Down the slopes, she could see her village, nestled on the mountain face. No one was out, as it was still early in the morning, but she thought she could see a few lights in the windows. The thought cheered her, as she was in need of a hot drink. She was chilled to the bone and thoroughly tired of her journey. She dug her ankles into the mankei's side and it broke into a trot for a moment then resolved its trudge downwards. Kavii sighed again, but accepted her fate. It would probably only take an hour or so to reach the village at this rate, anyway, she thought.
Thunder rolled over head, which was a little odd for the season and the time of day. It was certainly cloudy, although no where near cloudy enough for thunder. The mankei, sensing the storm, sped up slightly. Suddenly lightning crackled. Startled, Kavii looked up to see that the clouds, gray only a second ago where now dark black. Worse, there were touches of green, meaning a tornado. The wind was picking up as well, and the mankei was having problems fighting the strong gusts. Kavii dismounted and led the mankei by the reins, having trouble keeping her footing herself. Thunder crackled again, and with a scream, she lost her grip on the ground completely and was shoved over the edge.
Dimly, on the edge of her awareness, she could tell that her mankei had also been pushed over the cliff, but all her focus was narrowed onto keeping her hold on the small tree that kept her from plummeting straight down. She tried to climb back up the couple feet of cliff to the pass, but the rock was growing slippery with the rain that pelted down. She was also having trouble with her grip on the tree. It was losing its roots, bending under the burden of the extra weight. Nearly frantic, Kavii clawed at the rock, the tree, but neither were any help. With a swift crack, the tree snapped in two. Kavii slipped and fell.
Kavii groaned as she woke up slowly. She could tell she was home, in her bed. The mattress was soft and rustled the way she remembered, she could smell her mother's home cooking. She smiled, and opened her eyes.
And received a stinging slap across the face.
"She's awake!" screamed her mother, on the other side of the room. Standing over her bed was Manna, the village healer. He slapped her again, and she sat up.
"What was that for?" she demanded. Her tongue felt odd, and her voice seemed too loud. There was a strange buzz in her head, she couldn't concentrate properly.
"The monster's awake!" her mother screamed again. It was then that Kavii realised her mother was dressed in red, mourning red. And her hair was loose--something she rarely did.
"What?" Kavii tried to get up from her back, but Manna smacked her again.
"I will banish her spirit back to the other world, don't worry, Magneh," Manna said, addressing Kavii's mother. He raised his arm to smack her again, but she ducked, and got out of the bed.
"What are you all screaming about?" Kavii yelled. "I'm not a ghost!"
"You are!" screamed her mother. "You're dead! You've been dead two days! You're DEAD!"
Kavii stopped her tracks, stunned. "You..you can't be serious!"
Manna clipped her on the side of the head again. "Begone, spirit!" he yelled. She spun from the blow and collapsed to her knees, clutching her head.
"It won't leave the body," Manna said with a sneer.
"What can we do?" sobbed Kavii's mother.
"Send the body out--it's the only option." Manna replied. Snatching a length of rope from one of the shelves, he leapt at Kavii and bound her hands together. She tried to struggle against him, but she was too weak, and he was too determined. He hauled her to her feet and dragged her out the door.
It was bright outside, noon at least, and the fog had lifted. Kavii squinted in the sudden light. She heard screams and yelling around her. The voices were ones she had known all her life. Forcing her eyes to open all the way, she saw that the entire village was gathered around her and Manna. Some of them held stones. She winced in anticipation.
Suddenly somebody pushed their way through the crowd. It was a trader from the lowlands, come to trade for the village crafts. He was tall and green skin and haired, but otherwise he looked like a normal person. Normal for the Kintari, of which the villagers were. Kavii had heard of people who didn't look like people at all, but she had never seen one herself, not in all her years of trading, but then, she had never ventured near to the cities.
The trader looked angry. "What are you doing here?" he demanded, scowling. His accent was atrocious, but understandable.
"None of your business," Manna snapped.
"I'm making it my business." the trader replied. He took a more solid stance as if to communicate that he wasn't going any where until he had some answers.
"It's a demon," supplied someone in the back of the crowd. The trader laughed. Unpleasantly. As much as Kavii was gratefully for the interruption of her abuse, she still didn't like his tone of voice, insinuating something she couldn't put her finger on.
"A demon? You peasants still believe in demons?" he said, grinning.
So that was it. He thought they were foolish, and simple- minded, she thought, watching everything carefully.
Manna was furious. "You have no right to judge us or interfere!" he screamed. The trader lost his smile, and drew his gun.
"It may not be my right, but I'm making it my privilege. Let the woman go." He waved the gun menacingly towards Kavii and she flinched momentarily, without thinking.
Manna seemed about to refuse immediately, but something occurred to him. He shoved Kavii over to the trader, who caught her and helped her up.
"Fine, take it," Manna snapped, turning and leaving without a second glance. "It's your problem now."
"So your name is Kavie?" the trader, Nameh, asked. She nodded, chewing the ration he had given her. The pronunciation wasn't quite correct, but to tell him so might provoke him. Although he had been very kind to her, she had seen his furious temper, directed at the first mate of his ship. Any one who treated co-workers like that was someone to be wary of, in Kavii's opinion. The first mate, another green person, sat sullenly in the corner, watching them out of the corner of his eye.
She took another bite of her ration. The rations were helping sooth the buzz in her head, and she could almost think to herself again. The trader smiled, and patted her on the knee, which she thought was rather odd but perhaps some green person way of showing affection. He turned around and walked up to the cock-pit, and started to help with the piloting. The co-pilot still seemed tense, and Kavii watched as Nameh seemed to make jokes and try and put the first mate at ease. It didn't seem to be working, but maybe the trader wasn't as bad as she was worried he was.
He turned in her direction, and said something in his own language that she didn't catch, all the while making a gesture towards her. Now the co-pilot laughed, and laughed too hard for a simple joke like that, Kavii thought to herself. The co-pilot seemed to be regarding her with something in mind, perhaps he was waiting for her to join in the conversation. That was what happened in the village, when new visitors came. They were encouraged to speak, to make them feel more at home.
"I am sorry that I do not have much desire to talk, right now," she said finally. The two laughed. The first trader squinted as he tried to figure out what she was saying; apparently her accent wasn't great either. She tried again: "Perhaps I will be better company after I have had a bit of sleep."
"It's okay," he said finally, glancing at the co-pilot, and suddenly smacking him. Kavii was a bit stunned, but the co-pilot uttered something in his own language and turned to face the console again.
"I want to thank you, again, for saving me," Kavii said. The trader didn't reply, but smiled, stared at her for a moment, smiled again, broader this time, then turned and concentrated on his flying.
"Here we are, home sweet home." Nameh led Kavii off the ship with an elaborate bow.
"Where are we?" she asked, her mouth open in shock at her surroundings. She had never seen anything more incredible in her life. The large room that he had flown the "ship" into was huge, almost the size of her entire village, but it was made of a dirty beige rock, that was perfectly smooth, and perhaps even white at one time or another. Her nose wrinkled momentarily in disgust before she caught herself, and stopped. The trader laughed.
"We are in the port of Demain." Nameh replied, motioning a droid over to unload his cargo. Kavii watched in fascination as the small metal being shuffled over, grabbed the cargo, and started shuffling out the door. Nameh continued. "I have an apartment a couple blocks over from here. You can stay there."
Kavii was reluctant to accept, as she did not want to owe him more than she already did. It took her a second to realise that he had not asked to her stay, he had told her. Nameh took her by the arm and led her out of the port.
The bar was open, even at this late hour. In fact, it was packed, the tables all filled--that is, except for the tables surrounding a lone figure in the corner. People were avoiding the area, the gossip was that there was a Jedi sitting there, a Jedi in a bad mood. No more needed to be said.
Obi-wan Kenobi nursed his ale, watching the patrons swirling around him, avoiding his corner. He heard all the rumours concerning him, his Force-enhanced hearing catching every word. He didn't listen in on the patrons' conversations, of course, but when they said the word "Jedi" his attention picked up. Cocktail Syndrome, he supposed.
The rumours were all false, of course, as he would no more disturb any of the people here out of a bad mood than spontaneously combust on command. He just couldn't do it. Any impulse to do such a thing had been trained out of him, even if he had possessed such an urge in the first place. No, he was harmless, unless provoked. He took a sip of his ale, and watched the new customers stroll in, notice him, and in some cases, stroll right back out. He smiled, it was fun in an odd sort of way.
A trader, a green Makarin, swaggered in, bragging about the new "conquest" of his. Kenobi rolled his eyes. Makarins were notorious braggarts and chauvinists. Deciding that he had spent enough time relaxing he tried to turn his thoughts back to his mission. He didn't really want to think about it, that was why he had come to the bar for the evening in the first place.
The mission wasn't working out too well, even though he was trying his hardest, and he hated the thought of having to go to Master Qui-Gon Jinn and report failure. But as he was failing, and he couldn't really see any other option. He was nearly finished his ale, and realised he was going have to decide: get another, or leave, and head back to the room he had rented. He finished up his ale in another gulp, and started out for the hostel when he got a sudden rush of the Force. He was nearly staggered, and sat down, hard at the bar.
"Something wrong?" the bartender asked, idly wiping the counter. Kenobi shook his head no. The sensation passed as quickly as it had come, and he slowly got up. He passed the green Makarin as he left, and the feeling returned, although not as strong. Could he be a Jedi? Kenobi wondered, curious. But after sending out a tendril of the Force to the trader and getting no response, he decided that the Makarin wasn't. He left the bar.
Kavii was sitting looking out the apartment windows when Nameh walked in, slamming the door loudly behind him. The moment he stumbled she realised he was completely drunk, she had often seen men in the village, women too, so inebriated that they could barely walk straight. She stood up, growing anxious. Something was telling her to get away from him, and all her previous concerns and worries were coming back to her full force.
He sauntered over to her, and pulled her against him. She struggled, pushing him away and he smacked her.
"You owe me," he snarled, "you even said so yourself."
Kavii knew she had said no such thing, and obviously did not mean anything like this in any case, backed herself up against the wall, hoping to make a get-away the moment the opportunity arose. He smiled nastily and started towards her. She tried not to panic, her heart was pounding and the buzz in her head was at an infuriating level. Some part of her brain was screaming at her to get out of the way, to not let him near her, but she was frozen. She had been warned all her life about the strangers from off the planet.
Nameh pressed up against her, his stinking breath in her face. She thought she was going to pass out, but she didn't and struggled instead. " Get away from me!" she screamed. She tried to punch him, but he grabbed her by the wrist. He was far stronger than her. In a swift instant, he had twisted her around, so that her arm felt like it was being pulled from her socket.
Kenobi was on his way back to the hostel where he was staying when suddenly he very nearly blacked out. It was as though the Force had struck him on the back of the head with a mallet. He was literally stunned, and had to lean against a nearby wall, his ears ringing.
Twice in one day, he thought. This isn't coincidence, there must be a very strong Jedi in the area. As soon as he was able, he raced off to find the source of the strange emanations. He cleared his mind, and let the Force guide him to where he needed to go. He was quickly led to an apartment building, where a small crowd had gathered.
"What's going on?" he asked. The sensations from the crowd were mostly curiosity.
"There was an explosion," volunteered a small furry Memmon. "The police are on their way, now."
"How do you know that?" asked the Memmon's second head. "You're just assuming."
"Well, they would be, wouldn't they?" argued the third head. Kenobi decided to get some information for himself. He started to get closer to the building when somebody stopped him.
"You can't go in there!" the man snapped. "A bomb went off..." he trailed off, and Kenobi realised he had seen the Jedi's lightsaber. "Of course, you can go in, sir." the man quickly added, pointing to the course through the rubble. Kenobi nodded thanks, then headed off, picking his way around the concrete boulders, all that was left of the right side of the building. He closed his eyes, sensing for life amid the destruction. He picked up something faint, then a sudden brilliance from behind his eyes. He gasped: it was the same feeling he had been experiencing all day. He rushed as far as he could in the direction of the life signs, but he was stopped when he came to the elevator shaft. The lift was broken at the bottom, and he was sure that the people still alive were on the third (and uppermost) floor. He looked up the empty and shaft, and decided there was nothing else he could do. Gathering his concentration, he jumped.
He managed to grab a hold on the edge of the lift platform, and hauled himself up. Dusting off his brown robes, he managed a smirk as he peered over the edge and looked down the three storeys.
He quickly started to make his way through what was left of the penthouse apartment. This was obviously the location of the explosion, and Kenobi had a sinking feeling it was the wielder of the Force that caused this much damage. A dark Jedi was not something Kenobi was looking forward to finding. Somebody groaned nearby; the sound was coming from under a patch of rubble from the caved in ceiling. Kenobi dug frantically, using the Force to push the larger boulders out of the way, until he uncovered most of a young woman. She was Kintari, a remote native of this planet, her bright, multi-coloured hair gave her away. She was still alive, and clearly the source of the Force that Kenobi had been sensing. Even with out reaching out he could feel her presence, although her intensity was dying down. She didn't seem that hurt, but she may have had internal injuries, so he got her out as carefully as he could. There was another groaning sound, this time from the opposite side of the room, so Kenobi made the woman as comfortable as possible before starting on the other person.
This person was only partially buried. It was the drunk Makarin from the bar, and the Jedi had a sinking feeling he knew what had happened. If a exceptionally Force-strong but untrained woman thought her life was in danger from this trader, it could well explain the explosion of the Force Kenobi had sensed. Just then a group of uniformed officers burst in. "There's two wounded," Kenobi said, standing up. The lead officer's gaze drifted to the Jedi's lightsaber and he bowed slightly. Kenobi nodded and pointed to the woman and the trader. The police nodded and used his comm to ask the medics to get up to the upper level. Kenobi started to leave, but one officer grabbed his arm.
"Excuse me, sir," he said, in a hushed voice. Kenobi was momentarily startled, but all the man did was ask: "How exactly did you get up here, sir? We have to use the climbing cables!" Kenobi just smiled enigmatically and left.
"So, you see, sir, I haven't found any trace of the Bakkamiru yet, but--" Kenobi was cut off by the image of his Master, Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn, waving his hand.
"Nothing is more important than this, Obi-wan. I thought you could handle this mission by yourself." Jinn seemed disappointed. Kenobi hoped that the humilation that he was feeling didn't travel as well through the holo-message as well as his Master's disappointment.
"But, Master, I have been looking as hard as I can--" he said, trailing off.
"Maybe that's the problem. Perhaps you just aren't ready." Qui-Gon frowned, as if he hadn't considered that option yet.
"No, I can do it, I just need a little time." Kenobi pleaded. He did not want to beg, but humiliation at not completing his mission was already burning on his cheeks.
Jinn seemed to contemplate his pupil for a moment. "Fine. I will give you an extra three days. But then you must report back to Coruscant."
"Thank you, Master," Kenobi said gratefully, dipping his head. Jinn bowed in return, then ended the transmission.
Kenobi sighed, then sat down on one of the hostel's pitiful chairs. He was relieved that Jinn trusted him enough to let him stay here, apprentice though he was. It was against the Code to let Kenobi do the mission by himself, but, well, Jinn had never been good at following regulations.
He leaned back, trying to think of what to do next. He had tried to pick up local dirt to find any rumours that might be useful, but hadn't found anybody who was willing to trust him. He needed...suddenly he perked up. He needed a local! And he knew someone with whom he had enough leverage that he just might get the information he needed. Picking up his robe that he had flung over the bed, he rushed out the door and down to the hospital.
Kavii came to abruptly and with a gasp. She last remembered being accosted by Nameh, but now she was in a long room, filled with beds. She was hooked up to a strange machine. People milled around her, all sorts of strange people, and a few droids.
She recognised the droids as droids now, and not as metal people, but they didn't look like any she had seen before. She tried to sit up, but her headache exploded and she gasped and lay down again. The buzz was steady and frustrating, but somehow was not as strong as before. Perhaps it was a strange form of hay fever. She would ask one of the healers.
She tried to sit up again, slowly. She looked around for someone that looked familiar, or at least another of her own species, but no one seemed to know her.
"The corpse is this way, Doctor," called one voice, a female of the species that Nameh was. Kavii recoiled automatically as the woman approached. The woman, a nurse, stopped as she got to Kavii's bed. "That's not possible." the nurse said to the droid, losing all the colour from her face.
Kavii felt a cold hand reach around her heart. She remembered the faces, the voice of her family and of the villagers. She remembered the stinging slaps of the healer trying to drive the "demon" out. She remembered the trader, and his treatment of her. Stifling a scream, she launched herself out of the bed and ran down the corridor.
"Come back here!" the nurse called, but Kavii didn't even turn around. She pushed her way through orderlies and droids, not knowing where she was going, only knowing she had to get away, and get back to her village, or another like it. She needed to get out of here. She crashed into someone who was running from the other direction and they went down in a tumble of arms and legs.
"You!" screamed the other person. It was the trader. "I'll get you for what you did--you cost me my hand!" he yelled, waving the mechanical hand at her. She screamed, horrified, not having seen a person with mechanical parts before. Nameh brought the heavy mech hand crashing down on her head, but she managed to twist out of the way. She tried to scramble across the slick tiled floor, but Nameh grabbed her by the ankles. She screamed again, kicking with her free foot. One of her frantic kicks connected with Nameh's nose, gushing blood. He howled and tried to grab her other leg.
The security now made an entrance, bursting through the double doors. "Stop!" the lead guard yelled. "Leave her alone!"
" No!" Nameh screamed. "She cost me my hand!"
Two guards started forwards, ready to pry him loose when he managed to grab Kavii's other leg. She was pinned.
Obi-wan Kenobi was just inquiring at the front desk about the casualties brought in this morning when he heard the hysterical screams. Ignoring the nurse's protests, he shot off toward the sound, drawing his lightsaber. He emerged in a corridor, crowded with guards, surrounding the man and the woman he had found earlier. The trader had the woman pinned and was trying to reach her neck. She screamed and Kenobi felt the Force build up around her. "Get down!" he yelled to the guards, diving to the floor, but they weren't quick enough.
The explosion was not a burst of light. There was no sound. But there was a rush of air as all the guards and the trader were suddenly flung away, like rag dolls. They landed, many with loud crunches, on the tile floor.
Kenobi was up in a second, lightsaber drawn, but the woman was still on the floor. She looked as if she was about to cry, but she also seemed terrified.
She doesn't know about the Force, Kenobi realised. He shut down the lightsaber, and took a cautious step towards her.
"He was trying to kill me," she said with a sob. She held her head in her hands, wincing. "He was going to kill me."
Kenobi looked over at the trader who was lying with his neck at an odd angle. "I don't think you have to worry about him," he said dryly. He held out a hand. "Come on. I'll help you up."
She looked at him, fear radiating her almost visibly. "It will be alright." he said as comfortingly as he could.
She took his hand, reluctantly, and he pulled her to her feet. She seemed shaken as she surveyed the damage done. "I did this?" she asked, in a hushed whisper. She didn't seem to be expecting an answer, so Kenobi just squeezed her hand comfortingly.
He started to lead her back into the hospital, but she stopped and refused to move. "I'm not going back," she said forcefully.
"They can help you," Kenobi answered, confused. "You may have internal injuries."
"No," the woman said again, defiance burning in her eyes. The Force was building up around her again, so Kenobi decided to humour her. For the moment.
"Okay," he said slowly. "I can take you back to your home."
"No," she replied, shaking her head. Her long rainbow coloured hair flew about her shoulders. She looked up at him and he realised for the first time that her eyes were rainbow coloured as well, tiny flecks of every colour from red to violet. "I have no home."
Guards were starting to pour in again, drawing their weapons as they saw the damage. "It's all right," Kenobi called. "I've got it under control."
"Are you a Jedi?" one of them asked.
"Yes," he replied, he hoped not too quickly. Somehow, "sort of" didn't sound like a good response.
"We need to take this woman down to the station for questioning." another said, stepping forward. The woman ducked behind Kenobi, clutching his hand tighter.
"I can take care of her," he said, squeezing back reassuringly. He had a feeling that a woman like this with so much ability, needed Jedi training, as soon as possible.
The guard didn't seem convinced, until Kenobi used a little bit of the Force to make him see the light.
"I suppose that will be okay," the guard said reluctantly, "If you're a Jedi."
"Thank you," Kenobi said. He led the woman out, carefully avoiding the bodies littering the corridor.
"So I guess you can stay here for the moment," Kenobi said, leading her into his room. "I'll go see about getting your own room, okay?"
She nodded, and sat down on the bed, looking around her with great curiosity. Kenobi was nearly out of the room when he stopped and turned.
"You know," he began, a bit embarrassed, "I never got your name."
"Kavii," she said brightly.
"Kavie? I'm Obi-wan Kenobi," he replied, extending a hand. She looked at the hand with confusion, and he withdrew it, somewhat abashedly.
"Very nice to meet you, Obi-wan Kenobi. But it's not `Kavie', it's Kavii," she corrected.
"Kavie." he tried again.
She shook her head.
"Kavi-i," she said, pronouncing it slowly.
"Kavii," he said. She smiled, and he smiled back. He suddenly became self-conscious and ducked back out into the corridor of the hostel. She smiled to herself, and wrapping herself up in the robe he had lent her, fell asleep.
Kenobi stretched, trying to get used to sleeping on the floor. He had done it enough during his training, but once you get used to sleeping on a soft bed, then that's it. Half of him wished there had been an empty room at the Hostel, but the other half was Making Do. Rolling over, he tried to sleep, resting his head on his arm, when he suddenly noticed Kavii was peeking over the side of the bed at him.
"Yes?" he asked, a bit amused.
"Why are you helping me?" she asked quietly.
Kenobi propped himself up on his elbow. "I think you have great potential in the Force," he admitted. "I'm going to take you to my Master, so he can train you in the ways of the Jedi."
"Oh." She looked at him curiously. "Can you do what I do? Are you a demon too?"
He laughed. "I'm no demon, and neither are you, but yes, I can use the Force."
"I am a demon," she said sadly. "That's what the healer said. They drove me out from my village."
Kenobi sat fully up, and took her hand, patting it gently. "Don't worry," he said, "no one is ever going to do that to you again. Now, get some sleep, and maybe you can help me in the morning."
"I don't know anybody called Bakkamiru," Kavii said as they ate breakfast.
