Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Hope and Uncertainty

Obi-Wan Kenobi opened his eyes as he awoke from his sleep. He stood up stretched before finally getting up. He stared out at the rolling hills and lakes that made Alderaan famous in the annals of galactic history. Taking a few moments to place his Jedi robes on he was deep in thought. Nearly a week had passed since the Federation's invasion had been repulsed, and he had received permission to recover on Alderaan. Bail and Queen Amidala insisted that he stay for as long as he needed before making the journey back to Coruscant where he would rendezvous with Anakin Skywalker. A message came in over his comm,

"Master Kenobi?"

"Yes?"

"It's Bail…I didn't mean to disturb you."

"You aren't disturbing me at all Senator, what can I do for you?"

"The Queen wishes to see you in her private chambers before you depart today." Kenobi took a deep breath before responding.

"I will be there momentarily." He silenced his comm and put it back in his belt. He stared at the robes of Qui-Gon Jinn, at his dead master's lightsaber and utility belt with wonder. A flood of emotions assaulted him as he thought back on the long time they had spent together learning about the Force. He gripped the hilt of his own lightsaber tightly as he left his room. Kenobi had been studiously avoiding Amidala for the past week. Ostensibly, she was going to personally thank him for liberating her planet from the grip of the Sith and their Federation collaborators. He knew the real reason why Padmé had summoned him. Kenobi made his way slowly toward the outer rooms surrounding the Queen's Chambers. He saw several men repairing the damaged throne room nearby. He entered the door and he saw her standing by a large set of windows. She was dressed in a dark blue dress with the traditional silver tiara of the House of Organa on her head. She turned and faced him and smiled.

"You've recovered well," he said moving close to her.

"As have you Obi-Wan." He looked away. She was undeniably beautiful. But other thoughts clouded his mind. "I will be leaving in the next few days to return to Coruscant. I thank you and Bail for allowing me the time I needed to stay here and clear my head…" She moved closer to him. It was her turn to be direct with him. She grabbed his hand in hers.

"Please don't." She said nothing and held him close to her. Kenobi felt the Force emanating strongly from her. Amidala could be trained as a Jedi Knight there was no doubt about that now. But she had other obligations to attend to which rendered her newly uncovered Force-sensitivity more of a liability than anything else. Nevertheless, it surprised him how well she was able to read his mind. "Qui-Gon's loss...it affects you deeply."

"Yes." And yet he had feelings for her, strong ones. Ones that were not easily denied, Kenobi realized he was falling for her.

"Being a leader isn't easy. I am sure you can appreciate that. But all of us need to have something more beyond duty...We can't have hearts of stone in this galaxy."

"Padmé…" She looked at him with her deep brown eyes thoughtfully.

"Don't say another word Master Jedi." She closed her eyes and leaned in kissing his lips gently. Kenobi wanted to pull away, but leaned in and held her close as they stood there for a while. Finally, the moment passed and he moved away from her slowly. She followed him close behind as he looked at a gorgeous lake that stood before the palace gates. "You won't stay will you?"

"No."

"Why Obi-Wan? You'd lack for nothing here…we could have a future…" He raised his hand for a moment.

"Stop…please…don't make this harder than it already is Padmé." He paused for a moment seeking out the right words. "It isn't just that Qui-Gon died. It's more than that. So long as the Sith are out there, they'll be targeting me now…and everyone I care about." He stopped again. "Including you….And I can't let that happen. I have responsibilities to the Council and to Anakin now that I can't just throw to the wind because of my feelings for you." She held his hand again closely leaning against him.

"I know."

"There are whispers in the Jedi Temple that they are looking to replace Dooku's vacant seat on the Council."

"With you?"

"Yes…it won't happen right away. I've only just become a Jedi Knight, but the Council is impressed at how I dealt with the Sith Lord…with Maul…it's only a matter of time before they put my name forward to replace Dooku." He paused looking for a way to soften the blow. "Knights are permitted to marry. But the Code says that those Knights on the Council should not marry, they cannot have attachments as others do. It's too dangerous…they're commitment needs to transcend personal concerns. They need to see events before they happen without any distractions…dedicating themselves wholeheartedly to the Force. Padmé it's just too dangerous for us now." She looked away from him frustrated and sad.

"And you want to be a master over being with me?"

"It's not like that. It is difficult to explain...I am doing this because I need to protect you from the darkness that exists in the galaxy. And if that means we cannot be together, then so be it. I can't let you get hurt because of me."

"We both have our share of enemies Kenobi."

"True enough." Suddenly a powerful vision assaulted his senses. Was it of the future? He saw himself in the same lake country…he saw Padmé holding hands with a mechanical arm…but it belonged to a Knight. He smiled at the thought, knowing quite well who the Knight in question would be. He closed his eyes tightly. Kenobi didn't want to reject Padmé, but for her safety and because of his commitments to the Jedi Order, he could not act in any other way. He had to put her well-being and the protection of the galaxy, over their personal affections for each other. It was not an easy choice. "Padmé?"

