A non-canon Sith Academy story; sequel to "Hell"

by jedimom (anotherjedimom@lycos.com)--feedback welcome

The Jedi and the Sith belong to George Lucas. The Academy belongs to Siubhan. Darth Mary Sue belongs to Katherine the Art Chick. As always, thanks to all of the above for letting me play too.

KeRaad belongs to Padawan Zol-Tan, who was really brave to let me borrow her.

Thanks to Siubhan, who struck this story down so it could become more powerful. Thanks also to Rose and Red Sith for substantial beta help.

“A wrong that cannot be repaired must be transcended.” --Ursula K. LeGuin, Tehanu

“When confronted with the power of the Dark Side, a Jedi has two choices,” Councilor Adi Gallia was saying to the packed lecture hall. “Retreat or defiance. Retreat may be the wiser course if you feel your strength is not adequate to the challenge; but in retreating before the Dark Side you permit its evil to continue, you weaken your confidence in yourself and you do harm to the galaxy’s belief in the Jedi’s protection. If you are overconfident, defiance may lead to defeat, which can have even worse consequences; but it can also be the path to victory.”

“There is another option, Master Adi,” stated a clear voice from the back of the room. A slightly built human male padawan had risen to his feet.

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, is it?”

“Yes, Master Adi.”

“To what option do you refer, padawan Kenobi?”

“Surrender.”

There was a rustle of unease, a hum of disapproval.

“It is true that Jedi have occasionally turned to the Dark Side, to our shame and the harm of the galaxy. But it is not profitable to consider such matters.”

“With respect, Master Adi, I did not say surrender to the Dark Side.”

“Then what did you mean to say?”

“Surrender to the Light. Giving up the will, the self, all control over the future. The Dark Side works on the will, on fears and desires; once these are abandoned, it has no hold on the spirit.”

“It is true that such a thing can be done. But it requires great discipline and poses great risk.”

“I know, Master Adi,” said the padawan with quiet authority. “I have seen it done.” This time, the stir in the room was interrupted by the chime signaling the end of the lecture. Kenobi was lost in the swarm of students flowing out of the room to their next classes.

Adi Gallia stood in meditation for a time. What had happened to Qui-Gon’s shallow screw-up of an apprentice?

Obi-Wan was giving Maul a backrub when the vidphone rang. //’Phone. I’ll be right back,// he said, giving Maul’s waist a parting squeeze.

Maul lay without moving in a haze of lazy relaxation. Suddenly Obi-Wan was back, nearly bouncing him off the bed. //Khameir! That was the reconstructive surgeon at Jedi Memorial. They’re ready for you to come in to discuss replacing your eyes. We’ve got an appointment tomorrow at nine.// The padawan’s mind-voice was radiant with excitement.

//I hope you’re ready to take a leave from the Academy. Once I can see again I’m not letting you out of my sight for a long time.// Maul rolled over, grinning, and pulled Obi-Wan down on top of him. Their mouths met in a long, unhurried kiss. Maul purred deep in his chest and slid his hands under Obi-Wan’s shirt to stroke his back. //Here, sit up, let’s get this off,// he said. Obi-Wan rolled off him and sat up and Maul yanked the shirt off over his head with a flourish.

Obi-Wan flinched. //Careful. Remember I’ve got that scorch on my right shoulder from lightsaber practice.//

//Sorry. I’ll try to remember that. You’re just so damn distracting. Wanna fuck?//

//If you’re sure you’re ready.//

//One way to find out.//

//All right. But don’t rush. I don’t want to hurt you.//

The next few minutes were filled with slow, gentle exploration of each other’s progressively barer bodies.

//Khameir. Come with me.// Obi-Wan’s mind-voice was breathless but he still had the control to reach out to Maul with the Force, joining their minds together. Maul gasped at the sudden rush of sensation.

