The mission had gone badly wrong. It wasn’t meant to be simple, because no mission ever was simple, but Mace Windu had said it ought to be fairly quiet. Not being totally sure what Windu’s idea of “quiet” was, Obi-Wan hazarded the guess that a skirmish with around a score of battle droids wasn’t included in the definition. There was one other problem with this battle, he thought, ducking one blaster bolt and deflecting another. The problem was that it was too easy. While he was used to droids, politicians, and other warlike and savage beings trying to kill him, a platoon of battle droids doing their best not to kill him was new and distracting. In fact, it was so distracting it made him forget to check the ground before leaping sideways to avoid yet another droid – and landing chest-deep in a lake he hadn’t noticed. Obi-Wan didn’t even need to glance down to know his lightsaber was fried. He shook his head sadly. The last time that had happened was eleven years ago on Naboo.
One of the droids was talking, its metallic, jerky voice echoing across the water. “Raise your hands. Come here.”
Tentatively, he waded toward it, trying not to slip on the mud underfoot, and wondering what in the broad blue Galaxy was going to happen next.
“Wel-come, Mas-ter Ke-no-bi.” No, he had not expected that one either. Information would be useful right now.
“How do you know my name?” That was probably expecting a bit much from the simple memory circuits, but the droid answered anyway.
“Lord Si-di-ous told us to ex-pect you when he felt your pres-ence in the Force.” Obi-Wan lowered one hand to pinch himself. Hard. This was not a nightmare. A battle droid really was telling him that Darth Sidious had warned Vindi’s private droid army he was coming. This was very bad.
“Put your hands up, Je-di.” The battle droid advanced, ready to take Obi-Wan’s lightsaber out of his hand. Obi-Wan moved to comply, but at the last moment he hurled his lightsaber out over the lake in a far arc. He might be captured, but he wasn’t about to let them get his lightsaber as well. He turned back in time to see the butt end of a blaster coming down on him.
Obi-Wan blinked at the odd, flickering light in the room. He groaned, struggling. His wrists were bound behind him, and his head throbbed. He managed to get away from the droids that were holding him and found himself face-to-face with Dr. Nuvo Vindi. Once again. The pale Faust leered at him, looking even paler and nastier than ever. ”Welcome to Dorshan, Master Kenobi.” The droid grabbed Obi-Wan just as he was about to fall again. He knew better than to panic.
“Vindi,” he said, trying to keep his voice completely emotionless. ”Let me guess, you’re planning to really release the virus this time.” Vindi’s face cracked into a grin that almost reeked of insanity. Obi-Wan looked him in the eye in an attempt to stare him down, but the Faust broke the contact before it came to that. A spike of alarm shot through Obi-Wan. Somehow, Vindi’s pride had been subverted to wisdom. When had that happened?
“Master Jedi.” Vindi said. ”Shall we get started? I’m looking forward to seeing how much… strain you can handle.” Obi-Wan stared, icy-eyed, at the doctor, who suddenly began to laugh. He inwardly winced at the sound, and felt the static prickle up his skin as the droid placed him in the containment field. Oh, how he hated being held prisoner… He closed his eyes and struggled to focus the Force, but the Dark Side swirled around him, coiling around him with a cold embrace. Obi-Wan shuddered and pulled away from it. He opened his eyes to see Vindi pacing in front of him. ”I’m surprised to see you at work again already,” he commented, trying to distract the insane scientist.
“There are more vays out of a Republic prison than von, Master Kenobi, and their security leaves something to be desired.” Vindi said, laughing again. Obi-Wan decided to play on the creature’s pride in an attempt to find out how Vindi had escaped. He shook his head, feigning exhaustion.
“I must say, I’d underestimated you,” he said.
“Simply a question of following the other creatures there.” Vindi said arrogantly. ”They need to fix the seal on the second level vindow,” he added thoughtfully.
“I wish they had years ago,” Obi-Wan muttered. From the expression on the doctor’s face, he made a sudden guess at what he was doing. Vindi stepped forward and slapped the Jedi Master hard on his cheek. Obi-Wan tasted something metallic and tried to spit out the blood, but couldn’t move forcefully enough.
“Don’t think I don’t know vhat you’re up to,” Vindi snarled. Obi-Wan felt tempted to tell the scientist what he thought of that, but didn’t bother.
“I would never dream of it,” he said, a bite of sarcasm below the words. Vindi scowled at him, but didn’t move to strike him. Obi-Wan shrank away inwardly, pulling a fold of the Light across him like a cloak. That one look had him more worried than a swarm of blaster fire would have.
Far away in hyperspace, Kenobi’s new Padawan was causing his friend Siri significant concern. “Nasriel, are you okay? You look like you’re miles away.”
Nasriel rocked back on her heels, balancing against the bulkhead. ”Master Tachi, I just realized how vital this mission is. This is going to take a while, bear with me. The only thing Master Vareng taught me was how to go Beyond Shadows, out of your body and into pure Force. I went Beyond just now, to try and get a clue of how this would turn out, but what I saw was something that happened years ago by our time; there is no time Beyond. Master Obi-Wan and Anakin were there together, talking to the Celestials, who hold the Force together. Remember how Anakin was supposed to bring balance? The Father of the Celestials invited him to take up the office right then and there, and Anakin refused, so the Father turned to Obi-Wan instead, and he said…” she frowned, drawing memories across the years. ”He said that Anakin had refused the post, but that Obi-Wan would be asked again – when the Darkness had risen.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying my Master is the Chosen One. Oh, skeg, what that could mean to the Galaxy!”
“On one hand, hope,” Siri replied, turning back to the controls. ”On the other, disaster. I knew, Nasriel. I’ve known for years.” Nasriel swallowed and decided not to ask the Master how she knew, but Siri went on anyway, as if to herself. “He came back to the Temple, and he was… different somehow. It was as if he’d aged years in the few weeks he and Anakin had been away. And Anakin – he was only a boy – he acted as if a huge load had been taken from him… and given to Obi-Wan to carry. I spent months telling myself it was just a phase, and that soon good old carefree Kenobi would be back. But he never was, so eventually I… confronted him about it. He said –” Siri’s calm voice choked with tears, and an image flashed across Nasriel’s mind. Her Master, still a puzzle, but nearly beloved, was talking to somebody she couldn’t see, but assumed was Siri. And then, most unusual for a Force vision, she heard his voice, echoing faintly across five years. “Anakin was offered his destiny, Siri, but he didn’t want to stay Beyond forever; he’s only a child still. So now it’s up to me. Not yet: I’ll be called when I’m needed, he said. I hope – I hope it won’t be for a while. I would like to see Anakin grow up.” All at once, the image vanished. Nasriel sent a shy, thankful felling to Siri, for another clue in the puzzle that was Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Garen swung in from the engineering bay. “Hey, girls, are you ready? We must be nearly there. Siri, is this plan even going to work?”
Nasriel smiled grimly. “In the idiom of my homeworld, Master Muln, this will work the day a Shendi and a Saalisan are friends. We don’t have a hope.”
“Well, that’s great! That means it’s bound to work! Think. Defying the Council to come halfway across the Galaxy and risk your life for somebody is the sort of thing friends do. This is going to work just fine, if that’s the omen we needed. I’m taking an extra lightsaber, because it’s ten credits to one that Obi-Wan will have lost his somewhere.”