn’t be here, now would we?”
Tawara laughed quietly. “No, we wouldn’t. You should make yourself a note – to practice those omniscient skills when you home. To avoid little mishaps like ambushes, you know.”
Qui-Gon smiled in return.
Silence fell easily, the ending of their conversation having no awkward quality. Over the past few days, they had used their time to talk and discuss their situation. They had already concluded they were being held for some purpose – hostages, perhaps. It was a guess that Tawara was held with the Jedi as a hostage against his father, as Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were for the Republic. In fact, the Republic had sent them to intervene. It was ironic that the Blue Party would attempt to use them to stop that very thing from happening.
Qui-Gon let his head fall against the hard, stone wall he leaned up against – both he and Tawara were sitting so as to not crowd the other in the cramped area – and closed his eyes. Obi-Wan remained a steady warmth at his side. He was grateful they had not been separated. Things were not as bad as they could be, he reminded himself as he settled his mind to meditate. He couldn’t sleep, but perhaps he could make use of the extra time to try to control his wayward thoughts into something orderly and useful.
He felt it when Obi-Wan stirred to wakefulness a few hours later. His mind fought its way out of deep slumber and dreams, and Obi-Wan unconsciously projected bits of images and impressions through his bond. They were all mismatched things, making no sense to Qui-Gon – his lightsaber, Qui-Gon, Bant, a cup and other such oddities. Obi-Wan was still not entirely accustomed to their bond, though there was no doubt he treasured it. Obi-Wan was still fairly young, and their bond fairly new, so the lack of proper control was not unusual. Qui-Gon had taken him rather late; most Padawans were chosen a full year or two before their thirteen birthday.
The boy also started to twitch physically, though he stilled when his mind was fully, if sluggishly, awake.
“Morning,” Qui-Gon whispered, looking down.
Obi-Wan looked up, eyelids fluttering and granting Qui-Gon little flashes of blue. “It’s morning?” Obi-Wan whispered back, automatically keeping his voice level in volume as Qui-Gon’s.
“Past midnight, but the sun hasn’t yet risen,” Qui-Gon replied. “You didn’t sleep very long,” he added, with a careful note of disapproval in his tone.
Obi-Wan blinked. “Have you slept at all?” he asked, apparently having taken in Qui-Gon’s alertness.
“I’ve been meditating.”
“Because you couldn’t sleep,” Obi-Wan said knowingly, grinning slightly.
Qui-Gon sighed. “So I shouldn’t be chastising you, then, hmm?”
Obi-Wan gave Qui-Gon another little grin that told him that was exactly what he had been planning to say. Apparently satisfied, Obi-Wan pushed away from Qui-Gon, half-rising to a sitting position. Qui-Gon saw him move slightly, going through minute stretches designed for when you didn’t have much space.
“You are such an odd child, Obi-Wan,” Qui-Gon observed, expression impassive, though he was certain Obi-Wan would see through that immediately. If he thought he wouldn’t be able to, Qui-Gon would not have made the remark.
“Thanks,” Obi-Wan said, shooting Qui-Gon a grin that seemed like a blur of white teeth in the darkness. He rubbed his hands together briskly as Qui-Gon pulled his robe more tightly around himself, now absent of the warmth that was Obi-Wan. “Tawara asleep?”
“He must have dozed off while I was meditating,” Qui-Gon said, looking Tawara over. The young man was still curled into a ball, even as he slept, and his braintail lay over his shoulder. His hands were hidden in his clothes, presumably for warmth. “It’ll be a long night, Obi-Wan. You should go back to sleep.”
Obi-Wan shook his head. “I’m really awake, at least right now. I doubt I could get back to sleep.”
Qui-Gon nodded thoughtfully, folding his arms. “How is your injury?”
Obi-Wan’s hand automatically went to his left shoulder. A stray blaster shot had gotten him while he blocked another. It was not serious – it had nearly missed – but it hurt a bit. Obi-Wan grimaced whenever it was touched, and even Force healing was slow. The flash of panic that Qui-Gon had felt in the middle of the ambush had not really faded – little reverberations of it kept coming back whenever he saw in the injury. What a difference a few inches could make.
“It’s all right,” Obi-Wan said with a one-shoulder shrug. He adjusted his seating position, and Qui-Gon carefully studied how he moved his shoulder.
Qui-Gon accepted the answer with a slight hand motion.
“How long do you think we’ll be here?” Obi-Wan asked, breathing into his hands to keep them warm, something that Qui-Gon didn’t fail to note.
