Disclaimers: George Lucas (Lucasfilm/Disney) owns the Star Wars Universe. Universal owns the Xenaverse.
No profit is being made from this writing. It is written for the enjoyment of those who wish to share it so
Authors Notes: Star Wars Episode I/Xena Warrior Princess Crossover.
Set before Gabrielle got that awful haircut! The Eve saga never happened!!!
Rating MA - Adult themes, blood, murder, pillaging, and implied rape.
And May The Force Be With You :)
THE LIGHTSABRE AND THE SWORD
The young Jedi vaulted over the Sith Lord's head; Darth Maul realised his mistake and before he could rectify it, felt the green blade dismember him, intense pain ripping through his body as he staggered back, in his last seconds of life, furious with himself for underestimating the Jedi Apprentice, though grudgingly admiring is enemy's resourcefulness and resolve.
As he fell down the shaft, mercifully the pain stopped. Just before consciousness left him entirely, Maul saw a swirling energy vortex, or perhaps he was imagining it ... was this the light at the end of the so called tunnel? Maul's only regret, not killing both Jedi.
The Sith landed with a painful thud. It took a few moments for his eyesight to clear and he looked around. He was in one piece at least. He sat on soft green grass, colourful flowers sprouting. Playful bird chirps emanated from the surrounding luscious green trees. Maul looked up as a subtle breeze blew over him, a rainbow splashing colours across the clear, almost cloudless sky.
A shimmering brightly coloured butterfly landed on a brilliant yellow flower next to him.
"Great..." Maul hissed. "I'm in Hell."
The butterfly fluttered onto his finger. The Sith looked at it and promptly ate it.
Darth Maul stood. So this was that peaceful hellish place his Master had told him about and became confused. //I killed a Jedi Master and I'm in Hell?// He mused he'd go to the Jedi Hell for that, but they'd hardly consider this serene tranquil place Hell.
His head snapped around as he sensed beings approaching from the East and spat a vile Sith curse which would have made his Master blush, discovering to his dismay he had been separated from his lightsabre and cursed the Jedi again.
* * *
As Obi-Wan knelt before his Master, a Force Wave hit him. His immediate reaction to vomit, but stopped himself.
"Obi...Wan... You have to stop him..."
Every word causing the Jedi Master great pain, despite his best efforts to focus.
"You did ... he was sucked into ... time vortex... made whole ... Y... you have to stop him ... He'll destroy ... what fragile ... balance is left in ... Universe ..."
Obi-Wan nodded. "I felt the disturbance, Master ... But I can't do it alone. I need you."
"It's too late..."
"No..." Obi-Wan held his Master gently.
"Obi-Wan, promise me you will train the boy..."
"Yes, Master ..."
"He is the chosen one... He will bring Balance ... Train him..."
Qui-Gon's eyes closed. The young Jedi cradled his Master, unable to keep tears back. He felt another Force wave, but this time, warm and comforting. He gently touched his Master's cheek, a tear splashing onto the older Jedi's face. Obi-Wan closed his eyes, tears streaming down his cheeks.
The young Jedi's mind stopped for a moment. He'd heard tales of departed Jedi able to communicate and it gave him great reassurance that his Master wasn't truly gone, and then he felt a hand upon his shoulder. His head spun around, Qui-Gon narrowly missing being whacked by Obi-Wan's braid.
"Careful with that thing," he said with a smile.
"Master ... I-"
Qui-Gon smiled gently, wiping his Padawan's tears away.
"I don't understand, Master ... I felt you die ..."
"It's the Force, Obi-Wan."
//We have temporarily restored Master Qui-Gon's life.//
"Thank you," Qui-Gon said, his soft voice sincere. "I am honoured to receive your gift."
Obi-Wan blinked - he'd never heard the Force 'speak' before, the gentle, seasoned voice sounding like it knew the entire Universe and beyond, and it probably did.
//You are both needed to defeat the Sith. You must go to the Alternate Universe. However if you are killed in that Universe, your soul can never return here ... And Qui-Gon, you must realise when you return here, you must return to your fate.//
The Jedi Master nodded. "I understand."
Part of Obi-Wan wanted to protest, but how could he argue with the Force?
Qui-Gon stood, the pain gone and no evidence of the fatal wound. "We must hurry, Obi-Wan. He's already caused enough damage."
"Master, one thing I don't understand, if he's in an Alternate Universe, how can that be affecting our own?"
"All Universes, no matter how alternate are connected through points and ties of energy in time and space, somewhat like a tapestry - pull one thread and-"
Obi-Wan nodded. "The whole thing could unravel."
"Exactly ... And you wouldn't seriously wish Darth Maul upon anyone, would you?"
Obi-Wan smiled. "No, not even Jar Jar."
* * *
A small blonde woman awoke and looked around. Her companion, nowhere insight. She smiled and shook her head. One day she would wake up before her dark haired friend.
The young woman surmised her friend had gone to hunt for breakfast, and decided to go for a short walk.
The Bard stood, packed up camp, hiding their belongings in a bush, gathered her wooden staff and set off.
Gabrielle smiled to herself, peace and quiet, no one in distress, the wind gently rustling the trees, the morning air fresh. Days like this made life worth living, nature so serene, so peaceful and the next thing, the Bard was flat on her face.
Glad Xena wasn't here to witness the less than glamorous moment, Gabrielle gathered her staff and began to stand, then stared at what she had tripped over, not a tree root as she'd thought. She reached out for the ... silver stick. She stared at it as she picked it up. It was the most intriguing thing she'd ever seen. Somebody had lost it, that was obvious. No one would simply leave such a beautiful expensive looking thing lying around.
Gabrielle examined it further, the workmanship, incredible, unlike any blacksmith's handiwork she had ever seen. She studied the red circles on the cylinder. The young Bard screeched as a red beam of light shot out of one end of the metal stick and dropped it in shock.
She stared at it for a while, the red beam intriguing her, the hum intriguing her further. Slowly, she picked up the device, staring at the glowing red light.
"By the Gods ..." she whispered in awe.
Slow and cautious, she reached out with her other hand and lightly touched the brilliant red beam, then gasped, wincing and dropped it, sucking her throbbing fingers.
Gabrielle picked it up again, becoming mesmerised by the vermilion glow and subtle hum. She touched one of the red buttons, the beam disappearing as fast as it had appeared.
The Bard started to make her way back to the camp, hardly able to wait to show this ... whatever this was to Xena. It had to belong to the Gods, she decided.
"Perhaps it does belong to them," Xena said, eyeing the beam up and down. "I've never seen anything like it before. But I seem to see something new everyday."
Gabrielle smiled. "Xena, it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."
"Some weapons are."
Xena looked at her friend.
"Xena, it's not a weapon. It can't be."
"Gabrielle, some weapons are beautiful.
Just look at the Sword of the Dead, powerful, shining enchanted platinum,
engraved, and encrusted with jewels, worth more than that King Minos' entire
kingdom. It's the most beautiful sword I've ever seen - and it's been used to
kill more people than the entire population of
"That's why Hades is its guardian, so it cannot be used again for evil," Gabrielle mused.
Xena nodded as her friend looked at the glowing red shaft again. "How could something so beautiful be used to kill?"
Xena took it from her and sliced a nearby boulder in a blink of an eye.
"Okay, you've proved your point," Gabrielle said, "but it has to serve a higher purpose."
"Agreed," Xena said, lighting a fire with it. "Hungry?"
Gabrielle gave her friend a look as she sat down to eat, turning off the red staff.
"Well I vote we take it to the
"Gabrielle, I admire your enthusiasm, but you're delving in deep when there's nothing there - but I as to who owns it, that I am interested in."
* * *
Xena had left Gabrielle to go on alone to Athena's temple, being called away urgently, a village being plundered, destroyed by yet another warlord's army.
Gabrielle had wanted to help, but Xena had become adamant that there was something about the red sword, something she didn't like at all, though Gabrielle was convinced it was a thing of beauty, though exactly what, she wasn't sure.
The Bard stopped when she heard a noise, a faint one, then a wisp of a shadow.
A figure clad in black seemed to emerge from nowhere. The newcomer glared at her.
"I believe you have something of mine."
The dark voice sent shivers down her spine. Gabrielle didn't judge people by their appearance, but all she could see in his intense yellow eyes was hate and evil. At first she thought he may be a Bacchae, but he had no fangs.
The young Bard stood her ground. "No," she said, her voice firm.
"You hide your fear well."
Maul raised his hand and drew his silver lightsabre handle from her belt.
Gabrielle stared and backed off.
"I ... I was taking it to the temple of-"
"Athena, I know. Let me save you the trouble." He extended both blades and whirled it around. "So glad you like it."
She looked at him, a little more intrigued, by the fascinating dual red beams, though she sensed the creature before her was far from altruistic.
"Such a beautiful thing can't be used to kill." She stated.
Maul laughed. "Really?" He raised his hand and blasted her with a dose of the Dark Side of the Force, showing a vision. Himself fighting with another warrior, the other holding a blade of green, long hair flying as he fought. She saw the passion in the other warrior's eyes, and also the kindness, despite being in the middle of a battle. Gabrielle had no idea why, but the long haired warrior spoke volumes, although she had only seen him for an instant. The vision played in her head, Darth Maul bashing the other warrior under the chin with the base of his weapon and ...
The Bard gasped, the pain in the gentle warrior's eyes too much for her to bare as tears came to her own ... And the scream she heard, a younger male, a friend or son perhaps of the older warrior, his heart wrenching pain, losing the person he most cared about in the entire Universe. His heart had screamed the same way Gabrielle's had when she had thought Xena was lost to her. The vision cleared and she looked straight into Darth Maul's amber eyes. Despite himself, Maul was somewhat impressed with this simple woman, unashamed by her feelings, her innocence intriguing him. He'd always believed innocence was a myth.
Still pained by the vision and the warrior's pain and death, Gabrielle began to calm herself and try and take a swipe at the black clad warrior with her wooden staff, his lightning reflexes surprising her, having her flat on the ground in no time.
Maul ignited his sabre and held it to her throat. Gabrielle tried to hide her fear, but as she had learned, she could only die if she was meant to and if she was, but somehow she sensed it wasn't her time.
"You intrigue me, Girl," Maul said. After all no one had called his lightsabre beautiful before. "You truly don't understand, do you?"
"Who can understand evil?"
"Ahh yes, evil ..."