//Yes. Oh, Force, yes.// The cold slipperiness of the lube on Obi-Wan’s cock made them both shudder. Obi-Wan clutched Maul to himself, grinding his erection between them. They were both panting now, and Maul burrowed his head into Obi-Wan’s right shoulder. The padawan hissed as they both felt the pain of the burn--

The smell of scorched hair and skin filled Maul’s nostrils--

And he was on fire, maimed, burning, screaming--

//Khameir!//

Maul shuddered, drenched in sweat, unable to speak, trapped in the memory of torment, as Obi-Wan held him, telling him over and over, //It’s all right, it’s all right, I’m here, I’m sorry...//

The medic at Jedi Memorial looked surprisingly grim. “Mr. Kenobi, I’d like to speak with you alone for a moment, if I may.”

//Oh, no. Please, no.//

“I’m afraid we have some bad news.”

//No. This isn’t happening.//

“The surgical team was ready to schedule the operation for next week. But then we got this report from the trauma team...”

//No. They can’t do this. They have to give him back his eyes.//

“You can see how his body responded to these fragments from the explosion. They’ve become coated with some kind of calcium compound. It seems to be a very rapid process, a matter of days...”

//No. Khameir. No.//

“If we were to put in the cybernetic implants, they might function for a while but then he’d gradually go blind again, pretty rapidly. And as you can see, the same problem would prevent us from repairing the damage to the inner ear...”

//No. Not like this forever. No. No. No.// Obi-Wan returned to the waiting room in a daze. He couldn’t respond to Maul’s mind-spoken questions at first; he could only grip his lover’s hands tightly, his own hands cold, trembling, as he tried desperately to hold himself together long enough to deliver his terrible burden of news.

Four days later Obi-Wan got out of his final class of the day and found Darth Mary Sue sitting on the hood of his speeder. A sleek, black MacroStiff corporate limo was idling beside her.

“Hi sis. What brings you here?” Obi-Wan asked, giving her a quick hug.

“Looking for you. Give me your speeder keys,” she said. Then, turning to her driver: “Istvan, take Mr. Kenobi’s car to his apartment building and get a cab back to headquarters. Hop in, Obi.” She got behind the controls of the limo.

“Where are we going?” asked Obi-Wan.

“Nowhere special. I just want to talk to you. I’ve barely seen you since you got out of the hospital, and I don’t like what I see. I’m worried about you.”

“I’m all right.”

“That’s not what I hear from your Master and your instructors. You’ve been living like a hermit. Have you been anywhere besides the Temple, the Academy, and Maul’s apartment?”

“Sure. Shopping, laundromat...”

“Obi.” Little static charges built up around her beautifully-manicured fingertips. Obi-Wan sighed.

“I know what you mean. But Maul needs me to be with him right now.”

“He can hire a babysitter.”

“Mary Sue!”

“I mean it, Obi-Wan. You have no life. Look, I’ve been trying hard not to interfere, but you look terrible and you’re not getting any kind of rest or relief. I can feel the strain halfway across Coruscant. You’re my brother and I worry about you.”

“It’ll be all right, Mary Sue.”

“When will it be all right? Maul’s recovered as much as he’s going to. You, on the other hand, look terrible. You look like you did when you came out of shock treatment. I can’t stand seeing you like this.”

“It’s just stress. I can handle it.”

“Obi-Wan, forgive me for asking you this, but have you gotten laid since the bombing?”

“I don’t want to discuss it with you, sis.”

“You haven’t, have you? Why the hell not? You’re not going to tell me Maul’s not willing.”

“I said I don’t want to discuss it.”

“Damn it, Obi-Wan, aren’t you hard enough on yourself without becoming some kind of virgin martyr? Let the man do what he can to comfort you! Are you trying to punish yourself for what happened?”

“It’s not that, it’s--shit. I can’t talk to you about it, you’re my sister for Force sake!”

“Obi. Give. I know you can’t talk to anybody else about it.”

“We tried. He flashed back to when he was tortured. I’m afraid to try again. Since we heard about the implants he’s barely spoken. I can’t hurt him like that again. Not now.”

There was silence for several miles.

“I’m sorry, Obi-Wan,” said Mary Sue.