"It's not a person, it's a race. They're roughly human, but dark grey." Kenobi said, spreading jam on his biscuit.
"Dark grey?" Kavii asked. "Like rock?"
"I suppose so."
Kavii looked thoughtful. "You know, when I was on a trading mission I heard stories of a people who lived in the Glowing Mountains that were made of rock. Perhaps those are the people you're looking for."
"Perhaps so," Kenobi mused, growing excited. "If an isolated people with no off world contact came across the Bakkamiru, they might, just might, think they were rocks." Finishing off his breakfast, he started to clear the debris away to the garbage. "How far is it to Glowing Mountain?"
"Two days by foot, one by mankei," Kavii replied.
He smiled. "Good. That's the best lead I've gotten so far."
"I don't think I like mankeis that much," Kenobi admitted, looking a little uncomfortable. Kavii smiled.
"You look a little green," she agreed. "Never ridden?"
"I've not ridden something like this," Kenobi admitted, referring to the mankei's loping, unsteady gait. "It's like being on a speeder without shocks."
"A what? A speeder?" Kavii asked, starting again down the steep mountain trail. "I've never heard of an animal like that. Why would it shock you?"
Kenobi laughed, but abruptly stopped as his own mankei followed Kavii's forward. "I see you haven't explored outside of your village much," Kenobi said.
" I've been to many places," Kavii replied, sounding hurt. "I try to avoid offworlder places. I've heard they can be rough." She spurred her mankei and it shot forward before resuming its steady pace, but she was now a few meters ahead of Kenobi. He instantly regretted his remark, it had been meant as a joke, nothing more, but he could see it had hurt her feelings. Gulping, he spurred his own animal forward.
The result was unexpected. Instead of only taking him up a few meters, like Kavii's, the animal reared. Kenobi was thrown off, hitting the ground hard. He had only a second to recover before he had to roll to get out of the way of the animal's hooves, which came crashing about him.
He tried to use the Force as calming the animal down, but the try only caused the mankei to become even more frantic. Kenobi rolled again, and by accident hit his head on one of the out-cropping rocks.
Once the stars cleared, he looked up to see Kavii holding on to the mankei's reins, murmuring softly to it in her native language to calm it down. It gradually quieted, sighing softly as she petted its muzzle and scratched behind its ears. She turned to Kenobi and held her hand out. He took it, and she hauled him up. "Don't spur pregnant mares," she said, still patting the shaggy beast. "It makes them nervous."
"So I see," Kenobi said awkwardly. He dusted off his robes. "Uh, Kavii--"
"Yes?" she asked, handing him the reins and turning back to her own steed.
"I just wanted to apologise. I shouldn't have said what I did. I've been treating you badly, I'm sorry."
She looked shocked. "You haven't been treating me badly! You have been the kindest person I know. I'm grateful I can repay all that you've done for me." She suddenly looked ashamed and a little horrified, and turned away. Kenobi felt a little awkward himself.
"Well," he said, mounting the mankei, patting it gently the whole time. "How much longer, do you think?"
"Another hour, maybe more. Hopefully the fog will stay light." she called back to him.
"Isn't it better to hope for no fog at all?" he asked.
Now it was her turn to laugh. "That would be a foolish hope, Obi-wan Kenobi."
Suddenly, the dense forest they had been walking through gave way to a spectacular panorama of a mountain valley, shrouded in silver fog, the tall peaks reaching beyond the clouds. Kenobi tried not to gasp as he saw the view. She looked over at him, smiling, the mountain breeze ruffling her hair, making her look like the warrior women of the old stories. He caught himself staring, and looked away.
"Smell the air," she said, taking a deep breath. "The mint is out."
He could smell mint on the air, a faint trace.
"This is remarkable," he said.
She smiled, a little sadly. "Yes, it is, isn't it."
"There," she said, suddenly reining in her mankei. "Look, to the west, past the trees. The Glowing Mountain."
Kenobi did look, and saw something completely different sight than Kavii: she saw a mystical glowing mountain, he saw a volcano.
"Of course," the Jedi said. "What better place than to set up a camp here? No local would go near it."
Kavii looked a little awe-struck. She had obviously never seen the glowing mountain for herself. The mankeis, smelling the sulphur in the air, shied away. Kenobi dismounted, and walked to the edge of the cliff. He was trying to make out any signs of encampments or of Bakkamiru themselves, but his Force-enhanced sight couldn't make out anything but the lava rivers and pools on the volcano's slope.
He looked over the side of the cliff. It was a sheer drop of about five storeys. The valley was relatively clear from then on in, he would have no problem traversing it. He turned to Kavii.
"I must thank you again for the help you've given me, but I'm afraid this is where we must part." he said apologetically.
"What? Why?" she exclaimed.
"I cannot ask you to follow me now. This is my own mission; I cannot endanger any one else. Thank you, again, for your help, Kavii." he said, with a small smile. He unhooked a length of rope from his belt, and tied it to a sturdy tree slightly overhanging the cliff.
"You cannot ask me?" she said, incredulously.
"No," he replied honestly.
"Then I volunteer," she said bluntly, dismounting from her own mankei. "There is nothing else for me to do, and besides, you need me."
"Oh?" Kenobi looked up. "Do I?"
"Yes," she replied, smiling. "How will you find your way back? What will you eat? What will happen if you get hurt? Or get caught in a storm? Or--"
Kenobi held up his hand, laughing. "I get the point. Fine, you can come, but I may need you to stay behind if we find the base here."
"I understand." she said, nodding. She regarded him curiously. "What are you going to do with the rope?"
"Jump." he replied, enjoying the look of shock on her face. He secured the rope to his belt.
"Jump? Down there?"
"Know a better way?" he asked.
She was silent, looking at him as if he was insane. Finally she shrugged. He held out his free arm, the other hand clutching the rope. When she didn't move, he gestured towards him. She walked closer, and he got his arm around her waist.
"Put your arms around my neck," he said. "Now, hold on tight."
She nodded, squeezing her eyes tight. He took two steps backward, then jumped.
Kavii screamed slightly, it sounded like a cross between a yell and a sneeze. She opened her eyes to find them drifting slowly down, like autumn leaves.
"How?" she asked, breathless in shock. Kenobi's eyes were out of focus, he looked as though he was focusing on something off in the distance.
"The Force," he whispered back. "Some day, you'll do this too."
She nodded, and rested her head in the crook of his neck. She closed her eyes and waited until her feet touched ground again.
"There, that wasn't so bad," he said, winding the rope up. Kavii nodded, still a little unnerved by the trip. She sat on a fallen log suddenly, and he saw her wince, clutching at her head.
"What is it?" he asked, concerned. He dropped to his knees to see if there was anything wrong.
"There's a funny buzzing," she said through gritted teeth. "A terrible buzzing. I can't--" Suddenly her eyes opened wide. "Get out of the way!" she yelled, shoving him hard with the Force. He went flying, skidding to a halt just as his own sense of the Force informed him that the conifer they were under came crashing down. Kavii leapt out of the way just in time, the tree missing her by a few inches. Kenobi got up immediately, to see if she was all right. She was breathing hard, but seemed unharmed.
"Bugs," she said.
"What?" He was confused by the non sequitur.
She pointed at the jagged stump. "Wood bugs--they ate away at the base of the tree."
"Ah," he replied. He helped her to her feet. "How did you know?" he asked after a moment. Her rainbow eyes were wide with fright.
"I don't know," she said, truthfully, not without a little panic. "I don't know."
"It must be your talent with the Force," he said, reasonably. "Have you always done things like this?"
She shook her head vehemently. "No, never. Not since the accident."
"Accident?" he asked over his shoulder, examining the tree stump. It had, indeed, been eaten away by bugs.
"I fell off the cliff," Kavii replied. She looked reluctant to say anything else, looked regretful at having brought the matter up at all, so he let it drop.
"We should get going," he said, picking up the pack they had brought with them. He hefted it onto his shoulder, and headed off into the brush. She caught up with him a moment later, and they walked together in silence.
They had been walking for about an hour, not talking about anything more than the local flora or whether the weather was going to change when Kenobi couldn't fight his curiosity any longer.
"What's the buzzing noise you were describing?" he asked, out of the blue. Kavii knew what he meant immediately, and she looked upset.
"It's been in my head, ever since the accident." she said quietly. "Manna said it was the demon, trying to get out. Well, I'm sure that's what he would say. I didn't have time to ask him."
Kenobi wasn't sure how to respond to that, so he didn't. The two kept walking, Kavii staring ahead, not saying anything, and Kenobi a step behind, wondering if he should.
Suddenly the trees parted, and they stood at the foot of the Glowing Mountain. Kavii gasped, and even world-weary Kenobi looked impressed. The volcano was having a minor eruption, a fountain of lava spurting out of a hole in its side. The smell of sulphur was atrocious, but they learned to stand it within a few moments.
"No people could survive in there," Kavii said breathlessly. "No one."
"That's one good reason for them having a base in there." Kenobi replied, dryly. He turned to face her. "Kavii," he said seriously, taking her by the shoulders, "I don't want you following me from here on in. I don't know what's there, but I'm more prepared than you are."
She snorted. "Some how, I get the feeling that you're just as scared about that mountain as I am."
Kenobi was taken aback. How did she know that? "Look, the mountain is not the point. My Jedi skills will help me there. The point is, if there is a base, it will be loaded with blaster- packing Bakkamiru."
Kavii sighed, but finally, she nodded in agreement. "I'll wait for you, though. If you need any help, I know how to hide in these forests."
Kenobi smiled. "Thank you. I shouldn't be too long, but if I am..." he trailed off, not knowing what to suggest. He shrugged. "wait longer." he finished.
Obi-wan Kenobi looked around the mountain side in disgust. There was no vegetation, and the sulphur fumes blew by him with a smell that made rotten eggs seem luxurious. Down in the distance, he could see the cluster of trees that Kavii was waiting by, but Kavii herself was too small to see. It was a lucky thing he didn't experience vertigo, but years in Coruscant would have cured him of that at any rate. He started to climb again, his Force sense stretched to the max, trying to pinpoint the Bakkamiru, if there were any. All he could sense was the bright point that he knew was Kavii. There was nothing else.
"This is hopeless," he said, sitting down. He rested his head on his hands, and took one last forlorn look around. "If only Master were here--"
He stopped. If only Master were here, I'd get reprimanded for even thinking that, he thought. Jedi can take care of themselves. He stood up again and took one last, final look, when he noticed a small crack in the ground. Not that cracks in the ground where at all unusual around the summit of the volcano, but this one had a different...feeling.
Trust your feelings.
He took a cautious step towards it, and noticed that there was a draft of cold air coming from it. Now, that was odd. He got on his knees, to have a closer look, when the ground opened underneath him.
Rubbing his head ruefully, he looked both ways down the immense metal lined corridor. Both ends ended in misty darkness, which was not appealing. Something told him about lava tubes, but the thought was in the back of his mind and he paid no attention to it. Deciding to take the right-hand route, he cautiously unhitched his lightsaber from his belt. He still couldn't sense anything from anywhere, even though there was now sufficient evidence that someone had a base in the volcano.
Something beeped, and he whirled around. There were no lights save the small running lights on the base of the walls, and he couldn't see anything in the dark. To tell the truth, he couldn't see where he started from, and that unpleasant thought caused the hair on the back of his neck to stand on end. He still couldn't sense anything in this area, not even so much as bug or bacteria.
Suddenly, he heard a slightly noise, a sound of gravel crunching. His Jedi senses kicking in, he swung around, his blade activating at a touch of a button. The lightsaber slashed through one of the Bakkamiru, slicing the creature in half. There was a fizz, and the body disappeared.
Another crunch. Kenobi whirled around, this time anticipating the alien's movement, but the saber sliced through thin air. The tunnel was empty again. His heart pounding in his chest, he waited. There was a gravelling laugh from behind him, and he spun around to catch his enemy, but again the saber sliced through nothing.
"Show yourself!" he yelled. He tried to force down the rising anger and frustration within him. He wasn't doing a very good job.
"Very well, Jedi," the voice croaked out. Stepping through the wall, a Bakkamiru came at him, fainter than a hologram but more mobile. It charged, its long claws unsheathed and at the ready. Kenobi brought his lightsaber up, prepared to defend himself, but the creature passed harmlessly through him. He was stunned, and that surprise allowed a moment when his back was undefended. Soundlessly, the creature became corporeal, and raked its long claws along Kenobi's back.
The Jedi yelled out, although he fought to keep the agony from overwhelming him. There were techniques for blocking pain. He just had to remember them. The Bakkamiru laughed.
"So, Jedi, waiting I am. We waiting are." it rasped, showing teeth that shone red in the feeble light. At its word, Bakkamiru began stepping through the walls, dozens of them, surrounding the Jedi in the darkness, their ghostly forms pale and washed-out.
Kenobi gritted his teeth, and brought up his lightsaber. Its bright light shone in the dark, nearly obliterating the paleness of the Bakkamiru. The Bakkamiru laughed, low rasps and hisses. Kenobi took a deep breath, and swung heartily. The blade passed through the Bakkamiru with only a rush of air.
"You harm cannot what you hit cannot, Jedi," the lead growled at him, charging again. This time Kenobi was ready, and defended himself against the same trick.
"There are more ways to fight back than simple violence," Kenobi countered. Using the Force, he tried to push the Bakkamiru out of the way. Some of them were staggered, it was true, but that was all. A bit surprised at the lack of power the Force had against the aliens, he never-the-less saw any opening in the wall of ghosts and took it, running down the corridor as fast as he could.
The Bakkamiru yelled something in its own language. As the other Bakkamiru began to chase him, he guessed it meant "get him" or something to that effect. He never could tell with aliens.
He kept running until he felt, through the Force, that it was time to stop. He did so, skidding to a halt. From the heavy thuds on the metal floor behind him, he guessed that the Bakkamiru had shed their intangible forms. Taking another calming deep breath, he stabbed upwards at the ceiling with his lightsaber. The beam cut through the metal, allowing him to make a small port-hole. Switching off the saber, he hitched it to his belt, and jumped up, catching the edges of the hole. He fought down another scream as he burned his hands on the hot metal, but knew that running right now was more important than anything else. Ignoring the searing pain, he pulled himself up. The Bakkamiru were at him, one was clawing at his leg. Using the Force to blast it away, or at least deter it, he got through the hole and took off down the slope. He only hoped Kavii knew as much about hiding in the woods as she said she did.
He made it to the tree line before daring to turn around and see if the Bakkamiru were following him. They were, but at a much slower pace. Apparently they were not used to being in the bright sunlight of the outdoors.
Somebody grabbed his arm. He nearly leaped backwards of the shock, but it was only Kavii, pulling on him to bring him somewhere. She seemed to know what she doing, or where she was going, as she led him on a zig-zag route through the trees.
"How did you know?" Kenobi asked breathlessly, still running. His injured foot was sending shooting pains up his leg, and the pain from his back was causing a blurry haze to form in front of his eyes. Kavii didn't look back.
"I saw you coming down the mountain as if you were on fire. What else could it be?"
Finally she stopped. It was at the foot of a large tree, dozens of feet tall and at least fifteen around. She stood, examining the bark very closely, while Kenobi took the chance to try some Jedi healing on his injured and painful foot, back and hands. While the techniques worked a little, he knew they would not do much for him.
"Ah!" Kavii said, pleased with herself. She dug her nails into the bark of the tree, and with a mumbled curse and a little effort, a door swung open.
"The tree's hollow!" he said, surprised despite himself. She grinned, and helped him in. Swinging the door shut, she snapped a small wooden latch into place. Kenobi tried to lean against the tree in the darkness, but his back wasn't too happy about that decision so he leaned against his side, his weight off his injured foot. His eyes adjusted to the inky blackness, and he found that tiny pinpoints of light were let in my minute holes in the bark, all along and up the tree. Kavii placed her hand to her lips, the Kintari version of "be quiet", Kenobi thought, and put her ear to the wall of the tree. Kenobi sighed, and tried to sense the Bakkamiru again through the Force. This time he could pick them out against the backdrop of the forest: discordant shapes and feelings among the relative peacefulness of the woods.
They were howling at each other in the Bakkamiru language, which sounded like rocks being thrown together and ground in. There were a few snatches of Standard tossed in for good measure; words such as "jedi", "blaster" and a few others that the Bakkamiru didn't feel it was worth the time to translate into their own tongue.
Kavii clutched her head suddenly, and without warning the door to the tree was ripped off its hinges by a set of Bakkamiru claws. Kenobi blinked into the sudden light as he and Kavii were hauled out and thrown to the ground.
"Jedi," snarled an alien, "we you to stay told. You the consequences now face!"
Kavii winced, her eyes clenched tight. Kenobi immediately noticed a change in the forest. The birds stopped singing, and the wind died down. Even the Bakkamiru seemed aware, and looked around in suspicion. The one in the lead who had been just about to disembowel Kenobi let his arm drop and stared at his surroundings when the trees around them abruptly came crashing to the ground.
Trying to leap out of the way of the falling behemoths, the Bakkamiru seemed unable to escape no matter which way they ran. Trees seemed to fall perfectly in line with their targets, despite the panicked movements of the Bakkamiru. Every last one was crushed within moments. Kenobi looked over at Kavii, who, like him, was not so much as brushed by the falling trees. The area around them was cleared, but they sat in the eye.
Kavii looked up at him. She was not smiling, but there was something in her eyes that betrayed the pride she had in what she did. Kenobi didn't know whether to leap up in joy at escaping or stare at her in horror. So he did neither, but slowly got to his feet.
"We need to get back to the city," he said, his voice loud in the unnatural silence. "I must call my master."
Kavii nodded, and she got up as well. It was then that she noticed his wounds. She gasped. "How did you get those?" she managed to get out in a high-pitched squeak. She quickly stepped over one of the fallen trees and looked at his hand. He was nearly as shocked as she was: red welts were formed along the line of a terrible burn running across his palm.
"I'll be all right," he said, trying to sound confident but in reality sounding worried. Kavii frowned and started mumbling in her own language. She placed her hand on his back, to get him to sit on one of the logs, drawing her hand abruptly away when she saw him wince. She gasped again as she pulled her hand away, it covered in Kenobi's blood. Turning him around by the shoulders, and taking off his shredded outer robe, she examined his back.
She had the back of her hand in her mouth to keep from crying out, but before he could say anything, she grasped him by the arm, and led him back to the tree.
"Lean against the inside wall," she said. "I'll be back in a few moments."
Kenobi nodded. Sighing deeply, he curled up against the inside of the secret hideaway.
He awoke a short time later...it felt as if it was only a few seconds, but it was now in the dead of night. He looked out over the tops of the trees and the stars shone brilliantly against the deep black of space. He heard a rustling in the grasses and bushes nearby.
"Kavii?" he croaked, his throat dry.
"Yes," she whispered back, coming up beside him. She held a gourd up to his mouth. "Drink, small sips."
He did so, nearly gagging when the foul, bitter liquid touched his tongue. She smiled, showing her white teeth in the darkness. "I know it doesn't taste very well. Wreila bark doesn't. But it's got something in it to help the pain."
"Thank you," he mumbled sleepily. She gently shook him awake.
"Don't go back to sleep yet," she chided. "I need to bandage you up."
He held out his hands. They were the parts of him that hurt the most. She took one, very tenderly, and sprinkled ground up herbs into the wound. He gritted his teeth as it stung, but the pain from the burn seemed to recede almost immediately. He held out the other hand. She repeated the treatment, then bandaged the wounds with what Kenobi recognised as the remains of his outer robe.
"I did your foot while you were sleeping," Kavii admitted when she was done the bandaging. "But I couldn't do your back. Wasn't it painful to sleep on?"
"I sleep on my side," Kenobi said, with a yawn. She smiled again, and pulled him around so that she could rub the herbs in.
Suddenly Kenobi could feel something cold and wet being pressed against his back. He yelped, and tried to twist away.
"I have to clean it," Kavii said, pulling on his shoulder to get at his wounds. "I'll be careful. Really."
"Sorry," he said through gritted teeth. "I..I'm not used to dealing with pain, like this. Back on Coruscant, the medic droids normally anaesthetize the area, first."
"And then there are your Jedi techniques," Kavii added, pressing the cloth against his back.
"And then there...how did you know?" He tried to let the amazement show in his voice.
"I watched you, when we were getting away from the monsters- -you seemed to be concentrating on something." She paused to dip the cloth she was using in the water gourd. "Besides, it only makes sense. You wouldn't learn to fly before learning how to get rid of a headache, now would you?" She chuckled bemusedly. He smiled himself.
"No, I guess not."
"There. All done." She sprinkled more herbs on the tender skin, then patted his shoulder. He yawned, and started to lean against the wall of the tree.
"You'll get a neck ache if you lie like that," she said, chidingly. "Here, lie down."
She pulled him down on to the grassy ground and laid his head in her lap. Normally, he would have been embarrassed beyond measure and would have refused, but, to put it plainly, he was too tired. He was asleep before he had time to protest.
They were everywhere. No matter where he turned, they were there, elusive, intangible, yet slicing at him with razor-sharp claws, biting with razor-sharp teeth. He couldn't get away. He couldn't use the Force. He couldn't even feel it, it was as if all his senses had left him. He was half-blind, deaf, mute, numb. He felt as if he was drowning, he couldn't breathe, he struggled for air but there was nothing there, he was in a vacuum, he was in deep space.
"Obi-wan," Master Qui-Gon said. "Use the Force."
I can't! he screamed but no sound came out. There was no air, there were no sounds.
"Use the Force," a different voice said. It was Kavii. She was out there with him, but she was not affected by the space. She held his hand. The feelings vanished. He could breathe. He could sense the Force, but when he tried to use it, it all blew up, it all blew in a flash of white of brilliant light of power and energy all centered around him.
He came to with a shriek. He sat up, too quickly, his head spun, but he hardly noticed. His heart was pounding inside his chest, it felt like it would burst out at any second. Suddenly he felt someone's hand on his shoulder. It was Kavii. She was kneeling beside him, her other hand on his forehead.
"You've broken your fever." she said, sounding glad. "Here, lie down."
" No," Kenobi grabbed her hand, squeezing it tightly, the dread he felt filtering down the to the grip he had on her. "No. We have to get out of here."
