This is the first installment of Tahl’s AU, promised at Christmas. Xan goes first because he defines the start point of the AU – where the timeline skews off at a tangent, as Doc Brown puts it.
I’ve borrowed a few lines from Jude Watson’s account of the normal-universe version of this event, mostly to show where the parallels and divergences are located.
Okay, Bruck. All right. I give in. The last three days you’ve done nothing but bombard me with perfectly valid arguments: you’re my Padawan; it’s family history; you’re old enough, at fifteen, to understand. Well, now I’m saying: you win. I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you what happened eleven years ago today at Telos, when I was sixteen. When Qui-Gon gets back from Melida with Obi-Wan, you can ask him to confirm anything I’m about to tell you.
It was my father. Crion was my father; that’s where I get my name, Xanatos DuCrion. What happened at Telos was… it was not good. That day, in the house where I was born, I nearly fell. If it hadn’t been for Qui-Gon, I would have fallen.
Yoda didn’t trust me; he was right not to. I don’t think I’m boasting when I say that I had something special. That I still have. But power – even Force power – and danger are indissolubly wedded: I was dangerous. The whole Council felt it. Nevertheless, Qui-Gon decided to risk the danger and take me as his Padawan. He said that although my future was uncertain, I wasn’t dangerous to anyone who did not choose to see danger in me. And for that I can never be other than grateful.
We argued a lot, when I was a Padawan. We still do, only now it’s mostly behind closed doors. I liked pushing the boundaries. Qui-Gon set them fairly loose, but then stuck to them. Still, that’s all background, you know all that. You asked about Telos.
Crion – my father – had made himself very rich and very powerful through the efforts of others. He ruled the planet absolutely and alone. Qui-Gon and I were sent to Telos to investigate certain whispers, rumors, of the corruption on my homeworld. Why us? Why not some other team? I’ll never know for certain, but I think Master Yoda meant it as a test: my first real test of character, my baptism of fire, if you like. The final test he would need before trusting me.
And a baptism of fire it was indeed. I was tempted – I’ll shout it from the Council spire – and I barely even tried to resist. This isn’t something I’m proud of, Bruck, but it’s the truth. My father asked me to forswear myself, break my commitment to the Order and to Qui-Gon, and join him. To take the place my birth decreed. And Force forgive me, Padawan, I did. I did. I spat in my Master’s face, and I turned and walked away at Crion’s side. Without looking back.
It didn’t last. I hoped… but the Telosian people were tired of Crion, and his announcement that his rule would not end at his death, but carry on through his son, enraged them. Within the week, a rebellion flamed up. I was a hotheaded boy who suddenly found himself conveniently unrestrained by any idea of ethics or morals. I urged Crion to hire mercenaries and fight back, to crush the rebels. And then people were dying and the situation spiraled out of control.
The last battle was fought in my father’s palace. Qui-Gon was there. It was only many years later that he told me why: he was there to try one mad last-ditch effort to save me from myself. Crion was killed in the battle. Qui-Gon dealt the killing blow before my very eyes. His lightsaber sliced through the ring on my father’s finger, and entered his heart. I screamed, I think, in fury, and charged at him with my saber lit.
Do you know what? He just… stood there. And it was like all the lights came back on in my mind: Qui-Gon would never hurt me deliberately. He loved me for who I was, even though I was just a crazy kid with a heart brim-full of rage. Crion wanted me because I was something he could own, a tool to extend his power. So I stopped. For what felt like the longest time, I stood in the burning ruins of the palace, between my father’s corpse and my Master who I had betrayed.
I picked up Crion’s ring from the fire where it had fallen, and pressed the hot metal to my cheek. You can still see the scar: a broken circle. The scar serves to remind me always of what I nearly threw away. I deactivated my lightsaber, and knelt on the floor before my Master. I don’t remember what I said: I think it might have been, ‘Kill me now‘. I wanted to die. Thousands of people had been killed by Crion’s greed, and he hadn’t given a flying kriff for any of them. Thousands of people had been killed by my stupidity, and every death weighed heavy on me, because I was, am, and will be until I draw my last breath, a Jedi. Qui-Gon didn’t kill me, of course. He lifted me up, and said he was glad the Xanatos he knew had finally returned.
You and I are opposites, dark and light, but only to look at. We both have the same ugly streak of power-hunger deep down. I sensed it in you, and took you on because I knew what it was like and thought I could help. You have to fight it. You have to. If you don’t, it will consume you from the inside out; believe me, I know. I hope it never takes a situation like Telos for you to understand how much I care about you, Bruck. Just know that I will watch over you, and that if you ever make a mistake as stupid as mine, I will do my damnedest to bring you back, just as Qui-Gon did for me. Even if it kills me.