“It’s hard to say. The Republic already knows we’re missing, I imagine, perhaps even that we’ve been taken as hostages. Once they know for certain, they will be forced to act – they already agreed to do so in such a situation.”
Obi-Wan put his hands under his armpits. “I wish we hadn’t been captured,” he muttered.
Qui-Gon raised an eyebrow. “Wishing is a waste of time and thought, my Padawan. The past cannot be undone.” He paused, and added, “Really, wishing will only depress you with thoughts of what could have been, of things you could have done but didn’t. It’s far better to focus on the present reality, which truly matters.”
Obi-Wan smiled crookedly. “That’s why you’re the Jedi Master, and I’m just the apprentice.”
Qui-Gon held out his hand, motioning for Obi-Wan to come forward to him, and said, “And one day, you will be the Jedi Master.”
To his surprise, Obi-Wan grew serious, even as he obediently scrambled back beside Qui-Gon, into the warmth he provided. “That’s a while away, Master,” Obi-Wan said softly, no twinge of embarrassment in his face this time as he settled in by his Master. “I hope – I hope you’re with me if I become a Jedi Master.”
Qui-Gon looked down at Obi-Wan in surprise. “I’ll try, Obi-Wan. And when, my Padawan, not if. You truly care, and that is most of what one needs to be a teacher.”
“Promise?” Obi-Wan asked, sounding uncommonly child-like.
Qui-Gon paused momentarily, looking down at the dirty tuff of ginger hair, all he could see of his Padawan when he leaned against him. Obi-Wan truly asked that Qui-Gon make an effort, and yet . . . Qui-Gon would not have done otherwise. He didn’t want to leave Obi-Wan, either, no matter how experienced and accomplished Obi-Wan would no doubt grow to be. “I promise, Padawan.”
Hours passed as Obi-Wan slept. His Padawan had been wrong, apparently – in truth, Qui-Gon suspected Obi-Wan had been woken by a dream, and he still needed more sleep. Hence, his sleeping now.
Qui-Gon sensed it was nearing dawn, but he couldn’t be sure – he wasn’t even sure his sense of ‘dawn’ was correct, since he didn’t know if they were facing the sunrise. The small opening gave little clue of what was outside. Even with him boosting Obi-Wan, all that could be seen out of it was dirt.
Obi-Wan slept peacefully, his slow breathing rhythmic and soothing. Qui-Gon would simply watch him . . . living. Exhaling, inhaling, his steady heartbeat. It was easy to wonder at the intricacies and beauty of life when was one so attuned to the Living Force, which beat with a billion individual tunes of scattered and condensed life, each so different from the next. And even easier with Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan’s waking was more smooth and gradual this time. He didn’t let anything slip through their bond. His waking was more natural this time, Qui-Gon suspected, and that was why Obi-Wan was showing more control. The confusion of waking from a deep sleep was not present.
He saw Obi-Wan glance at Tawara, who still slept. “He hasn’t woken?” Obi-Wan asked quietly. All three of them slept fitfully. They tried to sleep often – there was little else to do, even for the Jedi – but the lack of activity was taking its toll in restlessness.
“No,” Qui-Gon said simply, not asking why Obi-Wan was curious about it.
Obi-Wan nodded, and bit his lip.
“What is it?” Qui-Gon asked, touching their bond to get a sense of what Obi-Wan was thinking. He sensed nothing more than slight apprehension, and restlessness, though his apprentice could be shielding anything else. Emotions were not picked up with total ease, even with a bond.
“I have a question,” Obi-Wan said hesitantly, edging closer to Qui-Gon. Qui-Gon knew he was rather embarrassed to seem needy, having to use his Master’s body heat at night; that he wasn’t experienced enough to warm himself on his own. Every time Obi-Wan tried to sleep on his own, away from Qui-Gon, the cold usually drove him back, though usually he slept through the whole night, so it wasn’t a problem more than once.
“You didn’t want to ask it with Tawara awake?”
“Well, I didn’t want to disturb him,” Obi-Wan said, grimacing slightly.
Qui-Gon nodded. “Ask.”
Obi-Wan hesitated again, but Qui-Gon waited rather than push. “How do they rationalize it?” Obi-Wan asked at last. “How do they just ignore . . . common decency? It’s like . . . they were told what was right and wrong, and they accepted it blindly despite the fact that it must have been so obvious that it was wrong. I mean, they didn’t start out this way, did they?” Obi-Wan’s jaw was clenched, but his gaze was steady and clear.