"Don't mock me," Gabrielle said, cross. "I may not understand evil, but I've seen it."
Maul only need look in her eyes to see the truth. She had indeed seen evil.
"At least you're prettier than Dahak ..." Gabrielle snorted.
Again she had succeeded in impressing the Sith somewhat. Totally at the mercy of a superior foe, no chance of escape and could crack a joke.
His eyes burned into hers. "Follow me and I will kill you."
Gabrielle didn't need the Force to sense that he meant it.
The Bard watched him leave, his short black cape, flowing disappearing as fast as he appeared, although she sensed now he had been following her for some time.
Gabrielle took deep breaths and began a simple meditation Eli had taught her. Xena would be back soon and did she have a story to tell ...
And as she suspected, Xena didn't like the sound of the horned stranger one little bit.
* * *
The army of twenty thundered toward the
Darth Maul assumed this was a primitive world - obviously technology was beyond these people.
The warlord Tor and his army saw a single man clad in black. An easy target - so they thought. Tor's horse galloped toward the stranger, the warlord's battle cry like a battering ram in the air. Maul swerved, using the Force to topple the warlord form his black steed, as the terrified horse ran on, never to see the man in black again.
The warriors' hate fuelled Maul as his leather clad opponent drew his sword. Maul smiled. Did this man honestly think he could defeat a Sith Lord?
Maul called on the Force again, the Warlord's eyes enlarging as he began turning his own sword on himself. He tried to drop it, but could not as he ran himself through, his eyes burning into Maul, the Sith seeing a flicker of respect before Tor fell. Maul looked down, seeing the last remnants of life slip away from the Warlord, his blood a crimson pool upon the green grass, the Sith feeling great satisfaction, though it would have been more so to exact his revenge on the young Jedi. The others dismounted, brandishing swords. Maul smiled, absolutely no contest - and it wasn’t.
Maul wiped blood from his face, not his own as he turned to the five remaining warriors, running two of them through, the third last one hurled a dagger. Maul thrust a hand and stopped it in mid air, then turned it back on the man, shooting like a laser blast into his head.
And then there were two. The Sith advanced on the second last, decapitating him.
And then there was one. Maul smiled, sensing the man's sheer terror - often the sensation better than the actual kill.
The last warrior drew his sword.
Brave or stupid, Maul thought - he's seen all his fellows cut down, what did he think he could do? ... And what the warrior did next intrigued the Sith.
The smaller man ran his sword into the ground and knelt on one knee.
"I Verimus pledge my allegiance to the new GOD OF WAR!"
Maul became even more intrigued. His attention diverted when a being seemingly materialised out of thin air in a bright blue flash.
He glared at Darth Maul. "If you want my title, Boy, you're gonna have to fight for it! I won't be defeated easily, I am ARES, GOD OF WAR!"
The newcomer hurled a fireball at Maul, whom despite his surprise managed to deflect it at the last moment, his black leather clad opponent swerving as he hurled another. Maul had no trouble deflecting them, though he did admire his adversary's power, reminding him somewhat of his Master's electric fingers.
He deflected four blasts, swerving the last, the red and black faced warrior's reflexes impressing the God of War.
Maul deflected another blast right back into Ares' chest, then blasted him with the Dark Side, landing him painfully on his back. Maul sensed his adversary's uncertainty, underneath his sense of superiority, but above all his impressive rage. This one did consider himself a God and all others like him, and perhaps to the mortals of this world they were. Maul smiled when he honed in on his opponent's fears. Hinds' Blood - the only thing that could kill one of their kind.
Maul glared at his dark bearded opponent. "I have that which can destroy you," he growled, using the Force to back up his claim. He admired Ares - his eyes showed no fear, only hate and rage. However Ares didn't know, Maul sensed the fear within him.
"Your hate has made you powerful," he said. "There are few opponents who have earned my respect."
"I'm honoured," Ares spat. "Who in Hades are you?"
"My name is Darth Maul and you will pledge your allegiance to me."
Ares face burned with rage. "I BOW TO NO ONE!" The God's dark eyes flared dangerously. Maul would not make the mistake of underestimating him as he had done with the young Jedi.
Ares brandished his sword and Maul ran him through.
"I know this won't kill you, but it sure as Hades hurts." He twisted his sabre.
The Sith admired his adversary's resolve, as Ares tried to hide the pain in his eyes as Maul ripped out his lightsabre. "You are nothing. I am the one true God Of War."
Ares tried not to wince at his wound. "You're sure as Hades not the God of Love," he hissed.
Maul almost smiled. //There is a god of Love? ... These people are strange.//
"You will relinquish your Title to me or I will kill you." He took a metal cylinder from his belt. "Just a reminder should you try to defy me. With this Hinds Blood, I can destroy and your kind in an instant."
Again Maul was impressed at how well Ares hid his fear, but to one who was Force sensitive, it stood out like Eopie balls. Maul also sensed Ares' plot to overthrow him ... to get the Hind's blood and ... The Sith laughed, and swallowed the contents of the cylinder, much to Ares' horror. "There's more where that came from." Maul hooked the empty food capsule back onto his belt.
"I pledge my allegiance to you..." Ares said quietly. "You are the one True God of War." //For now.//
Maul glared at him. "For Eternity."
* * *
As the newly appointed God of War, Maul sat on his stone throne, very pleased with himself.
His armies had laid waste to hundreds of villages and towns, their new God forcing the people's allegiance or ordering their destruction, Maul's red sabre slicing through swords and bodies of all who opposed him like Bantha butter.
On this day, two children were brought before him.
"They were caught fleeing the village."
Maul glared at the terrified youths. "Kneel or you will die."
He sensed the childrens' terror deepen as they obeyed him. The girl stood and stepped forth. "Please, My Lord, if you must kill us, let it be only me."
"No, Altea ..." The terrified boy said.
"Ssh, Xalen." She hugged her younger brother.
Maul sat back. "Such selflessness..." he said with a smile, and waited until the children separated before drawing his lightsabre in an instant, igniting it through the young boy's body, his sister's shocked scream, music to his ears.
Altea knelt before her bloodied fallen brother. Maul grabbed her face, almost breaking her neck as he turned her toward him, impressed at how the young girl desperately tried to hide her anger.
"You hate me," he said quietly.
Terrified, the girl said nothing. Maul glared into her hazel eyes.
"Answer me," he said, softly, in the way his Master had always done, the quiet voice that always sent shivers through his entire body.
Shivering, Altea could not speak.
"Answer me," Maul said, his voice a little louder, increasing his grip on her small arm, his eyes burning into hers.
"Yes ..." she squeaked, barely audible.
Maul smiled. "Good. Hate makes one powerful."
He indicated the boy's body. "Remove that," he said to one of his warriors."
Altea couldn't bare to look, and vomited at the thought, Maul swerving at the last moment, avoiding being thrown up on.
"He was only in his fourth year ... I am in my eleventh. Why didn't you take me instead?"
"Are you questioning your God?"
She glared into his yellow eyes. "You are going to send me to Hades anyway. What difference does it make?"
Maul sat back. "I admire your bravery, Child. Do you fear pain?"
The girl became afraid, though she looked up at her ‘God.’ "Nothing more you do can be more painful than this."
Maul smiled and he grabbed her long hair, the little girl screeching as he dragged her away, kicking and screaming.
Three of Maul's troopers began whispering amongst themselves.
"You don't think he's going to eat her do you? Rumour has it he made haggis from Tor's stomach ..."
"Nah ... I saw him eat a few hours ago. Borielis' liver - that Giant he killed this morning."
The other warrior shivered.
The threesome heard a loud crash and the girl scream.
Draco looked up, his large brown eyes wide. "My Gods he's evil ..."
* * *
Both Jedi stood at the edge of the shaft. Obi-Wan peered down the seemingly bottomless pit, feeling the disturbance Maul had created in the other Universe.
"Jump? Are you sure about this, Master?"
"It's quite safe, I assure you."
Obi-Wan trusted his Master, although it still felt quite unnerving.
Qui-Gon smiled. "Get in, the water's fine," and he pushed him.
The young Jedi shrieked as he fell, joined by his Master
//My lightsabre!!// Obi-Wan exclaimed, grabbing as they fell, the base balanced precariously on a ledge.
Both he and his Master began to see the swirling energies. Qui-Gon reassuringly held onto his young, uncertain Padawan, as they too were pulled into the Alternate Universe.
Both Jedi landed gently.
Obi-Wan glared at his Master. "Don't you ever do that again!"
Qui-Gon looked innocent, and they both began to laugh, Obi-Wan admiring his Master to be able to keep his sense of humour, in spite of the situation - and that and when it was over, he would - Obi-Wan did not want to think about that. His Master was living on borrowed time and they wouldn't have much longer together. Both Jedi stood.
"Focus. Concentrate on the mission," Qui-Gon said, his voice gentle as always.
"The Force has granted us this extra time together to restore the balance to the Universe."
"I know, Master." The young Jedi concentrated his energies, trying not to think of how few days he had left with his Master. He didn't want to appear ungrateful, for all intents and purposes, he shouldn't have any time left with him.
"I sense him ..." Qui-Gon said, his voice quiet. "We must block our thoughts and presence, otherwise he'll sense us. Clear your mind, Obi-Wan. You're angry for what he did to me."
Obi-Wan nodded. "I know anger leads to the Dark Side, Master, but-"
Qui-Gon smiled reassuringly. "Not all anger is bad, my young Padawan. Your feelings are completely justified. I would have felt the same in your place. You did not let your anger with the Sith cloud your judgement or overwhelm you."
"It wasn't easy."
"I know. I sensed your struggle."
"You taught me well, Master. Thank you."
Qui-Gon smiled. "My pleasure, Padawan."
The young Jedi closed his eyes and began purging his mind of thoughts and feelings, hard though it was.
"There's no telling how long he's been here," Qui-Gon said. "Months ... Years could have passed since he first arrived, though to us, he's only been gone less than half an hour."
Obi-Wan sighed - just when he thought things could get no worse ...
Qui-Gon headed for the dense forest. "Should provide some cover."
Obi-Wan nodded and followed. "Have you ever heard the Force speak before, Master?"
Qui-Gon gave a warm smile. "Sometimes she sings."
"Really?" His Master was full of surprises.
Qui-Gon nodded, then donned his hood, his young apprentice doing the same.
