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Star Wars: Reset

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While the Jedi believe they exist to serve the Force, and the Sith believe that the Force exists to serve them, they have similar views as to what the Force is. They believe it to be an all-encompassing something , comparable to an energy field, that enfolds the entire universe and permeates every being, both living and non-living, included in that universe.

While the Jedi often preach about the “will of the Force,” they do not believe that the Force has a conscience, a sentience, rather they believe that certain events were predetermined.

They are very wrong. The Force is sentient, and she is not happy about what has been happening in her universe. She feels negative emotions beginning to shift her balance, marking the rise of the Sith and the downfall of the Jedi. She does not like what happens when shifts like this occur, although they are only natural; nothing stays the same forever.

She has a case of what some of the inhabitants of her galaxy would likely call multiple-personality-disorder, though that is hardly her fault. Her temperament changes to reflect what occurs.

But this shift feels worryingly darker than usual. Almost all of her servants have been ended and as she stretches her thoughts towards the future and sifts through the various possibilities, she is not pleased. Even her darker persona would not be pleased.

She had promised not to interfere in the affairs of the universe, aside from little nudges, unless she was truly needed, and it seems that she is.

So… what should she do? Well, she should likely start by figuring out where things went wrong. Well, she should not have entrusted so much to Qui-Gon. He meant well, but Obi-Wan would have been a better weathervane to point the way of Anakin. Doing so would have eliminated much of the resentment shared between Anakin and Obi-Wan, something that had caused no end of trouble.

Also, her loyal Jedi had not done right by Anakin, the poor child. They believed in all the wrong things, not allowing for change even when it was required, and it had cost them dearly.

Well, those were major things she could change. She lets loose a metaphorical sigh and begins to gather the energy required to turn back time.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan Kenobi does not like sand. Or deserts. Or desert planets. So being stuck on Tatooine of all places while they find means to repair their ship is decidedly not fun.

Obi-Wan is sufficient with machinery, though by no means enjoys it. His Master knows this, and had told him that he could stay on the ship while he went to get parts, but being useless is worse than being hot, so he opted to come along.

Mos Espa, Obi-Wan decides, is not a place he would like to come again. The Force thrums with ill intent and the sheer number of unsavory characters present make him want to draw his lightsaber.

It is a relief when they finally reach the junk shop. It is marginally cooler inside the shop by virtue of the shade the overhang provides. The shop’s owner, a crotchety Toydarian, comes over, but not before yelling over his shoulder. A young boy comes running, likely a slave, and when Obi-Wan’s eyes make contact with the boy’s for the briefest moment, the Force explodes.

The boy practically glows, a golden aura smudged slightly by hardship. This is special, something whispers to him (the Force), the boy is special.

When Obi-Wan blinks back to himself, only a few moments have passed, but his Master is looking at him concernedly. He feels a query down the bond between them, and he responds that he is fine.

“Did you feel that, Master?” he asks quietly.

“No, Obi-Wan. What?” his Master asks, looking curious.

“The boy. The boy is Force-sensitive, extremely so. He’s special.” Obi-Wan insists.

“And you moan at me for picking up strays,” Master Qui-Gon teases. “Alright, stay with him while I go talk to the owner about parts.”

Obi-Wan nods to his Master then turns to the two other people in the room. He is uncomfortably aware of himself when the boy seemingly flirted? Once that ended, he goes over to introduce himself.

“Hello,” he says, “my name is Obi-Wan. What’s yours?”

“I’m Anakin,” the boy—Anakin— says, “it’s nice to meet you.”

The Force seems to sing when they shake hands, which further confirms to Obi-Wan that something important is happening.

“You as well,” Obi-Wan replies with a smile. They engage in pleasant conversation for a while until Master Qui-Gon returns and says that they are leaving.

Obi-Wan follows his Master, giving one last wave to Anakin. The Force protests strongly at him leaving, but he has no say.

Once outside, Obi-Wan goes and asks his Master, “What happened?”

“Republic credits do not serve as a viable form of currency in these parts,” Qui-Gon says, “we’ll need an alternative.”

Obi-Wan thinks over their predicament and asks, “Is there anything on the ship we could barter for parts?”

Qui-Gon frowns. “I don’t believe so, at least not in the quantities we’d need. Let’s walk around a bit. See if we learn anything useful.”

-SW-

The four of them and Artoo walk along one of the main pathways in the marketplace. Obi-Wan looks about with barely concealed frustration. This planet is uncivilized. It is filled with ruffians, slavers, and greedy beings who have no regard for life other than their own. It disgusts me. Obi-Wan thinks.

Distracted by his thoughts, Obi-Wan doesn’t notice Jar-Jar causing a mess until an odd grey creature is upon him.

Just as Obi-Wan is about to intercede, Anakin appears, pushing his way towards Jar-Jar. Obi-Wan watches in astonishment as the boy spouts some words in Huttese, whatever he said getting the creature to back off.

Once the creature leaves, Obi-Wan, Master Qui-Gon, and the handmaiden— Padme— all go over to Jar-Jar and Anakin.

“Hi!” Anakin says brightly.

“Hello there,” Obi-Wan replies.

“Your buddy here was about to be turned into orange goo. He picked a fight with a Dug. An especially dangerous Dug called Sebulba.” Anakin says, and the words are a stark reminder of the boy’s lack of innocence, though that is no fault of Anakin’s.

“Mesa haten crunchen. Dat's da last ting mesa wanten.” Jar-Jar exclaims brainlessly.

“Nevertheless, the boy is right... you were heading for trouble…” Qui-Gon chides, “Thanks, my young friend.”

Obi-Wan sees Padme smile at Anakin, and Anakin smile back. He is unsure what to make of their relationship, but he supposes that it is none of his business.

The group of them continue walking through the marketplace, Jar-Jar protesting all the way that he had done nothing.

They stop at a fruit stall. Anakin seems to be familiar with the owner, Obi-Wan observes.

“Here, you'll like these pallies... Here.” Anakin offers Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan smiles and accepts. “Thank you,” he says, eating one and putting the rest in his pouch. His eyebrows raise in surprise at the sweet taste.

“Those are good!” he says to Anakin, who smiles smugly.

Their exchange is interrupted when the shop keeper says to Anakin, “Oh, my bones are aching… storm's coming up, Ani. You'd better get home quick.”

“Do you have shelter?” Anakin asks Obi-Wan.

“We'll head back to our ship,” Qui-Gon answers him.

“Is it far?” Anakin asks, concerned.

“It's on the outskirts,” Padme replies.

“You'll never reach the outskirts in time... sandstorms are very, very dangerous. Come on! I'll take you to my place.”

They rush after Anakin as the wind picks up, blowing sand in their faces. A distant part of Obi-Wan’s brain notes that he is beginning to hate sand.

-SW-

“Mom! Mom! I'm home.” Anakin yells once they all enter the slave hovel.

“Dissen cozy.” Jar-Jar comments.

And it is. It is small, much smaller than what Obi-Wan is used too from the Temple, but it feels distinctly lived in.

A woman who must be Anakin’s mother enters the main room and startles at the number of people in her front room.

“These are my friends, Mom,” Anakin introduces.

“Hidoe!” Jar-Jar says, his weird tongue warping the word.

Artoo lets out a little beep in greeting.

They exchange formalities and introductions a bit awkwardly. Anakin breaks the tense atmosphere by dragging Padme off to see a droid he apparently built. That leaves Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon alone with Shmi.

“Come, let us talk more comfortably,” Shmi leads them over to the table and chairs.

Once they are seated, she says, “So, tell me, how did you meet my son?”

After looking to his Master for permission, Obi-Wan begins to tell the tale.

Once he is finished, Shmi smiles. “Anakin likes people. I hope he hasn’t been a bother.”

“No, not at all!” Qui-Gon assures, “quite the contrary, actually. He’s been very helpful.”

The conversation is interrupted when Qui-Gon’s commlink goes off. “If you’ll excuse me,” he says to Shmi. She waves him away, and he walks off to a private corner.

“Your son is very bright,” Obi-Wan compliments.

Shmi smiles. “Thank you.” Her face falls a bit after, an Obi-Wan doesn’t have to ask why.

A sad silence falls over them, only broken when Master Qui-Gon comes back with a grave look on his face.

“Obi-Wan, a word.”

“Excuse me,” Obi-Wan says to Shmi.

Once they are at a safe distance, Obi-Wan turns to his Master and asks, “What is it? What’s happened?”

“The Queen received a transmission from Naboo saying that the death toll is climbing and that they need to surrender. I’ve told them not to send a reply or any transmission because it is likely a trap.”

“Agreed, Master, but what if it is true and the people are dying?”

“There’s nothing we can do, Obi-Wan, but either way, we’re running out of time.”

Chapter Text

The group sits around the table. Obi-Wan frowns at Jar-Jar as he obnoxiously slurps his soup.

As she helps serve the food, Shmi says, “All slaves have transmitters placed inside their bodies somewhere.”

Anakin pipes up, saying “I've been working on a scanner to try and locate mine!”

“Any attempt to escape…” Shmi starts.

“... and they blow you up ... boom!” Anakin concludes, his childish delivery of the information contradicting the violence it contains.

“How wude,” Jar-Jar exclaims.

“I can't believe there is still slavery in the galaxy. The Republic's anti-slavery laws…” Padme starts, getting all up in arms. Obi-Wan wonders how much exposure she has to politics in her position. A niggling thought begins to form in the edges of his thoughts, that perhaps Padme is more than she appears.