“Just take me home, okay? And put me down a few blocks from the building. I want to walk a little.”

The air in the apartment seemed to hum. The Force rippled like heat-haze around Maul as he paced back and forth.

//I want you and I’m afraid of you. I’m afraid of you!// he snarled.

//You have to give yourself more time, Khameir.//

//Time!// Maul’s patience snapped. //Time is the enemy. I hate every second that passes. More time is a longer sentence in this damned prison.//

//I can let you out of that prison any time you want.//

Maul stopped pacing. //Obi-Wan, you have no idea what you’re offering.//

//A reprieve from Hell.//

//Followed by a return there.// Maul’s mind-voice was unsteady.

Obi-Wan kissed his cheek, stroked his back gently. //Isn’t a reprieve better than nothing?//

Maul shivered. //I want you. But I think I want...this...even more.// He pulled back, running his hands lightly over the padawan’s hair, his neck and shoulders. //Sight. Hearing. Sex. To be whole again. One little shove with the Force and I could have it all back. And lose you forever.//

//I trust you.//

//You shouldn’t. Don’t make me that offer again, Obi-Wan. I’m not strong enough to keep turning it down indefinitely.//

//I can’t help offering. I have to do something.//

//I think I’m the one who has to do something. I’ve been thinking so much about myself I hadn’t been paying attention to what you were going through. But I can feel it now. You’re falling apart.//

//Don’t worry about me.//

//If not me, then who?// Maul sighed and drew the padawan into an embrace. //I have to get over this. I have to get back to being your lover. Let’s try again.//

//I don’t want to hurt you.//

//Then let me love you.//

//I think it’s too soon. If it happens again--//

//Then we’ll try again. And again. As many times as it takes for me to get over it.// Maul stood still for a moment, breathing slowly and deeply, and the crackling agitation gradually ebbed from the air. His hands found the buckle of Obi-Wan’s belt and began unfastening it, without haste. //Come to bed.//

Maul removed the layers of Obi-Wan’s uniform one by one, pausing frequently to stroke and kiss the padawan’s torso through fewer and fewer layers of cloth. When Obi-Wan’s chest was bare, Maul took off his own clothes, then reached for the fastenings of Kenobi’s pants. Hands on his wrists stopped him.

//Stop. Why are you shielding from me?//

//I need to concentrate.//

//Something’s bothering you. What are you hiding?//

//Obi-Wan, you have to let me do this for you.//

//I don’t want it if it’s just for me.//

//It’s not. This is the only pleasure I have left. Don’t take it from me.// He unfastened the pants and slid them down slowly. //Besides, I did way too much taking before. I have a lot to make up for.// He slipped Obi-Wan’s briefs off, then smoothed his hands slowly back up the padawan’s legs, hips, sides.

//Please, Khameir, link with me. I don’t want to leave you alone.//

//No. Let me do this my way. Don’t talk. Don’t move.// Obi-Wan stretched out, reluctantly, sighing as Maul bent to kiss his forehead. He closed his eyes as gentle fingers roved over his eyelids, cheeks, lips. He reached up a hand to touch Maul’s face but Maul stopped it and guided it back down to the bed.

Obi-Wan tried to relax, tried to give himself to his lover’s caresses. Maul’s face wore a look of deep concentration. The beautiful hands were cool and steady on Obi-Wan’s body. Maul kissed his mouth, his chin, his neck, moving down an inch at a time. Obi-Wan tried again to touch Maul’s mind but was stopped by strong shields.

The hands were on his waist now, his hips, his groin, and the mouth descending to join them, slowly, slowly. Obi-Wan was fully erect now, struggling to keep his hands off Maul’s head and shoulders, not wanting to trap him. //Khameir--//

//Hush.//

Obi-Wan was gasping now. He felt Maul’s breathing, still deep and slow, grow harsh. Maul’s hands faltered for an instant.

//Khameir, stop.//

//Let go. Let me love you. I’m all right.// But his mind-voice sounded strained.

