brought back to a semi-conscious level. He could hear the voices,
sense another presence in the room, see the green glow. His mind
snapped at the sudden realization...’Master?!’ the thought went through
his throbbing mind.
He felt Qui-gon sending him strength though the Force. The sensation lasted only for a second, then there was pain again. He groaned and fell to the cold floor, landing hard on his shoulder. But with the slight touch of the Force that his master had given him, Obi-wan felt some hope. And as long as there was hope, there was life. And as long as there was life left in him he would stand by his master.
Although Qui-gon was facing his main threat in this mater, he let his attention go to his main concern, Obi-wan. He scanned the room and found his Apprentice. The weary boy noticed him, and Qui-gon sent him ripples of energy through the Force. Yet to his horror Obi-wan gave a quiet cry of pain and collapsed.
“You are causing your Padawan pain, my friend.” Jaron stated with a mocking tone. “You seem to have that way about you, wouldn’t you say?”
Lights abruptly jolted on. Although they were dim, they were enough to see by. For the first time since he had entered this dark place Qui-gon could see, with his own eyes, his one time close friend. He looked the same as he had remembered, except he no longer wore his hair in the Jedi Padawan style as it was the last time Qui-gon saw him. Yes he was the same on the outside, but the inside was a different matter. Was there any of the Jaron he remembered left in there? Hidden deep away for no one to see.
He looked beyond his one time friend now. Just behind him, laying crumpled on he floor unmoving, was his young apprentice. Once again the guilt washed over him. Jaron saw his change, using it against him.
“Quite a remarkable young boy.” Jaron said gesturing to the semiconscious Obi-wan behind him.
“Let him go.” Qui-gon said, knowing his words would mean nothing. “This has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with me.”
“Oh but you are wrong, Master Qui-gon.” Jaron said, a small smile appearing. “Master and Padawan are as one person. What affects one will affect the other. I found this out many years ago on this day. You do remember what happened on this day, do you not Qui-gon?” Jaron met Qui-gon’s gaze and held it. It had been so long since he had looked into those green eyes, now he wished that they would just go away. “I died that day along with my master, although it was not in body, but in spirit. And no one seemed to care, not the counsel, and not you.” Qui-gon listened hurtfully, but he pushed it away. He must think, he cleared his mind as best he could, he must get Obi-wan out of here. “So did I plan for you and your young apprentices.” Jaron continued. “However I discovered the length of his potential, it would be a shame to waist it.” Qui-gon snapped to attention at the sound of these words. “I will look forward to completing his training once you are gone.” Bits of anger came though the calm state of mind that Qui-gon had managed to put himself it. Obi-wan? An Apprentice to the evil that had enveloped his friend? It could not be. He would never allow that to happen. The anger was peaking though him now, it seemed to make the darkness around him swirl. Jaron’s smile widen, “Do your thoughts betray you my friend?”
Qui-gon thought, anger would get him no where. Jaron would feed off of it, as would the darkness. He calmed his mind once more. And although the darkness was tugging at him, he managed a small amount of peace of mind. “It has been many years Jaron. You have let your own hate consume you, it led you to darkness. But you can be led back into the light.” Qui-gon said, still believing that there must be some ounce of good left in Jaron. “Let me help you.”
Jaron gave a quick laugh, “Is this our old friendship you speak of, brother?” Jaron said, using their nickname from long ago. “Our promise to always help each other. You already broke that promise.”
“You asked me to do something that I could not do.” Qui-gon said shaking his head. “Think of your Jedi Training Jaron. All that your master had taught you. That fear, anger, hate, and revenge, all lead to the Dark Side. You were asking me to follow you there, and I could not do it. But I can help you know. You have been consumed by the darkness, but there is still light. One can’t exist without the other, this you know. Therefore there is hope that you can come back into the light. As long as there is the Force there his hope.”
“Do not lecture me Qui-gon. I have heard this before. I am one with the darkness now. It has given me power, power enough to stop those who have made me suffer so they can suffer the same.” Jaron said, his voice never faltering. “All those who refused to help me became my enemy...you became my enemy Qui-gon.” Jaron’s voice was icy, his eye’s locked with Qui-gon’s, glaring.
Qui-gon remembered what Yoda had told him about the Dark Side when he was but a boy in the Jedi Temple, ‘Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.’ Although Qui-gon realized this, he always assumed that there was some way to bring someone who was lost to it back into the light. Now he wasn’t so sure. With all that he had said, Jaron hadn’t even heard him. Qui-gon realized then and there that the Jaron that he had once known was gone, perhaps for good. Even though it was hard, he must accept that.