After they'd been walking for over half an hour, Qui-Gon stopped and looked around.
"Sense something, Master?"
"I can't pinpoint him, but I sense his malice and the fear he's created in this world ..."
Obi-Wan cleared his mind and closed his eyes, hearing no sound, shivering as he sensed the eerie stillness.
* * *
Asleep on his throne, though wary as always, Maul awoke when he sensed a presence enter his fortress, the intruder filled with fear, but such determination and righteousness, Maul almost laughed. He heard a slight crash as the newcomer tripped over a vase and shook his head.
//Worse than that pathetic Gungan...//
Maul closed his eyes again and made himself comfortable. This one would be easy.
The warrior entered, cautious. Maul gripped his lightsabre and allowed the intruder to approach. The warrior began to traverse the stone stairs to Maul's throne, the eerie silence sending shivers up and down the warrior's spine.
Maul was up instant, lightsabre ignited, he swiped, expecting to see the warrior cut in two, blood staining his stairs, but the startled warrior screeched, dropped his sword, stumbled backwards, tripped and fell flat on his backside.
"Did you really think you could catch the God of War unawares?!" Maul growled, advancing on the warrior.
"You're worse than Callisto!" the warrior spat.
Images of a ruthless, merciless, blonde femme fatale flashed through the warrior's mind.
"Interesting," Maul said as he advanced again, fully intending to gut this warrior, creating a spill of blood by the foot of his throne. //A nice splash of colour...//
Maul stopped suddenly, a vision flashing through his mind. //You have got to be joking...// He gave the warrior, still on the floor a disgusted, disdainful look, the Dark Side telling Maul if he went ahead to kill him, the petrified, clumsy warrior would panic, trip up the Sith and Maul would land on his own lightsabre. Maul backed up a step and kept his distance.
"I let you live for one reason only," he growled. "As living proof that I cannot be defeated."
"Xena'll have something to say about that!" the warrior spat.
"Bring him on."
Much to Maul's annoyance, the warrior laughed. "*She'll* have something to say about that too."
Maul wanted to laugh. What could a female do? But then he remembered his Master telling him never to underestimate a woman.
"Xena'll have your guts -"
"LEAVE!!" Maul yelled. "Before I feast upon your innards!"
Of course he had no such plans, killing this useless warrior wasn’t worth the cost of his own life.
The terrified warrior, scrambled to his feet and left the temple like a bat out of Hades.
Maul's good mood had changed like the weather, sporting a vicious thunderstorm. Retreating to his throne, he sat down and scowled. Outside he saw the warrior run, panicked, then stop, compose himself and start to sing ... bellow more like.
"JOXER THE MIGHTY!!
HE'S VERY TIDY
EVERYONE ADMIRES HIM,
HE'S SO HANDSOME IT'S A SIN...
HE'S EVERY MAN'S TRUSTEE
HE'S EVERY WOMAN'S FANTASY
FOUGHT DARTH MAUL AND LIVED TO TELL..."
The Sith groaned. //I should have killed him ...//
* * *
Obi-Wan didn't care to count the hours they had walked - without much success. He had his Master had encountered travellers, farmers, a simple farming village. Qui-Gon had sensed an aura of fear from the folk of their 'new God of War.' Apparently even their Gods were afraid of the newcomer, not quite sure what to make of him, but sure to stay out of his way.
"He definitely has disturbed the balance here," Obi-Wan said. "Are there really Gods here, Master?"
"These people believe they are Gods. They have extraordinary powers."
"So do we."
Qui-Gon nodded. "The extraordinary beings here believe they are superior, due to their powers."
Atop Mount Olympus, Zeus listened, partly
outraged by the Mortal's words, though impressed with the man's insight - and
it made him realise how many of his kind had played with Mortals' lives simply
because they could. Zeus watched, if these Mortals had come to rid the
Qui-Gon tuned into the Force. "The beings are not Gods, they're from other worlds, sent to help this one, saving it from disaster. These people have 'Gods' for Love, Muse, War, the Land, Oceans, the Dead... But some 'Gods' have let their power go to their heads."
Obi-Wan looked frustrated "But Master, they're not Gods."
Qui-Gon smiled. "These people need their guidance for now. For all the harm their Gods do, they do more good. We're not here to judge, Obi-Wan, or to tell these people what to believe. We're here to restore the balance."
Kenobi nodded. "I understand, Master."
* * *
Jedi were used to exertion, but Obi-Wan's feet were killing him, his stomach, on the verge of insurrection.
"I take it by that growl you've no food capsules left?"
Obi-Wan smiled. "Afraid not, Master. I finished the last one en route to Naboo."
"I gave my last to Shmi on Tatooine ... We need to find some food."
Obi-Wan nodded, grateful. "I was trying not to think about food."
Qui-Gon smiled. "Although the Force provides sustenance, food is necessary, it's not wrong to think about it when you're hungry, and our performance will be impaired if we don't eat soon, and I seriously doubt Darth Maul'll invite us to dinner."
Obi-Wan chuckled. "He's not vegetarian either, I'll wager."
"No bet here."
Qui-Gon looked around. "The vegetation isn't edible."
The two Jedi continued walking, Obi-Wan trying to quell his rebellious stomach.
* * *
Darth Maul sat on his stone throne, a satanic smile across his face. His armies, grateful their Lord seemed to be in a good mood, but as they well knew, that was subject to change in an instant.
Maul's quick eye caught a rabbit dart through his fortress and an instant later, it was in his hand.
One of his men wondered what he wanted with a cute furry animal. A second later he had his answer when Maul snapped its neck with a savage twist and tore into the deceased creature's flesh with his teeth, swallowing rapidly, ravaging the fresh kill, continuing until little more than bones remained.
Something else caught the Sith Lord's attention, he looked up in an instant, akin to an alert cat, though this was something he hadn't seen.
And in an instant he knew what - or rather who it was. Screaming with unsurpassed rage, he hurled the rabbit's broken bones with great force, and ignited his sabre, slashing whatever or whoever was in the way.
Those who were lucky enough to escape the blade, didn't need the Force to know Maul's good mood was as dead as the rabbit.
* * *
The Jedi had ventured into a clearing near a river and sat to rest for a few moments.
Quick as lightning, Obi-Wan grabbed a rabbit, rustling in the bushes.
Qui-Gon looked horrified. "We can't, Obi-Wan ..."
Obi-Wan looked realistic. "Master, we've searched over and over since we got here - two days ago and found nothing edible."
Qui-Gon looked the small rabbit struggling in his Padawan's grip. Obi-Wan hated to betray that look in his Master's eyes.
"Please don't give me those baby Ewok eyes."
Qui-Gon chuckled slightly.
"I'm sorry, Master, but we both need sustenance and you know as well as I do, we can't fight Maul unless our energies are replenished."
"I know, Obi-Wan."
Qui-Gon scanned the area. An eel and a few fishes darted by in the nearby river, no edible vegetation, the only berries being extremely poisonous to humans.
The Jedi Master took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a few moments. "Give her to me, Obi-Wan," he said gently.
"Master, I know how much you don't want to do this, neither do I, but if you let her go,
"I won't release her, give her here."
Slowly Obi-Wan handed the struggling bunny to his Master.
"I'm sorry," the older Jedi said softly.
"It can't understand you, Master."
Obi-Wan smiled and shook his head.
Qui-Gon held the terrified animal in a firm, but gentle grip and spoke gently, his mind to hers.
//I'm sorry we have to do this. I wish there was another way believe me.//
Obi-Wan stared as the rabbit appeared to have calmed a little.
//My Padawan and I have come here on a very important mission to restore Balance to your world.//
He allowed the rabbit to sense his thoughts. She had stopped struggling, but Qui-Gon still sensed her fear.
//We will not hurt you, I promise. I realise this is a lot to ask and I wouldn't if I didn't need to.//
The rabbit looked into the larger creature's eyes and saw his pain, but also his kindness. Still a little afraid, she consented, sensing the other creature's compassion.
//Thank you.// Qui-Gon held the rabbit gently and stroked her warm, soft fur, sensing her Living Force, he held her in his hands, gently separating her spirit from her body.
Obi-Wan watched in silent awe. He'd only ever heard about this being done in myths. A glowing sphere emerged from the rabbit's now limp body, which Qui-Gon placed into his lap, cupping his hands, holding the warm, shimmering spirit.
"Thank you," he whispered again. "I'm sorry we had to do this."
The spirit seemed to smile. //I understand, Master Qui-Gon and please stop apologising, I sense how hard that was for you.//
The Jedi Master smiled.
//I am glad to do this, though it was frightening at first. I realise it is my time to leave the physical world so that you can save it.//
"Thank you." Qui-Gon watched as the spirit disappeared into the Earth.
Obi-Wan felt guilty for thinking of his stomach after witnessing such a beautiful transgression. He didn't hear the conversation, but he understood and sensed the meaning.
"I'm sorry, Master," he said softly.
"She chose to give herself to us, though it's still hard."
Obi-Wan nodded. "I'll prepare it..." he offered after a pause, knowing his Master would find the task almost impossible.
"Thank you, Padawan."
Obi-Wan felt for his Master, but couldn't shake the feeling of his gnawing stomach.
The older Jedi handed the rabbit's soft body to his Padawan and stood.
"Master, I know how hard this was for you."
"I'll be fine, Padawan," Qui-Gon said with a gentle smile.
Obi-Wan started to follow him, then realised his Master needed some privacy and let him alone, hearing him quietly relive himself behind a tree.
"I'm going for a walk," Qui-Gon said softly after he had finished. "I'll be back soon."
Obi-Wan nodded and prepared to start in the unpleasant task, still feeling a tad guilty for thinking of his howling stomach after the rabbit's sacrifice, as he ignited his lightsabre and started a small fire.
Hearing the lightsabre blade ignite, Qui-Gon tried to put the unpleasant image of what would follow out of his mind.
* * *
In his fortress, Hades, Lord of the Underworld cradled a small rabbit.
"It's the second one today," he said. "She seems a lot calmer than the other one." He showed his beloved, Persephone, a large brown rabbit, in the Elysian fields, twitching nervously.
"He died violently," she said.
"Yes, Darth Maul killed him."
"Even a God has to eat."
"I'm not so sure he is a God," Hades said.
"But his powers ... And he has Hind's blood."
"So he says."
"Hades ..." Persephone became worried.
