“Ob’ika,” a voice said. It was not Satine’s voice, though that had been what she had called Obi-wan before they had stared calling each other by their aliases. The voice was older, and sounded like it came from behind a helmet with a vocoder, like a Mandalorian warrior.
Obi-wan’s eyes flew open. He sat up in his bed, frowning and looking around. The only person near him was Master Qui-gon, who would never call Obi-wan by a pet name, let alone a Mandalorian pet name. Plus, Qui-gon was asleep.
For an irrational moment, Obi-wan wished Master Qui-gon would wake up and ask Obi-wan what had happened. But Obi-wan knew nothing important had happened. That wish was simply a part of missing Satine, who would ask about Obi-wan’s dreams and who would listen to him and talk about his dreams. After a few conversations about Obi-wan’s dreams, Obi-wan had awkwardly asked Satine in return, and they had begun discussing Satine’s dreams, too. Or, as Satine called them, nightmares.
With a quiet sigh, Obi-wan lay back down and tried to go to sleep. The voice was probably just a mixture of Satine, Master Qui-gon, and the beautiful Death Watch armor that Obi-wan had worn while on the run. Nobody knew, but Obi-wan had become unreasonably attached to the armor. He had brought it with him and was planning on hiding it down in the lower levels of the Temple. He would miss wearing it, of course, but he would be fine with just taking with him. Obi-wan was also planning on hiding the Darksaber with his armor. To his eternal embarrassment, Sabine had noticed how attached he was to the Darksaber, after they had taken it from Death Watch. But she hadn’t been angry or even irritated by that, instead, she had offered it to him. Obi-wan had made it clear that she only needed to ask, and he would give it back. But he appreciated the fact that she had noticed what he wanted and gave it to him. Satine was like that: observant and kind. Obi-wan’s heart ached as he missed her.
Obi-wan drifted off to sleep.
It had only been a day since they had left Mandalore, since Obi-wan had said goodbye to both Satine and Manda’yaim. Master Qui-gon and he were being brought back to Coruscant in a Jedi ship, just like they had gone to Mandalore. It was a different ship though, piloted by a kind Jedi Knight and sent by the Council to pick them up now that peace was around the corner for Mandalore.
Obi-wan woke up that morning to a datapad falling onto his shoulder. He bit back a small grumble at the pain and opened his eyes.
“You have much to catch up on, Padawan,” Master Qui-gon stated serenely. “Do a bit of work before breakfast. I expect you to complete a third of your assignments before we arrive on Coruscant.”
“Yes, Master,” Obi-wan slurred, dragging himself out of sleep and turning on the pad as Master Qui-gon stalked off. He saw the wisdom of starting before breakfast – he had nearly three months of studies to finish in little more than a week.
Obi-wan was wearing his beskar’gam, the HUD showing no lifeforms. Obi-wan looked around at a silent and abandoned jungle. Ancient Manda’yaim, he knew, somehow.
“Su cuy’gar, Ob’ika,” someone greeted Obi-wan from behind him. Obi-wan spun around to see a strange Mandalorian warrior. He wore a mask, not the streemlined helmets that Obi-wan had seen on Mandalore. But Obi-wan had seen that mask style before: he had seen it in the paintings and art of Manda’yaim, the art about Mandalore the Ultimate’s time.
“Would you like to spar?” the warrior asked in Mando’a, in an accent Obi-wan hadn’t heard before.
“Elek,” Obi-wan agreed, keeping to the same language in case the warrior didn’t know Basic.
Almost before Obi-wan knew what was happening, the warrior had leaped forward, the Darksaber crashing down. Obi-wan pulled his own lightsaber from where it hung at his side and blocked the punishing strike.
“Jate,” the warrior complemented, before attacking again. Obi-wan danced back, blocking and dodging as his mind hummed with confusion. Why had the warrior said “good”? The warrior was a Mando’ad, wielding the Darksaber, and therefore likely a Vizsla. Obi-wan was wielding his lightsaber: he could see its blue in his HUD and could feel its comforting familiarity in his hand. Obi-wan blocked and retreated and retreated as the warrior attacked.