“The Republic doesn't exist out here… we must survive on our own,” Shmi reminds them, solemnly.

Jar-Jar snatches some fruit from a bowl at the other end of the table with his tongue. Obi-Wan wrinkles his nose at the poor manners, and watches, pleased, as Qui-Gon gives Jar-Jar his signatures dirty look.

“'Scuse me,” Jar-Jar says, as if he had merely belched, rather than done something extremely odd.

“Has anybody ever seen a Podrace?” Anakin asks, breaking the tension Jar-Jar’s oddities had caused.

Padme shakes her head, but Obi-Wan says, “I’ve heard of it.”

“Yes, they have Podracing on Malastare. Very fast, very dangerous.” Qui-Gon replies.

“I'm the only human who can do it,” Anakin says proudly.

“You must have Jedi reflexes if you race Pods,” Obi-Wan says. Anakin smiles at that.

When Jar-Jar attempts to snare another bit of food from the bowl with his tongue, Qui-Gon grabs it and warns, “ Don’t do that again.”

When Jar-Jar acknowledges, Qui-Gon releases him. Jar-Jar nurses his tongue and shakes his head, befuddled.

“You're a Jedi Knight, aren't you?” Anakin asks.

“What makes you think that?”

“You just grabbed his tongue! Also, I saw Obi-Wan’s laser sword. Only Jedi carry that kind of weapon.”

Qui-Gon glances back at Obi-Wan, then leans back and smiles in a way that lets Obi-Wan know that he has to deal with this.

“Perhaps I killed a Jedi and took it from him,” Obi-Wan says, crossing his arms.

“I don't think so… No one can kill a Jedi,” Anakin says this with childish confidence.

“I wish that were so…” Qui-Gon interjects.

Anakin says slowly, “I had a dream I was a Jedi. I came back here to free all the slaves... have you come to free us?”

“No, I'm afraid not…” Qui-Gon sighs. Obi-Wan shoots his Master a look, trying to remind him how special Obi-Wan can sense that Anakin is.

“I think you have... why else would you be here?”

Qui-Gon thinks for a moment, then announces, “I can see there's no fooling you. We're on our way to Coruscant, the central system in the Republic, on a very important mission.”

“How did you end up here in the outer rim?” Anakin wonders.

“Our ship was damaged, and we're stranded here until we can repair it,” Padme explains.

“I can help! I can fix anything!” Anakin exclaims with passion.

“I believe you can, but first we must acquire the parts we need…” Qui-Gon explains.

“And we have nothing to trade,” Obi-Wan finishes.

“These junk dealers must have a weakness of some kind…” Padme muses.

“Gambling. Everything here revolves around betting on those awful races,” Shmi frowns.

“Podracing ... Greed can be a powerful ally, Master,” Obi-Wan ponders, “A wager perhaps? But how…”

“I've built a racer! It's the fastest ever...There's a big race tomorrow, on Boonta Eve. You could enter my pod!” Anakin inputs. “Anakin! Watto won't let you…” Shmi warns.

“Watto doesn't know I've built it. You could make him think it's yours, and get him to let me pilot it for you.”

Obi-Wan sees that Shmi is upset at the prospect. As if confirming his thought, she says “I don't want you to race. It's awful. I die every time Watto makes you do it.”

“But Mom, I love it. The prize money would more than pay for the parts they need,” Anakin whines.

They go back and forth until Anakin strikes the killing blow. “Mom... you said the biggest problem in the universe is nobody helps each other…”

Shmi sighs heavily at that, and Padme seeing that she is still upset, says, “I'm sure Qui-Gon doesn't want to put your son in danger. We'll find some other way…”

“No, there is no other way... I may not like it, but... he can help you... he was meant to help you.”

-SW-

Just as they are about to enter Watto’s shop to make the wager, Padme stops Qui-Gon.

“Are you sure about this? Trusting our fate to a boy we hardly know. The Queen will not approve.”

“The Queen does not need to know,” Qui-Gon snarks.  

“Well, I don't approve,” Padme states.

Qui-Gon ignores her warnings and enters the shop. Obi-Wan sighs and turns to Padme. “There’s no convincing him once he makes up his mind.” After saying his piece, he follows his Master into the shop.

Obi-Wan enters in time to hear, “—sponsor him in a race. How can you do this? Not on Republic credits, I think, huh.” Watto laughs.

“My ship will be the entry fee.” Qui-Gon bets. He pulls a holo-transmitter out of his pocket, and a hologram of the Naboo spacecraft appears about a foot long in front of Watto.

“Oh, not bad... not bad... ah Nubian, ah.”

“It's in good order, except for the parts I need,” Qui-Gon informs.

“... what would the boy ride? He smashed up my Pod in the last race. It will take some time to fix it.”

Embarrassed, Anakin steps forward and says, “Ahhhh ... it wasn't my fault really... Sebulba flashed me with his vents. I actually saved the Pod... mostly.”

“That you did huh. The boy is good, no doubts there huh.” Watto laughs obnoxiously.

“Well, I have acquired a Pod in a game of chance. ‘The fastest ever built.’” Qui-Gon says, crossing his arms.

“I hope you didn't kill anyone I know for it. So, you supply the Pod and the entry fee; I supply the boy. We split the winnings fifty-fifty, I think.”

“If it's going to be fifty-fifty, I suggest you front the cash for the entry. If we win, you keep all the winnings, minus the cost of the parts I need... If we lose, you keep my ship.” Qui-Gon proposes.

When Obi-Wan notices that Watto is hesitating, he says “Either way, you win.”

“Deal!” Watto grunts, slapping Qui-Gon’s palm.

As they leave the shop, Obi-Wan hopes they made the right decision.

-SW-

As he, Padme, Jar-Jar, Anakin, and Artoo work on the podracer, he catches snatches of Qui-Gon’s conversation with Shmi.

He is not surprised to hear that Anakin has advanced reflexes and other traits that show Force-sensitivity, but the matter of the missing father is rather interesting. Obi-Wan is also not pleased by Qui-Gon’s response of whether he can help. They are Jedi, it is their duty to help, and Anakin has a destiny. That much Obi-Wan can see.

-SW-

That night, after testing the podracer and seeing that it works, Obi-Wan sits with Anakin, tending to a cut the boy acquired.

“Stay still, Anakin. Let me clean this cut,” Obi-Wan chides.

“There are so many! Do they all have a system of planets?” Anakin looks up at the night sky in wonder, not paying any attention to his injury.

“Most of them,” Obi-Wan replies.

“Has anyone been to them all?” Anakin asks with childish wonder.

“Not likely,” Obi-Wan says with a laugh. “There are quite a lot of them.”

“I want to be the first one to see them all…” Anakin announces, eyes still fixed on the stars.

“If anyone can do it, you can,” Obi-Wan says with a smile.

Shmi yells from inside the hovel, that it is time for Anakin to go to bed. Obi-Wan wipes a bit of blood into his commlink.

“What are you doing?” Anakin asks.

“Checking your blood for infections. You have a big day tomorrow. And your mother is calling you. Goodnight.”

Anakin rolls his eyes and runs off with a quick goodnight.

Obi-Wan inserts the bloodied chip into his commlink and did a quick analysis. He blinks, not believing what the readout shows.

He calls his Master on the commlink. “Master,” he says, “I did the analysis just like you asked. The reading's off the chart... over twenty thousand. Even Master Yoda doesn't have a midi-chlorian count that high!”

“No Jedi has,” Qui-Gon says, his voice deep with thought. “I’ll be out on the balcony in a minute, Obi-Wan.”

“Yes, Master,” Obi-Wan says, before terminating the call.

Once Master Qui-Gon joins him, Obi-Wan asks, “What does it mean?”

“I'm not sure. Just that you were right about the boy,” Qui-Gon admits.

The Jedi look up, sensing that they are being watched. Shmi blushed then ducks back into the kitchen, leaving the two Jedi alone to meditate.

-SW-

At the race the next morning, Obi-Wan helps Anakin get ready.

As they enter the racing stretch, he watches a tense exchange between Watto and Master Qui-Gon. He is too far away to hear what is being said, but the chance cube tossed and Qui-Gon’s satisfied smile leads him to believe that a bet was just made.

When they get close enough, Obi-Wan asks, “What happened?”

Qui-Gon looks over and sees that Anakin is suitably distracted. “I just made a bet for Anakin’s freedom. If he wins the race, he’s free. You were right, he is special, and he should be taken to the Temple.”

Obi-Wan smiles but then frowns. “But not his mother?”

“Watto wouldn’t have it. He said that the racing pod wasn’t worth two slaves.”

“He won’t be happy about that,” Obi-Wan warns.

“I know,” Qui-Gon sighs, “but Shmi will want what’s best for him.”

That, Obi-Wan has no argument against.

-SW-

Obi-Wan goes up to Anakin’s pod to give some last minute encouragement.

“You all set, Anakin?” he asks.

“Yep,” Anakin replies.

“Alright,” Obi-Wan lifts Anakin up and sets him down in the pilot seat. “Remember, concentrate on the moment. Trust your instincts. Don’t think, just do.”

“I will!” Anakin promises.

“May the Force be with you,” Obi-Wan says with a smile.

-SW-

The race does not start out well.

Anakin’s engines stall, along with another racer. By the time Anakin gets going, he is far behind the other contestants.

Anakin passes the pods in the back easily, but as he gets closer to the front, another racer stops him from passing, cutting Anakin off. Anakin manages to get passed him by accelerating so quickly that his pod flies right over his opponent’s.