//I don’t believe you. Don’t do this to yourself.//

//Obi-Wan, you need this.// Maul’s shields were sealed tight but Obi-Wan felt a chill of foreboding. Maul drew Obi-Wan’s cock into his mouth and began to suck.

//Oh, Force...// He arched his back, groaning. It had been such a long time, he was so hard, so close, he could feel it, so close, just a little more--

Through waves of pleasure Obi-Wan felt Maul’s breath catch, felt a sudden tremor run through the tense body.

//No, Khameir, not like this, I can’t--// Desperately, Obi-Wan pushed Maul away and turned his back, hugging his knees to his chest and trembling.

Snarling with frustration and grief, Maul stretched out with the Force, felt Obi-Wan’s desperate fight for control, sensed the mental barrier straining to deny his body’s demands--

--and shattered it.

Obi-Wan exploded out of his tight coil, Force-slammed Maul face down onto the bed and forced his legs apart. Maul gasped as the padawan yanked his hips up and plunged into him, the grip on his hips bruising him, and Force, it hurt, no lube, no pleasure to drown the pain this time, as Maul’s body spasmed, convulsed, tried to reject the invader, and Maul felt no pleasure from Obi-Wan either, only a wave of brutal, anguished need, black despair, hatred of Maul and of himself for this betrayal--

Obi-Wan had him by the back of the neck now, shoving his face into the mattress, he couldn’t breathe, and oh, Force, the pain! He fought the strong grip on his neck, reaching desperately for air--

his world narrowed to include nothing but pain and the need to breathe--

struggling harder, consciousness wavering, one precious gasp of oxygen--the pressure on his neck increased, sharp electric jolts down his spine from the strain--

//Master, no, please--//

Obi-Wan came with a scream of despair and rage.

He shoved himself away and for a moment all Maul could do was breathe, great hoarse gasps that brought him back to consciousness one level at a time: his body’s pain; the lingering taste of Dark Side energy; Obi-Wan’s desperate, horrified denial.

Then Obi-Wan was up, stumbling into the bathroom, and Maul felt waves of revulsion from him as he vomited, heaving and retching long after his stomach had emptied itself.

Memory brought back a mocking echo of his clumsy defiance of the Dark Side: //You can’t touch him.//

And the sneering, triumphant reply: //We already have.//

Shaken, not daring to go near Obi-Wan, Maul reached out with the Force. //Qui-Gon. Please. Obi-Wan needs you. Hurry.//

When Qui-Gon arrived half an hour later, disheveled and out of breath, Obi-Wan was huddled in a corner of the sofa, shuddering, eyes dilated as he stared at nothing. Maul had draped a blanket over him but he was still chill and clammy.

//What happened?// Qui-Gon asked grimly as Maul let him in.

//I raped him.//

//WHAT?//

//I Forced him to fuck me.// He could feel cold anger rising in Qui-Gon. For the first time since they had met, Maul was fully aware of Qui-Gon as a Jedi Master, and knew absolutely that this man could kill him at will, armed or unarmed. He stood still, defenseless.

Qui-Gon stooped, wrapped the blanket more securely around Obi-Wan, and picked him up. //I’m going to get help for him,// he mind-spoke evenly as he headed out the door. //I’ll be back for you later. And if you ever touch him again, I’ll kill you.//

//You won’t have to,// thought Maul. As his Force-sense returned, he could feel a faint echo of gloating pleasure, like a thin coating of slime overlying all his thoughts and sensations. Sidious.

Wearily, Maul knelt on the floor, fighting to quiet his mind, to control his panic, to seal himself off from his former Master. //Focus,// he instructed himself. //Breathe.// Gradually he regained enough control to rebuild his shields. He sank deeper and deeper, detaching his mind from his bruised and torn body, grieving, searching for a remedy for what he had done to his love.

Qui-Gon came back several hours later. There was no reply to his questing thought, but the door was ajar. He came in to find Maul sprawled awkwardly where he had toppled forward from his kneeling position. He was in deep trance and his breathing was labored. Sighing, Qui-Gon lifted him gently and stretched him out on the sofa so that he could breathe more easily. He had seen enough in Obi-Wan’s mind to know that there was more to this situation than Maul’s stark confession indicated.