The handsome God looked into his wife's eyes. "He has to be stopped, Seph. My workload has more than quadrupled since he came. And that brother of mine, God of Heaven and Earth, does he offer any help? No!"
"Careful, Hades, if he hears you talking like that-"
"What? He'll burn my arse with a thunderbolt? I can barely keep up with the dead and dying as it is and more than that. Every day I have to listen to the screams of the suffering and dying ... and the cries of those who have lost loved ones to that monster!"
Persephone looked into her beloved's pained pale blue eyes. "I don't agree with it, but that's what warlord's do."
"Not as much as him ..." Hades shook his head. "Somehow I sense he doesn't belong here..."
Persephone caught a thought from her husband. "Do you think Xena can stop him?"
"Only the Fates know."
* * *
Obi-Wan had skinned and had finished cooking the small rabbit by the time his Master returned.
"Thank you, Padawan, but I'm not looking forward to this." He grimaced as he sat down. "I wish I could say I lost my appetite, but I can't. The last time I ate was a small piece of fruit Ani gave me, before we left Tatooine."
Obi-Wan handed his Master his portion on a large rubbery leaf. "I'm sorry, Master, try not to think about it."
"It's hard not to."
After a pause, Obi-Wan began to eat the front half, sensing that would have been even harder for his Master. It wasn't pleasant for him either, despite the pleasant taste. He sighed inwardly as his hunger pains began to disappear. He sensed his Master begin to eat, slowly, eyes closed lightly and in complete silence.
Qui-Gon finished his portion, then gently gathered the rabbit's remains, placing them between both leaves. He stood and walked to a nearby shrub, ignited his sabre and dug a hole in the ground, then disengaged it. Kneeling down, he placed the bones inside and covered up the grave, gently placing his hand on top.
"Thank you for your sacrifice," he said, his voice soft.
Qui-Gon returned to Obi-Wan, his Padawan finally really understanding how hard this had been for his Master, respecting the creature for her sacrifice and silently asked himself if he was in her place would he have done the same?
His Master had, though not quite in the same way, he had given his life to save a world he barely knew. Obi-Wan only hoped when his time came he had the courage to do the same.
"You will, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon assured with a gentle smile.
"Are my thoughts always so transparent to you?"
"Only when you want them to be."
Obi-Wan smiled, though still sensed his Master's sadness and guilt.
"She did give herself willingly. I know it was hard for you Master, but look on the bright side, it didn't taste too bad, did it?"
Qui-Gon looked at him. "That's just the problem, Obi-Wan ... It was delicious..."
Obi-Wan stared at his Master and could not hold back a broad smile and he began to-
"Don't laugh," Qui-Gon said, gently hitting him. "I feel terrible..."
Kenobi simply couldn't help it and was soon joined by his Master, chuckling softly, despite his guilt.
"I hope I never have to do that again..."
Qui-Gon's head snapped up in an instant, akin to an alert cat, Obi-Wan wasn't long to sense the disturbance, as the two Jedi hands darted to their lightsabres. Qui-Gon shook his head and held up a hand as Obi-Wan began to draw his. His Master's troubled frown worried him.
The Jedi retreated into the bushes, as a terrified child came crashing through. Qui-Gon stood, her fear almost overwhelming him. The child stared at him, too frightened to move, her dress in tatters, stained with dried blood.
Qui-Gon regained his senses and stepped forward, wanting to assure the petrified girl that he would not harm her. She began to scramble away in a panic before he could get a word in. Instinctively, Qui-Gon caught her, though the child, kicking and screaming was too terrified to hear his gentle words.
"I'm not going to hurt you..."
It didn't register. Qui-Gon closed his eyes and called on the Force.
//I'm not going to hurt you, I promise.//
The girl looked at him, hearing his voice in her mind.
His voice sounded gentle, but the girl was petrified.
"Y... you have a magic light sword like he does..."
Qui-Gon gasped and had to grab a tree for support as images from the girl's mind entered his. "By the Force ..." He knelt down to her. "I'm so sorry ..." Qui-Gon could not hold his tears back. "I'm sorry for what he did to you..."
The girl became confused. "How do you know?"
"I can sense things."
"He can also sense things. You are like him?"
"We have similar powers," Qui-Gon said softly, "but I am nothing like him."
"I can see the sorrow in your eyes," the girl said after a pause.
"I will find you a new home, I promise. I'm sorry it won't make up for the loss of your family and village, but it's the least I can do."
Qui-Gon took the child back to the makeshift camp. She grabbed and held onto him like a Naboo sea tree when she saw Obi-Wan.
"It's all right," Qui-Gon said, gently separating her from his leg. "He's my apprentice. He won't hurt you."
Obi-Wan smiled. //Another pathetic life form, Master?//
Qui-Gon smiled. "Don't mind him, Altea."
"How do you know my ... oh, silly question. You ... are powerful."
Qui-Gon sensed although she understood that Obi-Wan would not hurt her, she was still afraid. The Jedi Master sat next to her. "Power can be used for good or evil."
He gently took her hand. "I'm so sorry for what he did to you... to your world."
"Please don't blame yourself."
Both Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon's heads were up in an instant, as they sensed two forms converging on them.
"Behind that rock," Qui-Gon said to Altea. He had no desire for her to be hurt anymore than she already had.
And Qui-Gon sensed the two coming for them were no frightened children. The immense hatred and anger wafted out of the bushes akin to a smell in a cartoon vid.
Qui-Gon motioned for his Padawan to stay back, as he drew his lightsabre.
In the next moment, a figure, almost as tall as he, stood before him, sword drawn.
Obi-Wan watched, hand ready on his lightsabre hilt.
The warrior regarded Qui-Gon for a moment. A blur of movement caught her attention. Her eyes darted to a rock, where a dishevelled, harrowed little girl peered out. Intense hatred flashed in the warrior’s crystal blue eyes, her face twisting with rage, bearing her teeth, as she rushed Qui-Gon, with an ear piercing battle cry. The Jedi Master did not flinch as he ignited his lightsabre, the warrior woman's sword slicing in two. Flinching a tad, she withdrew. Obi-Wan ignited his blue blade, although this warrior woman had nothing to stand up to a lightsabre and unskilled in the ways of the Force, something told him she wasn’t to be trifled with. The next thing, he felt a blow to the back of his head. Losing his balance, he fell. Momentarily distracted, Qui-Gon felt the warrior woman kick the lightsabre out of his hand and silently cursed himself. It was a distraction that had cost him his life and if this woman had a lightsabre, he would no longer be standing. The warrior broke though Qui-Gon's defence. It had been a while since he'd been in a hand to hand combat situation, though he managed to block her blows.
"I have no wish to harm you," he said between blocks, but she didn't seem convinced, as she managed to get a punch in, right in his face. Despite the unpleasant sting, the woman's skill and determination impressed Qui-Gon. She even managed to floor him, though not for long.
//He fights well, for a man his age// the woman thought.
"Thank you," Qui-Gon said, momentarily startling his opponent, managing to gain the upper hand, though not for long.
The woman leapt as he tried to block her and kicked his stomach. The second time Qui-Gon was ready.
Despite his throbbing head, Obi-Wan had managed to stand and grabbed his opponent.
The blonde woman stared as she recognised the man her friend was fighting. "Xena! Stop!"
"He's the man in my vision..."
The dark haired woman eyed her opponent.
"He's the one I saw Darth Maul ..."
"Kill," Qui-Gon said, lowering his defences.
Gabrielle looked confused.
"Long story," Qui-Gon said.
A pause followed as the four regarded one and other.
"My Padawan and I have come to restore Balance to your world before it's too late. Darth Maul's done enough damage already."
"You're not kidding," Gabrielle said with disgust.
She turned to Obi-Wan. "Uhh .. sorry ..."
He rubbed the back of his head and smiled. "I'll live."
Despite his embarrassment of being caught unawares, he admired the young woman - not many could sneak up on Jedi and best them with a stick.
Xena looked again at the frightened young girl. "Darth Maul did ... I'm sorry, I thought you-"
"My Master and I have no wish to harm this world," Obi-Wan said. "We've come here to help."
"No offence," the warrior woman said, calm, "but I work alone."
"I understand your rage and hatred for what Darth Maul has done to your world and I feel responsible."
The little girl emerged, staring at Xena, somewhat in awe of meeting a living legend. "They're good Gods, Warrior Princess."
"We have special powers, but we're not Gods," Qui-Gon said, uncomfortable. "And I promise we will help you."
Xena looked again at Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan before she was convinced and a tad impressed.
The warrior woman pointed to her sword. "I've had that since I was fourteen."
Qui-Gon bent down, picked up the severed weapon, placing the two halves together and clasped his hand around the break. The Jedi Master focused and closed his eyes for a few moments, calling on the Force, before he withdrew his hand and gave Xena back her sword whole.
"Thanks..." She was clearly impressed. "You say you're not Gods."
"No. Please pardon the cliché, but we're from another place and time."
"So is Darth Maul, I take it?"
Qui-Gon nodded. "We're here to take him back to our Universe... or kill him."
"Many have tried."
"I'm not surprised no one's succeeded," Qui-Gon said. "We almost didn't."
"I've heard him speak of others like him," Xena said. "He ordered they be killed if they ever came here."
"He was speaking of us. It's a good bet he's sensed us by now. Do you know where his stronghold is?"
"Yes, but it's too risky to attack, even without his army," Xena said.
"I've heard most of Maul's armies have joined forces against him," Gabrielle said.
"An army formed from fear is never yours," Xena said, her voice quiet.
"I coulnd't've said it better myself," Qui-Gon said, impressed with the woman's wisdom.
"If he's sensed you, he'll be expecting you to seek him out and come for him. We have to draw him out, a place where he'll be vulnerable and alone. He's overconfident in his abilities, that's his weakness."
"You seem to know quite a bit about him," Obi-Wan said.
"I used to be like him." Xena sheathed her sword.
"No one can be as bad as a Sith," the young Padawan said.
"Don't be so sure."
Altea came to Qui-Gon and tugged on his tunic. "I want to help you."
The Jedi Master knelt down to her and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Thank you, but I can't risk that. You've been hurt enough. I promise I will find you a safe home."
"There's a small village half a day's walk from here," Gabrielle said.
Qui-Gon nodded. "I know it's not yours ... I can't tell you how sorry I am..."
The child placed her arms around him. "It wasn't your fault."