"What? Why? You're in no condition--"
"We have to get out of here," he repeated, shivering with the intensity behind his words. "Now. Something is wrong. In the Force. I can feel it--"
"I can't feel anything," Kavii interrupted, confused and starting to become angry with the pain he was inflicting on her hand.
"We have to get out of here," he said, getting to his feet and hauling her up. "I don't care if you have to be dragged--we are leaving. Now."
Captain Mimia of the Songbird thought she was doing a good deed as she stopped her ship to help the injured crew of the Keku, who was sending out a distress signal. Even as the engines stopped, she picked up anomalous readings from outside the hull. Her first mate, Mimei, looked puzzled.
Before either of them could react there were sudden popping sounds as creatures began to come through the hull of the ship.
"By the Goddess!" Mimei had time to yell before the creatures sliced through her throat, and she collapsed in a bloody mess on the floor.
Mimia was stunned, but gathered her wits enough to pick up the blaster that hung by the console. Firing blindly, she wounded one, and drove three others back. They were still coming through the hull. She slapped the automatic distress buoy. She fired wildly, trying to stall them enough so that her crew was in danger. No one came. The blaster fire now had no effect, the creatures became transparent, but she was sure, no less deadly.
Still, no one called to the bridge for help, or to inquire what had happened. Then the Goddess spoke to her, in her heart. Her crew was dead, like poor Mimei-ahi. Mimia watched the creatures advancing. She knew that she had no choice, and no defense.
There were only two options. Hoping, praying to the Goddess, the Great Mim Mother, that she was doing the right thing, she raised the blaster to her head and pushed the trigger.
Obi-wan Kenobi looked up the mountain with a little anxiety. It had been no problem to scale down the cliff only a day ago, but then he had been in the perfect health and concentration. Now, he could barely blink without wincing. That was not to say that the pain was not receding because of Kavii's treatment. Far from it. He knew that if it hadn't been for her, he wouldn't be able to stand, let alone climb a cliff. He wouldn't be alive, without her.
For an instant he thought about her using the Force to allow them to climb up, but he dismissed the idea. Her power in the Force was mainly confined to bursts of power and warning signals. She probably did not have the fine control needed.
"I don't see how we're going to make it," he said out loud. "The only way is up."
"Not necessarily." Kavii said, shaking her head, her rainbow hair tossing with the motion. She pointed further along the cliff. "There, the incline is not so steep. We can just walk up."
Kenobi smiled. "What would I do without you?" he asked softly. She grinned back, tying her hair back with a bit of vine. Then she grew serious.
"How are you holding up? Is the pain returning?" she asked, quickly stepping around to check the wounds on his back. "If so- -"
"It's all right," he said with a laugh, trying to turn around fast enough that she couldn't keep behind him. "It's only a dull throb. Really."
Kavii didn't seem convinced. "I saw some maare bushes on the way here. I'll get them, make a poultice--"
"Kavii--" he interrupted. "I'm fine. Really. You've done a great job, better than some of the medics back home." He looked up the cliff again. "Now, we had better get going."
"I never wanted to be a healer, really. Manna wanted me to be his protege, but I was always more interested in what lay beyond our village. Perhaps I was too curious." Kavii stopped, frowning slightly, remembering something distasteful. "I'd always been told what offworlders were like. I never believed the stories--I guess I do now." She caught Kenobi's eye as they were continuing their hike. "Most of them, I guess. Anyway, I apprenticed myself with Janim, the trader. He taught me the basics, mankei care, how to navigate by the stars, things like that. I owe a lot to him. I did." she said sadly, looking down.
"Is he...?" Kenobi asked quietly, not knowing how to ask politely. Kavii shook her head.
"No, he's not dead. I am. I can never return to my village." She looked up, and Kenobi was slightly astonished to find she was not crying. From the tone of her voice, he had assumed she would be, but her eyes were dry.
"You can come to Coruscant, with me," he said with a smile, wanting to cheer her up. "The Jedi council will know what to do."
"Oh, Obi-wan Kenobi, I just don't know. I'm so...worried..I don't want to spend the rest of my life wandering because I won't fit anywhere..." Kavii trailed off. "I just don't know."
Kenobi didn't know what to say. Qui-Gon always seemed able to say the perfect thing that seemed to make everything all right, or at least bearable. For all Kenobi's training, he still hadn't mastered that particular talent. He decided to distract Kavii from her line of thinking, until he could think of something better to do.
"Kavii," he began, hesitantly, as they reached a particularly rocky part of the trail. He nearly tripped as a loose rock slipped out from under him. Kavii grabbed his wrist at the last moment and kept him from tumbling down along with the gravel. He let her help him up the cliff to the edge. He couldn't get over how sure-footed she was walking up the mountain side.
"You were going to say something?" she prompted, as they took a small break and sat in the long grass.
"I was just going to ask you why you keep calling me by my full name," Kenobi admitted. He rubbed his shoulder and winced as it hurt his hand. Kavii darted around and started to rub his shoulders for him. He sighed, as he could feel the tension draining from them immediately.
"What do you mean? Is your name not Obi-wan Kenobi? Have I been pronouncing it wrong?" she asked, sounding worried.
"Oh, no, it's not that, I just mean...well, you always use my last name, too."
"I do not understand."
Kenobi struggled for words. It seemed hard to explain so simple a concept, but he was used to taking it for granted. "I mean, don't you have a name that means what family, or clan, you come from?"
Kavii thought for a moment. "If anyone wants to know who my mother is, they can just ask."
Kenobi sighed. "No...I mean...I don't know what I mean." He rolled his eyes in frustration and pulled away from her. She seemed confused and upset.
After a moment, she started to say something, but seemed hesitant. "Do you mean you have two names?" she asked.
"Yes!" he said, pleased. "Yes. Two names. One formal, for people who don't know me, and an informal one, for people who do."
"Which is which?" Kavii inquired, looking curious.
"`Kenobi' is my last name. `Obi-wan' is my first." he replied, glad to be making progress. Kavii looked thoughtful.
"Is `Obi-wan' your formal name?" she asked.
"Uh...no. Kenobi is."
"Oh. So `Obi-wan' is your informal name." Kavii replied brightly. She was pleased that she had finally grasped this confusing concept. Kenobi looked uncomfortable.
"Actually," he began, "it's not."
Kavii was confused. "What's not?"
"`Obi-wan' isn't my informal name." he said sheepishly.
"But I thought..."
"I know. I'm sorry...I forgot to tell you about my Jedi name." he admitted.
"You have a third name?" she asked, incredulously.
"Yeah. See, my Jedi name is Obi-wan Kenobi. Qui-Gon--my Master--calls me Obi-wan, because we're so...on such good terms. Master Yoda would call me Obi-wan Kenobi, which is more formal." he explained.
Kavii sighed and rolled her eyes. She flopped backwards to lie in the grass, looking upwards at the sky. "Maybe," she said exasperatedly, "you should just tell me what I should call you."
She tilted her head over to him. "Out of curiosity, what's your informal, your real informal name?"
"Ben," he answered. "But nobody really calls me that any more."
"Because it's not my name any more, not really. Not since I became--since I started to train to become a Jedi." he replied.
He looked out over the cliff top, looking thoughtful himself. It had been a long time since he reflected on his life before Jedi training. He could hardly remember it.
"You offworlders are crazy." Kavii said with a laugh. She stretched out and rested her arm over her eyes to keep out the sun. "We only have the one name. Everybody knows our family, and if they don't they can just ask. There's no need to announce it."
"It's not announcing it," Kenobi protested. "It's just that...in my culture, we don't know who's related to who. It's just a way of identifying ourselves, our culture and heritage."
"It still seems a little silly." Kavii replied, still smirking at Kenobi's fumbling for words. She lifted her arm up so she could look at him. "You never did tell me what to call you."
He thought for a moment. Taking the silence for indecision, Kavii started figuring it out loud. "Well, I am on good terms with you--I think I am--" she looked at him for conformation. He nodded. "So I'll probably call you Obi-wan. Unless there's some other weird, offworlder protocol I would be breaching."
He laughed. "No, no other weird protocols. But some how, I think, well, I think you can call me Ben."
Kavii smiled, and half sat up, resting on her elbows. She squinted at him. "Ben? Hmm. It has a nice ring to it."
He smiled as well. "Thank you. It's a plain name, not as nice as Kavii."
It was her turn to laugh. "Kavii? That's an ordinary name, if there ever was one. It always sounded like a bird crying, to me." She started to imitate the noise, calling "Kav-i-i-i! Kav- i-i-i!" out at the top of her lungs, in a piercing voice. They both laughed. Abruptly, they stopped as they heard a rumble of thunder. Kenobi looked up to see a storm cloud brewing over the mountain, not too far away. Kavii looked at it with alarm.
"We'd better find some shelter. That looks like a rough one."
Not wanting to disagree with her, he got up, as she did, and headed into the forest.
The rain pelted down quite hard, bending and shaking the tree branches overhead. The two lay sheltered under a conifer, the thick needles and growth keeping the water at bay. Thunder roared, and Kenobi wondered, not for the first time, if the best tactic was taking shelter under a tree.
"If you get soaked, you might get hypothermia," Kavii answered his unspoken worry. She had been doing more of that as time had passed. "But don't worry about lightning. I picked a short tree on purpose."
"Do you do this a lot?"
"No, not really. Where I come from, we get snow, more than rain. A snow umbrella keeps it off of me when I'm travelling, but I didn't remember to bring one, and it would have been with the Mankeis in any case," she added, as an afterthought. "I wonder where they got to. They should have stayed in one place, waiting for me. Unless something spooked them."
There was a particularly loud crash of thunder, right over their heads, and Kenobi jumped, startled. "It's all right," Kavii said. She seemed right at home sitting under a tree in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. Kenobi wasn't as content, he had no real experience with thunderstorms and he was, although he hated to admit, a bit...concerned. Kavii sensed this, and smiled.
She took his arm and snuggled against him. "If the storm is right over top, it will pass us soon."
"I guess so," he mumbled, shivering. He snuggled in as well, purely for warmth. Mostly for warmth.
Using a technique partly from Jedi lessons on relaxation and partly from experience with insomnia, Kenobi began to tune out the rumbling and crashing thunder, and slowly drifted off to sleep.
He awoke when Kavii tugged frantically on his arm. "Ben!" she cried. "Wake up--something's wrong! I can feel it!"
Bringing himself to full consciousness, Kenobi was suddenly assaulted by waves of emotion. Terror, helplessness and confusion combined with blood lust and a strange elation washed over him like a tidal wave. He curled up into a ball, trying to filter out the powerful feelings. He felt like he was drowning, being suffocated, but after an eternity, the moment passed, and he managed to sit up. Kavii looked pained as well.
"It's one of the villages. They're in danger." she said in a whisper. "We have to help them."
Kenobi nodded, and together they crawled out from under the conifer. Brushing off the fallen needles, they started off, guided by the Force.
It took only a few short minutes jogging before they came to a clearing. Houses were arranged in a square around a central area, and the two came out behind three of those houses.
"This is the village of--" Kavii said, followed by a series of words in her own tongue. "I'm sorry. It translates as `The Village That Is By The Glowing Mountain, Just Past The River.'"
"Oh." Kenobi felt a chill in his spine, running up and down his back. The village was eerily silent. No birds sang, there were no sounds of people. An icy hand clutched his stomach, and very carefully, he walked into the main square.
It was a horrendous sight that greeted him. The village's inhabitants were scattered around the square, in various poses, in various states of dismemberment. They--at least two hundred-- were dead. Dead, and strewn about like mangled roadkill. Kenobi felt sick to his stomach. Kavii screamed slightly when she saw it, a choked off cry of horror and dismay.
"Who did this?" she yelled, a sob threatening to break out. "Who did this?!"
"The Bakkamiru, no doubt." Kenobi replied, trying desperately to calm himself. Hate, fear, these lead to the Dark side, he could hear Master Yoda say. If anything could lead to the Dark side, it was something like this, Kenobi thought bitterly. If the sheer horror wasn't enough, the smell hit them. The ground was moist, after the thunderstorm, and turning hot in the rising sun. The odour was enough to completely turn Kenobi's stomach, and it could only handle turning so much. He stumbled backwards, trying not to throw up. It would have been a tremendous insult to the men, women and children who had died here. Squeezing his eyes shut, he tried again to use the Jedi techniques for centering himself. They weren't working very well. Perhaps he wasn't as ready to be a Jedi as he thought.
This is no time to dwell on you! his mind yelled. This is about stopping the Bakkamiru!
"And about revenge," Kavii interrupted, eyes blazing. "We must avenge their deaths, so that they do not stay on this plane looking for vengeance." She turned to face the grisly scene and raised her arms in the air, yelling in her native tongue. Almost at once, Kenobi felt a thousand tiny claws running up and down his spine, and two hundred tiny voices yelling in his head, screaming in anguish and for revenge. Kavii began to yell, a wordless scream, and the voices dissipated into silence. She stopped, and dropped to her knees, eyes closed, head back. Listening to something, or for something.
Finally Kavii stood up. "I will honour them. I am dead as well, the walking dead--I can do their justice in this realm." she said, her voice hoarse. She turned and started to run from the village.
"Kavii, wait!" he called, running after her. He managed to grab onto her shirt and slow her down. "Where are you going?"
"Back to the mountain!" she cried, trying to pull her shirt out of his grasp. The rough hand-woven cloth ripped and Kenobi startled, let it go. "I will get them for what they did!"
"You can't!" Kenobi argued. "What do you plan to do? Use the Force? What happens when you're too tired? They'll surround you, finish you off. No, we have to get to Coruscant. Get the Jedi Council to help. Then we can avenge those people."
She nodded, head down. She looked up, finally, with a great sadness and anger showing in her eyes. "I will go," she said, finally. "I will go to Coruscant."
"Please, I need to speak to Qui-Gon Jinn," Kenobi repeated. The droid buzzed, then trundled off the screen to find (hopefully) the Jedi Master.
Kavii sat on the ground at Kenobi's feet, leaning against the wall of the transport office. The small screen and fuzzy transmission set were the cheapest they could find in the shortest amount of time. Kavii sighed, and shifted around. She seemed uncomfortable in Kenobi's spare robes. He had insisted that she wear them, to avoid drawing less attention to herself. Her homemade outfit of a long woven tunic over a brightly coloured skirt drew whistles and less flattering forms of attention from the rougher traders and smugglers who hung around the transports. She had commented (in a joking way) that they must have been the sort that was attracted to anything that moved, as she was very plain herself, but Kenobi did not find the remark amusing, and didn't say anything at all, inf act grew more quiet and a little embarrassed.
She shifted her attention to a small stack of paperwork that lay on the desk on the other side of the room. Closing her eyes, she let her attention focus on the stack. She had been watching Ben with his manipulations of the Force, and she was willing to try it on her own. She let her stress and tension go, and focused completely on the paperwork. She could almost feel it in her mind, and she imagined picking it up. It was harder than it looked, but she concentrated, and very soon she knew she was lifting the pads up off the desk.
"Kavii!" Kenobi exclaimed. Startled, she dropped the pad and it fell with a thud back on the desk. She looked up at him, smiling, but he wasn't returning the grin. He was about to say something when he turned back to the monitor.
"Master Qui-Gon!" he said, casting a final look in Kavii's direction.
"Obi-wan," Qui-Gon inclined his head at the image of his pupil. "Have you made any progress?"
"Indeed I have, Master. Bad news, unfortunately. I don't think I should say anything here, but we're on the next--"
"`We're'?" interrupted Qui-Gon.
"Yes, Master. I found an extraordinary--" he smiled at Kavii, whom Qui-Gon couldn't see, as she was off-screen, "a most extraordinary person. She can use the Force with more strength than I've seen in most masters."
"Really." the Master said dryly. "I hope you're not planning to take her in front of the Council."
"I know she is too old to begin formal training, Master," Kenobi admitted. "But I don't think we can just let her wander around without any knowledge of how to control the Force."
Qui-Gon looked thoughtful. "I suppose you're right, my young apprentice. Perhaps we can assign someone to show her the basics."
"Now, Obi-wan, you said you were getting the next transport? Good." Qui-Gon continued, in a tone of voice that broached no argument. "I will see you in a few hours then."
"Yes, Master," Kenobi said, dipping his head in respect. The monitor flickered off. He turned to Kavii.
"That didn't sound like it went well." Kavii said, getting up and stretching.
Kenobi sighed. "I don't know. I'll have to talk to the Master and see about letting you train with me."
"I don't think I want to be left on Coruscant alone," concurred Kavii.
"You won't be alone, you'll have a Master, just like me." Kenobi corrected as they started out. He flipped up the hood on his new brown cloak as they entered the bright mid-day sun, but Kavii didn't seem to notice the heat, and continued on blithely.
He watched them go, growling to himself in Bakkamiru. He phased himself out of the wall of the transport office. No one saw him, he was sure of it, and he grunted as he too stepped out into the bright light. It hurt his eyes, and he longed for the cool comfort of his underground base or the orbiting ship.
Grunting a few curses on the nature of heat and light and humans in general, he shuffled off to find somewhere to communicate to his the rest of the squadron.
The transport lifted off with a sigh and a hum, and blasted off into the air. Kavii was pinned to the window, staring out in amazement and awe.
"Wait 'til we clear the atmosphere." Kenobi said with a grin. He shrugged off his outer robe, and threw it on the small table that was in their quarters. He unhooked his lightsaber, as well, and tossed it onto the table. It clattered and then slid off. Kenobi stooped to catch it, but found it floating in the air. He looked up at Kavii. She was smiling, watching the lightsaber float in the air, then it flew upwards and towards her. She caught it with a flourish.
"I thought you couldn't manipulate things with the Force," he said, sitting in the one chair in the room. She shrugged. "I did see you in the office--try not to do things like that in public, unless you need to."
"It frightens the mere mortals?" she said with a sly grin.
"Something like that," he replied in a tone that implied he got the joke but didn't find it all that amusing. "But anyway, I thought you couldn't manipulate the Force consciously?"
"I've been teaching myself. It's not that hard." she replied breezily.
"Not that hard?!" Kenobi exclaimed, nearly leaping out of the chair. "Not that hard! Kavii, Jedi train for years, sometimes decades!"
She looked taken aback. "I didn't mean it that way--I know it takes a lot of dedication. I don't have the precision that you do--just the raw talent. That is, if I can ever concentrate through my headache." She rubbed her head, just as the thought occurred to her.
"You still have a headache?" Kenobi asked, concerned for her and dropping the previous subject. "Here, I can get you some tablets for it." He crossed the room to the medic kit and pulled out a package. He tossed it to her and she caught it. She turned it around in her hands.
"Thank you, but I don't think they'll do anything for it--I tried Wreila bark, but it didn't help."
"That's a bit more powerful than your herbs, I think." Kenobi said, shrugging. "We can always see a medic when we get to Coruscant."
She nodded, then happened to look out the port again. She gasped as she saw the curve of her planet fall away beneath them.
"Spectacular, isn't it?" he asked, coming up behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his chin on her shoulder. She held her hands up against the glass in wonder.
"I've never seen the planet like this." she whispered. The round sphere dropped away, shining like a green jewel, an emerald. "Does your planet look like that?"
"Coruscant? Well, not quite as prettily as Kintar. Coruscant is a city planet, it's not covered in forests." he admitted. She sighed. "What's the matter?" he asked.
"I get the feeling I'm never going to see it again," she said softly. "Not like this."
He gave her a little squeeze. "It'll be all right, you'll see."
She smiled, and rested her cheek against his.
The transport arrived in Coruscant a few short hours later. The passengers all disembarked, the droids carrying the luggage. Kavii stepped down the ramp hesitantly. She did not like the idea of the floating parking pads at all and was convinced they would drop out from under her. Kenobi laughed, and held her hand as she gingerly walked onto the parking pad.
"See? Not that hard," he chuckled. She frowned, then caught sight of someone over his shoulder. Kenobi whirled around.
"Master!" he exclaimed, bowing.
"Apprentice," Qui-Gon said stiffly in return. "I am glad to see that you have arrived safe and sound."
"Yes, Master." Kenobi turned and gestured at Kavii. "Master, this is Kavii, the woman I told you about."
Qui-Gon bowed, then held out his hand. Kavii looked at it with confusion, and he withdrew it. He bowed again instead, a slight dip.
"Master Qui-Gon Jinn," she said, doing a small bow of her own. "It is a pleasure to meet you, at last."
"As it is to meet the woman Obi-wan spoke so highly of. He is not easy to impress, you know." Qui-Gon smiled at a secret joke of his own making. Kenobi felt acutely embarrassed. He cleared his throat.
"Ah, Master, before anything else, I would like to take Kavii to her quarters, I think she should get settled in." he said, awkwardly.
"Yes, it's your first time off the planet, Kavii?" he asked, pronouncing her name perfectly on the first try. She nodded, a bit shy. "Well, it's only--"
A light craft broke from the traffic routes and screamed overhead. Kavii screamed herself, and ducked as if she was afraid to be hit. Kenobi laughed slightly and put his arm around her, patting her shoulder. Qui-Gon merely smiled politely and continued: "--natural that you would be a bit uncomfortable. Especially on a city planet like Coruscant. So we'll get you settled in, then Obi-wan and I will go about our business."
He gestured at the small hover craft that was waiting to take them to the towering apartment buildings. Kenobi walked arm and arm with Kavii until he caught his Master's disproving gaze, and then discreetly let her go. If she noticed, she did not bring any attention to it. The hover ship took them directly to their building, which was quite nearby to the Jedi Council building. Kavii seemed entranced the entire time, staring with amazement at the towering skyscrapers and endless traffic soaring both overhead and below them.
It soon docked at the apartment, and Qui-Gon ushered her off. She had no luggage, neither did Kenobi, so it was a quick walk to their own apartments.
"The only one available at the time was this one at the hall, I'm afraid," Qui-Gon said to Kavii, as he showed her the room. "I knew you would want to be in the same area, since we're the only people you know here. If you need anything, there is a commsystem here for the service droids, and Obi-wan and I are only down the corridor."
"Thank you very much, Honoured One," Kavii said, with a deep bow. She had seemed to revere to the Jedi, never walking closer than three feet from him and never making eye contact. Qui-Gon took it in stride. Kenobi was not so impressed. After they had left Kavii in her new apartment, they quickly strode down the hall to the lifts.
Neither said anything.
"You are distressed, Obi-wan," Qui-Gon said bluntly, as the lift took them downwards. "You are upset with me."