“Come here,” Qui-Gon requested, holding open his cloak. After a moment, Obi-Wan came to him and curled up against him again. Qui-Gon folded his cloak around them both, and took a few moments to gather his thoughts. “Lack of vigilance,” Qui-Gon said finally.
“I imagine the Blue Party was quite subtle with it in the beginning,” Qui-Gon continued, easily falling into a lecture. “Just little bits of their philosophy that they spread everywhere. In small doses, said well, I’m sure it seemed reasonable enough. Those who didn’t look closely saw something that looked good, and decided to follow it. It didn’t happen quickly, my Padawan. They let ideas that would shape the core of their beliefs into their minds, into their hearts, piece by seemingly harmless piece.”
“Without following the consequences of those ideas to the conclusion?”
“Yes,” Qui-Gon replied, not surprised at how quickly Obi-Wan caught on. “Very good. That’s how it started. There was also the fact that they did not present everything at once – when put together, certain things became more obvious, if one thought it through. And by spreading their beliefs everywhere they could manage, the Blue Party influenced even people who wouldn’t be normally susceptible to such ideas. You get told day-in, day-out that something is right, and if you don’t train yourself not to listen, to guard what you let influence you, and you’ll start to believe what you’re told. Calivar’s government wasn’t that great to begin with. Freedoms we may take for granted in other areas of the Republic are not so readily available. There was no conflicting information permitted, once the Blue Party gained control politically.”
“But even still . . .”
“That’s still only a small part of the population,” Qui-Gon agreed. “Then the lies began. They dumped horrible stories on suspicions they had so carefully set in the public mind, and people became frightened. Then the coup which puts the instigators in power, and then the use of terror, and your life and that of your family is more important. If they all rose up, perhaps they could defeat the Blue Party on their own – they rule primarily by fear. But it would be bloody, and they are not yet willing to take such action. They probably wouldn’t until their own blood started to be spilled, which is likely inevitable considering the paranoia of the new secret police . . .” He shrugged slightly, and felt Obi-Wan shiver.
“But mass homicide? In the name of species superiority?” Obi-Wan asked quietly. “Is fear so strong they would just stand by?”
“They do not want to see, my Padawan. It raises too many difficult questions.” Qui-Gon tightened his grip on Obi-Wan. “I worried about taking you along on this mission. I knew it would be impossible from the beginning, that it was merely an attempt by the Senate to avoid trouble, to avoid being forced to police one of their own planets. And the things we would both see here, that we have seen in the public executions . . .”
Obi-Wan straightened. “You don’t think I’m mature enough?”
“I don’t believe you were quite experienced enough, Padawan,” Qui-Gon corrected. “It is my duty to teach you – it is also my duty to teach you things in due time, when you are ready, and to protect you. Such lessons . . . I wish you did not have to take so soon. You have seen violence, yes, but nothing like this.”
“Oh,” Obi-Wan said softly.
“Are you worried, Padawan?”
“No, Master.” A small pause. “Well, yes, a little. About . . . everything.”
Qui-Gon nodded wisely. “If we’ll be killed when the Republic doesn’t accede to their demands? About Tawara’s safety? If things will go well at all? If the Republic doesn’t come to stop them? That kind of thing?”
Obi-Wan ducked his head down and Qui-Gon sensed his amusement. “Yes, Master.”
Qui-Gon smiled briefly, mentally reviewing their conversation. Perhaps some further explanation was in order. “You have never seen how a planet goes into such downfall, Obi-Wan, merely the results. The results are certainly horrific, but often the path to destruction is as bloody, or worse, as the destruction itself. You have been present at attempts to go beyond situations like this, but never the downfall itself.”
Obi-Wan didn’t speak, just nodded.
There was a short silence, and Qui-Gon suddenly realized Tawara was awake. He could see a glint off his red eyes.
“I’m sorry, Tawara,” Obi-Wan said suddenly.
Astute, Qui-Gon thought.
Tawara raised his head. “It’s all right, Obi-Wan. That was a good explanation, Qui-Gon, of how things came to be this way when the citizens – at least some – are not so blatantly evil. Although you failed to mention that some people are just evil. The Blue Party itself, for example. They wish power over everyone. This supposed superiority of us over the Fewarains, the lies about what the Fewarains do, are all methods, excuses, to take control. If they truly believe what they say . . . then they are more mad than I thought. But they are also evil.”
Qui-Gon met the Twi’lek’s eyes. “Yes, I know. Evil is not something so easily explained as the some misguided citizenry who do not take action out of fear and confusion.”
