Down the Wrong Path: Chapter 2

Between the real and the more real…

            In a Jedi healing trance, a Jedi is still aware of reality, of the physical presence of matter and energy crystallized and playing out around him, or her, or it.  It’s not like a light sleep, where the physical world can exert itself on the slumbering person to wake it.  In a healing trance, the Jedi is completely consumed by the flow of the Force.  Physical reality is merely a shadow, a buoy bobbing along the swells.  It can’t awaken the Jedi, only the Force can.

            As long as the Force remained calm, so did the Jedi.

            Obi-wan sensed only the flow, so he went with it.

…..

            Concentrate.  Feel the Force flow.  Good, calm, yes.  Through the Force, things you will see.  Other places.  The future…the past.  Old friends long gone. 

…..

            He had always had a beard.  Obi-wan couldn’t remember a time when Qui-gon didn’t have a beard.  Or that swagger.  Head held high, even when disobeying the Council.  Obi-wan, feeling far too young to be holding a real lightsaber, tensed, holding it tightly between him and his Master, his brow furrowed and dripping with sweat.

            “Obi-wan, if you tense any harder, you’ll crack your lightsaber.”  Qui-gon never yelled, never let his voice waver higher than a steady tone.  But Obi-wan felt it hit him.  The force of his voice.

            “Yes, my Master,” Obi-wan answered, bowing his head slightly.  He hated disappointing his mentor.

            “You may be strong with the Force, Obi, but you should always look at your opponent, especially if he wields a lightsaber!”

            Qui-gon flashed forward, sweeping his blade into arc at Obi-wan’s head.  Obi-wan quickly parried upwards, only to find it was a feint, that Qui-gon was instead going to his side.  Obi-wan brought down his blade, but it was a hair too short.  Seeing this, Qui-gon Force-pushed the boy aside.  Obi-wan skidded to a stop, then aimed his blade at his master, who’d already shut his down.

            “My eyes failed me!  I didn’t see your feint!”

            Qui-gon shook his head.  “No, my young padawan, you didn’t see my feint because you were afraid of disappointing me.  I could sense it, and I took the advantage.”

            Obi-wan shut down his blade, straightened up to his full height, which only brought him to his mentor’s chest. 

            “A Jedi doesn’t experience fear.  That is the path to the Darkside.”

            “Wrong, Obi, a Jedi experiences fear.  A Jedi experiences all the emotions.”  Qui-gon walked to his padawan.  “A Jedi chooses to not let it cloud his mind, to remain calm, as is the way of the Force.”  He placed a hand lightly on Obi-wan’s shoulder.  “But the Jedi make the mistake of ignoring their emotions, pushing them aside, believing they cannot feel.  If you bottle up your emotions, young padawan, they do not disappear.  They come back, stronger, to consume you.”

            Qui-gon lead them out of the training arena, his arm around the young boy’s shoulders.

            “And once they have consumed you, forever will the Darkside be with you as you go down the wrong path.  Embrace your emotions, but do not let them control you.”

…..      

            Hmm.  Control, control.  You must learn control.

…..

            He heard the whimpering, muffled through the walls of the apartment.  He didn’t need the Force to know who it was. 

            Obi-wan got out of bed, wrapped his brown robe around his shoulders, and followed the sound.  Past the adjacent bedroom where his young padawan slept.  He found the noise in the common area.  Wedged between the study console and the wall, wrapped in only his nightshirt, Anakin sat, knees drawn tight to his chest, head buried in the folds of his nightshirt.

            Obi-wan drew the robe around himself, squatted down to lay a hand on the young boy’s head, freshly shaven and given the padawan braid.  Has it only been a week?  Since Naboo, Qui-gon, Darth Maul…

            Anakin jerked up and stared at Obi-wan.  Tears filled the young one’s eyes.  Obi-wan took a deep breath.  There was so much fear…

            “Anakin, what happened?”

            Anakin dropped his head again, mumbling into his shirt.  “I had a bad dream.”