"I noticed you got her the apartment farthest from me," Kenobi admitted. He tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice.
"That is for the good of you both. She is not to become dependant on you, and you are not to be distracted by her. We are on the cusp of a very important mission, and I don't want you distracted by anything." Qui-Gon said sternly, looking at Kenobi, who wasn't making eye contact but staring straight ahead. Qui- Gon turned back. "Now. I have informed the Council of your findings, or at least, of the information you gave me when you arrived. They are expecting us."
"Did you tell them of my desire to have Kavii trained?" Kenobi asked.
"No. It is not of any consequence at this time. The mission is what is important; nothing else matters right now."
"Yes, Master." Kenobi replied, his tone faultless.
"I see," said Jedi Master Mace Windu. "The Bakkamiru can become intangible? And they can resist the Force? I want to be absolutely sure of this."
"Yes, Master," Kenobi said, bowing. "I am very sure. I am only getting over the wounds myself."
Windu leaned back in his chair, eyes narrowed in contemplation. "This fits with what we know," he said softly.
"The Songbird," chimed another Master, Mimeir, softly.
"Yes, and the Joquet." replied Qui-Gon. "It all fits." Kenobi looked at his Master, wanting to be filled in, but Qui-Gon didn't offer any other information.
"Bad does this seem, the future is unclear." said Master Yoda from another chair. He tapped his cane on the floor as he thought. Then he looked up at Kenobi. "Tell me of the woman you found. Wields the Force, does she."
"Yes, Master. Very strongly." Kenobi replied. "I want--"
"What you want is not of importance right now," Windu interrupted. There was a pause. "This woman saved you from the Bakkamiru."
"Yes." Kenobi replied, even though the Master's comment was a statement, not a question. Windu and Yoda looked at each other, a silent conference going on.
"By your own admission, this woman is too old to begin the training, but she cannot be left without some basic control if she is as powerful as you say she is. So we will give her only enough lessons to make sure she can control her powers. However, before we assign her a trainer, you will do a medichlorin test on this woman, and bring us the results." Windu leaned back in his chair again, satisfied with his plan, not revealing the reason for the medichlorin test. Kenobi had the urge to ask what it was for, but backed off. He had been too demanding, he thought, during this session, and the last thing he wanted to do now was jeopardise his chances of being permitted to take the Trials. He bowed again, as another show of respect. Qui-Gon did the same, then the two were dismissed.
"Think you she is the one?" asked Yoda.
"I don't know," Mace Windu replied. "But it pays to check all the options."
"If she is," began Mimeir, "Then what do we do? She is too old to train."
"If she is the one, she may not need training," Windu replied, steepling his fingers. "However, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
Kavii looked around the room with undisguised glee. It was far larger than even Manna's house back on Kintar, and that had been the Healer's home, the grand mansion of The Village That Is Somewhat North Of The Pine Forest But South From The Great Caves. She sang to herself as she explored the nooks and crannies of the apartment, a tune she had learned from some other Kintari traders, one that sang about explorers and far distant lands.
Kavii had always wanted to explore one of the lands in the song, a great metal forest that was inhabited by people made of iron. As she watched the flying ships out the window, the horizon dotted with skyscrapers, she felt as if the song had come true.
She made the bed more to her liking [no pillows, they were a weird offworlder concept that gave her a neck crick] and fewer blankets. It was so hot on this planet. She neatly folded and piled the extra bedding on the sofa, as she didn't know where else to put it, or even what one did with a sofa. Or even what a sofa was. Despite the gaps in her knowledge pertaining to sofas, Kavii was remarkably cheerful.
There was an sudden beep that came from the door. Kavii looked at the door in confusion when there was another beep.
"Hello?" she called. Perhaps the door was trying to talk to her. So far, several of the appliances she had found had actually been small metal people [droids, she remembered Ben saying something about droids] and she couldn't rule out the fact that perhaps the door, too, was some sort of person.
It opened with a whoosh, and Kenobi stepped in. He smiled tiredly at her. "You could have opened the door for me," he said.
"How do I do that?" she asked. He laughed. "I'm serious." she continued, but Kenobi sighed and ran a hand through his short brown hair and flopped down on the sofa.
"I have good news, and bad news." he said. She looked at him strangely. There was a long pause. Then he said cautiously: "Which one do you want to hear first?"
"Oh!" she exclaimed. "The good."
"The good is that they will train you to use your powers." he said, smiling slightly.
"The bad is two-fold: you're only getting basic, basic training, and that I won't be the one training you."
"Oh," she said, sadly. She knocked the spare bedding off the sofa, and sat down, snuggling into Kenobi's arms. She rested her head on his shoulder and he rested his cheek on the top of her head. "Well, I suppose it will all work out in the end."
Kenobi didn't reply. "I have a bad feeling that I'm going to be called away on a mission," he said abruptly after a moment or two. He pulled back to look her in the eyes. "You'll be on your own."
She grinned. "If I can survive out in the Dark Forests Near The Long River, I can survive here."
He smiled back, a little ruefully. "I know. I'm sure you'll be okay by yourself, but--"
"But you'd rather you were here with me?" Kavii answered, a little hopefully. He looked at her, pausing before he answered.
"Yes, I do," he said, hesitantly. He took a deep breath, leaned forward and--
The doorbell rang.
Sighing, Kenobi leaned back on the sofa. Kavii laughed. "Come in," she called. Qui-Gon stormed in, his robes flying out behind him. As soon as Kenobi saw who it was, he leapt to his feet. His Master frowned at him, but didn't say anything. He turned instead to Kavii.
"The Jedi Council is requesting you have a medical exam," Qui-Gon said. Kavii leapt to her feet as well, confusion on her face. "But, I thought--Ben said--" she stuttered. Qui-Gon frowned again at the familiarity, but kept his thoughts to himself.
"They wish to know the extent of your health, and your abilities. It is standard procedure." Qui-Gon gestured to the door, a bit impatiently. Kavii started out the door, but when Kenobi tried to follow his master stopped him.
"I need you to stay behind, Obi-wan. I want you to practise your meditations and relaxation exercises." he said sharply. "I will accompany our guest to the medibay."
Kenobi started to say something, but stopped. "Yes, master." he said with a bow. Qui-Gon bowed back, and left with Kavii in tow. She gave Kenobi one last look before the door closed behind her.
Kavii walked behind Qui-Gon along the corridor that led to the Jedi Council room. It was glass lined and she could see the setting sun, a brilliant red and orange sky, with the outlines of buildings and flying ships of all sizes silhouetted against it. She stopped for a second, to simply take in the view.
"Stunning, isn't it." Qui-Gon remarked, behind her. She nodded.
"On my world, it is hard to see sunsets--the mountains hide them." she replied. "The last time I saw something like that was at the Great Plain Beyond The Ocean." She placed a palm on the glass, as if she could actually touching the sunset. A moment later, she sighed, turned and continued down the corridor. Qui- Gon did not follow her. She noticed this, and turned again to face him, careful not to make direct eye-contact.
"I don't mind stopping to watch the sunset, now and then. There are some things that people don't pay enough attention to." he said with a smile, but he did not smile for long. "However, there are some things that people pay too much attention to."
She looked up at this remark, and met his gaze. "You are referring to Ben." she stated bluntly.
"Obi-wan," Qui-Gon began, putting the emphasis on the formal name, "is at a very crucial time in his training. He could soon be asked to take the Trials. Not to mention, there is the current danger of the Bakkamiru."
"What are you saying?" Kavii said, her voice low. She hardly dared breathe, fearing what the Master was going to say next.
"I am saying," Qui-Gon replied, "that it is better if you and Obi-wan do not continue with your present relationship."
"You don't want me to see him any more." Kavii clarified.
"Of course you can, on a platonic level. I cannot let him be distracted like this. He has worked too hard, and too much is at stake. I think, that if you really care for him, you will realise it is for his own good." Qui-Gon folded his hands inside his sleeves. It clearly said that the conversation was over. He began to walk down the corridor. Kavii waited until he was a few steps ahead of her, took a deep breath, then followed.
"I don't know," she answered.
Mace Windu sighed. He pressed another button, calling up another image. It was a speeder.
"I don't know that either." Kavii answered, feeling wretched. So far, she had only been able to tell him two of the ten pictures he had asked her to identify, from reading his mind.
"That solves that," Mimeir said, folding his hands together.
"Master Qui-Gon, I suppose that medichlorin test will not be necessary."
"The lab will have the results in a few minutes," Qui-Gon replied. "Perhaps--"
"She cannot see the pictures!" Windu interrupted. "It is one of the easiest tests of true Force ability."
"I could see the pictures!" Kavii exclaimed, startled.
"What?!" Windu sat up straighter. "You mean to tell me you knew what they were?"
"No," Kavii replied truthfully.
"Stop talking in circles! Could you see the pictures or not?" he snapped, losing his temper for a brief moment, before becoming the picture of calm.
"Peace, Mace Windu," Yoda said. "See I what she means. Can you tell me what that is?" he asked her, pointing with his cane out the window.
She squinted. "It...is a ship."
"What kind?" he continued. She looked stricken.
"I do not know," she replied, bowing her head. "It is metal, and it flies, so it must be a ship."
"It's one of the medical frigates," Windu said, nodding. "I understand. You saw the pictures, but could not identify what they were pictures of?"
She nodded, relieved.
"Perhaps we should move on," said another Jedi, Ki-Adi- Mundi. "Yes." Yoda agreed, nodding. "Qui-Gon, your lightsaber, please."
Qui-Gon handed Yoda the lightsaber that had been attached to his belt. The small wizened Jedi Master tossed the lightsaber onto the floor. It landed by Kavii's feet.
"Pick it up you must," he said to her. "Using your mind. Using the Force."
Kavii nodded, and looked down at the lightsaber. She simply made it rise. It took no more effort than a deep breath, or lifting her foot. The lightsaber merely rose at her mental suggestion.
"Very impressive," Windu said, his face impassive. The other Jedi nodded. "And you say you have not been trained?"
"No," she replied, letting the floating lightsaber drift over to Qui-Gon, who picked it up, and hitched it back to his belt. "Beside what Ben--Obi-wan--" she corrected herself immediately, "besides what he taught me, to clear my mind, and focus."
The Jedi all nodded. "I wish to see those results," Mimeir said, breaking the silence. "Perhaps I was mistaken."
"I wish to show you something else," Kavii said suddenly, looking quite pleased and yet nervous at the same time. "It is something that I am very pleased with, and that might help you make up your mind."
"Our minds are already made up," Windu said with a slight smile, "But, by all means, show us."
Kavii smiled, and took another deep breath. She didn't really need to; at least, not in the sense Ben told her. All the deep breath did was help dispel the headache that appeared whenever she attempted something with the Force. She held out her hand, palm up, and concentrated on the air. The trick was something she had learned while she had been cleaning. She had been playing with residual bits of dust on the furniture, when she learned that floating around in the air was something much, much smaller than air. It was fascinating for her, to learn that she could narrow her focus to these tiny pieces of matter. She could make them spin, and dance, and glow, and she did.
Qui-Gon watched with amazement as the air over Kavii's palm began to glow, and whirl around. "Molecular manipulation," he whispered.
"That's impossible. That takes decades of training, to be able to control atoms." Mace Windu replied, his mouth open.
"No," Kavii said, smiling slightly, but completely absorbed in her task. "It's not really any different from lifting the lightsaber. It's like...almost..that size doesn't matter."
Yoda began to laugh, and tap his cane against the floor. "Must be trained, this person. Understands her more than a certain Jedi did, when I trained him!"
Mace Windu shut his mouth abruptly, blushing slightly. "Well, I must say this display is--"
" It gets better!" Kavii exclaimed. The small particles of light began to pulsate and grow brighter. They whirled in orbits around each other, a tight circular dance. Suddenly they burst out from her hand and flew around the room. They seemed like small fireflies, and more joined them every second. Kavii grinned, and watched them, as did the entire council. Finally, she held out her hand again and they all flew back to it, beginning anew the circuits they had left. Then she abruptly clapped her hands together, and parted them to reveal only one, large ball of light.
"Fusion?!" Qui-Gon exclaimed. The others were speechless. Kavii beamed, and let the light dissipate. She waited until it was gone completely, then folded her hands behind her back and waited.
The entire room was so silent that a single pin hitting the floor would have caused everyone to wince at the noise. Kavii waited patiently for some sort of criticism or comment, and when she didn't receive any, she began to grow anxious.
Suddenly, Qui-Gon's communicator beeped. The noise was startling, and everyone, with the exception of Yoda, flinched. Qui-Gon picked the communicator up and flipped it open.
"Yes?" he said, tersely. "Oh. Yes. Thank you. Pardon? Fine, send it up to the Council room." He flipped the communicator shut. He turned to Mace Windu. "That was the lab. They said that Kavii's results are in."
"Why didn't they just tell you the results?" asked Mimeir.
"They said I would want to see them in person." Qui-Gon replied.
"Is there something wrong with the healer's test?" Kavii inquired quietly, anxiously.
"No, not that I know of. We'll just have to wait and see." Qui-Gon replied. At that moment, his communicator beeped again. He picked it up. "Yes? Hello, Obi-wan."
Kavii's head picked up. Qui-Gon was listening to his apprentice, well aware that everyone in the room was watching him intently. "Yes. I suppose so, we will probably need to discuss...the topic for a while, at any rate." He flipped the communicator shut. "Is it all right if Kavii leaves while we discuss her petition?" he asked the council. They all immediately nodded.
"For the best, that would be." Yoda voiced his agreement. He nodded at Kavii. "Go now, you must. But back must you come, when done are we."
Kavii bowed deeply, and hurried from the council room. She had gathered already, as had everyone else in the room, that Kenobi had asked to visit her while she was adjourned. She ducked out the door, and had to resist the urge to run down the corridor. Kenobi turned the corner, and she nearly crashed into him. As it happened, she flung her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.
"Did it all go well?" he asked, laughing.
"I don't know. The results of my healer test were unusual, though." she said.
"Medical exam, Kavii. How was it unusual?"
"I never found out."
"Well," Kenobi said, finally getting disentangled, "I got official permission to take you out for dinner while they are debating. If they debate anything like the Senate, I'll be able to take you out for breakfast, too."
They started to walk down the corridor. Kavii waited until they were out of sight of the council room, then linked her arm in Kenobi's. "I'm not supposed to see you any more," she said, a bit suddenly, but she felt she needed to know where they stood. Kenobi was silent. "Qui-Gon doesn't approve," she continued. "I just wanted you to know that it wasn't my choice."
"Kavii," Kenobi interrupted, stopping and turning to face her. "I want you to know something--I am supposed to follow Qui- Gon in all ways, but...but I don't think he's right, this time."
She looked up at him. "You are going to go against your Master's orders?"
He shook his head. "If it comes to that, no. I won't. I can't. But I don't think it will come to that--him ordering me not to be around you. I think it's a request, a consideration." He smiled, ruefully. "He asked me to meditate while you were gone. I think it was to make me think about his point of view, but all I did was think about you."
He took her hands. She smiled back, and was about to say something in return when her head whipped around to stare down the corridor.
"What? What is it?" he asked, recognising the look of concentration on her face. He stretched his Force senses to the maximum, but couldn't detect anything. Wait...he could, just barely, sense something, but it was so faint, that had he not been looking for it, he would have missed it. Once he did notice it, he knew exactly what it was. He caught Kavii's eye, and she nodded. "The Bakkamiru," they said together.
"We must warn the council." Kenobi continued. He started back towards the room when the first alien phased through the floor.
Qui-Gon felt a disruption of the Force, coming from Kenobi. His apprentice was not causing it, but reacting to it, and what ever it was, he was reacting to it strongly. The rest of the Council was aware as well.
The alien roared, and charged, Kenobi's lightsaber passing through it soundlessly. Kenobi himself ducked out of the way of the brutal claws.
"I don't have a lightsaber!" Kavii cried.
"Stay behind me," Kenobi yelled over his shoulder. "I'll try and get us to the Council."
"We need to push them back," Kavii said. Her eyes gleamed. Push them back. Push them, like the dust, like the air. Push. A blast of the Force struck the Bakkamiru like a wave. They did not stagger backwards, but became momentarily tangible. Kenobi slashed through the nearest to him.
"It worked, Kavii!" he said, taking a step forward. "What ever you did, it worked."
"It was the Force!" she exclaimed. Another wave hit the aliens, and they materialised again. Kenobi sliced through one and turned to reach another, but the Bakkamiru were quickly realising who was causing their intangibility to fade. They stopped paying any attention to Kenobi, and went after Kavii.
"Kavii!" Kenobi yelled, as the aliens swerved around him, going after his companion. "Run! I'll try and hold them off! get to the Council!"
She nodded, and took off down the corridor, the creatures hot on her tracks, Kenobi running after them, using the Force to batter the ones the held the rear. It was not enough. Kavii couldn't run and use the Force at the same time; she did not have the concentration needed to overcome her rising panic. All she could think of was the horrible teeth, the dreadful claws, and the wounds on Ben's back she had helped treat. The image was not helping her remain calm in the face of danger.
She finally came to the doors, banging on them frantically. They opened, and Qui-Gon stepped through. It was then that the lead Bakkamiru reached out. Before it could slash her, the floor seemed to contort, throwing the alien off balance. It gave her a precious few seconds, and she used them to get out of the creature's path.
Qui-Gon stepped forward, lightsaber igniting, ready to do battle. The alien, roaring in anger, stepped through the Jedi Master, and continued after Kavii.
She reached the bank of windows in a matter of seconds. The Masters all stood at the ready, prepared to fight, but they were all disoriented by the confusion and sheer terror emanating from the Kintari. The Bakkamiru roared, and sailed through Qui-Gon. It charged at her.
There was nowhere for her to run, or hide. She was trapped.
Kavii tried to fight down the panic, to remain rational, but she couldn't, no matter how hard she tried. Her fear was threatening to overwhelm her completely. Something inside her head whispered for her to let go of her conscious self, to release her pent-up emotions. She struggled against it, but as she saw the Bakkamiru's teeth coming for her, it pushed her fear to a whole new level. She screamed, and it was as if a dam burst. She screamed again, and the floors and the walls around her seemed to bulge and ripple. They stretched, and contorted, as if they were melting, and becoming elastic.
The Bakkamiru stopped, confused. It was still intangible, so that none of the Jedi Masters could touch it, and they did not know of the Force blast approach. Their lightsabers were ineffective. The Bakkamiru decided that the strange floor and walls were nothing to be frightened of, and charged again.
Before it could reach the Kintari, Kavii screamed again. The floor stretched wide, and pulled outwards, resembling huge jaws, jaws which snapped shut over the creature, imprisoning it in solid metal.
Kenobi watched in horror as the glass of the walls and the metal of the floor bucked and rippled, snapping shut over the aliens, hunting them down, searching them out. Their intangibility no longer helped them. The metal of the floor, the glass of the walls, became alive, alive and ferocious, a beast feeding and trapping its prey. No matter where they ran, no how intangible they were, somehow the corridor changed to trap them with in its framework, within the walls themselves, within the floor. A trap of solid matter that ensnared the Bakkamiru. It brought to mind the incident on Kintar, of the trees falling precisely to destroy the rock-like aliens. Kenobi knew instantly who caused it. The only question was how. No one alive, ever, had been able to control matter in such a way, and someone who had only learned about the Force in a few days was certainly not capable of it. He waited until the floor and the walls returned to normal, which was simply when all of the attacking aliens were killed. Kenobi then quickly ran to the Council room, a thousand questions on his mind. He slid through the main doors, seeing the looks of disbelief and stupefaction on the faces of the Masters. If they do not know what is going on... he let the thought trail off.
He looked for Kavii, almost frantically. He finally spotted her, lying on the floor, against the window. Qui-Gon was kneeling by her, holding her wrist, checking her pulse. He saw the young apprentice skid to a halt.
Qui-Gon shook his head. Kenobi didn't understand.
"She's dead," the Master said softly.
"No," Kenobi felt his mouth and throat go dry. "She can't be."
He reached out with the Force, to try and see if there was something still left of her. He touched her briefly with a tendril of the Force. It was as if he had touched something red- hot, as if he had seen something blindly, heard something deafening. He couldn't cope with the sensation, and passed out.
He came to with a haze of sparkles clouding his vision, the memory of the encounter fading until he could barely recall the experience. Qui-Gon was standing over him, and helped him to his feet.
"Are you all right?" Qui-Gon asked, concern showing on his face. "You had me worried."
"I'm fine," Kenobi replied, a little woozy. "But Kavii...?"
"She's dead," Qui-Gon said, sorrowfully. "I'm sorry, Obi- wan."
"That can't be right," Kenobi replied. "I touched her presence through the Force--"
"We all used the Force to tell if she was dead, Obi-wan," Master Mace Windu said, gently. "We felt nothing."
"That's not right!" Kenobi yelled, trying to get past Qui- Gon who held him back. Over his master's shoulders he could see the medics taking Kavii's body away on a stretcher. "No! No! This can't be right!"
"Calm yourself, Obi-wan!" Qui-Gon snapped. "I know this is rough for you, but you must not let your emotions rule you. Calm yourself, use the Force."
Kenobi tried, taking a few ragged breaths. It did begin to help him calm down, but he was far from inner peace.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Jedi, sir," the technician stuttered, "there's nothing we can do. The cellular matter is embedded in the plastisteel, even in the glass. It's chemically bonded to the original matter."
"Can you just remove the affected pieces?" Windu asked, doing a mind exercise to keep frustration at bay.
"No, sir, I'm sorry, sir, but it's so evenly spread among the material that you'd have to remove the entire floor." the technician replied. Windu could sense the fear emanating from him. The man was terrified. He shook his head. "I don't understand how you did it, sir." he said, meekly, flinching when Windu's gaze snapped to him.
He thinks we did it. The revelation was startling; no wonder the poor man was frightened. "I don't know how either." Windu replied truthfully. He sighed, and shrugged. "I'll have to discuss plans with the Council."
"Of course, sir," the tech said, bowing and making a hasty retreat. Qui-Gon chose that moment to appear, walking briskly towards his comrade.
"Mace Windu," he said with a nod. "We've found something, or rather, someone. A lone Bakkamiru, who was the pilot of the ship our--" he paused, looking around the room, "permanent guests were planning to take home has been apprehended. This one is young, and apparently not able to make himself intangible."