“Evil,” Tawara said sadly, with the wisdom of experience, “is doing the wrong thing while knowing full well that it is wrong. Such is the case with the Blue Party. They may hold me as a hostage from the Resistance, but it is a useless attempt. My life is not worth that of every Fewarain on this planet.” He looked at Obi-Wan. “My father knows that, and he knows that I know it, too. He will not bargain our secret routes for the Fewarain for me.”
Qui-Gon nodded silently.
“You don’t fear dying?” Obi-Wan asked, gaze intent on Tawara.
Qui-Gon gave him a quelling glance, which Obi-Wan returned nervously, but Obi-Wan had apparently read Tawara right. The young Twi’lek merely smiled.
“I don’t fear death,” Tawara replied. “Dying – maybe. Depending on how painful it is. Torture frightens me. I don’t know the details of the secret routes, but who knows what could get into their heads.” He shrugged slightly. “You should know that, Obi-Wan – you, as a Jedi, should know more than most what will happen to you when you die. ‘There is no death, there is –’”
“The Force,” Obi-Wan finished, nodding. “That’s true.” Qui-Gon felt Obi-Wan calm a bit at even the mention of the Force.
“Much worse is being done to the Fewarains,” Tawara added. “They are fairly peaceful – certainly not as driven as Twi’lek tend to be in all pursuits. And they were here, had colonized, before we ever colonized this planet. They handle it. So I’ll be brave.” He smiled crookedly, no real humor in it but instead forced acceptance. “And Obi-Wan, I’m not offended by what you asked Qui-Gon. I only caught the later half, but . . . denying the wrongs done by my people against the Fewarains does not mean it’s not happening.”
“Yes,” Obi-Wan said softly. Qui-Gon had actually been surprised that Obi-Wan would feel the need to ask with Tawara asleep – the Twi’lek was a good person, intelligent and rational. The past few days had shown him to be a very calm, forgiving person.
“There is no offense in a simple question,” Qui-Gon said, carefully studying his apprentice.
“I wish we had asked more,” Tawara said, going further with Qui-Gon’s answer.
Obi-Wan looked down for a moment, and then leaned against Qui-Gon, not answering Tawara with anything more than a brief look of sadness. Qui-Gon pulled him closer, wondering what was going through his Padawan’s head but not curious or concerned enough to try using their bond to find out.
“Ask, Obi-Wan,” Tawara said with quiet encouragement. “Is it not your duty as a Jedi to learn, to understand? By understanding this, perhaps you may help others,” the Twi’lek said gently.
Obi-Wan bit his lip, and then almost immediately released it, no doubt recognizing the childish element to the action. “Are you angry at them? The ones who don’t fight, who go along with it all?”
Tawara sighed, stroking his braintail. That it was over his shoulder – and that he hadn’t moved it – meant he believed he was among friends, and indeed, was not offended by Obi-Wan’s question. “No, not really,” he said finally. “Disappointed, yes. But their family’s lives are being threatened. There is a constant threat of unknown spies, retribution – I suppose they feel that they must put their families first, beyond everything else, even their former neighbors.”
“But isn’t that not following what is happening to the logical conclusion?” Obi-Wan pressed. “I mean, the Fewarains are being killed, Twi’leks oppressed. Do they think it will stop, that it will be easier to deal with later on?” Obi-Wan asked, the need to understand driving his questions. Qui-Gon saw that clearly; he also saw that Obi-Wan was beginning to understand. It was the Jedi way to seek knowledge – and moreover, wisdom – yet Qui-Gon felt a flash of regret that Obi-Wan would grow to know this so soon. He was only fourteen, and to Qui-Gon that was little more than a child.
Tawara’s red eyes showed that he was as sad as Qui-Gon had ever seen him, even in the beginning of their captivity and the realization that they could not escape their cell. “They aren’t thinking, Obi-Wan. Rarely are sentients so rational in concern to fear.” He paused. “I suppose there is also a selfish element to it, too, though quite an understandable one. They think of the now, only, and not the future – not the lives that their children and other children will have, but that their children, at least, live, even if others may not.”
“They act of out emotion?” Obi-Wan asked.
“Or they choose not to react at all,” Qui-Gon added.
“Yes,” Tawara said, dipping his head in confirmation. “It’s like dashrk – refusing to play does not make the other player stop. They continue, and you lose,” he said, and then smiled. “I used to try that with my father when I was a child.”
“Do you think you’ll succeed?” Obi-Wan asked softly, a thoughtful expression on his face. “In saving the Fewarains?”