            “Dreams are the Force’s way of telling us what we need to know.”

            Anakin’s head jerked back up, his little eyes holding so much intensity.  “But there was so much fire!  And the whole world was melting!  It was dark, hot, and, and…” 

            His voice trailed off to a whimper and he collapsed again into the folds of his nightshirt.

            “Master, I’m sorry.”

            Obi-wan scratched his chin, feeling whiskers he hadn’t cut in days starting to come in.  “Sorry for what, my young padawan?’

            “I’m so scared.”

            Obi-wan smiled, remembering.  “Being scared is nothing to be sorry for.  We all get scared.”

            Anakin looked up, eyes narrowed.  “You’re lying.  You don’t get scared.”

            Darth Maul and Qui-gon, and all he could do, was watch…

            “You’re wrong, Anakin, even I get scared.”

            “But a Jedi isn’t supposed to know fear.”

            “A Jedi knows fear, and anger, and love, and jealousy,” he replied, wiping a tear from the boy’s face.  “A Jedi chooses not to be controlled by these emotions.”

            “How?”

            “I’ll show you.”

            He moved quickly.  Anakin launched himself at Obi-wan, and wrapped his small arms tightly around the older man as if his life depended on it.  Startled, Obi-wan quickly adjusted to hug his young padawan back.

            “In time, you will know how to control your fear.  And when you do, you will be a powerful Jedi, just like Qui-gon predicted,” Obi-wan said quietly, his breath softly blowing on the young one’s braid.  Was it only a week ago that he himself lost that braid?

            “I’ll be the best Jedi in the whole galaxy!” Anakin exclaimed, quickly recovering his boyish enthusiasm. 

            Obi-wan chuckled softly and let go.  Anakin now stood before him, rejuvenated, all fear gone from his eyes.  The Jedi Knight rose, patted him on the back.

            “I know you will.  You’ll probably even beat me some day.”

            Anakin firmly shook his head.  “Never, Master, I could never beat you.  You’re much bigger than I am!”

            Anakin smiled and ran off to bed.  Obi-wan watched after him, scratching his chin.

            “Only time will tell, my very young padawan.”

            Perhaps he’ll just let the whiskers grow this time…

…..

            It is the future you see.  Difficult to see.  Always in motion is the future…

…..

            There was fire, as lava met clothe.  The clothe ignited immediately.  There were no sounds.  Only the fire, and smoke, and heat, and the world as it melted around him.  And wave after wave after wave of pain, stampeding across his heart, mind and soul.

…..

            Always in motion is the future…

…..

            All he could sense was the Force.  For how long?  Time does not matter to the Force.  Where was he?  Was he still lying in the thorn bushes?  Does the physical world matter to the Force?  Had the poisoned consumed him?  Would it matter if it did?

            All was darkness, but he was not looking for anything.  All was quiet, but he was not listening for anything.  He was just knowing, trusting that the Force would awaken him if he was needed.  Or keep him in the still, if that was to be.

            He felt no fear, no panic.  It was all so calm. 

            But somewhere, reality’s shadow was becoming more real.

…..

            “Gretno shou tolac?”

            “Xi tino lan, setno shou telan.”

            “Aa, shou telan.  Hiyu krispan gitnolac.”

…..

            Reality solidified, although the Force did not wake him.  The Force only weakened, to allow reality to come rushing back in.  He could feel the hardness beneath him, the humid air pressing on his skin and clothes.  Somewhere insects buzzed, muffled.  The sensations became more intense, instantly, as if he was thrust from the Force’s embrace back into the embrace of the physical world. 

            And then there was nothing.  No sense of the Force.  Just the physical world.

            He heard a metal door slam shut. 

            He tried to turn his head to the sound.  Nothing moved.  He tried to lift his arm, but it refused to respond.

            Control, control, you must learn control!

            Obi-wan took a deep breath, glad at least to be able to do that simple thing.  Then he opened his eyes.

            Another metal cylinder, from ceiling to walls.

            “Oh, not again.”