Obi-Wan watches as Anakin continues to advance in the pack, passing other racers and dodging explosions.

Anakin finally manages to get neck and neck with Sebulba, the alien who has been causing them so much trouble their whole time on-planet. Sebulba keeps ramming Anakin’s pod, making it hard for the boy to keep control.

As they approach the final stretch, Anakin pulls a maneuver that sends Sebulba’s pod spinning out of control. One of Sebulba’s engines blows up, sending to pod into a crash landing.

Anakin passes the finish line as the winner to thunderous applause and cheers from Shmi and Padme.

Obi-Wan is smiling, and his Master looks satisfied.

This is a win.

-SW-

As they congratulate Anakin in the main hanger, Watto comes flapping angrily in.

“You! You swindled me! You knew the boy was going to win! Somehow you knew it! I lost everything.”

Qui-Gon simply smiles at Watto’s accusations and says, “Whenever you gamble, my friend, eventually you'll lose. Bring the parts to the main hanger. I'll come by your shop later so you can release the boy.”

“You can't have him! It wasn't a fair bet!” Watto tantrums.

“Would you like to discuss it with the Hutts ... I'm sure they can settle this,” Obi-Wan says with a dry smile.

Watto scoffs and says, “Take him!”

Once Watto leaves, Qui-Gon smiles and says to Obi-Wan, “Come, let’s go tell Anakin he’s been freed.”

-SW-

Shmi is cleaning up as Anakin bursts through the door, followed by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.

“Mom, they sold the Pod. Look at all the money we have!” Anakin exclaims, showing his mother the bag of coins.

“Oh, my goodness, That's wonderful Ani,” Shmi says.

“And Anakin has been freed,” Qui-Gon drops the bomb.

“What!?” Anakin asks.

“You're no longer a slave.” Qui-Gon reiterates.

“Did you hear that?” Anakin asks his mother.

“Now you can make your dreams come true, Annie. You're free!” she says, “Will you take him with you? Is he to become a Jedi?” she asks Qui-Gon.

“Yes. Our meeting was not a coincidence. Nothing happens by accident.” Qui-Gon confirms.

“You mean I get to come with you in your starship?!” Anakin says in disbelief.

Qui-Gon kneels by Anakin and tells him, “Anakin, training to become a Jedi is not be an easy challenge. And if you succeed, it's a hard life.”

“But I want to go. It's what I've always dreamed of doing. Can I go, Mom?!”

“Anakin, this path has been placed for you; the choice is yours alone,” Shmi says wisely.

Anakin thinks a moment before saying, “I want to do it.”

“Then, pack your things. We haven't much time.” Obi-Wan says with a small smile.

Anakin squeals, hugs his mom and starts for the other room, then stops. He realized something.

“What about Mom? Is she free too?” Anakin asks slowly, as if afraid of the answer.

“I tried to free your mother, Ani, but Watto wouldn't have it,” Qui-Gon says, sadly.

“You're coming, aren't you, Mom?” Anakin asks apprehensively.

“Son, my place is here. My future is here. It is time for you to let go…” Shmi says, trying to convince Anakin to do what is best for him.

“I don't want things to change,” Anakin semi-whines.

“But you can't stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting. Now... hurry.”

Anakin and Shmi hug, then Anakin runs off to pack.

“Thank you,” Shmi says sadly.

“We'll watch after him. You have my word. Will you be all right?” Qui-Gon promises.

Shmi shrugs. “He will be. That’s what matters.”

-SW-

The two Jedi and Anakin exit the slave quarters where Anakin spent most of his life.

They begin to walk away from Shmi, who remains standing in the doorway, her son walking out her life into a better one.

Obi-Wan sees Anakin stop, then run back to his mother. He and Qui-Gon are far enough away that they can’t hear what is being said, but Shmi wipes away Anakin’s tears, then hugs him tightly. After releasing him, she turns him around and gives him a little push.

When Anakin reaches the two Jedi, there are tears in his eyes, but he looks determined. He doesn’t look back.

Chapter Text

The two Jedi and Anakin race towards the Naboo spacecraft, Anakin struggling to keep up on his shorter legs.

“Hey, wait, I’m tired!” Anakin gasps, struggling for air.

When Obi-Wan turns to help him, his eyes alight on a dark robed figure racing towards them on a speeder bike, the trail of sand spewing behind the bike clouding the horizon.

“Anakin, drop!” Obi-Wan exclaim, igniting his lightsaber in time with his Master.

The figure jumps from the bike, right over Anakin, and slams a bloodred ‘saber against Obi-Wan’s with such force that Obi-Wan nearly topples.

Skidding on sand, Obi-Wan barely manages to get his bearings in time to block another ferocious blow. He feels the tremors in his bones, the Force around the dark-robed figure clouded in menace and darkness.

Distantly, Obi-Wan hears his Master tell Anakin to go to the ship and tell them to take off, but his focus is on his attacker.

The hood falls, revealing the attacker to be a zabrack.

Obi-Wan struggles against the onslaught, and finally, Master Qui-Gon joins the fight.

Still, the zabrack is skilled, managing to defend against both Jedi while still managing to give them the fight of a lifetime.

Adrenaline floods Obi-Wan, but his strength is waning. He miscalculates and the zabrack’s blade grazes his torso. Pain flares along his ribs, and Obi-Wan’s defense wavers.

“Obi-Wan!” he hears his Master shout a warning. He manages to bring his blade up in a last-minute block, barely stopping his head from being lopped off.

Qui-Gon intercedes, a whirl of green saber and brown clothing, defending against the zabrack until the ship is near enough to jump onto.

Qui-Gon deflects a blow, then the two Jedi Force-leap onto the Nubian’s ramp, escaped from their assailant.

As soon as he is safe, Obi-Wan’s legs give out. He heaves a breath, the cool metal of the ship soothing against his flushed skin.

“Obi-Wan,” his Master says gently, “I need to look at your wound.”

Obi-Wan fumbles with his tunic, feeling detached and floaty.

He hears his Master hiss in sympathy, but it takes a minute to register why.

“Master?” he says, sounding very young, even to his own ear, “I don’t feel right.”

Then he passes out.

-SW-

Obi-Wan wakes up slowly. The first thing that comes to his attention is an unusual coolness coursing through his veins and itching on the back of his hand.

His eyelids still feel rather heavy, but he yanks them open by force of will and blinks at the sudden influx of light.

When his eyes adjust, he notices his Master sitting in a chair by his bed.

Master Qui-Gon’s eyes flick up to Obi-Wan and a flicker of relief flashes over his face, erased by concern and frustration moments later.

“What happened?” Obi-Wan asks.

His Master sighs, and says, “You got dehydrated, Obi-Wan. Because of that, the zabrack managed to land a hit on your ribs.”

Memory floods back to Obi-Wan, along with disappointment in himself. “I’m sorry, Master.”

“I’m not angry, Obi-Wan, I’m concerned. We’ve talked about this before. You need to take care of yourself, there are consequences when you don’t!”

“I know, Master. I just- I don’t…” Obi-Wan trails off, not sure how to convey what he feels.

Master Qui-Gon seems to understand anyway. “I know, Obi-Wan, but please try. You are close to ready for your Trials, but how can I let you go when I don’t know if you will take care of yourself?”

Obi-Wan is stunned into silence. They haven’t discussed his Trials before, and Obi-Wan has always been under the impression that he just isn’t ready.

His shock must show on his face because Master Qui-Gon chuckles. “Yes, Obi-Wan. I do think you are ready, but I worry because of things like this.”

“I’ll try harder, Master. I promise,” Obi-Wan resolves.

“I know you will. I worry all the same.”

Warmth floods Obi-Wan’s heart and he smiles at his Master.

-SW-

After the ship lands, Obi-Wan, Master Qui-Gon, Anakin, Jar-Jar, the Queen and her entourage disembark.

While Senator Palpatine was to be expected, Obi-Wan is slightly surprised to see Supreme Chancellor Valorum waiting to greet them asl well.

“It is a great gift to see you alive, Your Majesty. With the communications breakdown, we've become very concerned. I'm anxious to hear your report on the situation. May I present Supreme Chancellor Valorum,” Palpatine greets his queen.

“Welcome, Your Highness. It's an honor to finally meet you in person.”

“Thank you, Supreme Chancellor,” replies the queen, politely.

Obi-Wan watches as they continue to exchange pleasantries, then the queen leaves along with her entourage and Palpatine.

Master Qui-Gon says quietly to the Supreme Chancellor, ”I must speak with the Jedi Council immediately. The situation has become more complicated.”

Obi-Wan is tempted to roll his eyes at his Master’s dramatics, but he supposes that he is entitled to his bit of fun.

They hail a maxi-taxi and he and Master Qui-Gon prepare to speak with the Jedi Council.

-SW-

When the Taxi pulls up to the Temple, Obi-Wan feels something tight in his chest loosen; This is his home, and it is nice to be back.

They walk together through the Temple halls, greeting old friends and beating the familiar path towards Council Chambers.

They are ushered through the tall wooden doors when they reach them. As per protocol, they walk to the center of the circular room, then bow to the twelve council members.

Obi-Wan stands and listens as his Master delivers the report on the zabrack they fought.

“... He was trained in the ways of the Force. My only conclusion can be that it was a Sith Lord,” his Master concludes.

“Impossible!” Master Mundi exclaims, “The Sith have been extinct for a millennium.”