Qui-Gon smiled gently, his eyes showing how touched he felt, but also his sadness.
The Jedi followed the dark haired woman out of the woods. Altea stuck close to Qui-Gon. In some ways she reminded him of Anakin.
* * *
As Gabrielle had said, within half a day,
they came upon the
A man as tall and well built as Qui-Gon came to them. "Her village was destroyed by Darth Maul," the Jedi Master explained, choosing his words carefully.
Fear rippled through these people, hanging in the air like a bad smell. He had no wish to frighten them or say anything that any one of them may tell the 'new God of War' in order to gain favour.
The farmer's expression softened. "How old are you, Little One?"
"Eleven. Twelve on the Solstice."
"My wife and daughter were killed by his armies ... They were only picking berries in the fields... Leisa would be thirteen a week from today." The large man fought to keep back tears.
"I'm sorry," Qui-Gon said, his voice soft, feeling the man's loss and pain.
Gently, the farmer took the little girl's hand. "They are with Hades in the Elysian fields, now ... Thank you for blessing me with another."
Qui-Gon smiled warmly and knelt down. "I know this isn't your home, Altea but I promise you will be safe."
The young child hugged Qui-Gon gently. "Nothing will replace the home and family I lost, but thanks to you, I have a new one."
The farmer placed his hands gently on the girl's shoulders. "As do I, thank you, stranger."
"Take care of her," Qui-Gon said.
"You have my word."
"I am truly sorry for your loss," the Jedi Master said.
"As am I. I promise I will raise Altea as if she were my own. May I ask where you're from?"
Qui-Gon smiled. "A long way from here."
The farmer lowered his voice. "Any enemy of that monster is a friend to me."
Qui-Gon nodded. "Thank you, and many feel as you do, but keep silent for now, your village isn't strong enough to fight him."
The farmer nodded. "I know, and I deplore fighting, but the killing and fear has to stop."
"I feel the same," Qui-Gon said. "It will, I promise."
The farmer didn't know why, but he sensed that this stranger's words were more than just that. "Thank you, Traveller."
Qui-Gon smiled gently. He almost said 'May The Force Be With You,' but surmised the farmer wouldn't understand.
Altea hugged the Jedi Master goodbye, as he bid her and the village farewell.
The farmer lead Altea to his home. The young girl knew he would take care of her, as she would of him when he grew older. She pointed to the sturdy wooden house. "Did you build that?"
The large, gentle man smiled and nodded.
"My father built our house," Altea said with sadness. "His name was Sokalis."
The farmer smiled warmly. "My name's Qui-Gon," he said.
Almost out of the village now, Qui-Gon Jinn turned and stared at the farmer as he entered his home with Altea and sensed him embrace his new daughter gently.
"It's a small Universe after all, Master," Obi-Wan said with a smile, equally surprised.
Still quite bewildered, Qui-Gon resumed course with his Padawan, the Warrior and the Bard.
"I'm sensing a Dark Force further to the North of this land, Master," Obi-Wan said.
Qui-Gon nodded. " I sense it also."
The foursome walked on in a northerly direction.
"Why do you call him Master?" Gabrielle asked, curious. "Are ... are you his slave?" She didn't want to believe this kind man would condone slavery.
Obi-Wan flushed red and almost choked. Qui-Gon simply smiled.
"No ... no, nothing like that,"
the young Padawan explained hastily. "He's my Teacher, my
"Oh ... You call him Master as a token of respect."
"I'm sorry," Gabrielle said feeling ashamed for asking such a question.
Qui-Gon smiled. "It's quite all right."
The young Bard, amazed that he wasn't angry in the slightest, looked into the older man's kind eyes, seeing now that he would never hurt or oppress another, unless they threatened the innocent.
* * *
Darth Maul growled and hissed, and spat a virulent curse, although he had known there was every possibility that they could follow him here. He grabbed a large scampering rat and began to devour it. He smiled to himself as he recalled killing the Jedi Master, the pain in the older man's eyes, and would gladly do so again and revel in his pain - and this time, Maul thought, as he ripped into the rat's abdomen, he wouldn't underestimate the Master's Padawan.
* * *
The four warriors came out onto a large clearing.
"Here," Qui-Gon said. "We make our stand here."
Xena sussed the area. "Minimal cover, beats sneaking."
"And obstacles," Qui-Gon said.
Obi-Wan grimaced, remembering the accursed red shields on Naboo.
In a moment of silence, the Jedi Master looked around, to the sky, then North East. "He's coming."
"With an army?" Gabrielle asked.
"He's in a good mood," Xena said. "Maybe he's got his lucky black underpants on."
Qui-Gon chuckled. "Don't think he wears any other colour."
Obi-Wan and Gabrielle smiled.
"So what do we do now?" Gabrielle asked.
"We wait," Qui-Gon and Xena said in unison.
And then they smiled, followed by Obi-Wan and Gabrielle.
* * *
Although Maul tried to mask his approach, Qui-Gon sensed his raging hatred miles off and readied himself, using the time he had to purge his mind of fears, expectations and the painful memory of the Sith's lightsabre burning through him. He knew only that Maul had to be stopped, to restore the balance, not only not this ancient land, but the Universe itself, and if the Jedi Master had to die here to ensure that, he accepted that as his destiny.
Xena's head snapped around and she motioned Gabrielle to stay back.
The older Jedi watched his Padawan, alert, standing at the edge of the forest, ready for anything, as Qui-Gon waited patiently. He sensed his Padawan's anger, and turned to him.
//I understand your feelings, Padawan and I thank you, but do not let your anger affect your judgement. You may have surprised him once, but he will be prepared this time. Be wary.//
Obi-Wan nodded. "Yes, Master."
Gabrielle looked at the Jedi, still quite in awe at their powers, but more so, their unique bond, strong and eternal as the one she shared with Xena.
Their antagonist wasn't long to show, overconfident, but not quite so much as he had been on Naboo, though he'd seen no point in sneaking up on his enemies as he ignited his lightsabre, one blade, then the other. Seeing Maul's next move, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan weren't long to follow.
The Sith turned to Obi-Wan, intense hatred burning in his eyes, the young Padawan almost overwhelmed by the tsunami of darkness, but held his ground. Maul turned, viciously slamming Obi-Wan's sabre, an instant later, blasting him with a dose of the Dark Side, the young Jedi falling back, as Maul slashed out with his lightsabre, slicing deep into Obi-Wan's ankle. Kenobi bit back a cry of pain as he fell to the ground. He'd die before giving the Sith the satisfaction. Maul whirled and kicked Qui-Gon's sabre out of his hand, the Jedi Master ducking, swerving at the last possible nano second, avoiding Maul's sabre, but not a violent kick to the stomach, in the exact spot the lightsabre had previously penetrated.
An instant later, Qui-Gon's sabre was back in his hands as he clashed with the Sith Lord, giving Obi-Wan time to back off a little. The Jedi Maser tried not to pay attention to the smile on his enemy's face as he drew him out into the open.
"I defeated you once, old man," Maul sneered, "and I can do it again."
Qui-Gon smiled, as he blocked Maul's blow. "Just how old do you think I am?" He blocked Maul again.
//He couldn't be older than 40 ...// Maul thought.
"Thank you. Almost 65, actually."
Maul tried to hide his surprise, quite angry with himself for his thoughts being so transparent. Qui-Gon's glowing green blade blocked his next blow.
"So Jedi ... Tell me the secrets of your youth..."
"Oil of Ulantra. Been using it since I was fourteen."
Qui-Gon's sabre pressed against Maul's, the Jedi not taking the Sith's bait. He would not be distracted this time.
Maul tried to stifle a smile, as he slammed his sabre against the Jedi's, grudgingly admiring his enemy's ability to jest under such pressure.
Again, he tried to catch Qui-Gon off guard, but the Jedi Master was ready for the chin blow this time as he ducked and swirled around, and Maul very nearly ended up in two pieces again, however he could not avoid being kicked in the stomach. Maul slammed his red blade into Qui-Gon's with a vengeance. The Jedi tightened his grip on his sabre, matching the Sith's ferocity.
"No shields here for you to meditate and catch your breath," Maul hissed.
Qui-Gon didn't reply, drawing on the Force for the energy he needed, putting all fears of the battle on Naboo out of his mind.
Again green and red clashed, Qui-Gon forcing Maul onto the hard ground, though the Sith was up in a flash.
Maul smiled inwardly, he'd seen another way to defeat the Jedi and began to draw him toward the cliff, sabres clashing all the way. The horned Sith pushed his blade against Qui-Gon's, the Jedi held his ground. Maul let go one hand on his staff, momentarily confusing his enemy. Qui-Gon swerved at the last moment as Maul jabbed, the red blade barely missing the Jedi Master by a little more than a centimetre. His blade, on Maul's the next instant, stopping himself from suffering the same rather unpleasant fate his enemy had. However, Qui-Gon wasn't quite quick enough to avoid a vicious kick to the stomach. He lost grip on his sabre when he hit the ground, a last second right roll saving his life, sabre back in hand the next instant, Maul snarling, cursing Qui-Gon's astonishing reflexes, only hoping his would be that good when he reached the Jedi Master's age - if he lived that long.
Gritted teeth baring, he slammed his sabre against his enemy's with tremendous force, but Qui-Gon didn't budge. Maul slammed again, to no effect. He decided he couldn't distract the Jedi with a light show, he'd try something else. Maul gave a smile that would have sent shivers up his own Master's spine, looked into Qui-Gon's eyes and let the Jedi Master see. Qui-Gon almost gasped, his gentle eyes showing his pain and shock, much to the Sith's delight. The Jedi Master tried to hide his horror, almost losing grip on his weapon, struggling to hold his ground, the Force assisted vision almost too much for him to bear.
Maul took advantage although he couldn't quite get in edgewise with his lightsabre, he kicked his enemy off the precipice, somewhat annoyed that Qui-Gon didn't fly into a rage at the vision that bombarded his mind. Maul had hoped the gentle Jedi's calm would have shattered at seeing a terrified eleven year old girl violently violated.
Obi-Wan saw his Master go over, his disengaged lightsabre landing in the field. The young Padawan gasped in silence, closing his eyes for a moment, trying to sense his Master's presence, but couldn't, but then he didn't quite sense him die either. He didn't want to believe his Master had died - again, but he could not sense him - and seeing the Sith coming for him did nought to ease his tension.