"So we can interrogate him," Windu concluded. "Good. I'd appreciate having some answers in all of this."
"They might be useful," Qui-Gon agreed, looking around at the room.
She couldn't breathe. Something was covering her mouth, her nose. She tried to reach up to pluck the fibre from her face, but when she tried to move her arm, it hit against something hard. She couldn't see, either, or move her arms. She was completely confined in something hard, and square. For a second, she thought she was dead, and being tortured by the souls of the ones killed in the Village By The Glowing Mountain, Just Past The River.
Kavii had once been stuck in a rock slide as a child that had killed one of the other village children. She had been confined for several hours, but she survived unhurt. For years afterward, she was anxious when it came to being unable to move.
And, yet, here she was, literally buried alive, unable to move at all and suffocating, and she was strangely calm. She closed her eyes, stopped struggling, and willed herself free.
Her bonds disappeared, melting away from her, and she dropped to the ground. Her eyes blinking rapidly in the sudden light, she realised she was back in the--what had Ben called it? The "medibay", where she had gotten her test done. She could tell from the smell of offworlder medicines. It was a very distinctive smell.
She now lay on the cold tiled floor of the medibay, naked except for a thin covering. She staggered to her feet. Her head cleared and she looked around her in a daze. Suddenly she realised that she had just used her power, but her headache had not appeared. Perhaps the offworlder medicine worked better than her own remedies. Shivering in the cold air of this strange section of the medibay, she began to look for something to wear. There was a bank of drawers that filled the wall. Tugging one opened, she nearly died of fright. There was a corpse in it! Using the Force to slam the drawer shut again, she tried to make sense of what she had just seen.
For some reason, offworlders shut their dead into strange drawers. It was a peculiar custom, to say the least...Kavii's train of thought slammed on its brakes.
She had come from on of the drawers!
She could see the empty section in the wall where she had been, before she--what had she done? She couldn't really tell; she only knew that she had wanted out, and something had taken her out. She was a bit confused.
Leaving the cold room, she wandered into another room. This had shelves with boxes on them. The boxes all had tags. They were in the curvy, unfamiliar script of Standard, which is what the offworlders used. Kavii had only learned to write in her own alphabet, which was very straight and easy to carve into things. She had no idea what was in the boxes. An idea came to her, and she used the Force to see what was in the boxes.
They were clothes.
Letting the Force guide her, she picked up a box. Reading the label, she still had no idea what it read. She settled for using the Force to pry the lid off. She willed the lid off, as she did before in the drawer. But the lid didn't just fly off. It vanished, leaving the open box. Kavii was confused, but overjoyed to see her robes, carefully folded within the container. She put them on quickly, and replaced the box on the shelf. She had no idea where the lid had gone to, so she hoped that no one would mind much. They were her clothes, after all.
Not really knowing where she was or where she was going, she wandered out the door, anxious to get back to Ben and find out if he was all right.
Kenobi was sitting in the middle of Kavii's former apartment. It was still as she had left it, and he found a strange comfort in meditating here. He didn't tell Qui-Gon where he was, but his master didn't ask, intent on interrogating one of the Bakkamiru that had escaped. The Jedi rubbed his hands together. There was no from them any longer, the medic droid had seen to that. There was also no permanent marks, but Kavii was the one responsible in that respect. It was her immediate treatment that prevented him from losing his hands altogether.
He sighed, and tried again to meditate. His thoughts were in such turmoil and upset that clearing his mind was next to impossible. Finally, he gave up, and stood. He stretched, and wandered out onto the balcony for a little air. Leaning against the balcony, he let his mind wander. The wind ruffled his short hair, and he considered going inside when he felt something through the Force. It wasn't a big something, and it was hard to detect, like a candle in the window of a skyscraper. But it was there. He could see it, feel it.
It was Kavii.
"She's alive," he whispered, his heart pounding. He could feel it, he knew it. He rushed from the balcony.
"I nothing know." the Bakkamiru growled. It was slightly smaller than its larger comrades, and was a lighter shade of gray. That and its curious lack of teeth or claws were the only differences between it and an adult.
"You do know," Qui-Gon said, leaning towards the forcefield.
"You cannot know. Force me does not affect." the Bakkamiru snarled.
"I can tell by other ways than the Force," Qui-Gon replied dryly. "For instance, I can tell that you're scared of what we'll do to you. Do you know how your friends died?"
"Not friends they were. Crew. Fellow soldiers," the creature hissed, but the hiss was losing fury and sounding-- perhaps it was Qui-Gon's imagination--just a little worried.
"Do you know?" he asked again.
"Yes. I my crew can sense. They stopped did." it hissed, almost sadly. Then it perked up: "But in battle they died. They would have been happy. The battle will continue!"
"Battle?" The Jedi continued. "What battle are you continuing? We're not at war!"
"Two ships we captured. Two crews we killed. We will you defeat. I promise."the Bakkamiru growled.
"See? You do know what I'm talking about." Qui-Gon said, quickly. "Now tell me why you attacked us!"
"They our secret found. They must die. Me he told, on Kintari. We defeat you will!" the Bakkamiru roared, charging the field, stopping short of the powerful charge.
"On Kintari?" Qui-Gon frowned, knowing that Obi-wan had said they had found the base on the planet. Perhaps that is what they meant. Before he could ask, the Bakkamiru again charged the field, this time scraping its feeble nubs against the invisible wall. Sparks crackled and fizzed, light leaping outwards.
"The Wedingu will you defeat!" it roared, "It big enough to defeat anyone is."
"The Wedingu?" Qui-Gon said curiously. His eyes narrowed. "It won't defeat us."
"It will! It will! It big, big, big is. Humans dead will be. The Way we know. The Way we follow. The Way will you defeat!" it screamed, sounding to the Jedi almost like a small child having a tantrum.
It's scared, Qui-Gon thought to himself. It's frightened because of what happened to its "crew" and it is trying to reassure itself.
The door to the detention hall opened and Mace Windu entered. The two Jedi bowed out of habit. Windu presented Qui- Gon with a computer schematic. "It's the data retrieved from the Bakkamiru's ship. It confirms everything we assumed--the Songbird, the Joquet--they are planning something big, and used the two ships as a testing ground, as experiments."
"Getting their time down," Qui-Gon said to himself. He shook his head. "Using the good intentions of those ships as a way to test their abilities."
"It gets worse," Mace Windu continued. "Something big is in the works--a full scale invasion. There's something about the "Wedingu" and a set of co-ordinates. Apparently, these people didn't think we'd have access to their computers."
"The Wedingu is a ship, I believe." Qui-Gon said. "And I think it's the focal point for their invasion."
"At least we have a clear course of action." Windu replied. "Find the Wedingu, and stop the Bakkamiru."
"That might be easier said than done. But we must mobilise the Fleet." Qui-Gon agreed.
He knew Master Qui-Gon would be in the detention area, so that is the first place he headed. However, when he got there, he found that he had missed him by several minutes.
Kenobi didn't know where to turn to next. The guard posted had no idea where Qui-Gon went, only that he did. His heart hammering from his barely contained excitement, he started back towards the apartments when he heard footsteps from around the corner. He paused, thinking that it was perhaps Qui-Gon, returning for some reason, but as the person turned the corner, he had a more pleasant surprise.
"Kavii!" he yelled, overjoyed.
"Ben!" she replied, just as happy. They ran together, and Kenobi had to resist the urge to toss her into the air. He hugged her tightly instead. She did one better, and kissed him. Kenobi was a bit surprised at first, but didn't resist and let the moment happen. When they finally had enough of their reunion, he asked:
"What happened? They said you were dead."
Kavii looked surprised. "I've been hearing that a lot lately," she said dryly. She shook her head, her rainbow curls brushing Kenobi's nose and tickling him. "I don't know. I woke up in a tight dark place--a place full of corpses!"
"Full of corpses? What do you--Kavii, you were in the morgue!" Kenobi exclaimed.
"The what?" she asked.
"The morgue--where they store dead people before burial." he replied. "I don't understand--you were supposedly dead, and in the morgue, surely someone must have noticed that you weren't actually dead."
"I don't know," she replied, shrugging.
"Well, what's important is that you're alive." he said, giving her a squeeze. "We have to tell Qui-Gon."
"Of course. If the entire Jedi Council is agreed on this, I will recommend it to the Senate." Chancellor Valorum said, bowing deeply in the image to Mace Windu, Yoda and Qui-Gon. "We will have to discuss the matter, obviously, but I hope that the issue can be resolved quickly."
"It must be resolved with all due haste," Qui-Gon replied. "The Bakkamiru are massing for an attack. They are unstoppable if they chose the time and place. We must hit them before they are prepared to hit us."
"I understand, Master Qui-Gon. But if they are so unstoppable, how did the Jedi repel them when they first attacked?" The Chancellor seemed confused and curious. Qui-Gon paused.
"That is something of a sensitive nature, Chancellor, and something not to be discussed on such an insecure line." Mace Windu interjected, stepping beside Qui-Gon and casting the other a look. "We will debrief you when there is time."
The Chancellor did not seem to impressed by the answer, but knew it was all he was going to get out of the Jedi. "Very well. I shall take my leave of you, then, and set up an emergency meeting of the Senate."
The image flickered out.
The commsystem beeped. Mace Windu pressed his thumb to the button. "Yes?" he asked.
"There is an Obi-wan Kenobi here to see Master Qui-Gon," said the guard posted outside the room. "He says it's urgent."
Windu glanced at Qui-Gon, who nodded. "Send him in," the Jedi replied to the guard.
The doors whooshed open, and Kenobi came in, holding someone by the hand. It was Kavii, hale and hearty and looking none worse for wear.
"What...?" Mace Windu was stunned. Qui-Gon was speechless. Even Yoda seemed mildly surprised.
"How can this be?" Mace Windu replied. "You were dead!"
Kavii shrugged. "I have heard that several times in the past two weeks. It's getting a bit clichéd, now."
"Kavii!" Kenobi whispered, shocked at her audacity. She squeezed his hand, but didn't say anything further.
"This is impossible," Qui-Gon exclaimed.
"Nothing is impossible in the Force," Yoda replied smoothly.
"Kavii, can you this explain?"
"No, Master Yoda," she answered. "I have nothing to explain, only that I have been accused of being dead many times, by several different people, and yet have lived through all the experiences. I'm just as confused as everybody else, really."
Qui-Gon, never taking his eyes from conundrum in front of him, took out a small pad from inside his outer robe.
"I never did read your medical report," he said. "I didn't see the need. Now, perhaps, I will, and maybe it will shed some light on the subject."
He clicked the computer display to on, and began to quickly skim through it. His eyes narrowed, then widened in shock. "This can't be right," he murmured.
"What? What is it?" asked Kenobi, concerned. Kavii, for her part, looked only mildly interested.
"It says here, that Kavii was dead when the medical exam was performed. They took the readings and then analyzed them." Qui- Gon said quietly. He looked up at her. "It was only later that they realised anything was wrong."
"I don't understand," Windu interrupted. "She's dead? How can she be?"
"I don't know--all the report says is that she had no brain activity, and yet some how all her automatic functions--heart, lungs, etc. are working perfectly. However, according to this, she is not truly conscious, or even alive." the Jedi finished. Kenobi looked at Kavii. She had gone completely white, paler than a ghost.
"Manna was right," she whispered, horror in her voice. "I am a demon."
"No, you're not," Kenobi interrupted, but she wasn't even looking at him, she was staring off into the distance. She started to sway slightly, and he grabbed her around the shoulders in case she fainted. "Kavii? Kavii!"
"I'm a demon, the walking dead!" she began to sob. He put an arm around her, and she leaned against him, her tearless face on his shoulder.
"I think that perhaps she needs to rest," Kenobi told his Masters.
"Good idea, young apprentice. Rest will make us all feel better." Yoda agreed. Of all the people in the room, he looked the least affected by the news that Kavii was dead. "Time we have to solve this problem. Let us all sleep, and be better in the morning."
Nodding, Kenobi started towards the door when Qui-Gon called out after him: "Remember what I said to you earlier, Obi-wan."
Kenobi didn't say anything, but turned and left with an arm around the distraught Kintari. Qui-Gon frowned as he watched them leave, but didn't say anything to his fellow Jedi. Finally, one of them felt the need to break the awkward silence.
"So, let me sum this up: we have untouchable opponents, and our one hope is a woman who is capable of doing things that are not possible, who also just happens to be dead. Have I got everything?" Mace Windu said dryly.
"Believe so, I do." Yoda replied. "But trust in the Force. In the Force lie the answers to everything."
"Actually, it may not, this time." Qui-Gon said, noticing something as he turned his attention back to the computer. He was worried about Kenobi's current decisions and lack of objectivity, and had to consciously force himself back to the topic at hand.
"Another question that needs to be answered, Qui-Gon?" asked Windu with a sigh. "What is this one? That she has a medichlorin that's too high for any living being?"
"Quite the opposite actually," Qui-Gon replied, his mouth going dry. "According to this reading, she has no medichlorins at all."
"That is impossible." Windu stated. "All living sentients do."
"Another question," Qui-Gon said with a sigh. He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Another question. And a battle to prepare for. It's going to be a long night."
"No," Yoda said firmly. "Follow my earlier advice, Qui-Gon. Sleep you must. In the morning, young Obi-wan and young Kavii will we meet. We will discuss it then. Sleep."
The door opened with a swish and Kenobi led Kavii through. She had stopped crying, but he couldn't get a word out of her.
"The Jedi Council will find out what is behind all of this," he said, trying to cheer her up. She flopped down onto the sofa.
"There's no point." she said gloomily. "Manna was right. I am a demon--three healers cannot all be wrong. That's why I could hear the villagers in my head--it was because I, too, was dead."
"Stop talking like that!" Kenobi said, sternly. Or tried to sound stern, but it came out more worried than he would have liked. He sat down beside her. "You're not a demon, you have the power of the Force. Somehow, the Force is affecting your scans."
She was silent. He could barely see her in the twilight that filtered in through the windows. "I'll put the lights on, get you something to eat," he started, but she shook her head no. She looked up at him, and he realised he could see her eyes perfectly in the dim light, even though she had her back to the windows. They seemed to glow with a radiance all their own.
"Somehow, I don't think it is the Force," she whispered. "I think I am dead, and something took me over, to help me live. That is why they said I was a demon."
"Kavii," he said, taking her by the shoulders, "you are not a demon."
She smiled thinly. "I supposed that depends on your definition."
"By any definition," he said firmly.
She laughed. "You are so...I don't know how to say it...no matter what, you always make me feel better."
He smiled, glad she was feeling happier. "I try," he said with mock modesty. She smiled again, and kissed him. He pulled back. "I have to be going," he said, awkwardly.
"Don't. I don't want to be alone," she replied softly. She kissed him again, and this time he definitely did not pull back or resist. His first thought was what would happen if Qui-Gon found out. The second thought was that he had no idea what Qui- Gon would do if he found out. And his third thought told the other two to shut up.
He woke up pleasantly, and yawned, and stretched. As he did so, his arm bumped Kavii's head, and she mumbled something.
Gingerly stretching some more without jarring her, he got up, and got changed as quietly as he could. It was only when he was finished that he noticed her watching him.
"Do you always do that?" Kenobi asked, a bit irritably.
"Do what?" she yawned.
"Watch me when I think you aren't."
"Ben, I do think you have a huge streak of paranoid in you," she said pleasantly. "Would you like some breakfast?"
"I'll get it," he said, putting on his boots. "I know a great little bakery a few blocks from here--" He looked up at the door. She followed his gaze.
The door opened to reveal Qui-Gon, standing with his arms crossed and an annoyed expression on his face. "I thought I might find you here," he said, an under tone of anger in his voice.
Qui-Gon held up his hand. He looked perfectly calm, which Kenobi knew was only a front. His Master didn't even look in Kavii's direction. "Apprentice, come with me. I want to have a word with you." He turned and left without a further word or glance.
Kenobi took a deep breath, and followed. He stopped before the door and started to say something to Kavii, but closed his mouth and went out silently.
Qui-Gon did not turn from the window. "I am disappointed in you, my apprentice. You deliberately disobeyed me."
"Master, you did not order me to stay away from Kavii--"
It was then that Qui-Gon turned, and the first signs of real anger showed in his eyes and was heard in his voice. "I thought you could think and see for yourself! That you didn't need to be ordered around like a child!" His voice dropped lower, and quieter. "Don't you understand? Already she is clouding your judgement. You don't have an objectivity, and personal involvement is a Jedi's worst fault. It makes you blind. You have no clear judgement, and we are faced with a huge battle and a huge mystery! A mystery that you will not be able to solve because it's too close to your heart."
"It is close to my heart, you don't understand--" Kenobi blurted, biting off the rest of the sentence, already horrified at the remark. Qui-Gon, if at all possible, straightened further.
"I don't understand? I don't understand? Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps you are not as ready for the Trials as I thought you were." Qui-Gon turned back to the window. "I did not want it to have to come to this. I had hoped you were capable of making the rational decision on your own. But this is what it has come to, and so be it. I forbid you to have any contact with that Kintari woman. I will intervene on the behalf of the council, and only me. Is that understood, Apprentice?" he asked, his voice calm and steady and all the more damning for it.
"I understand, Master," Kenobi answered, his mouth dry and a heavy weight on his heart. "I understand."
"Good. You will now proceed to your apartment. I want you to meditate and reflect on what has happened here. I will accompany Kavii to the council, where we will attempt to figure out what has gone on here."
He turned and walked back to Kavii's apartment, and left Kenobi alone in the hallway.
Kavii was unsure what had happened in the hallway, but she had a fairly good idea that it was because of her that Kenobi was not accompanying her and his Master. She could feel waves of resentment coming from Qui-Gon although he hid it extremely well under his usual cloak of pleasant civility. He couldn't hid it from Kavii. Her Force senses were more acute than they had ever been.
The lift door opened and he motioned for her to step in first. She did so with a slight nod of acknowledgement and waited patiently for him to enter after. The lift doors closed and the elevator sped upwards.
The two faced the back wall of the lift, as it was transparent and offered a panoramic view of the cityscape. Kavii closed her eyes, and for a second, she was aware of all the people that were in front of her, all the people in ships, in the buildings, on the street, everyone. The sensation lasted only a second, as it was slightly unnerving for her, but her apprehension soon passed.
"Your powers are growing," Qui-Gon said suddenly, his voice loud in the silence. He turned to face her. She smiled.
"My powers have always been the same," she said mystically, with a small smile. "it is only my ability to control them that is growing."
Qui-Gon did not answer. He stared back out the glass wall.
"You are frightened of me," she said suddenly.
He whipped around, eyes narrowing. "I am not. Fear is a Jedi's enemy. It leads to the Dark Side."
"You are," she said, softly. "I can feel it. You are worried about my powers and lack of restraint, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am," Qui-Gon admitted. "But that is natural--"
"That is not as far as it goes," she interrupted, still in the soft tone, a half whisper. "You are frightened that I have the abilities that even you do not. You are frightened for Ben."
"Obi-wan can not make rational decisions if he is under emotional duress," Qui-Gon continued, calmly.
"Stop throwing your platitudes at me!" she snapped, eyes blazing. The lift lurched to a halt. Qui-Gon looked at the controls, puzzled, but they indicated that the lift was in perfect working order.
"How--?" he murmured, then as he turned back, he knew. Kavii stood in the corner, arms folded, mysterious smile back, watching every expression on his face. He quickly calmed his emotions, centered himself. She was not going to over power him. He would fight.
The two stared at each other, glaring, neither blinking. It was as he stared at her, that he got a peculiar feeling that something was seriously, seriously wrong with Kavii. She would not have behaved like this earlier, he was sure of it. The meek Kintari who had followed at his heels would not have dared him so openly. Her moods he had noticed had been changing by leaps and bounds, and he had a sinking feeling that he knew what was responsible.
"I will not fight you," he said, breaking the silence, and adopting a neutral pose in the opposite corner of the lift. She smiled slyly.
Abruptly the lift started again.
It was at the Jedi Council floor in a few short moments. The door opened and he motioned for Kavii to leave. She nodded, and exited, he following behind her a few paces. The guard at the door let them into the Council.
"Ah, Qui-Gon," Mace Windu began, standing from his chair, "and Kavii--"
It was then that Qui-Gon leapt forward, lightsaber igniting in a green glow. Kavii screamed and ducked, trying to dodge his blows. They were for some reason very easy to duck and avoid, Kavii only realising the fact when she was manoeuvred into a corner, the lightsaber at her throat. She could feel the heat from the blade on her skin.
"Qui-Gon!" Mace Windu exclaimed, his own lightsaber drawn. "What is going on here?"
"I am certain," Qui-Gon began, never taking his eye from Kavii or his lightsaber, the tip never wavering, "that Kavii has been consumed by the Dark Side."
"See what you mean, do I," Yoda answered, shaking his head. "And fear I that there is more to this puzzle. But no time do we have for this. The Fleet is waiting, ready to leave. On it, we must be."
"What can we do for Kavii in the mean-time?" asked Qui-Gon. "She must not be allowed be free."
"No, no." Yoda shook his head. He looked up at Mace Windu. "A Force shield, will her contain."
"A Force shield." Windu nodded. "That should do it."
He turned to another of the Council. "Get some Knights together who aren't on the mission. We will use them to control Kavii."
The member nodded, and hurried off.
Kenobi was summoned by his Master to the hangers in preparation for the Fleet departure.
He said nothing the entire time, but kept his head bowed and his eyes down. He was humiliated at the dressing-down he had received, and on a deeper level that he was afraid to admit to, furious at Qui-Gon for splitting Kavii and him apart. But those feelings were well buried, and he was not truly conscious of them.
"Greetings, young apprentice," Mace Windu said suddenly. Kenobi looked up, ashamed again at being caught off guard by the Master's approach.
Windu smiled slightly. "Don't fret, so, Obi-wan. Everyone is distracted at the moment. It is nothing to be embarrassed about."
Kenobi smiled slightly at the kind words, but didn't reply.
"His mind is on other things," Qui-Gon said, with a look towards his apprentice. "But he will be ready for battle."
"Glad to hear it," Windu said, before heading off. He had, however, only made it a few steps away before he turned.
"Qui-Gon, do you have the schematics for the Bakkamiru ships? The ones we down-loaded from their computer?"