Obi-wan’s muscles were not burning, even though they should have been, so Obi-wan tried ot be more aggressive. It didn’t make sense to try to outlast an opponent in a dream. (He was in a dream? That was news to him.) But it seemed that was a mistake since not long after he switched styles, Obi-wan was disarmed and thrown to the ground.
“Ori’jate,” the warrior said and Obi-wan had to suppress a smile. (Master Qui-gon never said that Obi-wan was ‘very good’.) “You made the right decision to go on the offensive when you realized that I wasn’t going to get tired. Your only problem is that you neglected your defenses.” The warrior turned off the Darksaber and held out a hand. Obi-wan took it and was pulled to his feet. “I can tell you don’t have much practice going on the offensive,” the warrior noted.
“My master fights very offensively,” Obi-wan explained carefully. “During our spars I don’t go on the offensive because that makes me loose faster.”
“Jinn should give you space to learn,” the warrior growled. “Done properly, going on the offensive can help you win faster or even just throw an opponent off balance. Let’s try this again. This time, you attack me.”
Obi-wan hesitated, part of his mind clamoring that it made no sense, that this training must somehow be a trap of some sort. But he called his lightsaber back to his hand and lit it. After the warrior lit his, too, Obi-wan attacked.
Obi-wan lost track of time, after that. The warrior had a calm manner and was liberal with his compliments in a way that made Obi-wan smile, not feel embarised. But he also had good suggestions that Obi-wan found himself integrating into his fighting style.
“Who are you?” Obi-wan asked, when he sensed, though he didn’t know how, that their time was coming to an end.
“Tarre Vizsla, of Clan Vizsla,” the warrior answered, and Obi-wan sat up in his bed with a gasp.
“What is it, Padawan?” Master Qui-gon snapped, turning from where he had been making his bed.
“I had a dream – ” Obi-wan started, but was cut off by his Master scoffing under his breath and turning away.
“Keep your mind on the present, Padawan,” Master Qui-gon ordered. Obi-wan couldn’t help but compare his Master to both Satine and the warrior, Tarre Vizsla. Satine would have listened and discussed it, after she had asked about it, and might have shared her own dreams at Obi-wan’s prompting. Obi-wan wasn’t sure what Tarre Vizsla would do, but in Obi-wan’s dream, he had been kind and encouraging. He wouldn’t have turned away before cautioning Obi-wan. But Obi-wan pushed those thoughts out of his mind. Satine wasn’t a Jedi master or even a force-sensitive and Tarre Vizsla, whle a Jedi, was a long-dead historical figure which Obi-wan’s mind was conjuring for its own amusement.
“Yes, Master,” was all Obi-wan said, before picking up his datapad and striding to the fresher.
Bemusedly, he noted that his muscles were, oddly enough, warm and just on the edge of sore, like Obi-wan had been excising a lot the day before. But Obi-wan had been sitting still, trying to complete a week of coursework that day. Obi-wan pushed that odd thought out of his mind as well.
By the time Obi-wan got to the Temple, he had completed the demanded three months of coursework. But he had also gained muscle. At first, he thought that it was just weight from eating three square meals a day with snacks, which were pressed on him by the Jedi Knight who had picked them up. But, when Master Jinn told Obi-wan to run around the Temple to build up his stamina, Obi-wan realized that his endurance was much higher than it had been, even during the last week on Mandalore. Obi-wan wanted to say that it was simply because he was starving at the time, but he couldn’t forget the comfortable soreness in his muscles when he woke up each morning after his Tarre dream. Though Obi-wan’s increased endurance was a good thing, dreams shouldn’t effect the real world, and it was probably bad that Obi-wan’s dreams were possibly affecting the real world. Nor was it a good sign that they went on for days even though Obi-wan was only sleeping for five or six hours. Obi-wan thought of telling Master Qui-gon but he had no evidence, beyond waking up feeling like he had been working out. So Obi-wan… just thought about it, as he ran, even though he shouldn’t have been able to.
A beep from Obi-wan’s com made him stop and take the call.
“Padawan, I told you to come to the sparring rooms after you stopped running,” Master Qui-gon snapped.
“I’m still running, Master,” Obi-wan gasped.
“Come to the sparring rooms,” Master Qui-gon ordered.
“ Yes, Master,” Obi-wan agreed.