"Yes…"

"You will not be the lonely monarch forever. I foresee that another Jedi Knight will steal your heart and give you the love and protection that I cannot." She sighed desperately trying to contain her feelings.

"I'll never forget you. Obi-Wan…" He looked at her forcefully. "You will always be welcome in the House of Organa. You will always be remembered as the Protector of Alderaan. You will have a place in my heart…even if it is only as a dear friend." He nodded his head and smiled. He raised his hood up. Bowing to her, he took his leave. Before he finished walked out the door, he turned to Padmé.

"You are strong with the Force Padmé. I know you have many obligations here. But you must be trained as a Jedi. Now, more than ever, we need everyone who is capable to do their part. I foresee that you too will be a powerful champion of the Force. Don't let your responsibilities to your people get in the way of your training." She allowed a smile to cross her lips.

"Who would take it upon themselves to train me?" Kenobi chuckled as he turned left the room.

"Only your husband will have patience enough to train you, of that you can be sure." With those words, he left quickly. Padmé Amidala kept his prescient words close to her heart. As she saw him descend to the main royal docking bay that stood by the lake, she admired her newfound friend and compatriot from afar never taking her eyes away from him, or the ship that had arrived to take him away from her—possibly forever.

A Jedi transport ship arrived to pick him up at the main port. Anakin Skywalker rushed out to meet him. Kenobi smiled at the boy's chipper demeanor.

"What are you doing here?"

"Master Windu insisted that I tag along for the ride to meet you."

"What else did he say to you?"

"He said that I would understand with time." Kenobi embraced him and patted him on the back.

"Well, you should hear it from me first then. You are to be trained as a Jedi."

"Seriously?" He looked away thinking about Qui-Gon Jinn. Kenobi sensed his unease.

"Yes you will become one, I promise." He paused. Anakin walked away somewhat unsure of what to say in response.

"Who will train me? Dooku's gone. Qui-Gon's gone…"

"I will train you Anakin." The boy's eyes lit up.

"Are you sure you want to do that?" Kenobi smiled again,

"Many times I've questioned myself. On this point I feel not an ounce of doubt. I know that I must train you…I want to train you Anakin." Anakin wanted to jump up for joy and shout to the rooftops. His future master must have felt it, as he saw the young teenager whoop and holler—shouting out across the lake and drawing attention from the Alderaani who were passing by.

"I don't believe this! Are you serious?" Kenobi nodded his head trying to restrain his own happiness. There was a proud beaming smile emanating from Obi-Wan's face. In the midst of conspiracies and all the shadows, hope lived on in spite of death and destruction that had taken place only a week before. "I am going to be a Jedi!" The excited teenager hugged Kenobi again. Not too far off, he saw Padmé trying to contain herself at the sight in front of her. She had never seen such levity among the normally composed Jedi Knights. As Anakin turned, he caught sight of her at the balcony. Anakin smiled at her, waving and continuing to holler at her. She nodded at him breaking into a laugh as well. Kenobi saw the two of them exchange the briefest of glances for but a moment—had it been anyone else there they would never have caught it—but Obi-Wan saw them. They looked at each other and he felt a slight tremor in the Force. A connection, however small, had passed between the two. He had little time to think of it as Anakin spoke up instantly.

"So where do you we go from here Master?"

"Patience my young apprentice…this is the start of a much larger journey." He reached to his side and brought out a utility belt with a lightsaber attached to it. Anakin began to calm down somewhat as he stared at it. "I think Qui-Gon would've wanted you to have this." He gave the belt to Anakin who wrapped it around his waist and began fiddling with the handle of the lightsaber. "It belonged to him. We will eventually teach you to build your own lightsaber, but for the moment…I can't think of anyone else who should have my former master's lightsaber than my new apprentice." Anakin admired the snug fit of the belt and gripped the hilt of his blade. He held it in his hands and ignited it. The green blade of Qui-Gon's lightsaber illuminated the scene. The boy was fascinated as he pushed the air with the blade, its hum reverberating across the lakefront. Suddenly, a somewhat sneaky look appeared on the boy's countenance. He looked up with a smirk at Kenobi.

"Master?"

"Yes Anakin?" His apprentice gripped the blade with both hands tentatively at first, then with a bit more determination.

"I challenge you to a duel. Come on, let's do it!" Obi-Wan couldn't help but chuckle at the absurdity of the boy's request but his eyes told him he was serious.

"We haven't even trained you yet in the basics! Caleb and Master Billaba ruined you! Did they put you up to this?"

"No…but I enjoyed watching them duel with each other. And I thought we should do that." Anakin grew serious, his eyes seemed strained. Kenobi felt the change come over his young apprentice. He extinguished his blade, the sudden excitement departing from his eyes. He walked away from his master and sat down by the dock.