Maul advancing on him, the young Jedi backed off a little, he still could not stand, giving himself some breathing space and kept Maul at bay with vicious swipes of his lightsabre, until the Sith Lord bashed the blue blade out of his hand and smiled as he came closer. Obi-Wan knew there was no point to back off any further, the last thing he wanted to do was show fear. Maul drew closer, his smile broadening when he caught a flash of fear from his fallen opponent. The young Jedi focused himself and called on the Force, though Maul was ready and wasn't swayed. The young Padawan knew there would be no miraculous escape this time. He reached out with the Force to retrieve his sabre, Maul swiped his own, Obi-Wan jerking his hand back, just in time to save it from being severed, though not quite quick enough. Obi-Wan winced as he held his slashed hand.
Maul smiled as he lowered his sabre, the heat burning Obi-Wan's already excruciating ankle, slowly turning his sabre, to prologue the torture. Maul smiled, Obi-Wan glared at him with disgust.
"Your Master can't save you," Maul snarled, his voice soft. The Sith smiled when he caught the Jedi flinch.
Obi-Wan hated to admit defeat, but knew he had to accept it and began to prepare himself and began to focus on the Force, taking his mind off the pain, drawing grudging respect from his enemy.
"A pity," Maul said. "I was looking forward to seeing you grovel."
"In your dreams," Kenobi spat.
Maul grunted and raised his sabre, glaring at the Jedi, and became rather annoyed when Kenobi didn't so much as flinch.
"What is it, Jedi?" Maul asked. "Hoping your Master will leap up at the last moment ... or that I'll have a change of heart?"
"Heart ... you wouldn't know what that means if it shoved that thing where Tatooine's suns don't shine..."
Maul hissed. "You're hardly in a position to insult, Jedi!"
Much to Maul's annoyance, Kenobi laughed. "Being civil is going to make a difference?"
The Sith smiled and raised his weapon once more. Obi-Wan braced himself, taking a silent breath, hoping it wouldn't be his last. Drawing all the strength he could muster, directed a Force blast into Maul's midsection, throwing the Sith quite a way back.
Xena watched, impressed, but also annoyed that she could do nothing to help the young warrior.
Maul stood, seething rage coursed through him like wildfire, as he thundered toward Obi-Wan, both blades extended.
The young Jedi tried again to blast Maul, but this time the Sith was ready.
The Padawan knew he could prologue his fate no longer and prepared himself. Becoming one with the Force was an honour, though death a frightening mystery.
Obi-Wan blinked when he saw a wooden staff slam into Maul's stomach. The Sith almost dropped his lightsabre.
Obi-Wan looked up to see Gabrielle. Her courage, admirable however with a swirl of his weapon, Gabrielle's defence lay in three pieces.
The Sith glared at her with grudging admiration to stand up to a Sith Lord with a stick.
"Defy me again, Little Girl and you will die."
Gabrielle stood back, knowing there was nothing more she could do.
Obi-Wan glanced at her. //Thank you...//
The Bard heard his voice in her mind and smiled sadly.
Kenobi glared at his enemy. "You don't belong here," he said and Maul knew it.
"I like it here."
"There are no Jedi for you kill and maim," Obi Wan snorted.
Maul smiled. "Except you and your Master."
Obi-Wan refused to let Maul bait him.
"I'll go back when I'm ready."
"Don't you miss your Master?" the young Jedi said, his sarcasm apparent.
Maul laughed. "He is worthy of my respect, but here I bow down to no one."
"I don't have to bow to my Master," Obi-Wan said.
"So why do you call him Master? He's hardly likely to lop your head off of you call him by name."
Obi-Wan gave a thin smile. "I respect him and love him deeply, despite our disagreements. Oh, excuse me. Love's a dirty word in your language isn't it?"
"And my Master doesn't electrocute me every time we have a disagreement," Obi-Wan said, sensing Maul's thoughts.
The Sith flinched, remembering those rather painful experiences. "I'm well beyond the reach of my Master's electric fingers in this realm. Here I am God."
"You and I both know that's bollocks."
Maul smiled. "And very soon you won't be here, Kenobi - and as far as the people in this time are concerned, I'm-"
"An evil bastard."
Maul smiled. "That too."
The Sith raised his lightsabre. The young Jedi Padawan closed his eyes for a moment.
A shrill ear piercing cry cut the air. Maul whirled around to see the dark haired warrior woman rushing him, Obi-Wan's ignited lightsabre in hand.
The young Jedi stared, grateful and anxious. Graceful and strong, could this woman hold her own against a Sith Lord? She had the strength, determination and heart, but then so did Qui-Gon and he had the Force on his side.
Xena attacked Maul with such vengeance, at first he had trouble holding his ground, quite impressed at how she handled the Jedi weapon.
"Your rage is impressive," he said, his voice a low growl.
Not only could he see it in her burning eyes, her bared teeth, but deep in her soul. "Join me, Warrior Queen. Be as you once were."
"Been there, done that." Xena thrust the blue blade, her rage again surprising Maul, to be so filled with it, yet not controlled by it, to have so much anger and yet not be overwhelmed.
"Join me," Maul said, letting her feed from his own rage.
Red and blue blades clashed, despite his anger, Maul finding fighting someone with equal rage, invigorating. He whirled and slammed his sabre against her borrowed blue blade, the force of the blow catching the warrior woman off guard for a moment and Maul took advantage, forcing the lightsabre out of her hands. Looking worried, but only for a second, she backed off slightly. Maul grinned. Xena vaulted out of the way as his sabre came down, the Warrior Princess taking advantage, kicking him in his stomach and bashing his face. Despite his anger Maul admired her, attacking a Sith, unarmed, her reflexes worthy of a Jedi. In the next moment, Xena kicked his sabre out of his hand. The Sith growled as he blocked a blow to his stomach, kicking Xena in hers. The warrior woman vaulted over him, when she landed, kicking his face. The Sith wasn't long to recover, though Xena's foot came into contact with his stomach again and she belted him. In a flash, the Warrior Princess vaulted over him, retrieving Obi-Wan's Lightsabre, Maul using he used the Force to draw his sabre back into his hand, not willing to admit had it not been for the Force, his innards would be staining the grass. Red and blue blades clashed again. Despite the warrior woman's speed, and determination, Maul once again bashed the lightsabre out of her hands and held his glowing red blade at her throat.
Gabrielle yelled her Soul Mate's name. It wasn't as if Xena could catch this blade in her hands. Xena's eyes never left Maul's, her adversary again impressed at her lack of fear.
Maul whirled around to see Qui-Gon's sabre fly across the field into the Jedi Master's hands as he leapt up from the cliff, his hair flowing with defiance in the wind. Maul hissed with contempt, but grudging admiration. The Jedi had managed to shield his presence as he had climbed up. Obi-Wan sighed inwardly, thanking the Force for not forsaking his Master.
Not a moment too soon, Xena mused as she backed off, somewhat miffed, not to mention relieved that if it wasn’t for Qui-Gon's impeccable timing, Hades would be having an angry arrival.
Red and green shards of light clashed with vigour and determination.
"You fight the inevitable," Maul hissed.
Qui-Gon responded with a blow against his adversary's sabre.
Maul saw the Jedi Master fought with the same vigour and determination as Xena, but without the rage, his ever present Jedi calm unyielding. Again the Sith only hoped he could fight this well at sixty-five.
"Thanks," Qui-Gon said, much to Maul's annoyance.
The Sith tried to distract the Jedi Master, but Qui-Gon was having none of it, drawing the energy he needed from the Force, Maul drawing his energy from the Dark Side. He saw a slight opening and went for it, whirling his lightsabre around, Qui-Gon ducking at the last possible second, narrowly avoiding being decapitated. Maul growled and blocked the Jedi Master's next blow, almost losing grip on his lightstaff. Qui-Gon backed off a little as Maul kicked out. Qui-Gon's next blow sending the Sith's weapon flying from his hand. Maul refused to show fear, though backed off. Qui-Gon gestured, allowing Maul to retrieve his weapon, the Sith grunting inwardly, with grudging respect for his enemy as he gripped and whirled his sabre. "You won't live to regret that mistake, Jedi," he growled, slamming his red blade against Qui-Gon's green one.
"You're welcome ... Thought I would kill an enemy while his defences were down like you did?"
Maul grunted again. "I could name quite a few Jedi who would under these circumstances."
"You'll find I'm not like most Jedi."
"So I've noticed ..." After a pause, Maul softened his tone. "Your council are never quite sure what to make of you are they?"
Qui-Gon smiled as he continued to fight with the Sith. "Not quite."
"They never seem to understand that sometimes the rules must be broken." Maul's sabre pressed against Qui's, but not very hard. The Sith's features seemed to soften as he regarded Qui-Gon. "I sense your pain, Jedi. You wish they would understand how you feel, even your Padawan."
Qui-Gon gave a wishful smile. "That would be nice."
"Let go your feelings," Maul said gently. "Let them think what they want to think. You know you are following the Path the Force has laid for you."
Qui-Gon pressed his lightsabre against Maul's, causing the Sith to lose balance and fall, losing grip on his weapon. Qui-Gon levelled his glowing green blade at Maul's black throat and smiled. "Nice try."
Maul's mock gentleness reverted back to an angry scowl, and snarled realising Qui-Gon had been onto him from the start.
"That's more like it," Qui-Gon said. "You, kind? C'mon. You were starting to scare me."
Despite himself Maul smiled and realised the Jedi could have killed him - again, but didn't.
Vigour renewed, glowing red and green swords clashed, neither giving a millimetre, taking what they could get. Maul's foot slammed into Qui-Gon's stomach, the Jedi falling to the ground, despite the initial pain and shock of the blow, rolled to one side as Maul's sabre ran deep into the dirt. The Sith tried to crush Qui-Gon's ankle with his black booted foot, but the Jedi leapt up and continued to do battle.
Qui-Gon sensed Maul's rage rising even further and wondered how anyone could live like that, so full of hate. Maul's red sabre crashed against Qui-Gon's lightsabre's gentle green glow, the Sith's rage pressing with it as he thrust violently, Qui-Gon swerving, Maul's blade searing his side. The Jedi Master refused to show the pain, as Obi-Wan watched the duellers, anxious.