“I do not believe the Sith could have returned without us knowing,” Master Windu agrees.

“Ah, hard to see, the Dark Side is,” Master Yoda states cryptically. Obi-Wan is not sure which opinion the Grand Master holds.

“We will use all our resources here to unravel this mystery and discover the identity of your attacker… May the Force be with you,” Master Windu dismisses them.

Neither of them turn to leave.

“Master Qui-Gon more to say, have you?” Master Yoda asks.

“With your permission, my Master. I have encountered a vergence in the Force,” Master Qui-Gon continues.

“A vergence, you say?” Master Yoda questions.

“Located around a person?” Master Windu asks skeptically.

“A boy... his cells have the highest concentration of midichlorians I have ever seen in a life form. It is possible he was conceived by the midichlorians,” Master Qui-Gon explains

“You're referring to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force... you believe it's this boy?” Master Windu’s tone has delved right into disbelief at this point.

“I don’t know Master, but I request that boy be tested.”

The Council members all look to one another as if having a silent conversation. Eventually, they nod and turn back to Obi-Wan and his Master.

“Trained as a Jedi, you request for him?”

“Finding him was the will of the Force... I have no doubt of that.”

“Bring him before us, then,” Master Windu commands.

-SW-

“Master,” Obi-Wan says, he and Qui-Gon standing on the balcony of the Temple watching the sunset, “what if the Council says Anakin is too old?”

“Anakin will become a Jedi ... I promise you, Obi-Wan. You were right about him. Now that you pointed it out, I can see he has a great destiny.”

“Yes, Master, but please give me fair warning this time should you decide to defy the Council,” Obi-Wan says. “You nearly gave me a heart attack last time!”

Master Qui-Gon chuckles. “I shall try Obi-Wan. I’d like you to live a long time yet.”

-SW-

Obi-Wan, Master Qui-Gon, and Anakin stand before the Council, awaiting the verdict.

“The Force is strong with him,” Master Mundi starts out.

“He's to be trained, then?” Master Qui-Gon inquires.

The Council Members exchange glances, the Master Windu says, “No. He will not be trained. He is too old.”

“He is the chosen one... you must see it,” Master Qui-Gon says. Obi-Wan recognizes the tightness in his Master’s face, though he doubts anyone else in the room does.

“Clouded, this boy's future is,” Master Yoda proclaims.

“I will train him, then. I take Anakin as my Padawan learner. Obi-Wan and I have been talking. I believe him to be ready for his Trials.”

"Our own council we will keep on who is ready,” Master Yoda warns.

“He is headstrong and he has much to learn of the living Force, but he is capable. There is little more he can learn from me,” Qui-Gon announces. Though they had discussed this, hearing such from his Master crumpled something just a little in his chest.

“Young Skywalker's fate will be decided later,” Yoda dismisses.

“Now is not the time for this... the Senate is voting for a new Supreme Chancellor and Queen Amidala is returning home, which will put pressure on the Federation, and could widen the confrontation.” Master Windu continues.

“And draw out the Queen's attacker,” Master Mundi adds.

“Go with the Queen to Naboo and discover the identity of the dark warrior. That is the clue we need to unravel this mystery of the Sith,” Master Windu finishes.

“May the Force be with you.”

The three of them bow, then leave the room.

-SW-

The three of them and Artoo wait on the landing platform, outside the ship, for the queen and her attendants to arrive. Obi-Wan stews in his thoughts, barely aware of Master Qui-Gon explaining midichlorians to Anakin.

Is he really ready to be a Jedi Knight? His defeat by the supposed-Sith certainly didn’t help his confidence in his skills, dehydration or no. Jedi are supposed to be beyond such corporeal ills…

Obi-Wan is only shaken out of his self-doubt by the queen’s arrival.

They exchange pleasantries, then board the ship to go to Naboo.

-SW-

Onboard the ship, they discuss plans on what to do when they make planetfall. Obi-Wan and Master Qui-Gon are only allowed to protect the queen, not to fight the war.

They reach a stalemate until the queen proposes to have Jar-Jar go to the Gungans to get aid.

-SW-

Once they have landed, Obi-Wan approaches his Master in the Nubian swamp and reports that Jar-Jar is on his way to the Gungan city.

When he gets a bare-bones response, he takes a moment to assess his Master. He notices that something is not quite right, which raises his hackles.

“Are you alright, Master?” Obi-Wan asks cautiously.

Master Qui-Gon blinks back to awareness and frowns a little at Obi-Wan. “I have a bad feeling, Obi-Wan, and I can’t pin it down.”

That definitely alerted Obi-Wan internal alarms. Master Qui-Gon rarely has trouble reading the Force.

“I see,” Obi-Wan says. “Is there anything I can do?”

Master Qui-Gon smiles at him and says, “I think not, Obi-Wan. But I know you have been troubled, and know this: you're a much wiser man than I am. I foresee you will become a great Jedi Knight.”

His Master clasps his shoulder then walks away, leaving Obi-Wan to process what he was just told.

-SW-

Jar-Jar comes back to them and reports, “Dare-sa nobody dare. Da Gungan city is deserted. Some kinda fight, mesa tinks.”

“Do you think they have been taken to camps?” Obi-Wan aks.

“More likely they were wiped out,” Captain Panaka says.

“Mesa no tink so,” Jar-Jar disagrees.

“Do you know where they are, Jar Jar?” Master Qui-Gon asks.

“When in trouble, Gungans go to sacred place. Mesa show you. C'mon, mesa show you.”

Jar-Jar leads them through the swamps until they reach temple ruins.

Inside the ruins they find a clearing full of gungan refugees. At the far end are the ruins of a grand temple with massive carved heads. Boss Nass and several other leaders walk out on the top of a three-quarter-submerged head.

“You Honor, Queen Amidala of the Naboo,” Captain Tarpals of the gungans presents.

“Ah, ello dare, ye big Boss Nass, You Honor,” Jar-Jar greets.

“Jar Jar Binks, who's da uss-en others?” Nass asks.

Obi-Wan watches as the queen steps forwards and introduces herself.

“Ah, Naboo biggen. Yousa bringen da Mackineeks... Yousa all bombad,” Nass states simplistically.

Obi-Wan sees the queen’s guards stiffen, and he is about to soothe them with the force when the queen speaks again.

“We have searched you out 'cause we wish to form an alliance…” the queen starts.

She is interrupted when Padme steps forwards and says “Your Honor…”

“Whosa dis?” the gungan leader asks.

“I am Queen Amidala,” Padme reveals, much to the shock of Anakin and Jar-Jar. Obi-Wan smiles internally that he had been right that something was off about Padme.

“This is my decoy... my protection... my loyal bodyguard,” Padme— Queen Amidala— explains, pointing to the presumed queen.

“I am sorry for my deception, but it was necessary to protect myself. Although we do not always agree, Your Honor, our two great societies have always lived in peace. The Trade Federation has destroyed all that we have worked so hard to build. If we do not act quickly, all will be lost forever... I ask you to help us…” Padme drops to her knees much to the dismay of her servants, ”... no, I beg you to help us. We are your humble servants. Our fate is in your hands,”

Slowly, Padme’s entourage get on their knees before Boss Nass, followed shortly by Obi-Wan and Master Qui-Gon (and Obi-Wan is not pleased about the mud on his robes).

Boss Nass laughs, saying “Yousa no tinken yousa greater den da Gungans.. Mesa like dis.”

Master Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan exchange subtle smiles from where they are kneeling in the mud. Maybe… just maybe, this will work.

“Maybe wesa bein friends,” Boss Nass finishes.

Padme smiles at Boss Nass, and Obi-Wan starts to think that this politician might not be like all the others.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan, Master Qui-Gon, Padme, and the gungan generals are discussing battle plans when Anakin shouts to them that the rest of their forces have arrived.

Captain Panaka along with several soldiers disembark from speeders to join to force.

When Boss Nass joins the group, Obi-Wan notices that Jar-Jar is lying passed out on the ground behind him, seemingly having fainted. He suppresses a chuckle, wondering if that gungan could get any odder.

“What is the situation?” Padme asks.

“Almost everyone's in camps. A few hundred police and guards have formed an underground resistance movement. I brought back as many of the leaders as I could. The Federation Army's also much larger than we thought, and much stronger. Your Highness, this is a battle I do not think we can win,” Captain Panaka reports.

“The battle is a diversion. The Gungans must draw the Droid Army away from the cities,” Padme then turns to Artoo and says, “Artoo, we can enter the city using the secret passages on the waterfall side. Once we get to the main entrance, Captain Panaka will create a diversion. Then we can enter the palace and capture the Viceroy. Without the Viceroy, they will be lost and confused.”

Obi-Wan’s interest is piqued, and he sees that Master Qui-Gon is intrigued as well.

“What do you think, Master Jedi?” Padme asks.

“The Viceroy will be well guarded,” Qui-Gon warns.

“The difficulty's getting into the throne room. Once we're inside, we shouldn't have a problem,” Captain Panaka explains.

Master Qui-Gon says somberly, “There is a possibility, with this diversion many, Gungans will be killed.”

“Wesa ready to do are-sa part,” Boss Nass confirms.

“We have a plan which should immobilize the Droid Army. We will send what pilots we have to knock out the Droid control ship orbiting the planet,” Padme says confidently.

“A well-conceived plan. However, there's great risk. The weapons on your fighters may not penetrate the shields,” Qui-Gon says, not wanting them to get too confident.