"No," Qui-Gon replied, shaking his mane of hair. "I do not- -the last place I saw them was when--"
"Was when I was looking at them in the Council room. That's what I thought." Windu said. "I'll have to go get them--"
"Master Windu!" yelled someone from across the hangar. "We need your help, Master!"
"I'll get the schematic," Kenobi offered. "I'm not really needed around here, and I can get them for you quickly."
Windu looked at Qui-Gon, who reluctantly nodded, and Kenobi tore off.
There were very few of the Jedi guards protecting the Council room, only one on the entire floor. Kenobi quickly made his way to the central room to find the schematics. They were on a small ledge, near Master Windu's chair. He picked them up and stored them in his robe. He turned to leave when he noticed something in the Force. It was Kavii, but he could barely perceive her.
Curious, and a little hesitant, he made his way towards where she seemed to be, a rarely-used wing of the Jedi Council floor.
He opened the doors at the end of a long hallway and found himself in a strange room. It was grand chamber, made for entertaining large groups of people, probably for Jedi meetings and assemblies.
The only people in it now, however, were the missing guards, lining the room against the walls, and three Jedi masters standing in a circle. Kavii sat in the center of the circle, looking forlorn.
Kenobi's brain immediately willed him to walk out the door, and straight back to Master Qui-Gon. Unfortunately, his feet didn't listen and took him to the center.
"Careful, young apprentice," one of the Jedi said solemnly, never taking his half-closed eyes from the Kintari. All three were concentrating furiously on something. "She is quite dangerous."
"Kavii?" Kenobi exclaimed, confused. At the sound of his voice, Kavii turned, looking happy and surprised.
"She is a minion of the Dark Side." the Jedi continued, the others nodding. "Even now, she is hiding her powers and presence from us."
"I can feel her," Kenobi contradicted. He reached out with the Force, reaching an invisible wall that ran from the three Jedi, enclosing Kavii. "But only faintly."
"They made me a Force cage!" Kavii blurted, standing and hopping to the edge of the enclosure. "They think I'm possessed by an evil demon."
"Kavii, we've been through this before--"
"No, listen to me for a second," she interrupted, her voice dropping to a whisper. "I've been thinking, a lot, about what's been going on with me. I'm not sure yet, but I do know this--I'm changing, somehow. The Force is changing me."
She held up a hand to stop Kenobi from interrupting. "Every time I use my power, I understand more and more. I don't know it all yet, but I'm close, I know I am. I got mad with Qui-Gon in the elevator, because I suddenly saw through him, through what he thinks he knows."
"What are you saying?" Kenobi exclaimed, shocked. "What he thinks he knows? How can you say that?"
"Because I can see how it's really like!" Kavii replied, earnestly. "I can see it fit together, Ben. There's a few pieces still missing, but the picture is getting clearer and clearer."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Kenobi continued, shaking his head, backing a bit away from her. "I don't understand."
Kavii sighed, and ran a hand through her multi-coloured hair, flicking it out of her eyes. "I thought you might not." she said sadly, looking downwards. Her eyes flipped up again, suddenly, renewed with new hope. "But I can show you! When I get out of here, I can show you what I mean!"
"That's enough," snapped one of the Jedi. "Apprentice, I think it is time for you to leave."
"I'll see you when I get back from the battle," Kenobi said to Kavii, nodding at the Jedi and starting to back up.
"Battle? What battle? What are you talking about?" Kavii cried, agitated. Kenobi was already almost out the door. "Be careful!" she yelled after him.
She sat back in the circle, thoughtful. She wished she could be with Ben during the battle, so that they could help each other, the way she had helped him with the Bakkamiru before. An unpleasant memory of the Bakkamiru emerged, of the poor village that she still had to avenge. Pushing that aside, she tried to think of a way that she could help Ben, from within the Force shield. Or at least keep an eye on him.
Kenobi stared out the view port. He could see the Fleet massing, preparing for the fight that was to come. Qui-Gon's reflection appeared in the window.
"I see you are still thinking about that Kintari woman," Qui-Gon said, a little sternly. "I thought I told you to get her out of your head."
"I am trying, Master," Kenobi said miserably. "But I ... cannot."
"You must empty your head of everything but what is happening now, Obi-wan. It is the only way you will be able to succeed."Qui-Gon bowed slightly, and left, no doubt to talk with the rest of the council on the strategies.
Kenobi felt the ship shudder under him as the ships went into lightspeed. These Coriellian frigates were tough, but obviously not built with shocks in mind. The jump back into realspace was just as rough, and very quick. Already out the window Kenobi could see the massive Bakkamiru ship, the Wedingu, flanked by several of the smaller fightercraft, such as the Keku. Kenobi recognised it from the distress buoy sent by the ill-fated Songbird.
The ships flew in precise formations, and steadily grew in size. Kenobi stared at them in shock. What he thought were one- man fighters were actually the size of the frigate on which he stood! The Wedingu, then, must have been the size of a small moon, as it dwarfed the Keku and the others. Kenobi felt the tug of the Force, as he watched the Republic fighters flying out to deal with the new enemy. Something was wrong. The Bakkamiru ships were flying too carelessly, and too fast. They were approaching the Republic battleships with suicidal speed.
The red alert sirens went off as the frigates began to engage with the enemy. The shock waves from each of the blasts rocked the ship, and the Jedi had a hard time staying on his feet. Lurching backwards and forwards, he tried to get to Qui- Gon, to warn him of the danger.
Kavii watched the three Jedi masters with little interest. She sat in the center of the Force circle with a distant expression, as if she was pretending she wasn't there. But then, in truth, she wasn't.
Kenobi rushed onto the bridge as the Bakkamiru ship collided with the Coriellian freighter. The two ships scraped along each other, but the hulls were not compromised. Alarms sounded with a blare of noise, lights flashed, the entire bridge was chaos and bedlam.
"Captain!" called an ensign from the operative center. "We're getting strange anomalous readings from outside the hull!"
"What?" demanded the captain, but even as he stepped over the console, there was a strange, loud rasping sound.
"Everybody down!" yelled Kenobi suddenly as he drew and activated his lightsaber. Even Qui-Gon looked surprised, but that expression quickly fled as Kenobi's lightsaber sliced through the Bakkamiru that had appeared through the hull.
"They're vulnerable just as they come through," Kenobi yelled, slicing through another and another. Qui-Gon and the other Jedi activated their own lightsabers and joined in the slaughter. Blasters were fired by the bridge crew, but more kept coming through, and faster.
"Alert your crew!" Qui-Gon yelled to the captain. "They must not be allowed to over-run the ship!"
There was only silence as a reply. Daring a look over his shoulder, the Master could see the captain, lying on the floor, a blood-dripping Bakkamiru standing over him. The alien grinned, a fearsome display of teeth and malevolent intent. Kenobi turned as well, and gasped. The creature had turned to start on the rest of the crew. Kenobi had a sudden vision of the entire crew of the frigate wasted and massacred, just like the natives of the Kintari village.
"No!" he screamed, using the Force as a massive shock wave. It battered the Bakkamiru, making them tangible for a fraction of a second, enough that the remaining bridge crew and the Jedi took them down with ease. Kenobi leaned against a bulkhead for support. The Force blast had taken too much out of him. Someone put a hand on his shoulder. It was Qui-Gon.
"Calm, my apprentice," he said gently. Kenobi was trembling with the after-effect of the Force. "There is still much to do." Kenobi nodded.
The halls were littered with the dead, and dying. The Jedi, consisting of Qui-Gon, Kenobi, a Master named Juil and a Knight named Kin, had no problem following the trail that the Bakkamiru left behind.
"They are heading to the engine section." Kin said, knowing his way around the frigate.
"What are they planning to do?" mused Qui-Gon, looking pensive. "They left the bridge alone."
"After we cleared them out," Kenobi retorted, unable to keep the contempt from his voice. Qui-Gon spun around.
"Hate leads to the Dark side. So does aggression and anger. Let it go, Obi-wan. Or the Bakkamiru will have already won."
"We have," rasped a voice from behind them. The four whirled to face an entire contingent of the non-corporeal aliens. The lead smiled, showing blood red teeth, some jagged and broken. "We your ship have. We you will destroy. Surrender. You will surrender!" it screamed.
"Never!" yelled Kin, drawing his lightsaber and charging forward.
"No!" screamed Kenobi. Kin reached the creatures, but his blade sliced through empty air. The alien stepped back, and without warning became solid. Solid enough to disembowel the Knight. The Master, Juil, frowned, and a wave of the Force swept down the hallway to the Bakkamiru. This time, they were ready, and in a flash, disappeared straight through the floor.
"What? Where?" Qui-Gon started looking around him, down the corridors. "Be prepared for--"
The aliens shot up, leaping through the deck plates, howling gravelling Bakkamiru war cries. They charged the Jedi. The Jedi themselves were all experienced enough to watch each others backs, but there were too many Bakkamiru. They were surrounded, cut off. And they couldn't even fight their way out; the aliens only became solid when they slashed. The Jedi were completely on the defensive.
"Perhaps another Force blast," Juil said, gesturing. The Force wave struck the Bakkamiru on all sides, leaving them tangible. Kenobi and Qui-Gon lashed out. Tangible, but not defenceless. Juil was tired after the effort, and his reaction time was dulled sufficiently that an alien saw an opportunity and used it. With a gargle and a scream, Juil was cut down. Qui-Gon and Kenobi were on their own.
Kavii gasped. She had a stricken look on her face, one of deep fear and anxiety. The Jedi gathered their strength together and reinforced the shield around her. She was not getting out. They relaxed somewhat as she closed her eyes and her face changed back to her former distant, far-seeing expression.
"Master!" Kenobi yelled over the din of the Bakkamiru's senseless screaming and hissing. "We must get out of here--I think another Force blast--!"
"I will cover you," Qui-Gon said, never taking his eyes from the Bakkamiru he held at bay. He and his apprentice were back to back, circling around the aliens, who snarled in their rocky language. "You must run, and get to an escape pod. The Republic must know of this." Every step the Jedi took was in a slick puddle of blood, a reminder of Juil's fatal mistake.
"I won't leave you!" Kenobi yelled back. Qui-Gon took a relaxing sigh and the Force burst like a shell around them, driving the Bakkamiru farther back. Kenobi cut a swath, even though any hole he seemed to make was filled instantly by he swarming rock creatures. "There's too many!"
With a realisation of horror, he was no cut off from Qui- Gon, but no less free, only surrounded himself.
"Master!" he yelled. Panic was rising within him. He tried to quell it, but it was too incessant to be ignored, to by shunned by his techniques. "Master!"
A Bakkamiru charged, and Kenobi whirled to deflect it, but as he did, another carved long gashes into his only-recently healed back. He screamed as another attacked from his flank. He couldn't save himself. "Help me!"
Qui-Gon Jinn stared, with a deep terror, as his apprentice was cut off from him. The Bakkamiru knew what they were doing, and that made them all the more dangerous. The Jedi watched in helpless horror as Obi-wan was buried under a living mound of slashing rock. He heard his apprentice yell out a frantic "help me" before he was lost completely in the melee.
Kavii opened her eyes. The irises were a swirling melange of colours, and as the Jedi watched her, the colours seemed to change, become brighter and more radiant.
Ben's yell echoed in her head. She could see him, bravely holding on, battling for his own life. She knew he would not make it alone. She knew it was up to her. Opening her eyes, she drew on her power. Her true power. Her abilities that the council denied was possible for her to have. Her strength, her talent, her inborn right. She had been frightened of her own potential, but now she tapped the inner reserve that lay within her, and reached out, across the light-years to the battle raging in deep space. The Force shield to her, meant nothing. Distance meant nothing. Space, time, size, all meant nothing to her. She was farther beyond the concepts than the Jedi had the capability to realise. With a single thought, she transcended the laughable "shield" they attempted to pen her with, and reached for the ship, and reached for Ben.
Qui-Gon tried to hold down his feelings. He tried to keep them from controlling him, but the apparent death of Obi-wan was too strong, and a wave of rage was threatening to burst free. Before he could even begin to think about what to do, there was a bright light, a burst so bright it seemed unnatural. Then it abruptly faded, not even leaving an afterimage in Qui-Gon's eyes.
The corridor was now empty, with only Obi-wan and himself. Switching off his lightsaber, he ran to his apprentice, who was still alive, and further more, not wounded at all. Obi-wan groaned, and rolled over. His robes were shredded where the Bakkamiru had attacked him, but his wounds were gone.
"What?" he moaned, starting to sit up.
"I don't know," Qui-Gon replied, in an awed hush. Then, he noticed something in the corner of his eye. He looked up, and the radiant figure standing over them. It was a person, formed by light and energy. The person smiled.
"Kavii," Obi-wan rasped, recognising her, sitting up. He held a hand out to her. She touched it briefly, then she faded like a ghost, leaving the entire hall empty, save for the two Jedi. Kenobi collapsed again, unconscious. Qui-Gon felt for his pulse, and it was steady, so Kenobi must have just passed out from shock. His wounds were gone completely, he looked healthier than when he had first arrived on the ship.
Qui-Gon stood up and flipped his communicator open. "This is a ship-wide communication," he said into the small machine. "Can any one read me?"
There was a hiss of static, then finally a small voice said, with a cough, "Ensign Reed reporting in, sir."
"Ensign? Where are you?"
"Engineering," the voice rasped. "I'm...I'm the only left down here, sir. I'm trying to hold down an engines failure."
"Get out of there, Reed," Qui-Gon snapped. "You can't hold it down yourself. Get to an escape pod, immediately."
There was a pause and a whine of static, then finally Reed's hoarse voice: "Yes sir."
"Make your way to any Republic ship." Qui-Gon continued.
"What if...what if the Bakkamiru have taken them too, sir?" interrupted the ensign. Qui-Gon hesitated.
"It's a chance we'll have to take." Qui-Gon said at last. He looked around at the empty hallway. "But some how, I don't think they will be much of a threat any more."
"Understood," the ensign replied, signing off. The quaver in his voice told Qui-Gon that Reed would much rather have attempted to lock down the engine failure, and that all the ensign really understood was the order to evacuate. It was enough.
Qui-Gon lightly slapped Kenobi to try and get the apprentice awake, but Kenobi merely groaned, his eye lids fluttering for a second. Hefting the young man to his feet, Qui-Gon attempted to drag the semi-comatose apprentice down the hall, but Kenobi was dead weight and difficult to shift.
Using the Force, and an old Jedi technique, Qui-Gon managed to get Kenobi awake enough to be able to stagger down the halls to an escape pod.
As the pod left the ship, the engines blew. The small craft bobbed in the wake of the explosion, but its shields held. Qui- Gon breathed a small sigh of relief.
His communicator beeped. "Qui-Gon here," he said into it. "Qui-Gon, are we glad to hear from you." Mace Windu's relieved voice seemed to fill the small pod. "When the Wonwonyeh blew, we all feared for the worst. As it is, there's only two escape pods that we can detect."
"There's only two," Qui-Gon said sadly. "Obi-wan and I are in one, and an Ensign Reed is in another."
There was a pause.
"No other survivors?"
"None. I checked the ship through the Force myself," Qui-Gon confirmed. "As it was, we barely survived ourselves. Obi-wan very nearly didn't."
"You'll have to share your secret with us," Windu said dryly. "We lost another two ships to the Bakkamiru. We had to shoot them down ourselves, rather than let them get taken. The Wedingu managed to escape to hyperspace."
Qui-Gon smiled wanly. "I'm afraid, Mace, that what ever secret we have in defeating the Bakkamiru lies on Coruscant, under heavy Jedi guard."
The three Jedi had not moved since Qui-Gon had left them, before the battle. They stood in a ring in the Great Hall, guarding their prisoner. Kavii.
She got to her feet as Qui-Gon approached. He could not sense her at all through the shield.
"Kavii," he said.
"Master Qui-Gon," she said with a dip of her head. "How did the battle go?"
"Not well, considering. We lost three ships, and many, many people. But it could have been worse." he admitted.
She nodded, her face serious. "Yes. It could have."
They stared at each other for a moment, Qui-Gon frowning in concentration and Kavii watching him, with a hint of a smile.
"How did you do it?" he asked, finally, not being able to tell using the Force through the shield. She shrugged. She sat back down, cross-legged in the middle of the circle. "Do you know? Or are you simply not going to tell me?"
She shrugged again. "A little from both. I'm not sure how I did it, and I'm not sure you want to know."
They had another staring match through the invisible shield. "What are you?" he said, at last breaking the silence. She shrugged yet again.
"Again, I'm not sure. And again, I don't think you truly want to know." she said, her eyes twinkling at his discomfort.
"How do you know that?" he asked, despite himself. He prided himself on his ability to stay calm, focused and not let his emotions get in the way of his thoughts. Infuriatingly, she merely shrugged for the third time.
"I don't know how I do the things I do, or know the things I know. I just do." she replied sagely. "Isn't that what Master Yoda preaches? Do or do not?"
"There is no try." Qui-Gon finished, smiling despite himself. "You haven't been around him that long."
"I picked it up somewhere." she said. They were still for a few more moments before she looked back up at him. "How's Ben?" she asked quietly.
"He's recovering. He's physically fine, just sleeping. He's had a rough time." Qui-Gon answered.
"I want to see him." Kavii said suddenly, standing up. The three Jedi all stiffened and looked at each other. Qui-Gon could feel it too. A building of the Force around Kavii, he could feel it even through the shield.
"I don't think that would be wise," Qui-Gon stalled for time.
"It doesn't matter what you think," Kavii snapped, showing an edge of anger for the first time. Then, with a slight pop of displaced air, she vanished.
"Ben," she whispered, stroking his forehead. Groaning a bit, his eyes opened, and Kavii smiled. "Good, you're awake."
"What?" he moaned, trying to sit up, but she held him back.
"What happened?" He looked around him. "Where am I?"
"You're in the medibay on Coruscant." she answered.
"Qui-Gon--?" he asked, settling back down.
"He's fine. Most of the Jedi are fine. The Bakkamiru have been driven back. Here, drink this." she said, holding a cup to his mouth. He took a sip and nearly gagged.
"It's so bitter!" he coughed.
"Good for getting your strength back." she said, setting the cup down on the table beside the bed. She perched on the edge. "I found a supply of wreila bark, can you believe it? So I made some tea for you to drink."
"Thank you," he replied, out of habit, but he added: "but I'd prefer to get better on my own."
She laughed. "It's good that you're all right," she said, patting his hand. He nodded slightly, closing his eyes for a second.
"I had the oddest dream," he began, but the doors to the Bay opened, and Qui-Gon rushed through. He slowed to a stop as he saw Kavii.
Kenobi opened his eyes again, at the sound of the doors. "Master!" he exclaimed, struggling to get up, but again, Kavii held him in check.
"Stay down, Obi-wan," Qui-Gon advised. "How are you feeling?"
The question was addressed at his apprentice but the Master had his gaze focused on Kavii, sitting on the edge of the bed, looking like a harmless Kintari woman, and not like the walking conundrum that she was.
"I'm better," Kenobi answered truthfully. "I'll get up soon."
"There's no rush, apprentice," Qui-Gon continued. "The Council is now debating what to do."
"There is only one thing to do," Kavii interrupted, the first thing she had said since Qui-Gon entered the room. "Kill the Bakkamiru."
"It's not that simple. We can't get near enough to them." Qui-Gon said wearily. "And unlike you, we can't just vaporise them."
"So find out what is making them intangible and destroy it." she said simply.
"We have no way of knowing--"
"The Base!" Kenobi exclaimed, sitting up. "It must be on the Base, the one on Kintari. That's where the whole thing was staged from, I think. If we infiltrate there, we can at least gather information, if not shut it down entirely."
Qui-Gon nodded. "That's a good idea. I'll tell the Council--"
"No," Kavii interrupted. "No. They'll know if you send a fleet, or even a few ships. No...Ben and I will go." She looked down at the patient. "When he's up to it."
"You? Do you think the Council is going to let you out of their sight?" Qui-Gon insisted.
"They can't stop me. I'm the logical choice, at any rate. Ka--I know the terrain, I've battled the Bakkamiru twice before. Ben and I are the best people for the job. Period."
"I do not know if I approve of this." Mace Windu said, sitting in his chair in the Jedi circle.
"I do not approve either," Qui-Gon said, evenly. "But she's already shown that she's beyond our power to control."
"Sense I nothing of the Dark Side in her." Yoda interrupted, frowning. "Indeed, sense I nothing of her at all."
"The only one who seems to be able to sense her all the time is young Obi-wan." Mace Windu replied.
"We can only hope that they are successful," Qui-Gon said, changing the subject back towards the mission. He disliked mentioning the relationship between his apprentice and the Kintari.
"Yes. If they are not, perhaps they will learn enough about our foes that we can figure out something else." Windu replied. He leaned back and steepled his fingers. "The only information on the Bakkamiru in the computers is relatively out of date. The Bakkamiru never joined the Republic. We know hardly anything about them."
"Except that they are nearly Force impervious and can phase through matter," added Qui-Gon dryly. Windu frowned.
"Yes, besides that."
Kavii and Ben stood in the hall waiting for the Council to adjourn. "I'm tired of this. Can't they ever act without arguing about it for hours?"
Kenobi laughed. "It's only been a few minutes. This is nothing. You should see the Senate in action."
She sighed, and leaned against the glass windows. "We could just leave now, you know."
"What? How?" Kenobi laughed. "We need the ship first, remember?"
"No we don't." she contradicted. She smiled. "It's something else I learned. I can go places, just by thinking it."
"You can teleport?" Kenobi gasped. "That's beyond impossible!"
"I know!" she laughed brightly, and it sounded almost like a giggle. "But I can do it. I can do anything I want, really. We can leave now, find out what we need, and be back before they're done debating."
Kenobi shook his head. "I don't know if we should. And I don't know what's gotten into you."
"Nothing! I'm the same as I always was." Kavii replied, a touch indignantly. "I'm just having a bit more fun with my powers. That's what they're there for."
Kenobi still looked hesitant. She took him by the hand. "Ben. Trust me. I can do this."
"I know you can." he replied. "I just...just don't want to upset Qui-Gon any more. He's my Master..."
"I believe in being my own Master," Kavii said. "Now. Are you with me? Or would you rather fight alone?"
"Of course I'm with you!" exclaimed Kenobi.
