The pulsing beat lured Obi-Wan to the nightclub at the end of the block, ignoring the other similarly glitzy establishments. The club was crowded with denizens of all sorts. Obi-Wan shimmied through the various beings, feeling a touch of claustrophobia. He was accustomed to open fields, cool forests, or the occasional rainforest, mostly devoid of people except for farmers, nature rangers, or other Agri-Corps workers. Everything about his visit to the crowded world of Coruscant was a bit overwhelming, but the music called to him, making him persist.
Pausing by a decorative pillar, he blessed his early years as a Jedi initiate, reaching out for the Force, steadying himself and finding his center, as he took stock of his surroundings. Two men were on the raised stage at the back of the club, singing and dancing to a rhythmic beat. They were tall, majestic, and yet completely dissimilar. One was dark-skinned, bald, and clean-shaven, dressed in an intensely purple outfit with accents of gold and black boots. The other was light-skinned, brown hair flowing down to his shoulders, with a mustache and a beard outlining his chin, wearing shining silver attire, also with accents of gold and black boots.
The lyrics were vaguely ridiculous, Obi-Wan thought, as Purple growled into the microphone, "Now what you hear is not a test – I'm rappin' to the beat, and me, the groove, and my friend are gonna try to move your feet. See, I am Wonder Mace and I'd like to say hello, to the black, to the white, the red and the brown, the purple and yellow."
Obi-Wan had traveled to dozens of planets for the Agri-Corps and always tried to absorb some of the native culture in his limited spare time. He found that even though he may not understand the references and significance of any particular artwork, power and passion were always compelling. And these two were captivating.
Immersing himself in the beat, Obi-Wan deftly moved through the rows of tables, having sighted an empty chair on the far side. In his serviceable green tunic, brown breeches, sturdy brown boots, and leather belt with his most essential tool hanging in its concealing case, Obi-Wan was definitively underdressed compared to the rest of the crowd. Impractical clothes designed to attract attention were the normal attire. Unfortunately, members of the Agri-Corps usually had only one set of elegant clothing, suitable for the typical farewell and thank you feast, and Obi-Wan had left his with the hotel's cleaners. As he walked, he made sure not to bump into anyone, though the exuberant swaying of the watchers made it frequently difficult. The duo must have been performing for several songs, as many members of the crowd were well-lubricated.
The silver one took over, raising his microphone to his lips as he rapped, "Well, it's on'n'n'on'n'on on'n'on, the beat don't stop until the break of dawn. I said M-A-S, T-E-R, a Q with an ending I. I said I go by the unforgettable name of the man they call the Master Qui."
The two danced with basic moves as they rapped, a few matching shoulder rolls, sporadic hip thrusts, a step or twirl to the side or the front, but the lack of complexity in the choreography didn't matter. Their looks, strong voices, and powerful stances combined to form a picture that was somehow both flashy and yet completely masculine.
"Well, my name is known all over the world," Master Qui continued, "By all the foxy ladies and the pretty girls. I'm goin' down in history as the baddest rapper there ever could be."
The pretty boys likely knew his name too, Obi-Wan thought, as he found the chair and settled in, his back to the wall, blanking his mind, letting the sound and images wash over him. Purple was back in control, with, "I said a hip hop, the hippie to the hippie. The hip hip a hop, and you don't stop, a rock it to the bang bang boogie, say up jump the boogie, to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat. A Skiddleebebop, we rock, scooby doo, and guess what, Coruscant, we love you. 'Cos you rocked and you rolled with so much soul. You could rock 'til a thousand and one years old. I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast."
The tune was catchy, and really, who didn't like hot butter on toast? Obi-Wan let himself just enjoy, immersing himself in the experience. As the song continued, he realized that there was something underneath the beat, something even more compelling then the performance. But what?
He sank deeper into the Force, recalling Master Yoda's meditations, the lyrics blurring, feeling like he was surfing on the beat itself, gliding over the crowd, seeing everything in the crowded bar, every being, each item of furniture, the glasses and appetizer plates… the faint seam in the decorative pillar closest to the stage.
Leaving the chair, he began sidling through the tables again, toward the stage, then cutting across toward the pillar. Silver was chanting something about "super sperm," making Obi-Wan pause for a moment. His mouth went dry as his sight lingered on the front of the man's breeches, easily believing that it contained a super penis. The insistent pulse touched his mind and he began moving again. Reaching the pillar, he slid his hand up and down the seam, looking for a way to open it.
Someone yelled, clearly at him, and Obi-Wan glanced over to see that one of the club's bouncers had noticed he was investigating matters that he shouldn't. Obi-Wan turned back to the pillar dismissively, but his intense connection to the Force alerted him, and he whipped his lightsaber out of its case, igniting it and holding it up to catch the energy blasts from the bouncer's gun. The bouncer was either a complete idiot, to make such a scene in front of the crowd, or Obi-Wan was about to discover something very much worth protecting.
With a mighty push of his legs, Silver jumped off the stage, landing behind Obi-Wan, his own lightsaber yanked out of somewhere, taking over the role of Obi-Wan's protector. Where had that lightsaber been hidden? Obi-Wan wondered bemusedly, even as he slipped his fingers up and down the pillar, finding the small indentation that opened it.
The scent of chlorophyll hit him, an unusual odor in the nightclub, and four Fluerelli fell into his arms, their fronds waving agitatedly. He cuddled them close to his chest, cooing in reassurance.
"Plants?" Silver shot at Obi-Wan over his shoulder, still holding his lightsaber erect, catching the energy blasts.