Maul thrust again, this time Qui-Gon was ready, but Maul wasn't as Qui-Gon's glowing green blade entered him, pain searing through the Sith Lord's body, as he fell to the hard ground. Qui-Gon empathised with the pain. One last desperate attempt, Maul reached out with the Force to draw the lightstaff to his hand, though Qui-Gon had anticipated that and flicked it out of his grasp with his green blade.
Maul fought back his fear with a vengeance, trying not to focus on the excruciating pain.
"I'm sorry," Qui-Gon said, his voice gentle. "You left me no choice."
Despite his anger, pain and fear, Maul felt respect for the Jedi, an enemy the Sith hated with a vengeance, an enemy they'd strike down, defenceless or not, without a second thought, even a child Padawan, but this Jedi, Maul knew now was like no other.
"Put your hand over the wound," Qui-Gon advised. "It'll dull the pain."
Maul scoffed, taking advice from a Jedi? Even if he was unique. A sudden agonising pain ripped through him without warning, Maul gasped, involuntarily, and instantly placed his hand over his midsection, pressing down a little, realising Qui-Gon was right, the pain seemed to lessen. //Well he is a Jedi Master. He has to know something.//
"Well thank you," Qui-Gon said, though taking no pleasure in his enemy's pain.
Maul cursed inwardly at the transparency of his thoughts. He tried to focus on the Force, but knew not even that could save him now. He despised the fact that having Qui-Gon here was somewhat comforting. He had always been terrified of dying alone. The Jedi had earned his respect, somewhat grudgingly, no words of triumph or victory, only sorrow that he had no choice but to kill. Maul didn't completely understand the Jedi's compassion, perhaps he never would, he knew only that it was not a weakness as his Master had told him.
Qui-Gon stayed by Darth Mauls' side until he could no longer sense the Sith's Living Force. The Jedi Master returned to his Padawan, placing his hand over the bloodied, swollen ankle, and his sliced hand as though they were cotton wool babies.
"I'm sorry, Master ... Like before, I wasn't there for you."
Qui-Gon smiled gently. "Don't blame yourself, Padawan," he said softly, his light touch administering the Force to Obi-Wan's wounds, aiding their healing. The young Jedi felt the pain dissipating. It never ceased to amaze him how quickly the Force could heal. "Thank you..." Obi-Wan paused. "Master, why did you stay with him?" He looked to the Sith's body in the middle of the clearing.
"Death is never easy. He may be our enemy, Obi-Wan, but killing is never easy either."
Kenobi sat up, understanding, though still a little bemused by his Master's feelings.
Xena and Gabrielle came to the Jedi.
"You fight well," the Warrior Princess said, regarding Qui-Gon.
"As do you. Thank you. Your help has been invaluable."
Qui-Gon and Gabrielle helped Obi-Wan up, but before he stood completely, he picked up the three pieces of Gabrielle's wooden staff, using the Force to fuse them together.
The young Jedi smiled. "My pleasure."
A being materialised near Darth Maul's body, clad in black and silver, a crown made from platinum, resting on dark blonde hair.
Obi-Wan looked wary, however Qui-Gon sensed the newcomer's gratitude and benevolence.
"Hades," he said.
The newcomer seemed bewildered at first, at how Qui-Gon knew his name, then realised they had the same powers as their enemy. Qui-Gon looked at Hades again with surprise. "You're Force sensitive..."
Hades looked puzzled.
"You can sense things," Qui-Gon said. "See things before they happen."
Hades nodded slowly. "None of the others could. I just assumed it was part of my ... special powers..."
"Because you're a God?"
Hades gave a smile. "These people see us as Gods. We came to this world because it was in turmoil. The suffering was unbelievable."
"I sensed that," Qui-Gon said, "and I see it in your eyes." The Jedi Master visibly flinched.
Hades nodded, his blue eyes, sad. "So many souls, lost, tormented, the evil torturing the good, I had to do something for them. None of the other Gods wanted to bother with the dead, more concerned with controlling the land and the living."
"And so you created the Underworld," Obi-Wan said.
Hades nodded. "Sometimes I curse myself for it ... So many die in this world ... war, sickness, famine, natural disasters..."
"And you feel the burden," Qui-Gon said gently.
Hades nodded. "I'm glad someone finally understands ... and him ..." he said pointing to the fallen Sith, "created so much death and chaos, I could barely cope ... Thank you for ending it."
"Myself and my Padawan take no pleasure in killing," Qui-Gon said, "but we do take solace that he will bring no more suffering, although the wounds he has already caused will take time to heal."
Hades thrust a fireball at Maul's body, vaporising it. "His soul will burn in Tartarus for the suffering he has caused. I cannot let you take him back to your world. He must answer for his crimes in this one."
Qui-Gon nodded. "Even in death a Jedi is never truly dead. Are you sure you can handle him?"
Hades nodded. "He will never harm another soul again, I promise you and Ares will be restored to his rightful place as God of War, much to his delight."
"Much as I hate to say it, Bro, I owe ya one," came Ares’ voice from the sky.
Hades smiled as he turned back to the Jedi. "Thank you again, Master Qui-Gon Jinn,
"It's our pleasure," Obi-Wan said, "though I too wish there had been another way."
"Sometimes one has to kill," Hades said.
The Jedi knew that only too well.
A silence followed.
"Hades, if you weren't needed here, I'd ask you to come back with us. Our Universe has trouble and turmoils of its own. Your powers would be invaluable."
The Lord of the Underworld smiled. "Nevertheless, I'm honoured, Qui-Gon. And when my work here is done, I may stop by sometime."
Qui-Gon smiled. "You have to teach me that fireball trick sometime."
Hades chuckled. "May The Force Be With You."
Qui-Gon bowed slightly. "And Also with you."
The Jedi stood aside as Hades vanished in a flash of sparkling silver light.
Obi-Wan couldn't help but feel a sense of awe. "I'd heard the myths of Hades, Master. Most of them say he's either gloomy ... evil ... I never thought he'd be ... nice ... and so ... well good looking ... and, Master, I never thought those Myths were real..." he admitted.
Qui-Gon smiled simply. "The Force is full of surprises, my young Padawan."
* * *
Darth Maul stood on a rocky precipice, in Tartarus, surrounded by flames, below, molten lava coursing through the catacombs. Hades appeared before him.
"So you're the Lord of the Dead..." Maul sneered. "My physical form may be gone, but I still have my powers."
"That may be," Hades said.
Maul unhinged a brass coloured cylinder form his belt. "I can still kill you."
"Don't think you can frighten me with an empty food capsule," Hades said with disdain.
Maul glowered, threw the cylinder into the lava, the tube melting instantly, as the Sith drew his lightsabre.
Hades drew his encrusted sword.
Maul chuckled. "You think a piece of metal will stand up to a lightstaff?"
Maul and Hades thrust their weapons simultaneously, Maul desperately trying to hide his astonishment when his Lightsabre didn't slice Hades' defence in half. Maul wanted to believe he could defeat the God, but he was tired, needing rest from his ordeal. Hades gave no quarter, as he slashed Maul's weapon in half as Obi-Wan had done, drawing the two halves from Maul's hands, vaporising them, forcing Maul to the hard, rocky ground, holding the Sword of the Dead squarely at the Sith's heart.
"The wound won't kill you," Hades said, "you're already dead – but you will feel the pain for all eternity."
Maul backed off, sensing it was no bluff. He stood in silence.
"You must pay for the atrocities you committed in this Universe," Hades said, leaving Maul at first alone, in Tartarus, as the Lord of the Dead vanished, back to his castle to his loving bond mate, Persephone.
Darth Maul stood, finding himself surrounded by warlords, murderers, rapists, paedophiles, ruthless con artists, and politicians which made Palpatine look decent and found himself looking up at throne, to the one who had appointed himself their Master. Maul traversed the stairs, much to the other's dislike. He stood in anger, Maul feeding from his rage, and promptly forced Atyminius off the stone throne, throwing him screaming into the lava.
The Sith glowered at those below him, his demeanour masking how tired he felt, hoping he wouldn't have a challenger until he was rested, but to his relief, no one dared. Some bowed down, the others accepted him as their new Master.
Maul smiled as fire caressed his throne, without burning him.
"I could get used to this."
"I don't believe this!" Hades hissed. "He actually *likes* it down there! It's supposed to be eternal punishment!"
Persephone smiled. "He is one of our rather ... stranger guests."
Hades chuckled at his wife's comment. "Guests ... I like that ... Wait, I know ..." The Lord of the Underworld flicked his fingers.
Maul sat on soft green grass, colourful flowers sprouting. Playful bird chirps emanated from the surrounding luscious green trees. He looked up as a subtle breeze blew over him, a rainbow splashing colours across the clear, almost cloudless sky. A shimmering brightly coloured butterfly landed on a brilliant yellow flower next to him. Fairies, clad in pastel colours began flying around him. Gorgeous furry animals of all sorts began to rub against him and one clamoured into his lap.
"If you eat any of them," Hades voice seemed to emanate from the sky, "you'll have a whopper of a stomach ache for all eternity."
Maul growled and looked down to see a fluffy white kitten stretching out in his lap, then falling asleep, purring. A slender fairy lay down next to the fluffy white ball, her crystal wings shimmering in the sunlight.
The Sith looked up into the sky in despair. "I want my Master..."
* * *
Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan spent quite a number of months in this world, helping rebuild villages, homes and lives Darth Maul had destroyed.
Many were wary of the strangers, even angry. Qui-Gon had assured them they had nothing to fear, Maul was gone and all the Jedi wanted to do was help in any way they could.
To the people's surprise, Qui-Gon took the blame for what the Sith Lord had done.
"If only we'd gotten here sooner..."
Now it was the people's turn to console Qui-Gon, assuring him he was not to blame for Darth Maul horrors. Even those who had blamed Qui-Gon felt amazed at how forgiving the Jedi Master was, and how he kept on insisting that despite their amazing powers he and his Padawan were not Gods. Even the Grecian Gods were impressed with the Jedi Master's compassion, resolve and selflessness.
"There's nothing more we can do here, Master," Obi-Wan said. "We've rebuilt the physical and done what we can for these people. Their souls will heal in time."
Qui-Gon nodded sadly. "I wish we could do more ... Xena, Gabrielle, these people need a guide. They respect you and look up to you. My Padawan and I must soon return to our Universe."
Xena's eyes showed her commitment. "Thank you, Master Qui-Gon. I don't know if I'd be so compassionate in your place, but you have my word I'll do everything in my power."