"Good. Then close your eyes...
...and now you can open them!" she said cheerfully. Kenobi did so, and saw before him the towering Glowing Mountain. They stood at the foot, looking up at the summit.
"What?" he cried, nearly choking. "I can't believe this!"
"It's true, it's all real," she said, spreading her arms wide. "Just as we left it."
Kenobi could feel the breeze in his hair, he could hear the birds, he could even smell the slight waft of mint that he remembered. It was no dream, it was real, and yet, how could it be?
"How is this possible?" he asked, stunned.
Kavii shrugged. "A lot of things are possible. I don't really know the mechanics of it. I just play it by ear. Now, come on. We've got to get inside the base before the Bakkamiru know we're here."
The climb was not as tough as Kenobi remembered it to be. He was still reeling from the fact that Kavii had brought them clear across the galaxy by sheer thought! It was a staggering concept, and he had to admit to himself he was a little awed, and a little frightened. No mere Force talent could do that, not after only a few days worth of training.
"Is this where you went in last time?" Kavii asked, stopping and pointing to a place in the crust that had been melted and re- solidified.
"I think so," Kenobi answered. He drew his lightsaber, ready to cut a hole again, but Kavii waved her hand and the ground disappeared in a handy, person-sized hole. She jumped down with out any hesitation. That was more than a little odd, Kenobi realised, for her to do, but he pushed the thought to the back of his mind and jumped down after her.
The corridor was just as Kenobi remembered it. Long, dark, and ominous. The tiny flickering lights that had run along the floorboards were gone, however, and the only light came from Kenobi's ignited lightsaber.
"This way," he said, remembering the way he had turned before.
"Are you sure?" asked Kavii.
"Yes. I remember turning this way. Don't worry, I'm pretty good at orienteering, I can remember directions." he answered. She nodded, and they set off down the tunnel.
Kavii stopped suddenly. She froze, listening to something. Kenobi strained his ears, hearing a soft, almost inaudible scratching along the walls. He gestured to Kavii with a tilt of his head and she backed up behind him. He stood, waiting for the Bakkamiru to emerge through the wall.
The rocky, gray head poked through after a moment. Kavii didn't need her cue, she reached out with the Force and dragged the creature out from the wall, so that Kenobi could dispatch easily.
"I don't sense any more." she said quietly.
"You can sense them?" he asked, surprised. She nodded. She looked down the hallway, in the opposite direction that they had been walking.
"This way," she said. "I can feel a large gathering of them."
"Doesn't that mean we want to go the other way?" Kenobi replied with a grin, but he started out behind her anyway.
The tunnel ended in solid rock. "This must be the end of the lava tube." Kenobi looked for a button or touch panel that would open a door, if there was one.
"They are behind the rock." Kavii said, touching it with the tips of her fingers. "There's great number of them, all hidden from the Force."
"How can they do that?" Kenobi asked, a little confused. "Unless..."
"They're all Force-wielding." Kavii confirmed. "Enough that the Jedi can't sense them, and that minor burst of the Force can't hurt them."
"Of course," Kenobi shook his head sheepishly, a bit embarrassed that he hadn't seen it before.
"So, what now?" Kavii asked, still staring at the rock. Kenobi got the peculiar feeling she was staring through the rock, and the thought gave him the shivers.
"We'll have to find another way in. We can't go through the solid rock...why are you looking at me like that?" he asked. Kavii had half-turned around, a funny grin on her face. She held out her hand. Confused, he took it, and without any warning, she pulled him through the rock.
They were now standing on a slight balcony, overlooking a huge cavern. Kenobi couldn't see farther than a few feet with the glow from the lightsaber, but he heard the rasping and guttural growls of the Bakkamiru. He raised his lightsaber, in case any tried to attack him.
"The stairs," Kavii said, pointing to his left. He saw that the balcony was attached to a metal mesh staircase. He face it, as several Bakkamiru started to climb up. Feinting with his lightsaber, he managed to keep them at bay. The aliens, far from phasing through the beam, squealed and covered their eyes.
"Kavii!" he exclaimed. "I think they're affected by bright light. Can you...?"
"No sooner said than done," she replied breezily, and the cavern lit up as in daylight. The Bakkamiru screamed and dropped to the floor. "We've got to hurry, they'll get used to it in a second." Kenobi looked down over the balcony. He could see the cavern now. Its floor was a good three storeys below them, and it was made of the same metal of the tunnels. Large machines were stacked against the far wall, and unconscious Bakkamiru were held on long conveyor belts.
"We've got to jump," he said. Kavii nodded, and climbed over the metal bar railing. Kenobi quickly followed her, turning off his lightsaber and hooking it to his belt.
Her descent was much slower as she floated serenely to the ground. He simply used the Force to fall slower than he normally would have, allowing him to land without breaking anything.
Kenobi got up from the crouch he had landed in and unhooked the lightsaber. The Bakkamiru were beginning to stir, getting used to the bright light that seemed to radiate from the ceiling, like bright sunlight.
Kavii floated gently down to stand beside him, and Kenobi realised that her feet were not actually touching the ground. Ignoring that fact for the present, he had a sudden idea: "Kavii- -could you make a Force shield around us that the Bakkamiru wouldn't be able to cross?"
"Done and done." she replied instantly.
The Bakkamiru were up and moving, now. One charged towards Kenobi. He brought the lightsaber up as a reflex, but the creature was bumped backwards a few feet from him. It howled and tried to charge again, but the field prevented it. It tried attacking the field itself, as did the others that joined it. It was a disconcerting feeling for Kenobi, to watch the vicious creatures pawing at the air only a few feet from where he stood. "We've got to get going," Kavii said, quietly.
"Let's check out the conveyor belts, first," he agreed. He was glad to find that the field moved with them, forcing a channel through the growling and snarling mass of rock aliens.
The machines were massive, covering the entire wall of the cavern, stretching from floor to ceiling and wall-to-wall.
"What are these used for?" Kenobi pondered. He was no technician, and wouldn't know where to begin. Kavii was examining the first set of conveyor belts. Bakkamiru were stretched out on them, tied down with restrainers and apparently unconscious.
"They're doing medical work on them," Kavii reported, looking at a computer read-out. Kenobi was unsure how she could read the Bakkamiru alphabet, never mind understand the language, but it was one question he had among many about the Kintari woman. "Implanting something."
"Something that needs to be controlled by these machines?" Kenobi asked, gesturing with a quick nod of his head towards the mechanical behemoths. She nodded.
"Probably. Maybe we can find what, lying around here." She added: "Don't split up."
"I wouldn't dream of it," Kenobi answered, glancing at the living wall of frustrated aliens that surrounded him on three sides. The fourth "side" of the Force-dome faced the giant machines and the conveyor-surgical assembly system. For some unfathomable reason, the Bakkamiru were going no where near that section.
"I wonder if they're afraid of it," he whispered, watching their reaction.
"I sense great apprehension from them, about this section of the room." Kavii agreed, still looking through desks and drawers for anything useful. "Their memories are not pleasant."
"Their memories?" Kenobi asked. "You mean they've already had the procedure done on them?"
She nodded. Kenobi tried one of the drawers. It was hard to pull open, but it did, revealing an open bow full of microchips, roughly the size of Kenobi's fingernail.
"Now that's what I call interesting," he said, sifting through. "They're implanting these chips into the Bakkamiru-- into their own soldiers. I wonder why. Maybe as tracking devices."
"Maybe," Kavii said. She picked one up. "This doesn't look like a tracking device?"
Kenobi picked one up as well, and examined it. "How would you know?" he exclaimed. "You couldn't understand how the doors opened without handles a day or two ago."
"I've learned so much since then," Kavii snapped.
"I'm sorry, Kavii, I didn't mean that the way it sounded--I was just curious."
"I know a lot more than you'll ever think I do," she said, mysteriously.
Kenobi felt a little ashamed, and decided to turn the conversation back on course. "We need to get back to Qui-Gon and tell him of all of this," the Jedi apprentice remarked. Kavii smiled at the comment.
"I don't think we need to leave," she said mystically. "He's already here."
"The Wedingu is moving into range," reported the officer in charge of helm control. "It was hidden behind Kintar's moon."
"Can we stop it?" Qui-Gon asked the captain. She shook her head.
"We're not equipped for that kind of battle. Helm, avoid that ship at all costs. I'm not making the mistake of the Wonwonyeh." the captain replied.
"Aye, sir." Helm responded.
"I'll take one of the shuttles down." Qui-Gon said. "I must find my apprentice."
The captain nodded. " Good luck, Master. May the Force be with you."
"Thank you." Qui-Gon said with a return nod. "I can only hope the Force is with Obi-wan. I fear he is in grave danger."
"Can we sabotage these machines, do you think?" Kenobi asked Kavii, staring at them. "It may not do much, but I think anything would help at this point, and if we sabotage them, it might buy the Republic some time."
"You may be right," Kavii answered, looking thoughtful. She rubbed her chin. "I could take out the machines."
"You could? Ho--" Kenobi bit off the question mid-stream. She smiled.
"Still confused?" she asked, chuckling. "Oh well." She raised her arms over her head.
"The Wedingu is firing!" the officer reported. The ship shook, but Qui-Gon remained on his feet.
"I must get to that shuttle," he said, but the captain interrupted him.
"Not during a fight," she said, shaking her head. "We'd have to drop shields."
Qui-Gon frowned, but didn't argue. The Bakkamiru ship fired again, and again.
The machines blew with less commotion than Kenobi expected. There were fizzes and pops and a few loud bangs, and then the controls all went dark.
The Bakkamiru screamed, and roared, and redoubled their efforts to get through the shield. Some broke off the attack to rush to the machines, but there was nothing that they could have done. Every circuit was burned out, they were useless. Kenobi watched the creatures attacking, and fleeing, and he noticed something.
"Hey! They're all tangible," he exclaimed. "Kavii, drop the shield."
Kavii nodded, and the Bakkamiru charged through. As Kenobi had seen, they were tangible, solid, and no match for a Jedi and a lightsaber.
"The Bakkamiru ship has broken off attack, sir." the officer reported from his station.
"I wonder what spooked it?" mused the Captain.
"Maybe I can answer that," a voice said from behind them. Qui-Gon whirled to see the spectre form of Kavii that he recognised from the earlier battle.
"Kavii!" the Master exclaimed. "Where's Obi-wan?"
"On the surface," she replied non-chalantly. "Don't worry, he's safe. I'll take care of him."
"What did you do?" asked Qui-Gon urgently, an unsettling feeling coming to rest over him.
Kavii chuckled. "Nothing...yet. I was going to wait until Ben was finished with his little task before beginning the real fireworks, but you sound so impatient." Her smile was disturbing. It held no real happiness or delight, but a sense of completion, and a touch of malicious foreboding. She dipped her head slightly and Kenobi appeared on the bridge, lightsaber drawn and apparently was just in a fight with someone.
"Master Qui-Gon!" he exclaimed. "Kavii--Kavii?"
Kavii's spectral, fiery form was changing, and she was becoming a corporeal form again, however, this form was slightly different from what Kenobi and Qui-Gon remembered. The air around her started to ripple and wave as if it was subjected to a great heat. Her eyes, normally simple flecks of colour, began to shine and glow, and her hair seemed to crackle with barely contained energy.
"That's not Kavii," Qui-Gon said, breaking the silence that held sway over the bridge crew.
She laughed. "Very good. Very good. I'm surprised that Qui-Gon was the first to figure it out. Maybe I wasn't giving him enough credit."
Kenobi looked panic-stricken. "What have you done with Kavii?" he exclaimed, bringing his lightsaber up. Qui-Gon held up a hand to stop him.
"I am Kavii," the being said.
"How is that possible?" Kenobi continued, an edge of panic creeping into his voice.
The being shrugged. "I am all things, Ben. Everything is possible for me."
"Captain!" one of the crew explained. The captain's head whipped around, grateful for the distraction. "Sir, the Bakkamiru are hailing us."
"Put them on," the captain ordered. The viewpad, in the center of the bridge, flickered into existence, showing a craggy Bakkamiru.
"Captain," it hissed in its gravelly voice, "you our devices have destroyed. We how to know want!"
"The machines," Kenobi whispered. He turned to captain.
"Captain," he said in a whisper. "You can fire on the ship now." The captain turned away from the viewpad and made a cut- throat gesture. The image flickered off.
"The shots will go right through it," the captain replied, looking between the Jedi apprentice, and his master.
"I don't think they will--I think the machines I destroyed were what let the Bakkamiru become intangible." "It's a long shot," the captain said finally. "No pun intended. I don't know if it'll do anything, but we can try it." She stepped down to confer with her weapons officer.
"Firing shots," the officer reported. They all watched the screen, as the shots blasted into space, ramming into the Wedingu. The crew cheered.
"Minimal damage to the Wedingu," the officer reported, "But that's only due to its immense size."
"Fire at will, Lieutenant," the captain said cheerfully, stepping back up the ramp to the two Jedi and Kavii.
The viewpad flickered to life again. "How!" the creature screamed. "How! How you--" It stopped mid-sentence. It saw Kavii, or the being that resembled Kavii.
"Chikara!" it screamed, its voice becoming high and reedy. High and reedy for a Bakkamiru. "Chikara! Chikara!" The viewpad blinked out.
"They have severed the connection," the communications officer reported.
"The Wedingu is heading out of orbit--powering its engines--it's going to jump to hyperspace--" reported Tactical.
"Oh no you don't." the being said softly.
"The Wedingu has stalled--its engines powering down." Tactical corrected himself.
"Chikara?" Qui-Gon mused. "I've heard that name before--"
"No, you haven't." Kavii corrected. "You only think you have."
Taken aback, Qui-gon frowned. "What does it mean?"
"It's one of the names for me." the being explained. She turned to Kenobi, smiling. "Remember when you were trying to tell me about names?"
Kenobi remembered it well. He had tried to explain the meaning and significance of first and last names to Kavii, and she had gotten so confused--"That wasn't you," he said stiffly, jerking himself back to the present.
The being stopped smiling abruptly. "Of course it was. I was there."
"But I wasn't talking to you," Kenobi snapped. "I talked to Kavii. I walked with Kavii, I fought with Kavii, I kissed Kavii- -it was Kavii, not you."
The being stepped back, the hurt expression on its borrowed face so reminiscent of Kavii that Kenobi felt the urge to apologise, but he didn't.
"But--I--" the being stammered, backing away from Kenobi. "But--"
It held its head in its hands. Finally, it sighed, and brought its head back up. "I brought you here for a reason," it said, sniffling. "I will accomplish what I meant to do."
The Wedingu disappeared from off the view screen.
"What happened?!" yelled the captain. "Did they jump to lightspeed?"
"No, sir," reported several officers at once.
"They just disappeared," continued Tactical.
"Right off the scopes," added Helm.
"I don't understand," the captain trailed off, turning around to face the two Jedi, hoping for an explanation. She got one, but not the one she was looking for.
Qui-Gon staggered, and leaned against a console for support. Kenobi looked pained, and slouched against the wall. The being looked sullen and angry, yet pleased with itself.
"I did it." it said. "They're gone. The villagers wanted it, and Kavii promised it to them, and I did it for her."
"You killed them all," Qui-Gon rasped. "All of them, the ship and the ones on the planet."
The being laughed, sharply. It sounded annoyed. "No. I didn't."
"No, I didn't." it replied stubbornly.
"You killed all the Bakkamiru," Kenobi said suddenly, coming to his feet, the feeling passing. "All of them. Every last single one. Just to prove you can."
"I don't have to prove anything," the being replied. "I did it because I wanted to. That's why I'm here, to do everything. And I will do everything, eventually."
"You murdered an entire species?" the captain exclaimed, drawing her blaster, a useless gesture but a meaningful one.
"It's on my list," the being said arrogantly. There was still a hurt undertone to all its replies. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have other matters to attend to."
It disappeared, vanishing like a wisp of smoke. Qui-Gon and Kenobi looked at each other.
"I see you have interesting taste in women, Obi-wan," Qui- Gon said dryly. Kenobi managed a weak smile.
"Captain," piped up Tactical.
"Yes, Lieutenant?" replied the captain, walking over to stand behind him.
"I took some readings of our...guest," Tactical began, "and I found something rather interesting." He waited for Qui-Gon and Kenobi to join the captain, standing around his console. "This," he said, bringing up a picture of the bridge on the computer, "is a normal shot of the bridge, taken a few minutes ago."
It showed Qui-Gon and Kenobi facing the being, and the captain standing a little behind Qui-Gon, the rest of the bridge crew at their stations behind her.
"Now, this is an infra-red picture."
The same scene, only with red outlines of the two Jedi and the crew. No Kavii.
"This is a radiation scan."
The same scene, again, in rainbow colours, Kavii still missing.
"I ran through every scope and scanning system on the ship, Sirs," Tactical continued. "The...creature didn't show up on any that registered life or even existence. Except for..."
Another picture was called up. This was black, except for the faint blue outlines of the crew. Kenobi's figure was brilliantly shaded in blue, Qui-Gon's even more so. And Kavii's...the being's was every possible shade of colour, and radiated so much it overlapped much of the bridge.
"Is this scan what I think it is?" Qui-Gon asked. The Lieutenant nodded. "Yes, it is, Sir. It's a Force reading."
"Do you realise what you are saying?" Mace Windu nearly stood up with the emphasis of his words, he was speaking so strongly. "Do you realise it?"
"I have given the matter much thought," Qui-Gon replied calmly.
Windu stood completely and shook his head. "You are saying that Kavii was created from the Force." he said, slowly, watching Qui-Gon for a reaction. He got none.
"Actually, sir, that's not quite accurate," Kenobi interrupted. "Kavii was taken over by the Force."
"The Force is not an entity," said another of the Council, the Mim Master Mimeir. "It cannot possess another."
"But maybe when it came in contact with Kavii, it some how coalesced into an entity." Kenobi argued, biting down the urge to retort how do you know it can't?
"These are all maybes and guesses." Windu stopped Mimeir from answering Kenobi with a raised hand. "Master Yoda, what do you think?"
"Trained Jedi I have for nearly nine hundred years." Yoda said, slowly, thoughtfully. "Think I that I know the Force, do you? I do not. It is a mystery to me still."
"What are you saying, Master Yoda?" asked another of the council, Master Yarael Poof. "That you don't know?"
"That is exactly what I am saying. We know not what we are facing." Yoda confirmed.
"If we don't know what it is, how can we fight it?" asked Windu, looking a little bit crestfallen.
"Who says that we must fight it?" Yoda asked. There was silence in the room, as each of the Jedi pondered the question and realised their mistake in rushing into battle.
"Master Yoda," Kenobi began, feeling unsure about what he was about to say, "Master Yoda, is there any way we could separate the Force entity from Kavii? If it is only dangerous because of its condensed form, if it was released from Kavii it would probably do no harm."
"That is a good idea, young Apprentice." Yoda said, nodding thoughtfully. "Look into it, I must. Hard, it no doubt will be. But makes sense it does."
"While Master Yoda looks into the matter, why don't we all take a break?" suggested Mace Windu, looking to Yoda for confirmation. Yoda nodded.
Kenobi and Qui-Gon walked slowly along the glassed-in hallway.
"Your thoughts are on Kavii," Qui-Gon said quietly. Kenobi didn't reply immediately.
"Do you think Kavii will be all right if our plan works, Master?" he asked, after a moment of thought. Qui-Gon shrugged.
"I do not know, Apprentice," Qui-Gon said simply. "Perhaps we don't need it at all. Perhaps we are rushing into a fight too suddenly."
"But, Kavii--no, not Kavii, the creature--" Kenobi fumbled for words.
"Chikara," Qui-Gon interrupted softly.
"Of course, Chikara," Kenobi replied with relief at having found something else to call the being, as "Kavii" did not do it or the Kintari woman any justice. "But don't you think Chikara is dangerous? She killed off an entire species, one that was spread across the galaxy, with a single thought!"
"Of course she is dangerous, Obi-wan!" exclaimed his Master.
"But she is not our enemy. Not yet. She may never be our enemy. As Master Yoda said, we may be rushing ahead and jumping the gun, so to speak."
"I don't think that was quite how Master Yoda put it," Kenobi said wryly. Even Qui-Gon smiled slightly.
"Of course. But it holds the same sentiment, even if it doesn't sound exactly right."
Kenobi opened the door to his apartment, and stepped in without even turning on the lights. He was so tired he didn't bother, but headed directly to his bed. He managed to get his outer robe and lightsaber off before falling on to the mattress. (He was always very careful to take his lightsaber off his belt before his went to sleep, he hadn't once and the lesson would remain for a lifetime.) He sighed, burrowed down into the pile of blankets (thank heavens he hadn't made the bed that morning) and tried to sleep.
"Pleasant dreams," someone whispered into his ear.
He bolted upright, awake immediately. "What? Who's there?"
"Me, of course," replied the female voice from the other side of the bed.
"Kavii?" he asked hesitantly, it sounded like her. Then there was a strange giggle. "Chikara," he corrected himself.
There was a pause. "I suppose so. If that's what you want to call me now. It makes no difference to me, of course."
Kenobi tried to get off the bed, but found he couldn't. He could move freely enough, but not off the bed.
"I need to have a talk with you," Chikara said after he stopped trying to leave.
He frowned. "Lights." he called to the room computer. The lights flicked on, bright and glaring. Squinting, he snapped: "Soft lights!"
The lights dimmed to reasonable proportions. He unsquinted his eyes to look over at his guest. Chikara was on her side, propping her head up on her elbow and looking concerned.
"You don't want me here," she said, looking upset.
"What would give you that idea?" Kenobi muttered. She glared at him.
"I thought you liked me."
"I liked--like--" he corrected himself. He didn't want to start thinking in the past tense. "--Kavii. I don't even know you."
"I was part of Kavii the entire time." Chikara replied, sounding as if she was trying very hard to convince him. "I was always there. She tried to keep me out, you know."
"How could she do that?" Kenobi asked, curious despite himself. She smiled slightly, a bit happier now that he was paying attention.
"She tried not to use the power, to keep me under wraps," Chikara said, sitting up. "But she couldn't help herself, and every time she used the Force, I got stronger."
"So she knew you were possessing her?" Kenobi asked, trying hard to ignore the fact that Chikara was inching herself towards him.