Tawara didn’t answer for a moment. “I am reminded of a story . . . there was a boy, once. He was walking along the beach, and he saw little Kweki animals strung along the shore Kweki are a kind of fish, meant to live in water though they can briefly be outside of it, that cannot move on its own, it must depend on currents. He started throwing them back into the sea, and this man came up to him, and asked, ‘Why do you bother? You cannot possibly save them all.’ And the boy replied, ‘But I can save a few.’”
“It will be a success,” Qui-Gon murmured, gazing out the small barred window that was gradually bringing more light to the cell, “no matter how few are saved, or even, perhaps, for how long.”
“Life is life,” Tawara said, agreeing. “Every one my father and his route saves is a success. Every moment is a success. Do you see, Obi-Wan?”
Obi-Wan nodded. He looked thoughtful, like he was concentrating to absorb everything he had been told.
“Good.” Tawara smiled.
It was, as well as they could figure, midday. The heat was certainly bad. None of them – except perhaps Obi-Wan – were able to sleep through it. Qui-Gon was utterly miserable, and had already taken off his heavy robe and loosened his tunics in an attempt to stay cool. Obi-Wan and Tawara fared much better, though that didn’t help them much in certain things.
“I think Master is cheating,” Obi-Wan said mischievously, chin in hand as he studied their ‘board’, which consisted of squares and circles scratched into the dirt.
“Obi-Wan!” Qui-Gon looked at his apprentice, surprised.
Tawara laughed, red eyes looking from one Jedi to the other. “Why do you think that?” he asked, finally settling on Obi-Wan.
“He wins too often. No one wins that often,” Obi-Wan stated. He looked over at Qui-Gon and grinned. Qui-Gon was rather bemused by the teasing.
“You know, Padawan, you could find yourself with extra duties when this is all over,” Qui-Gon said with a light tone and a pointed look.
Obi-Wan shook his head. “You wouldn’t.” He paused theatrically. “You’re too Jedi Masterly.”
Qui-Gon could not – and did not want to – repress his smile. “I’m glad to know you think so well of me,” he said, amused.
Obi-Wan shrugged lightly. “But of course, Master.”
They both turned back to their makeshift Yeshe board to find that all their ‘pieces’ had been moved to different positions – very bad positions, that were advantage to no one but Tawara. As one, as they looked at Tawara, who looked at them with laughter in his eyes and a smug smile.
“How else am I to win?” Tawara said.
Qui-Gon wiped the ‘board’ with his hand. “Some other way, I feel,” he advised with a smile.
Obi-Wan made a noise that sounded like a cut off giggle. Then they began to reset their board, to play again. This time, Qui-Gon hoped, without accusations of cheating. He enjoyed the game, but Obi-Wan and Tawara both seemed to want to play a game with the game. He had a feeling Tawara was normally austere, but Obi-Wan seemed to bring out his playful side. But that was all right – Obi-Wan just seemed to be the kind of person who did that. At a time like this, as well, the humor gave them relief from their heavy thoughts and worries.
Like a specter hanging over them, the imminent danger they were in was ever-present. Qui-Gon felt it in the words they spoke, and how they spoke them – how they avoided joking about their situation, or even getting close to the subject at all. Both Obi-Wan and Tawara were younger, and neither had been in a situation quite like this before. Even Obi-Wan, who had been captured before – to the intense fear of Qui-Gon – had never experienced something like this. Obi-Wan was clever, and had always managed to escape the dangerous situation. But in this, there was little hope. Especially for Tawara, who they had both grown close to. Qui-Gon had already realized Tawara’s death was highly likely, though he doubted Obi-Wan had given it much thought beyond the obvious danger they were all in. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon were more valuable as hostages, and Tawara’s father would not bargain.
It was a depressing thought, and with the ease of long practice, Qui-Gon purposely did not focus on it.
Instead, he played Yeshe, watched his apprentice laugh, Tawara talk about the game and others with humor and style, and waited.
It was quite some time – eleven games and a good portion of the day – before what Qui-Gon had been dreading in the back of his mind happened. It was beginning to become night, and had cooled off enough that Qui-Gon put his cloak back on.
Obi-Wan and Tawara had been discussing pranks they had played as children, and comparing the difficulties involved, and how successful they were with their plans. Qui-Gon had found himself almost glad he had chosen the boy so late – he sounded like a good-natured child with an undeniable, and apparently irrepressible, desire for trouble.
He closed his eyes, trying to imagine Obi-Wan as a young, more wild, child.