“And there's an even bigger danger. If the Viceroy escapes, Your Highness, he will return with another droid army,” Obi-Wan finishes.

“Well, that is why we must not fail to get to the Viceroy. Everything depends on it.”

-SW-

Obi-Wan, Master Qui-Gon, Padme, Anakin, a handmaiden, Artoo, and about twenty guards make their way to the main hanger.

Padme uses a laser pointer to signal to another group of fighters lead by Captain Panaka. When the signal is confirmed, Qui-Gon leans over to Anakin and says “Once we get inside, you find a safe place to hide and stay there.”

“Sure,” Anakin confirms.

Despite Qui-Gon’s stern command for Anakin to stay in his safe place, Obi-Wan has a bad feeling that he won’t.

When soldiers attack the end of the hanger, distracting the droids, it is time.

They rush into the hanger, Anakin hiding behind a fighter after a reminder from Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan whirls about, deflecting blaster bolts and severing droids. He ignores the faint pain from his ribs, focusing instead on the threat.

Obi-Wan is aware of the pilots getting into their ships and taking off, but he is more focused on not getting killed. While the droids are not difficult opponents, there are many of them.

A short while later, they finish off the droids, claiming the hanger.

“My guess is the Viceroy is in the throne room,” Padme says, looking to Master Qui-Gon.

They walk past the fighter Anakin was hiding behind, finding him now in the cockpit.

“Hey! Wait for me!” Anakin exclaims.

“Anakin, stay where you are. You'll be safe there,” Qui-Gon instructs.

“But, I…” Anakin trails off.

“Stay in that cockpit.”

The group heads for the exit. Obi-Wan along with everyone else stops upon seeing the red zabrack from before standing in the doorway.

“We'll handle this…” Qui-Gon assures.

“We'll take the long way,” Padme replies, leading her group away.

Obi-Wan watches as the zabrack removes his hood, and he and Master Qui-Gon shrug off their heavy outer layer for more mobility.

The zabrack ignites his blood-red ‘saber threateningly. Obi-Wan ignites his in response, the mix of blue-green light emanating from his and Master Qui-Gon’s blades reassuring.

Obi-Wan flips over the zabrack’s head, attacking from, behind while Master Qui-Gon attacks from the fronts. The zabrack’s double-bladed ‘saber makes it easier for him to defend and attack, and must harder for Obi-Wan and his Master to land a hit.

The zabrack twists and turns, deflecting every attack with savage joy. He manages to land a kick to Master Qui-Gon’s torso, sending him sprawling.

This leaves Obi-Wan to fight to possible-sith alone. He defends himself and begins to follow the zabrack into a hall when it is his turn to go sprawling.

Panic and pain from his previously-injured side override his brain for a moment, before he manages to compartmentalize and rejoin the fight.

He runs through the doorway and finds his Master fighting the zabrack in the power generator. He rejoins, driving the zabrack towards the pit.

The zabrack snarls, then flips onto one of the catwalks, quickly followed by Obi-Wan and his Master.

They exchange savage blows on the platform before Obi-Wan is sent tumbling over the edge.

He manages to catch himself, barely, a few levels down, his whole body jarring painfully, and pulls himself up onto the catwalk. He grabs his lightsaber and Force-leaps up onto the catwalk where he sees flashes of green and red.

Once on the platform, he runs to catch up, just barely managing to get stuck on the wrong side of the red force fields.

He watches with bated breath and blood pounding in his ears, and his Master sits to meditate while the zabrack paces like a caged lion.

When the force fields deactivate, he races towards his Master and the zabrack, skidding to a halt in front of the very last force field as it reactivates.

He watches, trapped, forced to be nothing more than an observer while his Master fights this monster. The Force around him is screaming do something, do something, do something!

Yet all he can do is watch as green clashes on red and his Master’s robes swirl about him.

Suddenly, time seems to slow down, and he watches and the zabrack lunges, the red saber spearing his Master.

He watches the look of surprised pain on his Master’s face, then watches him crumple, limp to the ground.

He feels himself scream, the Force surging around him, filled with rage and pain and loss.

He feels himself laser focus on the monster, reignites his ‘saber and waits for the force field to lower because that monster can’t take his Master and not pay for it!

The force field lowers, and Obi-Wan is on the zabrack, deflecting every blow with a fury.

He severs the monster’s double ‘saber, and knocks him down. For a moment he thinks he’s won, but then the zabrack is back on his feet and fighting harder than ever.

The next thing he knows, he’s flying backward and falling down the reactor shaft, barely managing to grab onto the bulkhead protruding from the wall.

The zabrack kicks his lightsaber down the shaft, and Obi-Wan watches a part of himself fall away into nothingness.

How dare the monster take another thing away from him!

The zabrack stands and gloats, sending sparks down the shaft with his ‘saber. Obi-Wan looks over to where his Master is lying, his lightsaber beside him.

Determined, Obi-Wan used the Force to summon his Master’s saber, leaping upwards onto the platform.

He slashes the zabrack in two, blood spraying, then watches as his foe falls down the shaft in two pieces.

Obi-Wan deactivates his Master’s ‘saber and runs to where he is lying.

Obi-Wan drops the saber and cradles his Master to his chest.

“It is too late... It's…” Master Qui-Gon gasps.

“No!” Obi-Wan denies desperately, tears building in his eyes.

“Obi-Wan… I’m sorry. Promise ... promise me you'll take care of yourself…”

“Yes, Master…” Obi-Wan says tearfully.

Master Qui-Gon brings up a hand to Obi-Wan’s cheek. “You will be a great Jedi… and a great man. I’m… proud of you…” he went limp, his eyes closed.

Obi-Wan feels his Master die, his spirit going into the Force. He cradles his body and weeps.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan stands and watches as the Chancellor’s cruiser lands in the hanger.

He watches as Padme and Captain Panaka lead Nute Gunray toward the ship.

He watches as Master Yoda and several other Masters descend from the ship. He bows, automatically.

He watches; he doesn’t feel like doing much of anything.

“We are indebted to you for your bravery, Obi-Wan Kenobi,” the new Chancellor says to him, then turns to Anakin “And you, young Skywalker, we will watch your career with great interest.”

He watches as Padme congratulates the Chancellor, and how the Chancellor turns it around.

He just… watches.

-SW-

In the Nubian palace, Master Yoda paces before Obi-Wan, who is kneeling in the center of the room. The sun streams into the multi-windowed room at a low angle. It is not quite sunset.

“Confer on you, the level of Jedi Knight the Council does. But agree on you taking this boy as your Padawan learner, I do not,” Yoda says sternly.

“Qui-Gon believed in him I do as well,” Obi-Wan replies, though it pains him to say his Master’s name.

“The Chosen One the boy may be; nevertheless, grave danger I fear in his training.”

“Master Yoda, What would happen if he were not trained and someone took advantage of that? He needs training, and I will train do it. Without the approval of the Council if I must.

“Qui-Gon's defiance I sense in you. Need that, you do not. Agree with you, the Council does. Your apprentice, Skywalker will be,” Yoda decreed.

The responsibility settled over Obi-Wan, and he nodded to himself, promising that he would do what he had to.  

-SW-

Obi-Wan watches as his Master’s body goes up in flames. There are many other people there to celebrate his Master’s life, yet he has never felt more alone.

He remembers all the good times he had with his Master; all the times he has been scolder; all the lessons; the kind words; and the final moments.

I’m proud of you…

Obi-Wan is wrenched out of his thoughts by Anakin asking, “What will happen to me now?”

“The Council has granted me permission to train you. You will be a Jedi, I promise,” Obi-Wan assures him, placing a hand on Anakin’s shoulder.

The touch is not only for Anakin, but it it for Obi-Wan, too. He will remember his promise. He will take care of himself. And right now, that means taking care of Anakin.

-SW-

The days after Qui-Gon’s funeral are a whirl of change and motion. There is little time to stop and think, which suits Obi-Wan just fine at the moment, because thinking means dwelling on what happened in the Theeban power generator.

He can’t afford that right now. Right now, he needs to help Anakin settle in, because this is a big change for his young charge. Most Padawans are already well-versed in Jedi protocol by the time they are chosen by a Master because they grew up in the Temple.

Anakin knows nothing of the Jedi beyond the hearsay and legends he heard on Tatooine, and what he has seen of Obi-Wan and his Master.

In their free time, Obi-Wan has been giving Anakin lessons on the Jedi; their history, structure, and so on.

They are having one of these lessons now.

Sitting on meditation pads in their shared quarters, Obi-Wan instructs Anakin on Jedi etiquette.

“There are different ranks in the Order: Youngling, Padawan, Knight, and Master, Master being the most knowledgeable. While ‘Master’ is a rank, it is also a term of respect used to refer to anyone of a higher rank than yourself or anyone on the Council. Padawans call the Jedi training them ‘Master’ as a term of respect,” Obi-Wan explains.

Anakin nods, eyes downcast. When he begins to fiddle with the hem of his tunic, Obi-Wan knows something is wrong.

“What’s the matter, Anakin?” he asks.

“I thought… I mean…” Anakin stutters. “I am free, right?”

It takes a moment for the pieces to click together in Obi-Wan head, but when they do, the picture has him sliding off the meditation pad to kneel in front of Anakin.

“Anakin, yes, of course, you are free. I’m sorry, I didn’t think about the fact that you might have negative associations about calling someone ‘Master.’ I’m sure we can find a way around it.”

