Opening oneself to the Force puts one slightly beyond the reach of surprise, per se, Obi-Wan thought. None the less, when he opened his eyes after he had been one with the Force in death, he was perhaps a bit bemused. It felt a bit like coming out of any other deep meditation, although perhaps a bit more so.
He felt very centered in the Force, and mostly unshockable. Which was a good thing, given his current circumstances.
He didn’t recall meditating particularly deeply when stuck between laser gates on the way to the Royal Palace of Naboo, trying to catch up with Qui-Gon. Then again, he wouldn’t recall that, would he? Because here he was, opening his eyes and seeing his long dead master and their long-dead foe waiting to replay the fight of so long ago as if it were happening here and now for the first time.
All of it tinted, once more, by the rosy glow of the laser gates. He also hadn’t remembered that particular aspect of these traumatic events. And it certainly felt very real, with details he would never have remembered.
So had his whole life and death from this point on all been a vision?
Taking Anakin as a padawan, celebrating his knighthood, and then watching his fall into darkness.
Taking Luke as a student, celebrating his defeat of Darth Vader, and then watching his descent into despair at his own student’s betrayal.
Watching his own poor name’s sake fail to notice the power he had in the light and seek in the darkness what could never be there.
It didn’t feel like a vision. It felt like a life long lived and a death long… experienced, as it were. And knowledge hard gained that neither the dark nor the light could truly be killed, and the further separated they were, the worse they each were.
And here he was again, an observer as the pendulum of Light and Dark and the Skywalker family fate began to swing once more:
A Jedi would be killed.
A Sith would be mutilated.
The Jedi order would be decimated.
The Sith’s Empire would be destroyed.
And whole worlds would die in the escalations.
What exactly had happened to him and with him, he would deal with later, as time allowed. For now, he would deal with what was in front of him. Be here now.
And what was happening now had to stop.
He was tired of it. Not tired in the way he had once been, had been for so many years during the wars and during his long exile. No, he was tried of it as a young father might be tired of a disobedient but beloved child. He had been one with the Force and knew more than many about the powers of both the dark and light sides. A martial victory could place one or the other in power for a time, but such power to either side would only make the Balance more difficult to achieve.
It was not the kind of situation that was solved by killing anyone. In fact, most situations were not best solved by killing someone. Given how many situations he’d tried to solve by killing someone, he must have been particularly dense not to have realized this sooner than he had. Whether time travel or particularly intense vision, apparently the Force itself had thought Obi-Wan so dense that it took extreme measures to teach him that lesson.
It had worked though. He had a lifetime of killing and he was done with it.
He hung his light saber on his belt, put his hands on his hips, and waited for the laser gates to cycle off once more.
He breathed strong and deep as he waited. Thus, when the gates cycled off, he was ready. He didn’t bother running. Instead, he bellowed down the hallway, “MAUL! ATTEND ME!”
Both Maul and Qui-Gon jerked around at that. Their faces alone were enough to make Obi-Wan smile with some amusement.
But while Qui-Gon was shocked into a moment’s inaction, Maul was caught and summoned.
Old Ben Kenobi had spent decades in hiding, which had largely consisted of using the force to tell people they were not seeing what they saw. Maul had spent the years of his apprenticeship learning blind obedience to a master.
It was not surprising that he obeyed. But it was still amusing to see the odd dance that had Maul run down the hallway towards Obi-Wan, even as Qui-Gon tried to fight him.
Maul had made it back to where Obi-Wan was still standing in the middle of the ludicrous hallway of laser gates, while Qui-Gon was still several sections away. And both Qui-Gon and Maul looked like they weren’t at all sure what to think about this turn of events.
Qui-Gon at least seemed to know he wanted to get back to where Obi-Wan and Maul were. Maul, didn’t seem sure what to do about being trapped with Obi-Wan, who still looked like a young knight, rather than the elder master who’s voice had summoned him. Maul fiddled with his sabre staff but didn’t turn it on again. It would be cramped quarters for any kind of fight, anyway.
Obi-Wan took advantage of the uncertainty to start the conversation.
“I had a vision just now. You kill Qui-Gon, I kill you, and Darth Sidious aka Palpatine takes my padawan, who I inherit from Qui-Gon, to replace you.”
Maul shook his head, as if to clear confusion, and Obi-Wan wondered what the Force felt like around him right now. “You know…?”
“Who your master is? Oh yes.”
“And you’re going to try to kill me now, so I can’t kill your partner?” Maul was clearly attempting to be mocking. Even more clearly, he still wasn’t at all sure who or what he was dealing with, when it came to Obi-Wan.
“No, I thought I might just change things and take you as my padawan. My partner will keep his new padawan, and I’ll take you instead.”
“That will not happen!” Maul seemed almost relieved to be back on some sort of script.
Obi-Wan looked at him with open curiosity. “Why not?”
“Because…,” Maul trailed off. Loyalty wasn’t exactly a Sith trait. Desire for power was, and a live Jedi padawan to whatever Obi-Wan felt like right now was much more powerful than a dead Sith apprentice. Tradition certainly precluded anything like Obi-Wan’s offer from being made or accepted, but Obi-Wan had given up on tradition decades back, or quite recently and in the blink of an eye, depending on one’s perspective, he supposed.
Maul still didn’t turn on his sabre staff.
Obi-Wan kept the grin mostly internal.
Let Qui-Gon train Anakin. Obi-Wan was going to assure that the light and dark sides of the Force never pulled the universe apart between them. He wasn’t quite sure what had happened to him or why, but here and now, he would follow the leadings of the Force. And teach his new padawan to do the same.