At that moment, they heard footsteps ringing down the hall. The steady thump of many boots. There was no guard outside, as they had no means of escape – food was provided in the form of biscuits with juice inside by a little slot in the door, and naturally their lightsabers and everything else had been taken away when they were captured. The noise indicated they were coming in force, so again, there was little chance of escape, and they all knew it.
“My father has refused them, no doubt,” Tawara remarked, breaking the silence that had fallen as soon as the footsteps were heard. It was not time for food, and they all knew what that meant.
Obi-Wan’s eyes filled with tears, but his expression was impassive. It was like a contradiction, to see such on his face. Through all the explanation and talk, it remained only that – explanation and talk. Qui-Gon feared that now Obi-Wan would see the reality beyond the frightened Twi’leks in the streets and the lack of Fewarains. “May the Force be with you, Tawara,” Obi-Wan said.
Qui-Gon quickly murmured the same, and rose to his feet, as did Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon carefully kept his hand on his Padawan’s shoulder. The door opened outward, so there was no hiding. Tawara stood as well, shoulder to shoulder with Qui-Gon.
The door swung open, and outside were uniformed Twi’leks. Their uniforms were square and stark, full of dark color and not much else – unusual for Twi’leks, who usually treasured bright and lively colors. The main one, who stood in front, glared at them balefully with his old eyes.
Qui-Gon automatically looked at everything tactically, judging their chances of overpowering the guards. It looked dismal. Such an attempt would likely end with all three dead, and he and Obi-Wan still had hope of rescue. If the Republic took control quickly enough, the Blue Party would not be able to kill them – the hostages. Tawara, he knew, would not have wanted them to die so uselessly. His hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder tightened, and he hoped the boy would not try to attack. Even without Qui-Gon’s permission, Obi-Wan might be tempted to do so, especially after a conversation about how inaction can lead to great evil.
“Tawara’reven?” the head Twi’lek guard said gruffly, gesturing at Tawara. “Come.” He said it curtly, with no explanation.
Tawara glanced back at Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan as he moved forward, and simply nodded his farewell, knowing that anything else would be harshly punished by the guards.
Obi-Wan’s shoulder under Qui-Gon’s hand was tense, and even without trying, Qui-Gon could Obi-Wan’s upset emotions spilling over, out of control. But the boy remained still, body as tight as a taut rope. He had evidently realized what Qui-Gon had, and as Qui-Gon eyed him, he thought briefly, a random thought in his mind, A child, but a growing one.
The guards took Tawara by the arms roughly, and led him away. Then the cell door slammed shut, and the two Jedi were alone.
Obi-Wan exhaled harshly. “They’re going to kill him,” he whispered, and slumped.
Qui-Gon let go of Obi-Wan’s shoulder, and instead brought his arm around the boy. “Yes, most likely,” he replied calmly. He sat down, and silently encouraged Obi-Wan to join him. His Padawan did, but he sat facing Qui-Gon, instead of with him. He brought his knees up, as well, and put his arms around them as he rested his chin on his knees.
Qui-Gon sat cross-legged, patient. Obi-Wan was not crying, he noted, though distress showed in his face. Qui-Gon gently touched Obi-Wan’s mind through their bond, and felt along with grief, a sense of outrage and hurt. Qui-Gon waited, saying nothing, letting Obi-Wan work through his thoughts and emotions. Obi-Wan would speak when he felt ready.
It was more than an hour later when Obi-Wan finally spoke. He had meditated, calming himself and letting the emotions riding through him haphazardly, and then finally releasing them entirely. Now he looked simply . . . drained. He was standing, as he had been pacing before. When he finally stopped, Qui-Gon had looked up to see that Obi-Wan had aged.
“How can they?” Obi-Wan asked finally, gesturing loosely at the cell door and referring to the guards. Qui-Gon kept his eyes on Obi-Wan. His Padawan understood; the question, the grief, were merely the last remnants of his lack of innocence and damning lack of knowledge. “Don’t they see it will only lead to more death and suffering?” he continued, speaking more in general now.
Qui-Gon held out his hands. Obi-Wan turned to him and nearly fell into a sitting position, taking Qui-Gon’s hands. Qui-Gon touched their bond fully at last, nearly pushing his calm and acceptance into Obi-Wan’s mind. Obi-Wan let it within him gratefully, able to experience his Master’s peace even if he had none of his own. It was a support for the boy, and Qui-Gon knew that. And he did it not only for duty, but also because of his love for Obi-Wan.