* * *
Xena and Qui-Gon bathed in the river. Gabrielle, lay on the bank with Obi-Wan, surprised how at ease they were with their nakedness.
The Jedi Master emerged, tossing his head back, water droplets flying from his lengthy hair. Obi-Wan smiled. His Master always seemed to look majestic.
Xena wasn't long to follow. Qui-Gon smiled and gently wrung out her saturated hair.
Gabrielle smiled as she watched them, knowing when her companion liked someone, as she lay her head in Obi-Wan's lap, the Jedi Padawan gently braiding her straw blonde hair. She knew when she liked someone too.
Qui-Gon submerged himself, as did Xena, Obi-Wan and Gabrielle watching the calm, silent waters, before the two emerged, holding each other and a moment later, kissed.
Obi-Wan smiled as he continued to play with Gabrielle's soft hair. The Bard watched, wide eyed as Qui-Gon picked up a protesting Xena and carried her to shore.
"Put me down!" she said, mock dangerously.
Qui didn't comply.
"I mean it!" Xena kicked the water.
"No," Qui-Gon said simply as he smiled and kissed her. The Warrior Princess couldn't hold back a smile as the Jedi Master carried her out of the water, before finally putting her down on the soft bank. Gabrielle could scarcely believe her eyes.
"Don't you ever do that again," Xena said, unable to keep her eyes from smiling.
"Being carried doesn't denote weakness," Qui-Gon said.
Xena smiled and before Qui-Gon knew it, hoisted him up into her arms.
Obi-Wan laughed. Qui-Gon couldn't help but smile and chuckle at Xena's spirit, as the dark haired Warrior woman's lips touched his.
Together, they lay on the river bank, waiting for their clothes to dry in the warm sun. Xena began to play with the Jedi Master's silky hair.
Gabrielle smiled warmly. "It's so nice to see her like that."
Obi-Wan too, smiled. "My Master's only ever fallen in love once ... Once not so long ago with a woman on Tatooine ... Oh... that's a desert planet where I was born."
"Wow ... to be able to travel the stars ... you people are so lucky."
Obi-Wan smiled as he gently toyed with the Bard's hair. "Sometimes we take it for granted."
"What was her name?" Gabrielle asked.
"Shmi ... but he couldn't stay."
He looked sadly at his Master, knowing he had to leave here soon too. He admired his Master's ability to live in the moment, no trace of sadness or fear on his face, knowing when he returned, he'd ...
* * *
In a deserted warehouse, a newborn baby wailed, comforted by her young mother. She had left her village with her adopted father, who was on lookout, so no harm would come to his new daughter and her baby. Tears streamed down her face as Altea held her daughter close, looking into her bright yellow eyes, praying to the Gods she would not be as evil as her father.
* * *
"Part of me wishes we didn't have to leave," Qui-Gon said.
"But we must."
"I know," Xena said, "but I'm glad our paths crossed, if under grievous circumstances."
"As am I." Qui-Gon gently kissed the Warrior Princess, as Obi-Wan kissed and embraced the Bard.
"And remember," Qui-Gon said, his voice soft, "our spirits will always be with you."
"And yours with us."
"Spoken like a true Jedi," Qui-Gon said.
Obi-Wan smiled. Maybe Xena did have a spark of Force in her after all ...
//Your task here is truly completed,// the calm, voice of the Force. //It is time for you to return.//
The Warrior Princess and Bard watched in awe as Jedi Master and Padawan vanished in sparkling light.
A silence followed.
"You know, Xena, I have to write this ..."
The darker haired warrior smiled. "I knew you would."
"Not just our adventure, theirs as well. Someone has to tell their story."
"But how do you know what to write?"
Gabrielle smiled and breathed the fresh air. "I can sense it."
She sat on a rock, smiled, pulled out a new scroll, picked up her quill, the letters feeling as though they were forming themselves as the Bard began to write.
'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ...'
* * *
The two Jedi took a few moments to
materialise in the
Qui-Gon closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. Obi-Wan took his Master's hand and felt it shivering, though only slightly. "Do you want to lie down, Master?"
Qui-Gon smiled warmly. "No ... I know I shouldn't be frightened, but ..."
"Master, I'd be scared too."
"Becoming one with the Force is a honour."
Obi-Wan nodded. "I'd still be scared."
Qui-Gon smiled. "Thank you," he said, still holding his Padawan's hand.
A glowing energy appeared in the room with the two Jedi. //Master Qui-Gon.//
"I'm ready," he said.
The Force surrounded him. //Are you? You are afraid. You will feel no pain.//
"I know ..." Qui-Gon said, softly. "I also know I shouldn't be frightened..."
//Why? Because fear leads to the Dark Side? Qui-Gon, fear is natural. You know that, fear only leads to the Dark Side if one is controlled by it.//
The Jedi Master nodded, somewhat embarrassed, but the Force's form seemed to smile warmly.
//Although we must do this, I am sorry,// the Living Force said, surrounding Qui-Gon gently. The Jedi Knight felt the warmth and love, the understanding, but still he couldn't help feeling afraid. The Force felt him shiver slightly and spoke to him gently.
//What do you fear, Qui-Gon? You will not be hurt and your spirit will not die. You will feel as you did before, just without a solid form.//
"Forgive me," Qui-Gon said, softly.
//What for,// the Force said, a gentle smile in the voice, then regarded Obi-Wan, his face wet with tears.
//I realise this is hard for you, young Obi-Wan Kenobi, but know that your Master will never truly be gone. His physical form will cease to exist, but his spirit, his soul will always be with you.//
Obi-Wan nodded sadly, and sensed somehow the Living Force itself was having trouble taking Qui-Gon.
His Master stood, calm, letting go his fears.
A pause followed. Obi-Wan prepared to catch his Master's body.
The Force spoke again, gently. //Master Qui-Gon ... I have merged and conversed with the Universal Force ... Despite misgivings of escaping fate, all Forces agree the Universe needs you as you are. We grant you your life.//
Qui-Gon Jinn could scarcely believe what he had just heard and took a deep breath as the Living Force appeared to him in the form of a ball of glowing energy.
"...Thank you ..." he said, his voice gentle, sincere. //I deeply respect your gift.// The Force's love momentarily overwhelmed him, the warm touch like nothing in the Universe.
//When the time comes, you will join the Force.// The Universal Force took on a male voice, deep, but gentle.
Qui-Gon held the Living Force's warm form in his gentle hands, undying gratitude for life.
//For now, take care of yourself, Obi-Wan and little Ani.//
"I will," Qui-Gon promised, still quite bewildered.
//Farewell, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, May The Force Be With You.//
Qui-Gon smiled gently. "You are."
Obi-Wan smiled as he watched the Living Force's sparkling energy ascend and enter the aetheric.
The next thing Qui-Gon felt was Obi-Wan' arms around him, embracing him gently and he smiled again and sensed his young Padawan's gratitude. "Ohh, thank the Force, Master ..."
Both Jedi chuckled softly as Qui-Gon returned the embrace.
* * *
The two Jedi Knights entered the main hangar. Anakin fell from his fighter as he saw Qui-Gon. The Jedi Master reached out with the Force, preventing the youngster from falling to the floor and hurting himself. Ani ran to him, full throttle, his little legs going into hyperdrive. Qui-Gon knelt down as the child vigorously hugged him, sobbing. "I ... I sensed the Sith ... kill..."
Qui-Gon placed his arms gently around the young boy. "It's a long and interesting story, Ani. "And you took an awful risk..."
"Please don't be angry with me, Qui-Gon, Sir ... I didn't mean to ..."
The Jedi Master smiled warmly. "I'm not, Ani. The Force knew you'd be safe in that cockpit, but next time, stay put."
Anakin smiled. "Yes, Sir."
Obi-Wan smiled at the youth.
"Moee! Moee! Moee!"
"Oh no," Kenobi whispered, half smiling, seeing Jar Jar Binks pelting toward them, ears flapping madly.
Qui-Gon smiled and stood as the bounding Gungan threw his arms around the Jedi Master, Qui-Gon being crushed by love, almost whacked by floppy ears.
"Ani lookin' so sad, Meesa thinkin' yousa ..." Tears spurted from Jar Jar's eyes.
"So did I," Qui-Gon smiled, touched by Jar Jar’s love.
He gently dried the Gungan's tears and the amphibian kissed his cheek.
"Meesa so glad yousa okey dokey!"
Qui-Gon smiled. "Thank you, Jar Jar."
Obi-Wan admired Jar Jar's youthful innocence and his compassion, despite his annoying tendencies. //Maybe he's not so pathetic after all, Master.//
* * *
In his very new office on Coruscant, the newly elected Supreme Chancellor swore virulently and kicked his chair, cursing even louder when he painfully stubbed his toe.
"Hardly appropriate language for the new Chancellor," Valorum admonished, entering his former office.
Palpatine suppressed a severe urge to gut the former Supreme Chancellor with his lightsabre, but smiled pleasantly.
"My apologies, Finis," he said. "In my own defence, I rarely use such language ... I've been informed that my ship is damaged and I'll be unable to attend the Victory Celebration on Naboo."
"I'm sure the Queen will understand," Valorum said. "May I?" Finis gestured to a wooden box near the desk, with his belongings.
"Of course," Palpatine said, with a pleasant smile which couldn't be further from the truth.
Valorum left without another word. It was quite clear he suspected Palpatine urged the Queen to make her decision, though Valorum also feared his adversary and wasn't quite sure why.
Palpatine smiled, which faded instantly when Valorum left. The Chancellor swore under his breath as he sat behind his desk. At least he had become Supreme Chancellor, the main thing, losing Maul was a blow, the two Jedi still alive, he seethed at that, but little Anakin was another matter entirely. Darth Sidious sipped a glass of blood wine and smiled to himself.
* * *
Queen Amidala thanked the two Jedi for their bravery, risking their lives to save a world they barely knew from the Trade Federation, giving them each a singing water crystal. Qui-Gon gently held the white swirl crystal in his hand, as it sang to him softly, the beautiful wordless song touching his heart.
The two Jedi stood with Anakin, behind the Queen and Boss Nass. Although sensing a disturbance in the Force, they knew it wasn't over yet, both prepared to defend the Republic and the innocent in the coming days ahead.
Qui-Gon smiled warmly as the Gungan Leader held up the Crystal Orb of Peace.