Obi-wan stirred in the background. Qui-gon’s eye’s drifted to the boy. Jaron may be lost, but his Apprentice wasn’t. The good person Obi-wan was would not be taken by the Dark Side. His Padawan was stronger than that, and he himself would not allow that to happen.
Obi-wan’s enthusiasm, his want to learn, his strength, his very presence, had always been able to bring Qui-gon out of any dark time he found himself in. Obi-wan had said that Qui-gon had done so much for him. But in truth, the apprentice had done just as much for the master.
‘And that is what matters now.’ Qui-gon thought silently. ‘Jaron and I may have been “brothers” many years ago. But Obi-wan is my *son*. And I will not fail him.’ With that though, Qui-gon was now confident that he could face whatever came before him now.
Once again Jaron sensed his change. His time for talking was over. From under his cloak a lightsaber appeared in his hand. Yet this was not the lightsaber that Qui-gon remembered from their childhood. And as Jaron ignited it, the orange blade that had been so vivid in his memory did not appear. Instead a black stream of light came from the weapon. Qui-gon was taken back with the sight of the black lightsaber, but hid his emotions and ignited his own weapon. Jaron smiled. “I’ve waited a long time for this.” he said.
In a blink, the lights in the room went out. Qui-gon realized that he could not see Jaron or his weapon. He could only hear the hum of the dark saber. A pang of panic came to him, but he pushed it aside. He had the Force to guide him.
Jaron was striking at him before he knew it. Qui-gon managed to block the lightning fast blows, but only just. His ability to use the Force as his guide was clouded with darkness circling around him. The darkness combined with the heightens lightsaber battle, Qui-gon was finding it seemingly difficult to use the Force. Yet he still matched Jaron blow for blow. Avoiding the kicks that were thrown at him as well as the hot dark light that seemed to come closer and closer to him with every strike.
“You destroyed everything for me.” he heard Jaron say. “My master is gone, I begged for your help yet you ignored it.”
More blows, more strikes, stronger, quicker now, and he still could not see from where they came. He let the Force tell him where his lightsaber should land. Jaron was strong. Although he could feel himself weakening he still matched Jaron. The fight was no where near over.
Again and again the lightsaber crashed and sizzled together, hissing apart, then coming together once more. Even though Jaron seemed to have all the advantages in the battle, for the movement they were evenly matched
They broke away from each other, both breathing hard. The match still far from over, at least in Qui-gon’s mind. He could feel another presence in the room stir, besides the darkness. He realized that it was Obi-wan who was rising to his slowly feet. His Padawan’s movements gave him more strength, he felt he could go on for as long as he was needed.
Just then he felt the dark energy in the room spinning and move toward Jaron. He was collecting the darkness now, he would use it in the battle. Jaron was now sending the darkness back at him. A wave of darkness meant to push him back. Qui-gon braced himself for the impact, but to his surprise the darkness went right passed him and hit his apprentice instead.
Obi-wan cried out as he was swept off of his feet by the darkness and smashed into a near by wall and then crashed to the ground.
Shocked and horrified at what had just unfolded, Qui-gon didn’t sense Jaron’s advance on the attack. Before he had time to block, his lightsaber was kicked from his hand. Without a second thought he jumped back quickly, yet it was not quick enough. Jaron slashed with his lightsaber, and Qui-gon found pain connect with him. Jaron’s blade had caught him across his midsection. It was a fairly bad burn and laceration, it would heal with time, yet now it would lead to his undoing. For as he tried to control the pain to continue with the battle, his concentration wavered. Suddenly he felt a powerful kick to his jaw. He fell backward, hitting the floor with a thud.
His mind dazed, and with spots dancing in front of his eyes, Qui-gon forgot where he was for a second, but was called back again when he heard a familiar laughter. He tried to stand, but was forced back down when Jaron’s foot slammed on his midsection where his wound was still sizzling. Qui-gon cringed in pain, the sound of Jaron’s laughter became more mocking in tone.
“The Great Master Qui-gon Jinn, killed in the very place the Great Master Dundeen Hunen. You should feel proud.” Jaron said. He then rose his lightsaber into the air. Through the pain and the dark Qui-gon could see the outline of Jaron, arms raised ready for the kill. ‘I’m sorry Obi-wan.’ he willed toward his Apprentice. Still struggling under Jaron’s weight, Qui-gon readied himself for the final blow.
Obi-wan remembered this touch. It was the same one as on Constun that had happened what seemed like decades ago. The darkness, the invisible hands that grabbed him. But this time the hands pushed him, with all of their might. He didn’t feel himself hit the wall, he only heard the sound his body made at the impact.