“Be at peace,” Qui-Gon said. “I know this is not an easy thing for you to accept. But people are flawed, Obi-Wan, as we are all flawed without exception. We can merely seek to strive beyond those flaws, and to handle the consequence so our flaws. That is what the Twi’leks here will have to do, and it is what we must do every day, as Jedi.”
Obi-Wan nodded, tears spilling free at last. Qui-Gon brushed a few aside. They were not heavy tears, and left little more than glistening tracks.
“I am here for you, Obi-Wan,” Qui-Gon said in a low, yet urgent tone. “Do not forget that. I am here to support you as well as to teach you. These lessons are difficult, my Padawan, but they must be learned, especially by Jedi. They are learned by every adult who truly sees the galaxy. Do not hate the Twi’leks on this planet. Feel compassion for them, even as you note the wrongness of their actions, or lack thereof. They will learn the truth, even at a great cost. But such is the way of things.”
Qui-Gon then softened his tone, becoming gentle and less commanding. His Padawan needed to accept and not deny, yes, but he also needed support to get through such a stark realization of evil in the galaxy. “I do regret you learned this so soon. You know how I am – I do not often accept the wisdom of the Council. I was not sure you were ready, but you were, my Obi-Wan. You are even more than I grant you; and that is a great deal.”
“Thank you, Master,” Obi-Wan choked out. “Master, I know it is not yet night –“ and he glanced outside – “but may I . . . ?”
Qui-Gon held open his cloak, and Obi-Wan settled beside him, sniffling. Qui-Gon stroked his back with his hand in big, soothing circles. Obi-Wan did not really sob, but he wallowed in his misery for a few moments, granting himself that much, before he started, yet again, to meditate and release his emotions. It would be nearly continual for a while, Qui-Gon knew, that Obi-Wan would have to seek meditation in order to control and release his emotions. It would have to be done repeatedly, because it seemed at times that the pain and joy of a person’s heart rise up again and again, no matter that they are released.
But Qui-Gon would be here for him. Obi-Wan was still young. He had much to learn, as yet, as quick a learner as he was. He was not an adult yet. True independence would not be achieved until longer after formal adulthood was passed, most likely. Such was often the case with Jedi, who deal with more things than most adults do, and as they must achieve such control and wisdom. It had been so for Qui-Gon, and he had often had to seek guidance even after his Knighting, before being able to truly give it himself.
“Thank you, Master,” Obi-Wan said softly, again.
Qui-Gon stopped stroking Obi-Wan’s back and lay his hand on his Padawan’s head. “You’re welcome,” he said into his Padawan’s soft, ginger colored hair.
“The Republic will come, won’t they?”
“Yes, they will, Padawan. Sending us was meant to be . . . final proof that negotiation would not work, I believe,” Qui-Gon said.
Obi-Wan was silent for a long moment. “It won’t be soon enough. It’s already too late,” he whispered.
It was too late when this whole thing started, Qui-Gon thought.
Obi-Wan continued: “Do you think Tawara is dead by now?”
“Most probably,” Qui-Gon said, allowing himself to feel a pang of grief, now that Obi-Wan’s was, if not entirely handled, somewhat handled. He closed his eyes, and wished briefly, foolishly, that none of this was happening.
Obi-Wan sighed, and fell silent, his questions answered. There was really nothing to do but wait.
They waited in the manner of Jedi – they put their time to good use. First they meditated together, an intimate thing with a Master and Padawan pair. They did not simply meditate while sitting together, but they joined their minds and sought peace and clarity together, in the Force. Obi-Wan’s simple touch kept it light and refreshing, and Qui-Gon’s deep experience and acceptance grounded them.
Once they had attained some degree of calm and serenity, Qui-Gon allowed himself to let go of his strict control over his grief for Tawara. Obi-Wan had already begun the process of grieving and accepting, but Qui-Gon had not. Choosing to do so with Obi-Wan would probably not be considered a good idea by many, but Qui-Gon knew his apprentice. He let Obi-Wan sense his own grief, and the boy responded as he had anticipated – soothing him. For once, the Padawan helped the Master deal with a strong emotion. He also sensed Obi-Wan’s surprise.
Nevertheless, Qui-Gon had sensed it was the right thing to do; his apprentice was growing up. And growing wiser. This experience had no doubt aged Obi-Wan, though Qui-Gon sensed no hurt cynicism. It was time, Qui-Gon felt, for him to not carry all his burdens alone.
He sensed Obi-Wan’s wonder at the way he was deepening their bond. He also felt the boy’s stabs of guilt that he could enjoy anything with his friend so recently believed dead. Qui-Gon gently led him away from that, back to that place of serenity. To accept was one of the hardest things to do, and yet without acceptance a Jedi was lost in the turmoil they sought to change.