"In a manner of speaking. Her subconscious knew, and tried to hide the truth. She couldn't really handle it, you see."
"Oh," Kenobi replied, trying to inch himself farther away, but the block came into effect and he couldn't move any more. She smiled, and snuggled up to him.
"This bring back memories, hmm?" she said, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Uh huh," Kenobi said, very uncomfortable. She then started to kiss him and he backed up suddenly, hitting the wall. He was trapped. Fortunately for him, Chikara had gotten the hint and moved away, allowing him to slide back down. He rubbed his head ruefully, where the crown had connected with the wall.
Chikara sighed, and swung her legs over the side of the bed. "Fine. If you want it like that, then fine." She got up and crossed the room to the balcony.
He didn't follow her. He would have liked to have run out of the room, but some how he didn't think she'd like him to do that, and would stop him at any rate. She turned around to face him, and rested herself against the railings.
"I don't get it," she called. "I don't understand. I haven't changed."
"But you weren't the one I fell in love with," Kenobi said carefully, trying to phrase it right. She sighed when she heard his response, and threw her arms in the air.
"But I fell in love with you," she said sadly.
She suddenly appeared next to him on the bed, having teleported over. She took one of his hands. "Come away with me," she said quietly. "We'll have the entire universe to explore. You can visit places that no one has ever seen before. I can take you there in the blink of an eye."
"Chikara," he began, but she interrupted him.
"I can let you do anything you've ever wanted to do, see, anything. Nothing could stop us. I hold the universe and its secrets in the palm of my hand, Ben. I could share them with you. Explain...everything." She looked up at him, holding her breath, awaiting his answer.
"Chikara--" he began again, but stopped. He didn't know what to say. That her offer was tempting? Or that he would never do that, never run away from his Jedi training. Or perhaps he could tell her that she scared him, and he would never, ever be comfortable around her, let alone happy. "I can't." he said finally.
She looked dejectedly away from him, to the view outside past the balcony. She closed her eyes and disappeared.
Kenobi waited a few minutes, then got up and got his lightsaber. He had a feeling Master Qui-Gon might want to hear about this.
"So do you know where she's gone?" Qui-Gon asked, looking thoughtful. He had taken the information seriously, never interrupting, only nodding every so often while Kenobi talked.
"I don't, Master. She could be anywhere. Literally." the apprentice replied, shaking his head. "And I may have upset her."
"There was nothing else you could have said, Obi-wan," Qui- Gon told him. "Should you have gone with her? Of course not."
"If it meant keeping her happy, and out of the way of the Republic..." Kenobi trailed off.
Qui-Gon silenced him with a look. "Obi-wan, there is a time and a place for everything, especially self-sacrifice. You don't know that she would have been kept out of the way of the Republic. She could have just as easily gotten bored with you, winked you out of existence and then come for us."
"I see what you mean, Master," Kenobi said solemnly, nodding. Qui-Gon clapped a hand on his young apprentice's shoulder.
"Good. Now, I think we will leave this new information until the morning. Then we will present it to the Jedi Council. Get some rest."
"So now you think she may be bearing a grudge?" asked Mace Windu, the next morning, as the Council assembled.
"No, but I'm not sure." Kenobi replied truthfully. "I'm not a very good judge of her moods, but I'd say she was upset."
"I thought you were...intimate with this woman," Windu said, an eyebrow raised.
Kenobi went bright red. "Uh, well, with Kavii," he explained. "Chikara is someone altogether different."
"Chikara?" interrupted another of the Masters. "Who is Chikara? I thought we were battling `Kavie'."
"Kavii," Kenobi automatically corrected. "And Kavii was the woman that Chikara is, uh, inhabiting."
"How do you know that she is Chikara?" the Master continued.
"It is a name that the Bakkamiru identified the being by," Qui-Gon clarified.
"Speaking of that," Windu broke in, turning to Yoda, "How did your research go, Master Yoda?"
"Found I did something useful." Yoda said, slowly. "But easy it will not be. It needs at least fifteen Master Jedi."
"Fifteen masters?!" the entire assembly cried out simultaneously.
"To be safe, more must be used. At least fifteen." Yoda corrected. "Know not if this will work. But it is our only hope."
"One question," asked Qui-Gon in the silence that followed, "How exactly will we lure Chikara to us? Or keep her distracted long enough to over-power her?"
The Council had no immediate ideas. They looked at each other, thinking through the problem, but it was Kenobi that spoke first.
"Leave that to me," he said quietly. "I can bring her here."
"Obi-wan, you must leave." Windu said suddenly. "I have another plan to over-power her, and you must not know of it. We don't want her finding out by mind-probe."
Kenobi nodded, bowed, and took his leave.
He sat cross-legged in the middle of the Jedi Council room. It was empty, the Council having left. Kenobi took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He began to reflect on the Force, and let his mind wander to Kavii. He let himself remember all the good times they had shared, and the deep hurt he had felt when he thought that she was dead. He concentrated so hard on her face he could that he could see her, that she was standing just before him. He opened his eyes. The Council room was still empty. He closed his eyes again, and this time, thought a message.
Kavii, he thought, using the Force to send the message out. He repeated her name over and over, putting all the happy feelings he could muster into the message.
"Ben," said a voice, up above him. He opened his eyes and looked up. Kavii/Chikara was standing over him, smiling wistfully. He stood up.
"I knew it," she said, in a hushed whisper. "I knew..." She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him, completely absorbed and not noticing Mace Windu standing in the shadows.
The Jedi crept up, so stealthily that Kenobi didn't even know he was approaching. He whipped out a small device from his sleeve. Chikara whirled around, but Windu had caught her off guard and she was distracted enough that he was able to put the small tiara-like device on her head before she could make a move against him.
She screamed, and struggled to get it off, but she couldn't. She was rapidly losing all her strength, and collapsed on the floor.
"What was that?" Kenobi cried, horrified at Chikara, who lay curled up on the floor in the fetal position, twitching.
"It's a mental disrupter. Interrupts non-automatic brain functions." Windu replied non-chalantly. "It'll stop her from fighting back while we extract the Force being from Kavii."
"Is it hurting her?" Kenobi asked, looking concerned. Windu shot him a look.
"For what it's worth, no. It isn't." The Jedi Master swept out, robes swirling, ready to call in the other Masters.
The fifteen Jedi stood in a circle around Kavii, whom they had stretched out in the center of the Council room. There wasn't enough room for the borrowed Jedi Masters to sit, so they all stood out of respect.
"This not easy will be," Yoda announced to the circle. "Requires much concentration it does." He turned to Mace Windu, who held a small device in his hands. "How is Kavii doing?"
"Her brain scans are within tolerance levels for a Kintari," Windu said, checking the small scanner.
"Are you sure that device will not hurt her?" asked Kenobi, standing between Qui-Gon and the long-necked Master, Yarael Poof. "I'm sure, Apprentice," Mace Windu replied curtly, adjusting a few commands on the device.
Chikara's eyelids flickered and she moaned. The entire assembly suddenly fixated on her.
"She shouldn't be doing that," Qui-Gon said, some what unnecessarily.
"No, she shouldn't." Windu agreed. He checked the device again. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "This isn't right..."
"What? What isn't right?" Kenobi broke ranks to look over Windu's shoulder.
"Obi-wan!" Qui-Gon admonished, but his apprentice didn't seem to hear him.
"The readings are increasing, somehow--" Kenobi frowned, and looked over at the prone body of Chikara as if it would provide answers, "as if her brain waves are increasing."
"That's impossible," Windu replied. Feeling out of options, he smacked the device on the side. The readings didn't change. Kenobi watched her, a feeling of dread forming. She was moving around more, now, groaning and shaking her head. "She's drawing on the Force," he said softly. Windu's head whipped up from the device to stare at the apprentice.
"What did you say?"
"She's drawing on the Force, using it to short out the device!" Kenobi said, more sure of it now. Pieces began to fall into place. "Kavii couldn't take the strain of all that power-- she filtered it out!" he continued, remembering what Chikara had told him.
"What does that have to do with anything?" demanded Mimeir.
"Because it means it'll kill Kavii if Chikara draws on too much power. Kavii's mind won't be able to handle it, and there will be nothing of her left to save!" the apprentice realised it as he said it, and grew more and more horrified. "You've got to stop the device!"
"We can't!" Windu snapped. "Then we'll have lost our chance."
"If Kavii's dead--" Kenobi began but the elder Jedi cut him off.
"Kavii isn't just what's at stake here, Apprentice. We're talking about destroying a creature that wiped out an entire species, not just your girlfriend!"
Kenobi was taken aback by the comment and opened his mouth to say something, but stopped. He took a step backwards and bowed his head.
Windu adjusted the controls, giving the disruption field greater strength and intensity. Chikara's movements lessened, and finally her head lolled to the side.
"We can begin," Windu said, addressing Yoda and the rest of the Jedi.
Yoda began to speak, but he was cut off by one of the others.
"Look!" cried a Master from inside the circle, named Depa Billaba. "The device!"
The headpiece of the distrupter was beginning to fizzle, and smoke was curling in thin tendrils from it.
"I have a bad feeling about this," Qui-Gon said quietly.
The device, with a pop and a hiss, vaporised completely. Kavii slowly sat up, drawing herself up carefully. She stood on shaky, unsteady legs and faced Mace Windu, who was very slowly going for his lightsaber.
"I have tried," she said slowly, her voice sounding strange and distant, "I have tried very, very patiently to get along with you, and tried to agree with your backward ideas. But this," her voice developed into a snarl, "this is just plain rude."
The Force blast that erupted was unlike any that Kenobi had ever experienced or heard of, even with his own dealings with the Bakkamiru. It felt like a blazing fire, combined with the abrasion of a sand storm. He felt like he was being flayed alive. He fell to his knees, instinctively trying to shelter himself from the non-existent storm.
The feeling gradually ceased, and he opened his eyes. All around the circle, the group was getting to their feet, all looking wearied and unsteady. Chikara was nowhere to be seen.
"Look out there--" some one said, and they all looked to the windows. The sun, which had been setting, was growing larger, and red.
"She's aging the sun," Qui-Gon said, his voice a hush at the sheer audacity of what the being was doing.
"That's--" Windu trailed off, knowing by now that the phrase "that's impossible" and Chikara went together like oil and water.
"Why would she do such a thing?" asked Mimeir in a awed tone.
"Because she can," was the only reply Qui-Gon could give.
Kenobi stared out, completely stunned. So now Chikara had declared a death sentence on Coruscant, and all its billions of inhabitants? Because she could? Just to prove something? Or to right a wrong she only imagined?
Kenobi made a split decision, and left the Council room, without telling Qui-Gon or the others. They were too fixated on the sun to notice him leave at any rate. But he knew that what needed to be done could only be done by him.
The assembly chamber was built to house many Jedi, but now it held only one person. Chikara sat in the center, meditating, when Kenobi walked in through the doors.
"So, there you are," she said, not turning around to face him. "Going to apologise?"
"No, I'm not." he said bluntly. "I've come to ask you to stop the sun."
She turned her head, her eyes blazing. "You've come to ask me?! After what you did?"
Kenobi took a deep breath. "I was only doing what I thought was best for the Republic."
"No, you were doing what the Jedi think is best for the Republic. They claim to be the spiritual leaders of the galaxy, and their minds are more closed than a Mankei's when you force it to drink!"
Kenobi started to say something, but his mouth went dry. "What... what did you say?"
"I said, their minds are more closed than a Mankei's when you force it to drink!" Chikara exclaimed. She noticed Kenobi's saddened expression and his quickly paling complexion.
"You learned that from Kavii, didn't you?" he whispered. "That's what she would have said."
Chikara regarded him for a second, her gaze softening. "Ben... oh, Ben, I'm sorry for all that I've put you through..."
He walked to the center of the circle, and she stood up, and put her arms around him.
"I am Kavii, Ben," she whispered, "she's not gone. She never will be, while I'm here. I saved her, Ben, when she died, on the mountain side. I took her in, and she took me in. She let me see things on this level, on the small scale, rather than the whole, how I have always seen things. And I helped her with her problems. I'm sorry for all the confusion, Ben. I'm sorry, but it had to be this way."
"Can't you bring her back?" he asked, in a soft voice. "Can't you both be here?"
"No," she replied, resting her forehead on his shoulder and he in turn rested his cheek on her head. "No, there can be only one. It is the way things are, and I'm sorry for it. Believe me, I am."
"The sun is shrinking," one of the Masters reported, pointing at the window happily. "Whatever your apprentice is doing, Qui-Gon, it seems to be working."
"What?" Qui-Gon whirled around from his conversation with Mace Windu, and scanned the room. Kenobi was, indeed, gone.
"Didn't you know he left?" asked the Master, frowning. "I noticed him leaving, I'm assuming it was something to do with the Force being...or the sun..."
"What has he done?" Qui-Gon whispered, when Yoda gently tapped his leg with his cane. The Master looked down.
"Occupied, her attention is. Now, we must work." He raised his voice to address the entire council room. "Jedi, it is now!"
Yoda calmed himself, and reached out with the Force. The Force being he could sense, along with the young Obi-wan, in the assembly room. When he found them, he gradually began drawing the Force from her, siphoning it away, slowly, so that she would not notice.
"Ben," she asked, still resting on his shoulder, "Do you...have you reconsidered? My offer? It still stands, you know."
Mace Windu closed his eyes and reached out with the Force, trying to find Chikara. It was like finding a bright light in a dark room, he had no problem locating it. Now, as Master Yoda had instructed him, he began to draw off the Force from the being, very slowly, and cautiously. He didn't want to alert the being.
"I know it does," he replied, eyes closed. "I don't know, I just don't know." He hugged her tighter.
Qui-Gon Jinn reached out, trying to find his apprentice. As he had thought, as apparently everyone else had thought, he was with Chikara. For a moment, the Master froze, wondering with horror if his apprentice had given himself up to the being, like he had thought of doing. Qui-Gon sincerely hoped not. He didn't know what he would do without Obi-wan--the young man had been with him for so long--he only wanted what was best for him, after all--that's all this ever was--Qui-Gon quelled the thoughts and the anxieties that fluttered beneath his calm exterior, and concentrated on his task: he began to draw off power from Kavii-- Chikara--
"I'm sorry for everything, as well," Kenobi continued. "I didn't mean to hurt you."
"I know," Chikara said, with a sigh of contentment. She closed her eyes, and smiled softly.
"I'm sorry," Kenobi repeated.
Master Mimeir held no sentimental illusions about her. He knew that she was a powerful, powerful, temperamental being, and that she had already proven herself dangerous. And yet, something deep down in his brain told him the stories of the Great Mim Mother, the spirit of his planet, the soul of his people. Chikara had avenged the spirits of the Song Bird, cut down as they attempted to help their foes. He had not known Captain Mimia, or even any of the crew; but he felt happier knowing that they had left this plane contented. He still knew, and did, his duty to the Republic, and to the galaxy, and joined with the others to draw off even more power from the Force being.
"I feel like this could last forever," Chikara said, her voice content. She also sounded a little tired, as if she was weary from all that had happened that day. "I wish I could make it last forever..." Kenobi hugged her tighter, for one last moment, and slid his hand towards his lightsaber. "I'm sorry," he whispered in her ear, as he held it out and ignited it.
Plo Koon did his duty. He drew the Force from the being, as did Depa Billaba, the Jedi who had first noticed the malfunctioning disruptor. Eeth Kath did his duty, as well as Yarael Poof. These Jedi strengthened the flow of the Force from the being, drawing it out from its mortal shell. Adi Gallia did her part. Oppo Rancisis helped her. Another who joined was Even Piell, as well as the small--but--powerful Yaddle. Saesee Tinn joined, and Ki-Adi-Mundi added his determination to the circle. As did Kin, Master and father to the Knight Kin who was killed during the battle on the Wonwonyeh. It was complete.
"Ben!" she yelled, her voice weak and strange. She pushed herself away from him, and collapsed. "Ben!" she whimpered. He stood by her, lightsaber humming softly. "I'm sorry, Chikara," he said, gently. "I have to do this."
"No," she said, trying to get to her feet, but her strength was fading and she slumped to the ground, curled into a ball. Her aura was disappearing, the shimmering fading softly.
"What's happening?" she cried, very weakly. "I can't use my power...I'm being taken out...no!"
She tried to reach for him, and managed to reach his ankle, tugging at it weakly. "No, Ben, they're clearing me..stop it, please..."
"I will," he said, softly, bringing up the lightsaber, and taking a deep breath. He brought the lightsaber down.
The Jedi all took deep breaths and opened their eyes. "It is done," said Yoda, and they all nodded. They were tired, but triumphant. The being had been freed, back out into the universe.
Kenobi took a step back, feeling as if his heart was going to burst. He had done it, he had killed Chikara, but he felt as though he had killed himself instead. He held his head in his hands, the lightsaber clattering to the ground. It turned off automatically as he let go, the room becoming utterly dark, with only a few soft shadows filtering in. His knees gave out and he fell to the floor with a thud, but he barely registered it.
Shaking, he crawled to Chikara's body. He took her hand, and squeezed it, a gesture of sorrow that he hoped would reach her, where ever she was now. He was sorry, more than he could ever express, and he hoped she knew that.
"Ben..." someone whispered. He looked up, but the voice was coming from below him. From the body.
"Ben..." she whispered again. He looked at her, horrified and elated at the same time. "Ben, what happened? I...I..."
"Kavii," he said, his voice choked.
"Ben..?" she asked, confused. There was a cough. "Where are you?"
"I'm here," he said, quietly, shifting over to her. He stroked back the hair from her head.
"I must have blacked out," she said, softly, "I can't remember--what's happened?"
"Too much," he replied. She coughed again. He noticed the blood that filled her mouth, and a dread seized him. He had struck to kill Chikara. And instead...
"Ben...?" she cried, her voice weak. "I can't see you in the dark...it's too dark in here..."
"I'm still here," he said, still soft. Gently, so very gently, he picked her up, cradling her head and upper torso in his arms. He could feel her blood seeping through his clothes.
"I--" she stuttered, coughing again, blood oozing, trickling down her chin and cheek. He wiped it off as tenderly as he could.
"You're dying," he said, his voice a low hush.
She smiled--smiled!--and looked up at him. "I was dead to begin with, remember?"
He laughed shakily, sniffling, wiping away more blood. He used a Jedi technique to try and ease her pain, but he knew, as well as she did, that there was no true point.
"What...is happening to you?" she asked, suddenly, reaching up to touch his cheek. "Are you bleeding, Ben?"
"No," he replied, closing his briefly. "No, they're tears. We cry them when we're upset."
"How...odd," She smiled. "You are so odd, Obi-wan Kenobi. But I love you anyways."
"I love you too, Kavii," he said, his voice threatening to break. She smiled again, but her eyes flickered, and closed. His breath and heart stopped.
"Kavii?" he whispered, feeling for a pulse, but he couldn't find one. He reached out with the Force. It had always felt the bright light that was Kavii before, but now, there was nothing. He lifted her up, hugged her tightly to him, buried his face in her rainbow hair, and cried.
Obi-wan Kenobi stood at the glass walkway and stared out at the endless line of buildings, skyscrapers in the truest sense, carving the horizon into a jagged line. The sun was just rising, the light spreading over the roof tops like a honey coating.
Sighing, he leaned against the glass, his forehead resting on it. He closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind, but it was too difficult.
"Obi-wan," called a voice behind him. His eyes opening, he turned to face Qui-Gon.
"The ship is ready, Obi-wan." Qui-Gon said gently. There was a pause, and the Master actually looked uncomfortable.
"Is there something you want to say, Master?" Kenobi asked, his voice dull and tired.
"Obi-wan," Qui-Gon began, placing a hand on his apprentice's shoulder, "if you do not want me to come with you to Kintar, I'll understand."
"No, Master, you must come." Kenobi said, surprised at the question. "I want you there. Kavii would want you there. She had only the highest respect for you."
Qui-Gon smiled ruefully. "She didn't like me."
"Chikara didn't like you." Kenobi corrected. "Your arguments were with Chikara." He smiled back. "And I know that Kavii was the kind to forgive and forget."
"Then let us go, Apprentice," Qui-Gon said, nodding solemnly. "I would not want to dishonour Kavii's memory."
The forest gave way to the cliff's edge, spreading before the two Jedi a panorama of mountains, a glowing volcano and a glorious valley, filled with lush trees of every shade of green ever possible. On the breeze floated a gentle trace of mint. Kenobi opened the container he carried, an intricately carved box made of silver. As soon as the lid was off, he used the Force to scatter the fine ash through out the valley below.
A bird cried in the distance, kav-ii--ii-ii, before flying off out into the distance.
The ship's crew were silent and respectful of the two grieving Jedi, and gave them a wide berth, never intruding on their privacy. Kenobi spent all the time he could in the observation lounge while the ship remained in orbit, taking on cargo.
Qui-Gon found him there, sitting at a table. The Master drew up a chair. "May I sit here?" he asked quietly. Kenobi nodded, and shifted over.
"I talked to the High Council today," Qui-Gon said, awkwardly trying to begin a conversation, trying to bring his apprentice back to the world around him. "They analyzed the chip that you brought back. They are not sure how it works exactly, something about atom spacing, but when implanted in the brain, it can make the user intangible at will."
"Chikara knew," Kenobi said suddenly. "She knew how it worked."
"Obi-wan--" Qui-Gon began, but the younger man cut him off.
"I should have asked her. I was so caught up with Kavii that I never realised she had changed. I could have brought Chikara to our side, instead of forcing her out."
" You can't blame yourself, Obi-wan!"Qui-Gon exclaimed.
"You were right," Kenobi continued sadly. "I was too close to see it. I was too involved. I wasn't objective enough."
"Obi-wan, it's not your fault. I only said that--"
"No, you were right." Obi-wan interrupted. "I wish I could have seen that. I'll always be objective, from now on. I'll always listen to you. I will."
Deciding that nothing in this line of topic was going to help his apprentice, Qui-Gon changed tracks.
"I got a call from the Senate, today. They are thinking of sending a Jedi negotiator for a dispute. Perhaps you would like to join me? If so, we can leave as soon as the ship breaks orbit. I have already talked to the captain, she can drop us off at Naboo before heading to Coruscant."
Kenobi nodded slowly, then turned to face the curve of the planet once again. Qui-Gon nodded to himself, and got up from the table, leaving his apprentice to himself.