Something tight in Obi-Wan’s chest loosens a bit when Anakin’s eyes brighten and he says “really?!”

Obi-Wan smiles. “Yes. For now, why don’t you just call me Obi-Wan.”

-SW-

“Anakin, don’t do that! You’re going to—”

Boom! Smoke erupts from the blown engine of the speeder Anakin is supposedly fixing.

“Whoops?” Anakin says.

Obi-Wan rolls his eyes and smiles at the boy. “Please don’t blow us up, yet. I’d really like to finish my book first.”

Anakin giggles and says, “I won’t!”

-SW-

“Obi-Wan?”

“Yes, Anakin?”

“What is the sky doing?” Anakin asks.

Obi-Wan looks up from his mission report (the second he and Anakin had gone on together) and turns his head to the windows. He sees that Coruscant is having one of its rare storms, the ones the clog up traffic and typically make everyone irritable.

But Anakin… Anakin’s eyes are wide with wonder.

“It’s raining, Anakin. Would you like to go outside?”

Seeing Anakin light up is enough motivation for Obi-Wan to get soaked.

-SW-

Obi-Wan looks up and sees that Anakin looks morose.

“What’s the matter, Anakin?” he asks.

“I know I’m not supposed to… but I miss my mother.” The confession is quiet and sad.

“I think it is only natural for you to miss your mother,” Obi-Wan starts.

“But the Code—” Anakin interrupts.

“Anakin, you lived with your mother for nine years. She raised you and protected you on that planet. It is okay for you to miss her. And, on the matter of the Code, there is a difference between obsession and care. Can you explain them to me?”

Anakin thinks for a minute, his brow furrowed. “Obsession is when you would do anything for somebody, even bad things. Caring about somebody means you love them and would try to protect them, but wouldn’t do bad things. Is that right?”

“Yes, that is precisely it. The Code forbids the kind of relationships that could lead to obsession and the negative actions that stem from obsession, but as Jedi, we are obligated to care about all sentient beings in this galaxy. So, Anakin, it is alright for you to care for your mother, to love her, so long as you wouldn’t do terrible things for her, which she wouldn’t want you to do anyway. Do you understand that?”

Anakin nods slowly, then smiles. “Thank you, Obi-Wan! Is it alright if I comm her?”

“I think she’d like that very much, Anakin. Have fun!” Obi-Wan calls after his young apprentice who ran to the holotable as soon as Obi-Wan gave the all clear.

-SW-

Obi-Wan can’t sleep. It’s the anniversary of his Master’s death.

After tossing and turning for an hour, Obi-Wan gives up on sleep and decides to fill out reports.

Obi-Wan stands frozen behind the force field, watching as the sith guts his Master over and over. The look of pain and shock on his Master’s face burns at Obi-Wan’s soul.

Suddenly, it is not his Master being slain, but rather Anakin. Sweet, young Anakin who’s small body crumples next to his Master’s.

“You see this, Obi-Wan,” the sith hisses, “you are alone. There is no one left for you to live for. So let me kill you.”

The red force field falls and then the sith is upon him too fast for him to raise his ‘saber.

He looks down and sees a red blade running through his abdomen—

“Obi-Wan!”

He jerks awake, heart pounding in his chest and eyes bleary.

Anakin is standing before him, whole and looking frightened. “You fell asleep out here?”

Anakin gestures to the couch, worry etched in the panes of the eleven-year-old’s face.

“I was working,” Obi-Wan deflects, not wanting to explain.

Anakin seems to understand anyway, and sits down next to him and cuddles up to his side.

While Obi-Wan has been trying to teach Anakin the risks of attachment, but for the moment he is very glad for Anakin’s penchant for physical contact.

Obi-Wan wakes up on the couch the next morning, Anakin half on top of him. When he realizes that he didn’t have another nightmare, he smiles.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan is relieved to be back at the Temple. He and Anakin have just returned from settling a border dispute on Ansion, and it was more difficult than expected. Tensions in the galaxy have been rising because of the rift between the Republic and the Separatists. These tensions have been exacerbating smaller issues, which have lead to more need for Jedi involvement as peacekeepers and neutral opinions.

In short, it’s exhausting.

“Master?” Anakin interrupts Obi-Wan’s thoughts, “Can we stop at the Dining Hall?”

“As soon as we drop our things in our quarters,” Obi-Wan tells him. He watches in amusement as his gangly padawan picks up the pace, trying to shorten the time it will take to get food.

Anakin is still going through the tail end of his growth spurts, though Obi-Wan doesn’t understand how. If Anakin gets any taller, his head will start hitting the ceiling!

It is still strange that Anakin is so tall. Obi-Wan keeps looking for the young boy he knew, the one that was quite a bit shorter than him.

Dismissing these thoughts, Obi-Wan rushes after his hungry apprentice.

-SW-

They get the council summons while at the Dining Hall. Anakin looks disappointedly at the remainder of his food as he follows Obi-Wan to the Council Chambers.

Unsurprisingly, it is a mission. They have been assigned to protect Senator Amidala, the young queen they met on Tatooine, from assassins.

Obi-Wan feels Anakin’s spike of excitement upon finding out who they are guarding. Obi-Wan hides a smile behind his beard, guessing there would be opportunities to tease his Padawan in the future.

-SW-

And he was quite right. As they wait in the turbolift, Anakin fidgets and overall looks nervous.

“You seem a little on edge,” Obi-Wan points out.
“Not at all,” Anakin denies instinctively.
“I haven't felt you this tense… since we fell into that nest of gundarks.” Obi-Wan deliberately says something false hoping to get Anakin to talk more and open up.
“You fell into that nightmare, Obi-Wan… and I rescued you, remember?” Anakin scoffs.

“Oh... yes,” Obi-Wan chuckles, then goes for a more direct approach. “You're sweating. Relax. Take a deep breath.”
“I haven't seen her in ten years, Obi-Wan,” Anakin admits.

Obi-Wan pats his shoulder reassuringly. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

 

The turbolift then opens to Padme’s apartment at the 500 Republica, where they are greeted by the irritating and familiar figure of Jar-Jar Binks.

Obi! Obi! Obi! Mesa sooo smilen to see'en yousa. Wahoooooo!” Jar-Jar exclaims.
“It's Good to see you, too, Jar Jar,” Obi-Wan replies with a smile, Jar-Jar’s enthusiasm contagious.
“Oops! Wheresa mesa manners? Excuse me, Master Obi-Wan. I completely forgot myself for a moment there. I have had to learn Diplodiaclect... speak it like a native now. Don't really see the point, actually, but members of the Senate seem to prefer it…” Jar-Jar trails off when he sees Anakin behind Obi-Wan. “...and this, I take it, is your apprentice... Nooooooooo! Ani? Noooooooo! Little Bitty Ani? Nooooooo! Yousa so biggen! Yiyiyiyyi! Ani! Mesa no believen.”
“Hi, Jar Jar.” Anakin is grabbed into into a hug by Jar-Jar.

“Ani! Ani! Yiyiyiyiyiyiiii!” Jar-Jar exclaims.

Once he releases Anakin, Jar-Jar leads them to where Padme is.

“Lookie... lookie... Oops!... Oh, dear, I'm afraid I've forgotten myself again,” Jar-jar wilts a bit when he realizes that he interrupted wheat seems to be a conference between Padme and Captain Typho.
“It's a great pleasure to see you again, M'Lady,” Obi-Wan gives a bow then shakes her hand.

It has been far too long, Master Kenobi. I'm so glad our paths have crossed again... but I must warn you that I think your presence here is unnecessary,” Padme replies.
“I understand, but I'm sure the Jedi Council have their reasons,” he answers her.
Padme looks over at Anakin and startles. “Ani? My goodness, you've grown.”

Obi-Wan watches in amused silence as Anakin stammers something about Padme looking beautiful. Trying to save his Padawan, Obi-Wan interjects, “Our presence will be invisible, M'Lady.”
“I am very grateful you are here, Master Kenobi. The situation is more dangerous than the Senator will admit,” Captain Typho says.
“I don't need more security, I need answers. I want to know who is trying to kill me,” Padme insists fiercely.

“While our orders are to protect you, I think I can make some allowances for an old friend. Our top priority is your safety, but I will make some inquiries,” Obi-Wan smiles slightly, and out of the corner of his eye, he sees Anakin deflate a little as if he had been going to put up a fight.  
“Thank you, Master Kenobi. And I won’t tell if you don’t,” Padme says, her eyes sparkling despite the severity of the topic.
“If you’ll excuse us, M’lady, I’d like to check the security.”

“Of course, go ahead,” Padme says.

Obi-Wan bows then turns and walks away with Anakin. He can feel disappointment radiating off of Anakin in waves.

Once they are out of earshot, Obi-Wan asks, “What’s wrong?”

“She didn’t even recognize me, Obi-Wan!” Anakin exclaims. “I’ve thought about her for years and she forgot about me,” he finishes more quietly.

“Anakin, that’s not quite true. It took her a moment, but she did recognize you, and she was very happy to see you. Don’t focus on the negative thoughts, they aren’t helpful. And besides, we are going to be spending a great deal of time here, so there will be plenty of chances to rekindle your friendship with Padme if it is needed. Now come, we have a job to do.”

Anakin pauses a moment, smiles then follows after Obi-Wan

-SW-
Obi-Wan enters the main room of Padme’s apartment where Anakin is standing guard while Padme sleeps. Anakin startles and reaches for his lightsaber as Obi-Wan walks in, but he realizes when he sees who it is.