The boy was so young. Younger even than Obi-Wan, and smaller. Without the blazing, aggressive yellow eyes, without the bravado and the inhuman grace of his movements he was a different creature. Vulnerable. So beautiful and so badly hurt. So strong in the Force--//another one we missed, but the Dark Side didn’t,// he thought with regret. Who knew what forces in his childhood had twisted, bent, warped him, filled him with anger and resentment, dragged him into the dark--but something in the bright spirit had refused to yield that crucial last step. Beneath the vivid tattoos and the scars, beneath the callous, arrogant persona Qui-Gon had despised, he could glimpse the man his padawan had loved--still loved. He suppressed a twinge of jealousy, a flicker of envy. This broken child had withstood torment that would have destroyed many Jedi. But now perhaps he had failed one test too many.

Councilor Adi Gallia entered the meditation garden at the Temple just as Qui-Gon’s apprentice was coming out. He was pale and tense, and there were new lines etched in his face. Master Adi had heard the boy was under treatment for some sort of trauma, and he was obviously having difficulty overcoming it.

“Obi-Wan Kenobi. I am glad to see you have been released by the healers,” she commented.

“Thank you, Master Adi. I am to return home, now that I have finished my meditations.” Apparently he was not relishing the prospect.

“What did your meditations reveal, Padawan Kenobi?” she asked gently.

“The evil within myself, Master Adi,” he replied grimly.

“Ah. I told Qui-Gon it wouldn’t be long,” she said.

Kenobi’s brows drew together. “I don’t understand.”

“You are ready to face the Trials,” she said. “I will inform the Council.”

Qui-Gon opened his door just as Obi-Wan raised his hand to knock. “Padawan,” he said quietly. “How are you?”

“I’m all right, Master,” said Obi-Wan. “I just can’t face seeing Maul. I came here first.”

“The Force may have other ideas, padawan. Maul is here.”

Obi-Wan tried to stifle his sudden movement of alarm and denial. “May we speak privately, Master?” he asked.

“Of course,” said Qui-Gon, stepping out and shutting the door. “What is it?”

“I saw Master Adi today. She says I am ready to face the Trials.”

“I think she’s right,” said Qui-Gon, his eyes softly alight with pride. “I’m glad I’ve lived to see it. There were times when it didn’t look likely.”

“Master, I don’t think I can do it.”

“You can do it, Obi-Wan. As far as your knowledge and skills are concerned, you could have passed the Trials any time in the past two years.”

“I know, Master, but it’s not just knowledge and skills.”

“You’ve been meditating on what happened between you and Maul. What have you learned?”

“That the Dark Side had already gained a hold on me without my realizing it. That I’m--that I could turn. Easily.”

“That’s how Master Adi knew you were ready. Facing the evil, and the potential for evil, in yourself is the prerequisite for the Trials. You’ve come to the point of final choices now. You have to decide, once and for all, whether you are committed to being a Jedi. If you are, you will have to confront whatever threatens your oneness with the Force. Sometimes there’s a fear we have to face or a weakness we have to overcome; some of us have to give up something we want very much that is incompatible with a Jedi’s life. Whatever it is, the time comes when you either have to get past it, or give up the hope of becoming a Jedi Knight. Your meditations will show you what stands in your way. The Trials cannot be put off for long once that realization is reached.”

“I know, Master,” said Obi-Wan uncomfortably.

“Have you seen what your Trial is to be?” Qui-Gon asked gently.

“Him. Maul.”

“Best that you get on with it, then,” suggested Qui-Gon. He opened the door for Obi-Wan and walked away.

//Khameir.//

//Obi-Wan.// Maul stood and turned to face him but made no move towards him. Grief was written on the scarred face. Obi-Wan felt tears start in his eyes.