"What is it?"

"If you don't think I'm ready to duel, that's fine."

"That's not the only reason you stopped. A moment ago you were so excited, what's come over you Anakin?" The boy buried his face in his hands. Tears came to his eyes.

"He was the only one who believed in me when I was just a slave rotting away in Watto's shop. I had no one. I knew him for such a short time, and yet…he made me feel like I was somebody…" Obi-Wan nodded his head. "Now that he's gone, I feel alone…I've never had a real friend in the world. No brothers, no sisters, nothing…And for the longest time I always wanted a father. He was the closest thing I had to that."

"We are much alike you and I. I knew Qui-Gon for the better part of ten years. He was my father too…" Then the boy said something that startled Kenobi—shaking him to his core. He looked him squarely and the face.

"Be a father to me." Kenobi didn't know how to respond to the boy, but he felt his master's voice guiding him as he spoke. He rested his hand on Anakin's shoulder.

"I will be a father and a brother to you." He patted him on the back and whipped out his lightsaber. "Now stand up and face me if you dare." Anakin smiled as he hopped up wiping his eyes off as he drew Qui-Gon's blade and ignited it. "Today you will get your first lesson in the ways of the Force."

"Oh really, what are you going to teach that I don't already know old man?" He added the last part of it sarcastically as a barb in Kenobi's side. Obi-Wan smiled as he lit his blue saber and raised it up.

"Respect for your elders." Kenobi lunged forward and struck at Anakin who brought the blade up to block the shot. He was wobbly with the blade. It may have looked easy to wield but it required much concentration and patience. He blocked another strike and parried again. Anakin lunged forward missing Kenobi completely and falling down hard on the ground but quickly recovered. Obi-Wan smiled. "Remember, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force." Anakin shook his head scoffing as he replied.

"What does that even mean?" He lunged again, this time connecting his blade with Kenobi's.

"The Force surrounds us Anakin. It penetrates us. A Jedi doesn't manipulate the Force. You allow it to use you as a vessel." Some of this began to make sense to him. He raised his blade up and closed his eyes. Anakin tried to recapture the moment he felt at the pod race.

"All right, let's do this again."

"After you…" Anakin Skywalker opened his eyes and adjusted the grip on his blade. With two hands, he held the hilt of his lightsaber and then moved forward. In an instant he struck first to the right, feinted to the left, and then leapt over Obi-Wan and struck him from behind. The Jedi Knight was startled by the boy's reflexes. Kenobi parried his strike and lunged at him. They matched each other's strokes and a crowd of Alderaani slowly gathered around them as they dueled. It was almost as if they were dancing, so calm were their motions. For a time, it looked as if Anakin could beat his mentor. But the older Jedi's experience began to show through and he landed a light kick squarely in Anakin's chest knocking him down to the ground. Obi-Wan smiled as he aimed the blade at Anakin's neck. "You did well…for a beginner that's a good fight." The crowd was quite impressed by the display they had seen in front of them.

"Thanks. Still I ended up on the ground." The two men exchanged a smile. "I saw your thoughts for a moment…" He attached Qui-Gon's blade to his belt as Obi-Wan helped him to his feet. "It was an incredible, like what I felt back home…but it was more focused. I could see what you were thinking and what your next move would be…that's amazing!"

"That's good. You're beginning to feel how the Living Force affects us all. That's very important Anakin." He paused for a moment looking at the starship that awaited them by the water.

"So where do we go now?"

"To Coruscant, we have a lot to learn my friend." They walked together through the crowd still all filled smiles and excitement from the duel between both men.

"A lot of people were anxious back at the Temple…while you were gone."

"What did they say?" Obi-Wan asked as he raised his hood over his head.

"They are worried about the Sith. We will see them again won't we?" It amazed Kenobi how quickly his apprentice understood the situation that confronted the Republic and the Jedi Order. He didn't want to unnecessarily burden him with all the particulars, but it was pointless to dodge the question.

"Yes. We will see them again." He paused thinking about Maul's body tumbling down the waterfalls. "I've got a target on my back now since I killed one of them in combat. Darth Sidious will not take that defeat well."

"But we'll be ready for them."

"Yes, yes. We will face them when the time comes Anakin." They entered the ship and saw the blast doors closing behind them. Obi-Wan couldn't shake the feelings of guilt that periodically came over him. He had lost his master, but he squared off with a Sith Lord. The boy made him think about what really mattered. Dooku's final warning also echoed through his mind. Anakin would have to be trained as no other Jedi had been for more than a generation. He would have to learn the ways of the Force quickly in order to face down the impending threat of the Sith Lords.

Without another word passing between them, the two men strapped in and watched as the ship lurched into Alderaan's atmosphere leaving Theed Palace behind them. Finally, they felt another jerk as the ship launched headlong into hyperspace and toward an uncertain future.

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