Qui-Gon came out of their shared meditation feeling drained, but at peace. From Obi-Wan he sensed simple exhaustion, the emotional aspect translating over to physical tiredness. And Obi-Wan curled up against Qui-Gon again, for the long night ahead.
It took some time, but they both slept.
They woke to the sound of blaster fire.
Qui-Gon looked glanced out the small opening that served as airway and window. No light came in, and it was still cold. He estimated they had been asleep a few hours, and it was not long to dawn. Obi-Wan was also awake – Qui-Gon could see what little light there was reflecting off his blue eyes. His Padawan didn’t move from his Master’s side, though, and Qui-Gon sensed some desire to feel protected, though they both knew there were in great danger.
It was a child-like thing for Obi-Wan to wish for, but Qui-Gon did not blame him, and he gave what little he could to his apprentice willingly.
After a few moments, however, he motioned for his Padawan to rise. In case the Blue Party’s guards made it to them first, rather than Republic forces, they had to be ready to fight. Probably to the death, but neither Master nor Padawan wanted to go quietly.
So they waited in the chill air, uncertainty making Obi-Wan edgy. Qui-Gon waited with all the calm a Jedi Master possessed, and Obi-Wan, even now, struggled to follow his example.
The Republic did not have an army, per se – they had a security force that was kept constantly busy. When the Blue Party took over, they didn’t do so legally, and it was eventually – over a period of nearly two years – voted in the Senate to take action and to not accept the change of regime as legal. Therefore, the request by the Blue Party to leave the Republic was not accepted as being even worthy of attention, as the Blue Party became rebels in the sight of the Republic.
All of that meant, of course, that eventually the Republic – the Senate – would have to do something about the situation, and quickly. Fewarains were dying in huge numbers, and suffering unspeakable tragedies. Eventually, the Senate was spurred to action and agreement – to send two Jedi, and if those Jedi failed to make the Blue Party see reason, then the security forces would take the planet.
Of course, they didn’t even get that far. Qui-Gon had not even managed to meet with the Twi’leks rebelling against the Blue Party – which could be considered the legal government by the Republic – when he, Obi-Wan, and their guide were captured in an ambush. It really was useless, Qui-Gon thought with a heavy heart.
He watched from the security force encampment as the Blue Party members were rounded up, to be dealt with by the legal government when control was fully regained. They were angry, sulky – Qui-Gon could tell even from this distance. They looked ragged, and the security forces weren’t treating them too gently. The encampment was temporary, but well-organized, and people milled about in an orderly fashion. There were even a few Fewarains – furred bipeds that could be compared to Wookiees in appearance.
He felt it when his apprentice neared. He turned away from the Blue Party members being put in detainment camps, which were far more humane than the ones the living Fewarains had suffered through.
A smudge of dirt along Obi-Wan’s cheek was all that remained from their brief captivity. The smudge had fresh, clear streaks, though. Obi-Wan’s expression was calm, and Qui-Gon sensed resignation through their bond.
“Tawara is dead?” Qui-Gon asked gently, knowing his apprentice had probably gone to check the bodies being tagged.
“Yes, Master,” Obi-Wan whispered. “Judging . . . judging from the body, it was quick,” he added even more quietly, looking away briefly, probably remembering, as Qui-Gon was, Tawara’s brief comment about dying.
Qui-Gon simply nodded. He turned his arm outward, and Obi-Wan stepped beside him. Qui-Gon didn’t hug him, but he kept his arm around Obi-Wan’s shoulder.
After a few moments of silence, Qui-Gon broke the quiet. “What are you thinking, Padawan?” He could sense virtually nothing from his apprentice, the bond having quieted down to a mere buzz.
Obi-Wan looked up at him, his normally bright blue eyes dull with seriousness. “I’m imagining,” he said. “But I don’t think I can, really.”
Qui-Gon nodded, understanding. If this were to happen everywhere, he finished in his mind for Obi-Wan. And there was really no normal reassurance he could give – what could he say? It will be all right? He didn’t know that. No one did, not even the Jedi Council, despite what they might think. “We can hope that the Twi’leks of this planet – and the Fewarains – have learned a lesson that they can teach to others.” He paused, and added what was really most important. “Trust in the Force, Obi-Wan, that things will be righted one day.”
Obi-Wan nodded, and looked out over the encampment, where one of the Blue Party briefly struggled in his captor’s grip, then slumped, defeated at last, as he was led away. “I will, Master.”