//Can you forgive me?//

Maul half-raised one hand, then let it fall. //I should be asking you that. But forgiving each other is the least of our problems.//

//Khameir, I love you.//

//I know. It could destroy us both. I’m making you too vulnerable to the Dark Side. It’s using me to get to you. To turn you if it can, or destroy you if you refuse to turn.//

//No, Khameir. That evil was already in me. It’s not your responsibility.//

//You’re wrong, Obi-Wan. I’m crippling you. You’ve become a hostage to my weakness. You haven’t left Coruscant since the bombing--you’ve barely left the apartment except to go to class. You’re not training with your Master, you’re not going on missions, and except for mind speech you’re not using your Force skills. I could never have broken your control like that in the old days.//

//You couldn’t have done it now if I’d really fought you.//

//You’re lying. You did fight. You just weren’t strong enough.//

//Khameir--//

//No, listen, Obi-Wan. I know what I’m talking about. When the Sith move against the Jedi, they will destroy you. You’ve given up on your training to be a nursemaid to me, and you’re going to die for it.//

//At least you pay me the compliment of assuming I won’t turn,// said Obi-Wan bitterly.

//I wouldn’t guarantee that either. This whole situation is doing an excellent job of honing your rage and hatred. In fact, you’re hating me right now.//

//I love you.//

//Yes, but you hate what I did to you. You hate what you see when you look at me. You hate what I represent. You’re so consumed with what you’ve lost--what we’ve both lost--that you’re about to destroy everything you have left.//

//What about you?//

//Obi-Wan, from the age of two I was raised to be a Sith. I count anything short of tearing your heart out and eating it as a victory for the Light Side.//

//Are you sure you haven’t done that yet? I could swear--//

//Don’t. Don’t blow me off. I’ve never been more serious. I am a threat to you. You have to protect yourself.//

//How?//

//Take the Trials. Become a Knight. Leave Coruscant.//

//And what will you do? Move in with my sister?//

Maul laughed. //She wouldn’t take me when I was intact. Believe me, I tried.//

//You haven’t answered my question.//

//Does it matter? We have no future, Obi-Wan.//

//I can’t believe what I’m hearing. You’re dumping me?//

//Yes. Because the alternative is watching you die. And Sidious will make sure I don’t miss a single detail of it.//

//What if I won’t leave you? What if I refuse to take the Trials?//

//Then I’ll leave you.//

//Khameir, please. Don’t force this choice on me.//

//It’s not a choice. You can’t stay with me. You have to leave.//

//Why?//

//Because you have to live.//

//What, am I destined to save the galaxy or something?//

//I have no clue what you’re destined for. Besides, I don’t give a womp-rat’s ass for the galaxy. You have to live because I love you and I won’t take no for an answer. End of story.//

//Khameir--//

//No, Obi-Wan. Case closed. You can get on with your life or not, but I’m out of here. Either way, you will never see me again. Unless you Jedi are right about that “no death” crap; then we can come back and glow together in the afterlife like a couple of Qui-Gon’s fucking lava lamps.//

He closed the distance between them and wrapped the padawan in a strong embrace. //May the Force be with you.//

Obi-Wan could find no words. His tears wet both their faces.

Qui-Gon came home in the late evening to find Maul gone and Obi-Wan in the garden behind the house. Silhouetted against the darkening sky, Obi-Wan sat on the stone wall, one knee drawn up, playing a penny whistle. The slow, plaintive tune seized Qui-Gon by the throat and stopped his breath. He recognized it: a lament for an exiled prince, anguished, grieving, longing.

He stood listening for a moment. //I’m proud of you, my padawan,// he thought to himself as he went in to prepare their supper.

A few weeks later Maul stood in an executive lounge in the corporate headquarters of MacroStiff. Darth Mary Sue, also known as Mary Sue Stewart, CEO of MacroStiff and owner of not much less than half the galaxy, got right to the point.