Obi-wan took his time, walking slowly to recover, letting the force wash over him and strengthen and heal his muscles, as Tarre had taught him, until Obi-wan was walking in a sort of meditation.
When he got to Master Qui-gon’s preferred sparring room, he saw that Master Qui-gon was stretching, preparing for a spar.
“Who are you going to spar, Master?” Obi-wan asked. He hoped it would not be -
“You, Padawan,” Master Qui-gon said with a scolding tone. “Get over here.”
“Master, I just ran around the entire outside of the Temple five times,” Obi-wan protested quietly as he moved to his side of the sparring room. “I am so tired.” Tarre had warned him against training too much, since it could strain muscles. He had said that the healing technique could help, but that Obi-wan should be careful. Then again, Tarre was a figment of Obi-wan’s imagination, loosely based on the historical figure.
“This is endurance training,” Master Qui-gon told him sharply. “I saw you running around while we were retaking Sundari. You tired out far too soon. It was a disappointing attempt.”
“I was starving,” Obi-wan pointed out.
“That is not an excuse for a Jedi,” Master Qui-gon snapped. “All I hear are excuses. Jedi are able to push through such inconsequential issues.”
“Yes, Master,” Obi-wan agreed quietly as Master Qui-gon stopped stretching and ignited his lightsaber.
Master Qui-gon attacked, and Obi-wan lunged out of the way. He knew immediately that there was no way that he could ever manage to outlast Master Qui-gon. He was fresh, whereas Obi-wan was tired out from running around the Temple several times. The only way to win this would be to attack and try to unbalance and quickly defeat his master. It was just like in his dreams: there was a time for defense and a time for offense.
So Obi-wan let Qui-gon try to strike him down a few times before going on the offensive.
He could tell something was different. His body moved in ways that he had never moved before in the waking world. Nothing slipped through his defenses, even as he attacked. Offense and defense blurred until there was nothing but a blue blur where his lightsaber had been, always in the right place at the right time to nearly scorching his Master or blocking his Master’s strike, sometimes with the same motion. The force, both living and unifying, surged through his body, supporting and strengthening his body at the same time as it allowed him to know where his Master would be. Master Qui-gon’s acrobatics were of no use to him now, since they gave him no element of surprise. His aggression didn’t serve him, since Obi-wan knew how to counter it and was nearly using it against him. And even Master Qui-gon’s mastery of his lightsaber was lesser than Obi-wan’s immersion in the Force.
“Kote, Ob’ika,” Tarre breathed.
Obi-wan didn’t dare look around or make any sort of reaction. He was busy with Master Qui-gon and he didn’t even feel the need to look. Tarre was safe. So Obi-wan fought on.
“Kick him in the chest and take his Jedi-sword,” Tarre urged suddenly. And Obi-wan was in just the right place to block Master Qui-gon’s lightsaber in just the right way, and then pivot and kick. Obi-wan used the moment that the kick opened up to grab a hold of Master Qui-gon’s lightsaber with his non-dominant hand. Oddly, Master Qui-gon let go with a quiet wheeze. When Obi-wan looked back to finish up the move with a sweeping strike to force his Master away, he saw what was wrong.
It all had to do with height. While Master Qui-gon was quite tall, Obi-wan was quite short. So, when Obi-wan had aimed for Master Qui-gon’s chest, he had hit something… much lower. And more sensitive.
Wincing in sympathy, Obi-wan backed up and called his com to him with the force.
“Master, do you need to go to the Healers?” Obi-wan asked worriedly. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“He’ll be fine, don’t worry,” Tarre urged him. “I apologize. I have never had this problem before.” Obi-wan glanced out of the corner of his eyes at Tarre, who was standing there, transparently and grimaced at him. Yes, Tarre was taller than him. Obi-wan had noticed long ago. Tarre didn’t need to bring it up again.
“No healers,” Master Qui-gon snarled, though he was short of breath and still clearly in a great deal of pain. “Go to your room and stay there.”
“Yes, Master,” Obi-wan agreed nervously. He set down his Master’s lightsaber and backed out of the room, before fleeing to his room. Tarre blinked out of existence as Obi-wan started running.