He was on the floor again, he was conscious, but only just. Something was happening around him, something was going terribly wrong.
He heard something clink to the ground beside him. He looked with blurred vision. He could hardly make out the lines in the dark, but he knew instantly what it was. Qui-gon’s lightsaber. Panic surged through him. His master never dropped his weapon. Not when there seemed to be no chance left, not when the fight didn’t seem worth fighting anymore. His lightsaber was always in hand, always ready. But there it lay. Then Obi-wan realized, so did Qui-gon.
Obi-wan remembered the image of his master falling dead in the darkness. The image had not been real, and he would not let it become real. Qui-gon had known that Jaron had set a trap for him. Yet dispite that he came to his Padawan’s aid, as he had done countless times before.
Now Qui-gon was in danger. Obi-wan could hear the sound of Jaron’s laughter, see him rays his lightsaber high above his head. Obi-wan could just hear his master’s voice in his mind, sending him a plea of forgiveness.
He had only seconds he knew. He called on the Force, bending it to his will. The dark things in his mind crawled at him once more, screaming in his mind. ‘Silence!’ He demanded at them. ‘You are of no part of me, and I want no part of you!’ The screaming became only a whisper ,allowing him for the first time enough peace of mind to use the Force as he needed.
Then, with all of the strength left in him, he let the Force flow through him, and flung the weapon that lay near him into his master’s hands.
Qui-gon felt his lightsaber once again in his hand. He ignited the weapon, and before Jaron could come down on him, the green blade went though the man’s chest. Qui-gon instantly pulled it away, stunned at what he had just done.
Jaron took a step back then stumbled to the ground. “Well old friend.” Jaron said weakly. “I suppose...” he continued, pausing for a breath in his pierced lungs. “I underestimated you.” He breathed again, wincing at the efforts. “ I didn’t think...you had it in you.” His energy was fading now, the Force in him leaving him.
Qui-gon looked sorrowfully at the fallen man who had once been his dearest and most trusting friend. “Rest now Jaron.” Quietly, and even now with care in his voice. “Go back to the Force. Perhaps you will find peace there.”
“Yes...” Jaron said, his voice becoming even weaker. “You are....most likely right...you always...were about....that sort of thing. Weren’t you?” With those words, the last of Jaron’s energy left him, and his green eyes closed forever.
After a reflectful moment, Qui-gon quickly turned his attention to his fallen Apprentice. Obi-wan lay still, not sure if the boy was even breathing. Qui-gon turned him to his back, cradling the boy by his shoulders. Yes, he was breathing. Although his body was wracked with pain, knowing that his Padawan was alive eased some of the pain in his mind.
“Obi-wan?” he called to the silent form in his arms. The boy stirred and moaned. “Obi-wan?” Qui-gon said again. Obi-wan’s mind was still distant, perhaps in another time and place.
Obi-wan could hear his master calling to him. He wanted to reply, to know finally that everything was all finally as it should be. But he surpassed the urge. Because still nothing was as it should be. Something was still very wrong. The voice came back to him, echoing in his mind.
“Even a Jedi Master can only hold off thirty well trained Mandorian guards firing at him at point blank range for so long.” The voice said, Jaron’s voice.
“Even a Jedi Master can only hold off...”
Obi-wan snapped to attention, his eye’s opening as wide as a Getalian Moon. Qui-gon was somewhat startled when his Apprentice had come from a half-conscious state to sudden total alertness.
“Master, Jump!” Obi-wan cried. Qui-gon did not question his Padawan, he only acted. Obi-wan still in his arms, he used the Force to lift them off of the ground toward the high ceiling.
The same instant that he jumped, a storm of blaster fire came from the door opening. Thirty, perhaps more, Randonians were firing at them. It was dark and the gaurds could not see in the blackness of the room, yet they kept firing. They had most likely been ordered to fire at once at a specific time.
It was all so well planed. Giving Jaron his time to fight the Jedi Master, let him think that the battle with him was all that was to come. But in reality, things were not what they seemed. It was only because of Obi-wan’s quick realization to the matter that they were alive. His Apprentice had saved him more than once today, and Qui-gon would not soon forget that.
A second passed, then two. It would not take them long to figure out that they were firing at nothing. Qui-gon used every once of power left in him to will them toward the door. He felt Obi-wan’s power meld with his. Even now, the battered boy was still fighting.
They seemed to hang in the air for what seemed like an eternity. It was really only seconds. They started do descend, gravity catching up with them. For a moment it seemed as if they would not make it. But they did. Through the wide doors and over the heads of the guards.