//Maul, this is KeRaad. She’s one of our best pilots. She’s Force-strong and she spent some time at the Jedi Academy, so she can mindspeak. I’m giving you one of our corporate cruisers--it’s been equipped with tactile readouts, so you can fly it if necessary.// She turned to the girl next to her, mindspeaking so as not to leave Maul out of the conversation. //KeRaad, you’re still on my payroll but as of now you work for Maul. Here’s a MacroStiff corporate credit card. It’s in your name so Maul won’t have to use his signature or thumbprint. Anytime you need to contact me, just max out the card and someone will be with you within twelve hours--ostensibly to discuss your credit limit. Try to stay out of trouble. Though that won’t be easy with this bastard on board.//

//I love you too, Mary Sue,// Maul said with a slight smile.

//Speaking of which, I have something for you. My brother asked me to give you this.// She handed him a small envelope. Maul opened it and pulled out a thin braid of blond hair.

//He passed the Trials.//

//He did. He was Knighted this morning.//

//Tell him I said congratulations.// Maul deftly knotted the braid around his wrist.

//I’ll show you to your ship now,// said Mary Sue.

The ship was the last word in corporate luxury, well-stocked and with a surprising amount of weaponry discreetly concealed in its sculptured hull. //This ship kicks ass,// said KeRaad, enthusiasm flying off her like sparks. Maul wondered how old she was. She sounded a little... perky. But with a bit of an edge. Not that he mistrusted Mary Sue’s judgment, but...

//KeRaad, how long have you been a pilot?// asked Maul.

//What time is it now?// she asked. //No, just kidding. I qualified three years ago. I’ve been working for MacroStiff since year before last. Why?//

//Just wondering.// He settled into the co-pilot’s seat and activated the tactile readouts. Not bad. With a little practice he felt sure he could adapt to them.

//Where to?// asked KeRaad, warming up the engines as Mary Sue’s skyhops loaded the last of their baggage and supplies.

//I didn’t have any place in particular in mind--just off Coruscant. Do you have any suggestions?//

//Ms. Stewart told me you were trained as a warrior. We could head for the Outer Rim and go pirate-hunting. This ship would be great pirate bait.//

The ghost of a wicked grin twitched the corners of Maul’s mouth. //How would you like to learn to fight blind and deaf? We can wait till they board us and then flood the corridors with fog and white noise and make pirate hash.//

//I think I’m going to enjoy this assignment,// said KeRaad.

Epilogue:

Obi-Wan Kenobi walked into a spaceport bar on Ereshkigal. It looked like a pretty low dive, but it was quiet and right now he needed that. It had been a long, dull mission and the grey sleety weather was not improving his mood. He hoped someone here would be willing to fly him to Corellia without too much haggling.

“Guinness,” he said to the bartender. To his right, a young woman waiting for her order started and turned suddenly.

“Obi-Wan? Obi-Wan Kenobi?”

The girl wore a red leather pilot’s jacket with the ship-name “MSMindful” embroidered in silver on the left chest. She didn’t look familiar, though something about her stirred his Force-sense. Wait. Those clear, grey eyes....

The memory suddenly clicked into place. Those eyes had belonged to an eight-year-old war orphan he and Qui-Gon had brought back from Callodas Three-- it must have been eleven or twelve years ago. “KeRaad!” he said triumphantly.

“You remember! I see you’re a Knight now. How’s Qui-Gon?”

“Not bad. How about you? I’d heard you’d left the Academy, but after that I lost track of you. What are you doing out here in the armpit of the Republic?”

“Now that’s an interesting story,” said KeRaad as the bartender brought Kenobi’s Guinness and two more drinks, an Alderaanian mead and a Pete’s Wicked Ale. “Come meet my boss.”

~~END~~

[author’s notes: the tune Obi-Wan is playing is “Silver Whistle,” a Jacobite song collected from Flora MacNeil of Barra. You can hear it on the album “Silly Sisters” from Shanachie Records.

KeRaad is taken from the story “Mission to Callodas". The author is my daughter and I am extremely proud of her.

Oh, and I won’t apologize for stealing the braid trick from Siubhan because John Donne thought of it first. ;-)]

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