“Captain Typho has more than enough men downstairs. No assassin will try that way. Any activity up here?” Obi-Wan asks Anakin.

“Quiet as a tomb. I don't like just waiting here for something to
happen to her.”
“What's going on?” Obi-Wan wonders after checking the scanner that should show a picture of Padme’s room.
Anakin shrugs and says, “She covered the cameras. I don't
think she liked me watching her.”
“Fair, but what is she thinking?!”
“She programmed Artoo to warn us if there's an intruder.”
“It's not an intruder I'm worried about. There are many other ways to kill a Senator.” Obi-Wan walks over to the glass.
“I know, but we also want to catch this assassin. Don't we?”
“You're using her as bait?” Obi-Wan questions, wavering between impressing and concerned.
“It was her idea... No harm will come to her. I can sense everything going on in that room. Trust me,” Anakin assures.

“I do trust you, but it is a heavy weight for you to bear should something go wrong. Even Jedi aren’t invisible.”

Anakin slumps a little. “I know.”

“Together, then?” Obi-Wan asks.

Anakin smiles and nods.

As they wait, Obi-Wan takes the time to examine his apprentice. “You look tired,” he comments.
“I don't sleep well, anymore,” Anakin admits.
“Because of your mother?”
I don't know why I keep dreaming about her now. I haven't seen her since I was little…” Anakin sounds confused and slightly angry.

“What are your dreams about, specifically?” Obi-Wan inquires.

“There’s… always a sense of danger, urgency. My mother is lost, I can’t find her, and when I do… she’s dying, sometimes already dead.” Anakin’s voice is far off and tight with pain. Alarm bells begin to ring in Obi-Wan’s head because this sounds more like a vision than a dream.

“Anakin, when did you last speak to your mother? When did she last call you?”

Anakin frowns. “Not since before Ansion. I told her we would be away, but that she could call my private comm. I didn’t notice that she didn’t. We were so busy…”

Anakin looks to Obi-Wan with frightened eyes. “Do you think something happened to her, Obi-Wan?”

“I don’t know, Anakin. But we will find out, I promise,” Obi-Wan assures his frantic apprentice.

Just at that moment, alarm bells ring throughout the Force, spurring the two Jedi into action.

They run into Padme’s room, just in time to slice the dangerous monsters in half.

Obi-Wan, catching sight of the probe outside the window, launches himself at it.

He hangs on for dear life as the probe attempts to dislodge him. His legs dangle in thin air, thousands of feet from the ground.

The droid attempts to dislodge him again, this time with electrostatic shocks. Obi-Wan disconnects a wire on the back of the droid, trying to get it to stop, instead resulting in the blasted thing deactivating. Obi-Wan plummets, the droid dead, then reconnects the wire, sighing in relief when the droid reactivates.
The probe continues to try to be rid of him. It bumps against a wall, moves behind a speeder afterburner to scorch him, takes him wildly between buildings. Finally, the thing skims across a rooftop, forcing Obi-Wan to lift his legs to avoid being delimbed.

Suddenly, blaster shots begin flying from a speeder. “I have a bad feeling about this,” Obi-Wan mutters. At that moment, the droid gets hit and blows, sending Obi-Wan tumbling through open air.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan continues to fall until a speeder pulls up next to him, allowing him to haul himself over the side. Obi-Wan slumps into the seat next to the pilot, Anakin.
“That was wacky! I almost lost you in the traffic,” Anakin exclaims.
“What took you so long?” Obi-Wan complains.
Oh, you know, I couldn't find a speeder I really liked, with an open cockpit... and with the right speed capabilities… and then you know I had to get a really gonzo color...” Anakin says, sarcastically.
They zoom upwards in hot pursuit of the bounty hunter as they fire out the open window at them with a laser pistol.
“If you'd spend as much time working on your saber skills as you do on your wit, young Padawan, you would rival Master Yoda as a swordsman,” Obi-Wan comments.

“I thought I already did,” Anakin comments.

“Only in your mind, my very young apprentice. Careful!! Hey,  easy!” Obi-Wan clutches his seat as Anakin swerves in and out of traffic and through other tight spaces.
“Sorry, I forgot you don't like flying, Obi-Wan.”
“I don't mind flying... but what you're doing is suicide!” Obi-Wan complains, as they barely miss a commuter train.
“You know I've been flying since before I could walk. I'm very good at this.”
“Just slow down!”

They take a shortcut, but when they come out, the bounty hunter is nowhere in sight.
“Well, you lost him.”
Anakin looks a little sheepish, before looking around and seemingly spotting something. “Excuse me for a moment,” he says and leaps right out of the speeder.

Obi-Wan’s heart stutters for a moment before he sees Anakin safely landed on the bounty hunter’s speeder. “I hate it when he does that,” Obi-Wan mutters to himself.

He slides into the driver’s seat and follows the bounty hunter’s speeder. He watches as Anakin struggles with his lightsaber, he catches it as it goes flying. He sighs to himself as Anakin always seems to lose it somehow.

The speeder begins to crash, and Anakin tumbles off.

Obi-Wan lands his speeder and runs off after where he last saw Anakin. He catches him right outside a seedy looking club.
“She went into that club, Obi-Wan,” Anakin reports.
“Patience. Use the Force. Think. Why do you think he went in there?”

“To hide?” Anakin asks, “And, I think it’s a she.”

“Yes, to hide, so let’s be cautious and not just run in,” Obi-Wan instructs, “and here. Next time try not to lose it.”

Anakin nods, and they walk into the bar. Screens are playing various sports, the patrons are of all different species, and the lighting gives everything a pink hue. The Force in the room tingles with the possibility of danger, of blood, and the gluttony of the residents.

Distracted by the atmosphere, Obi-Wan says the first thing that comes to mind; “Why do I think you are going to be the death of me?!”
“Don't say that, Obi-Wan... You're the closest thing I have to a
Father.” Anakin’s tone is distressed, and Obi-Wan realizes what he said wasn’t taken lightly.
“Well, you’re my family, too. Though, I see you more as an annoying little brother who won’t listen.”

This has the desired effect of lightening the mood and Anakin laughs. “I’ll try and listen better.”

Obi-Wan smiles at him, then says “do you see her?”

“I don’t… and I think she might be a changeling.”

“Hmm, be extra careful then. Those are tricky.” Obi-Wan gestures to the room. “Check it out.”

“Where are you going, Master?” Anakin asks, confused.
“To get a drink. And to try and draw our friend out.” The last part is whispered just loud enough for Anakin to hear over the background noise of the bar.

Anakin blinks in surprise, nods, then walks off into the room.

Ignoring the hostile looks he gets from the other patrons, Obi-Wan saunters up to the bar and orders a drink.
Wanna buy some death sticks?” says a buzzing voice off to his right.
Obi-Wan looks and sees a male Balosar. He reaches into the Force and waves his fingers. “You don't want to sell me death-sticks.”
I don't want to sell you death-sticks,” the Balosar repeats.
“You want to go home and rethink your life.”
“I want to go home and rethink my life.” The Balosar wanders off, looking slightly dazed.

Obi-Wan downs his drink then signals for another one. He reaches for it when the Force blares a shrill warning in his ears. He is already slashing with his lightsaber before he has fully turned.  

The bounty hunter’s arm falls to the ground, blaster in the twitching fingers. She screams. The bar goes silent.

Anakin pops up by Obi-Wan’s side. “Easy... Jedi business. Go
back to your drinks.”

Slowly, the chatter resumes and the performers begin to play again.
Obi-Wan lifts the one-armed woman and carries her out the back entrance of the bar, Anakin by his side.

“Do you know who it was you were trying to kill?”
“The Senator from Naboo,” the bounty hunter groans.
“Who hired you?” Obi-Wan continues.
The bounty hunter glares up at them. “It was just a job.”
“Who hired you? Tell us... tell us now!” Anakin yells.
“It was a Bounty Hunter called…” before she can finish, something whizzes past Obi-Wan’s face and strikes the woman. She dies before she can even blink.

The sound of an engine breaks the silence and Obi-Wan looks up to see an armored figure fly off from a roof up above.

Obi-Wan looks back to the dead woman and pulls out a small, silver dart. “Toxic dart… come Anakin. We must let the Council know what we’ve found.”

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan and Anakin walk into the Council chambers and bow. Obi-Wan succinctly reports what has occurred, about the bounty hunter, the poison dart, and the unknown armored figure.

“Track down this bounty hunter, you must, Obi-Wan,” Master Yoda instructs.

“Most importantly, find out who he’s working for,” adds Master Windu.

Obi-Wan asks, “what about Senator Amidala? She will still need protecting.”

Master Yoda points at them, and says, “handle that, your padawan will.”

Obi-Wan startles but settles himself without revealing anything.

“Anakin, escort the Senator back to her home planet of Naboo. She’ll be safer there. And don’t use registered transport. Travel as refugees,” Master Windu instructs.

“As the leader of the opposition, it will be very difficult to get Senator Amidala to leave the capital,” Anakin says.

“Until caught this killer is, our judgment she must respect,” decrees Master Yoda, resting his head upon his clasped hands.

Master Windu leans back in his chair, looking stern. “Anakin, go to the Senate and ask Chancellor Palpatine to speak with her about this manner.”

Obi-Wan and Anakin bow again, then walk out. Once they are some distance away, Obi-Wan says “while I don’t like how close you are with the Supreme Chancellor, it is useful at times like these.”