They tumbled down to the ground. Unfortunately Qui-gon landed face down. Pain was sent searing to every part of his body as he hit the floor hard on his open wound. A groan caught in his throat. But he would not quit, he struggled stand. He then saw Obi-wan beside him, he helped the boy to his feet.
Together Master and Apprentice raced toward freedom.
They ran as fast as their bodies would allow, Qui-gon leading the way through the labyrinth of hallways. Yet they were not alone. The guards chased after them. Even though the one they had been taking orders from was now dead, they still were following the last command they had been given, “Do not let the Jedi escape.”
Qui-gon’s lightsaber deflected a blaster bolt as they ran. Both Jedi knew that their only hope was to escape, for there would not be much of a fight if there was one. Two battered Jedi with one lightsaber were not much of a match for as many as forty guards, all with weapons, all well trained at what they were doing.
Qui-gon turned and deflected another bolt that had come to close, then another. The fire was becoming heavy again.
Obi-wan wished for his lightsaber. At the thought a stray fire caught him across the arm. Only a flesh wound, but it put a shocking realization on things. Time was running out.
They ran again, turning down another corridor. A blaster bolt sizzled by Qui-gon’s ear, taking a few strands of his hair with it. The bolt was deflected, but not by him. Something, or someone, else was ahead of them. More blaster fire flew down the hallway ahead of them, all came back to where they had come from.
Qui-gon saw it then, three streams of light ahead of them in the darkness. One blue, one green and the last yellow. Qui-gon reached out weakly with the Force. Waves of energy came back to him, of light, of friendship.
They were caught up with them now, and he could put faces to them now. Two were Jedi Knights that he did not recognize at the moment. And the other was...
“I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so glad to see you Mace Windu.” Qui-gon said a smile appearing on his face.
“Thats because normally you’re never very happy to see me.” Mace Windu said, as sarcastic smile searing across his face. The blaster fire was coming close to them once again. “This way.” Mace said, putting one of Qui-gon’s arms around his shoulders, letting the weary Jedi master lean on his friend. One of the other Jedi did the same for Obi-wan, as the third continued to repel the shots that found them.
Finally they were out of the old temple...and they were free.
As they stepped from the darkness of the temple into the sunlight, Obi-wan thought that he would be glad. But his eye’s immediately flung shut in brightness. He had been in total darkness for hours, days? He had no idea. All sense of time was gone. The darkness was still in him, still in his mind, still willing him to go to them. They were whispering at him still, softly, their words laced with evil. But they could not hurt him, this he knew. And he was so tired, so very tired.
He slowly opened his eyes, the light, it was beautiful. He could see clearly, he was glad to be in the light once more. He had almost forgotten what it was like. The darkness seemed to loosen his grip on him allowing him to see clearly with his mind as well.
And with that peace of mind he let himself fall into unconsciousness.
They ran up the ramp of the ship, the blasters still firing. Yet they were harmlessly repealed by the ship’s strong shields. The ramp door shut, were they safe? Qui-gon would not be satisfied until they were in lightspeed back to Corscant.
Obi-wan was unconscious now. Qui-gon looked at him wordily, the guilt again washing over him.
“Take off.” Mace told one of the Jedi, who swiftly ran to the cockpit. “Take Obi-wan to cabin one.” He told the other. “Master Qui-gon will be in cabin two.” Qui-gon opened his mouth to protest. He wanted to stay with his Padawan, to be there to help heal him. Mace stopped him before he could argue. “You need to rest and heal.” came the commanding yet concerned voice. “You wont do that by sitting in an uncomfortable chair looking wordily over your Apprentice.”
The other Jedi had already taken Obi-wan into the cabin, Qui-gon looked after them.
“Should I even bother arguing?” He asked, smiling up at Mace who was leading him into the next cabin. As they entered, Mace helped him to the bed. Qui-gon flinched as he lay down, his wound still burning, but then relaxed gratefully into the soft bed.
“You know it wont get you anywhere so you may as well save your strength.” Mace countered at him. Qui-gon managed a laugh. “You need not worry about Obi-wan. He will be well cared for. I will see to that myself.” Mace assured him. He turned to leave the room. “Sleep now and heal my friend. We will be far away from here and toward home when you awaken.”
Qui-gon didn’t hear the last part of what Mace said. He was still back at “my friend.” Glad to hear those words meat not as a taunt, but as the truth.
Knowing Obi-wan was safe, and in the hands of people who would help and care for him. Qui-gon let his weary mind and body rest.