When he got to his room, showered and changed his clothes. After that, Obi-wan flung himself down on his bed and closed his eyes. He intended to just meditate a bit, but he was so tired. It turned out that running around a massive Temple for several hours followed by the most vicious lightsaber duel of his life made him tired. Obi-wan, quite unwillingly, fell asleep.
“What is going on?” Obi-wan demanded, leaping up from where he was sitting by a fire. Obi-wan recognized the clearing as the one he had killed a nerf-like creature during a day-long hunt with Tarre. Tarre did not move from where he sat on the other side of the fire.
“Undisii, Ob’ika,” Tarre said calmingly. “I understand that you are upset. It was never my intention to worry you. You have questions, and I will answer them.”
“I thought this was a dream, not something real,” Obi-wan said, sitting down again and slumping. Tarre was always so calm, it made Obi-wan want to emulate him. He rested his head, buc’ye and all, on his fists.
“It is both,” Tarre stated, leaning forward a bit and resting his elbows on his thighs. “I don’t know everything, but I am a presence in the Force. Part of the Ka’ra, if you will, only I can affect people through my lightsaber. Normally, I am only able to influence dreams, not appear in them, but with you, a force-sensitive so connected to the Unifying Force, I was able to appear in your dreams. As you bonded with my lightsaber and myself, I began to be able to watch the outside world and, eventually, appear to you. If you are afraid this is of the Dark side of the Force, it is not. The Dark side does not respect loyalty, honor and the defense of the Clan. It wants to destroy the Clan, it wants betrayal and dishonor. Mando’ade do not touch the Dark side, and if they do, they become dar’manda.”
“So this is lightside?” Obi-wan asked.
“Nayc,” Tarre admitted. “The Light side is without mandokar. This is of Manda’yaim, of the ancient Taung. But I want to show you something I only recently discovered I can do. I think you will find it most enlightening.”
“’Lek,” Obi-wan agreed slowly. Tarre held out a hand and Obi-wan took it.
Manda’yaim faded out, and was replaced by Obi-wan’s room. Obi-wan looked at his bed and saw his body laying there.
“Cool,” Obi-wan breathed, but then Tarre was pulling his hand and they were rising up, up, through ceilings and floors. Everything was speeding up until they stopped in the council chambers.
“Send my grandpadawan in, you will?” Yoda asked a Knight that Obi-wan did not recognize.
“Yes, Master Yoda,” the Knight agreed and practically fled the room.
Master Qui-gon stalked in soon after.
“Your concern, what is?” Yoda asked.
“I fear my padawan has fallen to the dark side,” Master Qui-gon announced. Over the gasps, he continued. “I have experience with this situation, and I believe the war on Mandalore and his attachment to the Duchess Satine clouded his judgment and forced him to fall. This afternoon, he was able to nearly defeat me before I was able to get him to his rooms. I pretended everything was fine, but he was also fighting with new, far more aggressive techniques that I believe he might have learned from a Sith holocron.”
Obi-wan’s first reaction was to blame Tarre for this, but he was well aware of Master Qui-gon’s obsession with the possibility that Obi-wan would follow Xanatos’s path. And the fighting style that Tarre had helped Obi-wan learn was far from “aggressive”. It was more aggressive than Obi-wan’s normal fighting style, but less aggressive than his Master’s.
“Worrying, this is,” Yoda mused. “To your padawan, we will go. If fallen, he is, resist arrest, he will. Either way, check him for dark side corruption, we will.”
“That is how it is done,” another Council member agreed. “And he has always been an angry child. After Melida/Daan, it might have been a mistake to allow him back into the Order. I would like to suggest we reconsider that decision even if he has not fallen.”
“I can lead the way,” Master Qui-gon offered. “If everyone is willing to go now?”
“Now, we should go,” Yoda said firmly. “Dangerous, the dark side is, and seriously, we should take it. Hurt, young Obi-wan may be, because trust him not to fall, we do not, but fallen, some of the greatest Jedi, have.”
The Council stood as one and followed Master Qui-gon out of the room.
Obi-wan pushed himself off of his bed. He called the Darksaber to him, from where he had hidden it, under his bed, and tucked it into his robes. Grabbing an empty bag, he then strode out of his room, towards the kitchens, his heart pounding and his mind whirling. It had been hard enough to get back into the Order after Melida/Daan, and that had been without the accusation of falling hanging over him. Obi-wan did not like his chances. And that was ignoring the fact that the Council was planning on arresting him on suspicion of Falling, which would undoubtedly be an awful experience. First Xanatos, then Melida/Daan, a hundred accusations thrown at him, and now this? It was the final straw. He couldn’t be a Jedi any more.