"Sentient plant-based beings. They look humanoid when grown, and can be used as sex slaves." The galaxy held many jaded, rich criminals, who enjoyed new sexual experiences. Obi-Wan had heard of this type of illegal trafficking, but had never encountered any of its victims.
"Slavers," Silver repeated, his face grim. With a little twist of his lightsaber, the next blasts were directed straight back at the bouncers, who stopped firing.
Obi-Wan could guess the reason, but didn't bother looking for the bodies. He turned to face Qui-Gon Jinn, the man who had once rejected him as a possible Padawan, and who had now saved his life. The gaudy outfit had disguised his true nature, but a Jedi in action was unmistakable. "On behalf of Agri-Corps, I can take charge of them and ensure their safe return to their home."
"That would be appreciated. I'll see about the bodies and ensuring that the perpetrators are arrested." Qui-Gon strode off, somehow managing to get around the tables without needing to sidle or turn sideways.
Mace Windu – Wonder Mace, how obvious could they be? – was still rapping on the stage, keeping the audience calm, most of whom seemed to have assumed that the dramatic battle was part of the act.
"And from the time I was only six years old, I never forgot what I was told. It was the best advice I ever had. It came from my wise, dear old dad. He said, 'Sit down, punk, I wanna talk to you and don't say a word until I'm through. Now there's a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to live and a time to die, a time to break and a time to chill, to act civilized or act real ill. But whatever you do in your lifetime, you never let an MC steal your rhyme.'"
Or never get on the bad side of a Jedi, Obi-Wan thought, petting the Fluerelli calmly.
Obi-Wan had forgotten the incredible quiet and peace of the Jedi Temple. The lack of noise had impressed and intimidated him as a child. Now he just admired the acoustics, because learning to be a Jedi could be a noisy endeavor, with the physical training and the debating sessions. If he'd gone into engineering, he'd love a chance to study the building's architectural design.
The Council was waiting for him, ringed around the room in their chairs. He saw the Jedi Master Yoda with a rush of pleasure. The small green being had always been a wise mentor to the initiates. Mace Windu sat next to him, now dressed in conventional Jedi clothes. Master Qui-Gon was standing in the center of the room, facing Yoda, and Obi-Wan stood next to him.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi, remember you I do."
"Yes, Master Yoda. I remember you too."
"Impressive you were, last night. The Fluerelli are very grateful for the rescue of their children."
Obi-Wan had carried them immediately to a hovertaxi, crossing two time zones to reach their Embassy, before finding himself wishing he'd been able to fully develop and retain the Jedi ability to influence minds. Convincing the security guard to wake up the Ambassador had been a pain, even with the captured teens in his arms to back up his story. "Service is one of the values most important to members of the Agri-Corps."
Yoda's eyes slitted with displeasure at Obi-Wan sidestepping his gratitude, then opened wide again. "Your service again we wish to seek."
The Jedi wished his assistance? How ironic. If Qui-Gon had accepted him, he'd be a Jedi Padawan, preparing to take his trials for his Knighthood, and he'd have spent the last twelve years obeying the orders of the Yoda and the other Council members. Instead, he'd been dismissed from the Jedi, and followed the commands of the Agri-Corps. "I go wherever the Agri-Corps directs, Master."
"Their cooperation we have already received."
Obi-Wan gave a cool nod at that news, waiting for further information.
"A lightsaber you have."
"Yes, Master. I remembered the design and built one for myself. It's been very useful." He didn't elaborate that he mostly used it for slicing up tree trunks, or explain why he'd created a leather case to keep it hidden. The Masters were intelligent enough to realize he didn't want the trouble associated with being perceived as a Jedi, who could be viewed as saviors on one planet and arrogant bullies on the next.
"And the crystal?"
"I travel a lot, Master. I was able to trade for one."
"Accept our commission, will you?"
Why did Yoda insist on his acceptance? Obi-Wan didn't have any other reasonable choice. Trying to argue against any assignment from the petty bureaucrats of the Agri-Corps only guaranteed that the next several assignments would be on the worst possible worlds. Obi-Wan had already spent too many months assisting the moisture farmers on Tatooine and hoped to never see them again. "Of course, Master. I am happy to serve the Jedi."
"With the Jedi," Qui-Gon spoke for the first time, correcting him.
"With the Jedi, of course. Will this be another… interesting undercover operation?"
"I believe Mace and I are done with our musical careers." Qui-Gon's words were dry, leaving Obi-Wan unsure whether he'd enjoyed the experience or not. He and Mace had certainly performed with vigor and enthusiasm, but then, commitment was one of the main traits of a Jedi, and certainly of a Jedi Master.
"Then something else?"
"Something that will require your unique skills. Masters, shall I take Obi-Wan away and brief him?"
Yoda nodded. "You may."
Obi-Wan gave a nod of his own to the Masters, and followed the swirl of Qui-Gon's brown cloak out of the Council room, reflecting on the irony that had brought the man back into his life. He'd hated to leave the Jedi Temple, feeling like a rejected outcast, but had flourished in the Agri-Corps, despite its occasional irritations. His connection to nature, to the earth and the sun, had carried him into that nightclub last night, but his Jedi skills and those of Qui-Gon's had kept him alive and helped him rescue the Fluerelli. Working with the Jedi would no doubt be an interesting experience, using all his skills and abilities.
Lengthening his stride, he caught up to Qui-Gon, walking by him rather than behind. 'With the Jedi,' Qui-Gon had said, and Obi-Wan intended to take him at his words. Whatever the Force brought him, he would be a full partner in this new mission.