“I still don’t understand what you have against him. I know he’s a politician, but he’s nice to me!” Anakin complains.

“I can’t quite pinpoint it, but he makes me uneasy. The Force always feels slightly off around him and I don’t know why… I’m not asking you to not be his friend. I’m just saying… please be cautious.”

Anakin sighs. “Alright, Obi-Wan. I’ll be more careful.”

“Thank you Anakin, that’s all I’m asking.”

They part ways, Anakin to go speak with the Chancellor and Obi-Wan to pack Anakin’s belonging for the trip to Naboo.

-SW-

They stand together on the shuttle watching as Padme says a tearful goodbye to her handmaiden, Dorme, and Captain Typho.

Before they leave, Obi-Wan pulls Anakin off to the side in order to speak with him.

“Anakin, I know you can handle this, but please don’t do anything rash. If you have questions or need to do something that isn’t planned, please contact me or the Council.”

The corner of Anakin’s mouth quirks up. “I will, Obi-Wan. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”

“I know,” Obi-Wan smiles. Then, to the Senator, he says, “I will get to the bottom of this plot quickly, M'Lady. You'll be back here in no time.”

“I will be most grateful for your speed, Master Jedi,” she replies, ever the proper senator.

“Time to go,” Anakin says.

Padme replies, “I know.”

As Anakin grabs the luggage, Obi-Wan repeats a familiar saying. “May the Force be with you.”

“May the Force be with you, Obi-Wan,” Anakin replies before walking off with the Senator towards the giant starfreighter.

Obi-Wan blows out a quiet sigh and mutters “I hope he doesn't try anything foolish.”
“I'd be more concerned about her doing something than him,” Captain Typho says.

Obi-Wan does not find that reassuring at all.

-SW-

Back in the Temple, Obi-Wan heads to the Analysis Room with the mysterious dart. When the analysis droid has nothing useful to tell him, he decides to go see Dex. Dex is an archive in and of himself, sometimes knowing things that even the Temple Archives lack.

While he is in his airspeeder, navigating the Coruscant traffic, he gets a call on his Comm. He puts it on and is surprised to see Anakin. His apprentice looks disheveled and strands from his braid are loose, meaning he just woke up.

“Hello, Anakin,” Obi-Wan greets.

Not bothering with formalities, Anakin frantically says, “Obi-Wan, the dreams are getting worse and Mom still isn’t answering my calls! I even tried the Lars and they didn’t answer!”

“Anakin, take a deep breath. We’ll figure it out.”

Once Anakin took an exaggerated breath and seemed to settle some, Obi-Wan says, “What is the Force telling you? Without the worry you have from the dreams, can you sense anything amiss?”

Anakin closes his eyes for a moment, his blue form glitching, then sighs. “I feel… apprehension, concern. Fear.” Anakin looks at Obi-Wan. “And that time is running out.”

“We should send someone to check on your mother,” Obi-Wan decides. “Your senses definitely seem to be telling you that something is wrong.”

“Who can we send? I’m with Padme and you’re busy trying to find the bounty hunter!” Anakin frets.

“I’ll handle it, Anakin. Don’t worry.”

Anakin sighs. “Okay, Obi-Wan. May the Force be with you.”

“And with you.”

Obi-Wan drove the rest of the way to Dex’s in contemplative silence.

-SW-
In the afternoon light, this section of Coruscant does not look all that pleasant, but Obi-Wan is glad to be here. Despite the old building, warehouses, and scratched speeders, he is going to see an old friend, at a place that is quite familiar.

He has not been in quite some time, with various obligations stopping him from coming, but really he must find time to bring Anakin.

When he sees the sign that says Dex’s Diner, he smiles and goes inside. The waitress is new, he hasn’t met her before, and as such, she is wary of him. What is a jedi doing in this part of town?

“Can I help ya?” she asks,
“I'm looking for Dexter,” Obi-Wan responds.

He can sense her suspicion, both from the way she feels in the Force and the way her eyes narrow.
“Waddya want him for?”
“He's not in trouble. It's personal. I’m an old friend.” Obi-Wan hopes this will help set her at ease, but it doesn’t seem to much.

After a moment, she goes to the hatch behind the counter and says, “Someone to see ya, honey. A Jedi, by the looks of him.”

A large familiar head pokes out and smiles. “Obi-Wan!” Dex exclaims.
“Hey, Dex,” Obi-Wan smiles.
“Take a seat! Be right with ya!” Dex urges, and Obi-Wan complies.
“You want a cup of ardees?” the waitress asks and Obi-Wan gives his ascent. She bustles off, and Dex appears, beaming.

“Hey, ol' buddy!”
“Hey, Dex.”
Dex eases himself into the booth and says, So, my friend. What can I do for ya?”
“You can tell me what this is.” Obi-Wan places the dart on the table between them. This is a familiar exchange, Dex knowing quite a lot (he runs an information business on the side. Obi-Wan can get information from Dex, but never a source) and sometimes being willing to share.

“Well, whattaya know…” Dex says, his eyes wide. He carefully picks up the dart and looks at it. ”I ain't seen one of these since I was prospecting on Subterrel beyond the Outer Rim!”
“Do you know where it came from?” Obi-Wan questions.

Dex grins and puts the dart down. Obi-Wan can tell his friend does know. “This baby belongs to them cloners. What you got here is a Kamino Kyberdart.”
“Kamino Kyberdart... I wonder why it didn't show up in any analysis archive.”
“It's these funny little cuts on the side give it away… Those analysis droids you've got over there only focus on symbols, you know. I should think you Jedi would have more respect for the difference between knowledge and wisdom.” There is a slight edge to Dex’s tone.
“Well, Dex, if droids could think, we wouldn't be here, would we?” Obi-Wan chuckles. Sobering, he says, “Kamino... doesn't sound familiar. Is it part of the Republic?”
“No, it's beyond the Outer Rim. I'd say about twelve parsecs outside the Rishi Maze, toward the south. It should be easy to find, even for those droids in your archive to find. Those Kaminoans keep to themselves. They're cloners. Damned good ones, too.” Dex informs.
“Cloners? Are they friendly?” Obi-Wan asks, holding the dart.
“It depends,” Dex says critically.
“On what, Dex?” Obi-Wan asks.
Dex grins and says, “On how good your manners are… and how big your pocketbook is…”

-SW-

Obi-Wan stands in the Jedi Archives, studying a bust of Count Dooku, waiting for Master Jocasta Nu to come and assist him.

Obi-Wan usually loves the Archives, so full of information and learning, but he is to occupied with thoughts of what to do about Anakin’s mother that he can’t enjoy it.

Master Nu startles him out of his thoughts when she says “Did you call for assistance?”
“Yes... yes, I did…” Obi-Wan replies distractedly.
“Are you having a problem, Master Kenobi?” Master Nu asks kindly.
“Yes, I'm trying to find a planet system called Kamino.” They walk over to one of the monitors. “It doesn't seem to show upon any of the archive charts.”

Kamino? It's not a system I'm familiar with... Let me see…” As she leans over his shoulder, she continues “Are you sure you have the right coordinates?”
Obi-Wan nods. “According to my information, it should be in this quadrant somewhere... just south of the Rishi Maze.” He points to the screen.

Master Nu taps the keyboard and the screen comes up blank. “I hate to say it, but it looks like the system you're searching for doesn't exist.”
“Impossible... perhaps the archives are incomplete,” Obi-Wan insists.

“If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist!” Master Nu walks off in the closest thing to a huff a Jedi Master can manage.

Obi-Wan stares after her then looks back at the map pensively.

Deciding there is nothing more of use for him here, Obi-Wan goes off to find Master Yoda.
-SW-

Obi-Wan walks into the training room and sees Master Yoda with the younglings. He is advising them as they deflect stinging bolts from training droids without their eyes.

When he notices Obi-Wan, Master Yoda pounds his gimmer stick on the floor. “Younglings, a visitor we have.”

“Hello, Master Obi-Wan,” the children chorus.
“Hello,” Obi-Wan says to the children, “I am sorry to disturb you, Master.”
“What help to you, can I be?” Master Yoda asks.
“I’m looking for a planet described to me by an old friend. I trust him. But the system doesn’t show up on the archive maps,” Obi-Wan explains.

“Hmm… lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing, how embarrassing!” Master Yoda says for the benefit of the children, and they all giggle.
After the shades have been drawn by a youngling, Master Yoda says, “Gather round the map reader, younglings. Clear your minds. And find Obi-Wan wayward planet, we will.”

In the dark room, the holographic planets fill the space. Obi-Wan walks through the projection and points to a blank area on the map. “This is where it ought to be...but it isn’t. Gravity is pulling all the stars in this area inward to this spot. There should be a star here... but there isn’t.”
“Most interesting. Gravity’s silhouette remains, but the star and all its planets have disappeared. How can this be?” Master Yoda asks the children.

After a moment of silence and some more prompting from Master Yoda a child says, “Because someone erased it from the
archive memory.”
Master Yoda chuckles. “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is. Uncluttered. To the center of the pull of gravity go, and find your planet you will.”
As they walk away from the children, Master Yoda remarks, “The data must have been erased.”

Obi-Wan asks, “But Master Yoda who could have erased information from the archives? That’s impossible, isn’t it?”
“Dangerous and disturbing, this puzzle is. Only a jedi could have erased those files. But who? And why? Harder to answer. Meditate on this, I will.”

Taking that as the end to the conversation, Obi-Wan bows and walks away.