So Obi-wan was headed to the kitchen to stock up on food.
While he was stuffing food into the bag he had brought with him, his com chimed.
“Hello?” Obi-wan asked, picking up the call.
“Where are you, Padawan?” Master Qui-gon demanded. No, Master Jinn. Since Master Jinn had betrayed him, Master Jinn could deal with being called Master Jinn. “I told you to stay in your room, but you aren’t here.”
“I spent the morning running laps around the outside of the Temple and at noonish, I started sparring with you,” Obi-wan snapped. “Then I took a nap, because I was so tired I thought I was going to die, and when I woke up, I was hungry. I go hungry often enough outside of the Temple. I’m not going to let myself starve inside too. I want to grow taller.”
“You’re in the dinning hall?” Master Jinn asked.
“Yes,” Obi-wan lied, and continued stuffing his bag.
“Stay there,” Master Jinn ordered.
“Yes, Master,” Obi-wan lied again. He threw his bag over his shoulder and began walking out of the room as his com turned off.
“You are running,” Tarre noted calmly.
“You heard them,” Obi-wan reminded him. “They are going to arrest me on suspicion of falling and then they’re going to kick me out of the Order, even if they think I didn’t fall.”
“You will need credits, then,” Tarre pointed out. “I would suggest enough to buy a ship and some more food. That food will only last you a few weeks.”
“Where can I get that many credits?” Obi-wan asked.
“I know just the place,” Tarre assured him. “Follow me.”
“Hey, Quinlan,” Obi-wan greeted his friend. “Are you up for some Force Assisted Mischief?”
“Always,” Quinlan assured him, grinning and lighting up the room with his delight. “What are we doing? Who deserves to be pranked so much that the great Obi-wan Kenobi is getting involved?”
“Follow me,” Obi-wan said, smiling already as he started to run.
“I need to get into here,” Obi-wan told Quinlan, pointing to a reinforced door.
“Obi-wan, that’s the Council Money Vault,” Quinlan pointed out. “Won’t we get in trouble?”
“I already am,” Obi-wan scoffed. “And all the Council members are out looking for me, so they won’t come here while you are here too.”
“What did you do?” Quinlan laughed disbelievingly as he closed his eyes, took off his gloves, and touched the keypad. He began slowly typing in the correct code.
“Fell to the darkside, apparently,” Obi-wan grumbled when the doors started opening. “According to Master Jinn, at least. Now the Council has decided to arrest me on suspicion of falling, and they’re planning on kicking me out afterwards, no matter what they find.”
“That’s…” Quinlan trailed off as Obi-wan rushed into the room. There were whole crates of credits, stacked up along the sides of the vault. Each crate was small, about the size of the storage containers that would hold a single remote for blaster deflection practice. But when he opened one, he saw that each credit chip was worth several hundred credits. Each of the boxes would easily be able to buy a ship. Obi-wan took four and tossed one to Quinlan.
“You can give that out to everyone,” Obi-wan told Quinlan, grabbing his arm and dragging him out of the Council Money Vault. “You should run, now, but I’ll keep in touch with you and everyone else. I have your com codes memorized.”
“What are you going to do?”’ Quinlan asked, jogging beside Obi-wan.
“Run,” Obi-wan answered simply. “Ret'urcye mhi.”
“Goodbye,” Quinlan said softly, as their paths diverged.
D eath Watch armor wasn’t particularly conspicuous, but Obi-wan knew that no one would be looking for a Mandalorian. He breezed through the lower levels of Coruscant, with the deadly grace of a Mandalorian warrior and the confidence of someone who knew Coruscant well. Everyone left him alone, and he was able to get a good price for a good sized bounty hunter’s ship. When he was in space, he looked down at the Jedi Temple and sighed, his breath warm under his helmet.
“Will you go to Manda’yaim?” Tarre asked.
Obi-wan took a moment to think about it, but he already knew what he was going to do.
“Elek,” he agreed.