A Simple Mission
By Berzerker_prime

Summary: A year after the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan and Anakin are still settling into their roles as Master and Padawan.  Meanwhile, the Jedi Council sends them, along with another Master-Padawan pair, on a seemingly routine mission.

Chapter One:
Student, Teacher, Lesson, Force

AN: ALERT!!! The first chapter is somewhat comedic, extremely WAFFy, and defies the tone that I plan for the rest of the chapters.  Please take note; this is going to turn very dark shortly after this chapter is done. – Berz.


     Slowly, slowly, the tiny, delicate looking metal rod descended into place near the top of the structure.  Still concentrating on the Force holding up the other thirty-three in their places, Obi-Wan Kenobi allowed himself no luxury of contemplating how close to the end of the exercise he was.
     There were two more resting on the table next to the structure.  Using the Force as his hand, the seemingly meditating Jedi Knight lifted the next to last rod and manipulated it into place.
     As a Padawan, he had observed his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, perform the concentration exercise on numerous occasions.  Obi-Wan, however, had never been able to complete the exercise and bring the structure to stability.  He remembered having watched Qui-Gon do it effortlessly even at times when other, weaker minds would have been focused on the affairs of the day.  Qui-Gon had even performed it on a certain Nubian ship traveling to Naboo, once, just before…
     Singing a barely perceptible chime, the structure wavered and Obi-Wan carefully reigned in his thoughts.  There was nothing but the structure, the free floating rod, and the Force keeping its hold on both.  The structure stopped its shift and the second to last rod slid into place.
     Calmly, Obi-Wan lifted the final rod off the table with the Force and maneuvered it around to its required orientation.  He was just bringing it to its place in the structure, only inches away from finally completing it and fighting down his excitement at doing so, when there was a massive thump somewhere behind him followed by several smaller, bouncing ones.
     “Ow!”  Exclaimed a young voice behind him at the exact moment Obi-Wan’s eyes flew open and the delicate structure of metal rods clattered to the table, ringing out their song induced by gravity.
     Sighing in dismay, Obi-Wan grimaced and regarded the fallen pieces of metal, shoulders slumping in defeat, once again.
     “Oops,” mumbled that young voice behind him, “sorry, Master.”
     “Pay it no mind, Anakin,” Obi-Wan commanded, with a practiced neutrality in his voice.  He spun around and regarded his young Padawan.
     Anakin was just recovering his proper right-side-up orientation to the room and began collecting the three balls that had gotten away from him in his own concentration exercise.  He was also rubbing a considerable, growing lump on the top of his head.
     “Are you all right, Padawan?” Obi-Wan inquired.
     Anakin nodded his sandy blond head and straightened out his Jedi tunic.  “I just lost my balance.”
     “Physically?  Or in the Force?”
     “Physically,” the young one said, defensively.  Obi-Wan gave him a skeptical look.  “Both,” Anakin corrected himself, “I was thinking about Master Qui-Gon for some reason.”
     Obi-Wan chastised himself mentally for allowing his own thoughts to have wandered while Anakin was doing his exercises.  The boy’s heightened sense of awareness through the Force exercise must have been casting about and latched on to what he, himself, had been thinking about.
     “Well, that makes two of us, then,” Obi-Wan stated.
     Anakin sighed a frustrated sigh and fingered one of the balls he had been levitating.  “I did it again, didn’t I?”
     “Be mindful of your thoughts, Anakin,” Obi-Wan coached, “know your own from those of others.  Your observation skills can serve you well in certain situations, but you must learn to turn them off, as well.”
     “Yes, sir.”
     “You lasted longer this time.  You’re improving.  Exercises over for now.  Go on and get ready for your lessons with Master Windu or you’ll be late.”
     Anakin hopped up from the floor and went back to the fresher to get cleaned up.  Obi-Wan, meanwhile, collected the Padawan’s errant orbs and deposited them in their nearby box.  Then, he returned to the table he had been building the metal structure at and once again regarded the tiny rods.  Letting the Force flow through him again, he lifted a few of them and tried once again to put them in a stable structure.  This time, he only got to seven before they fell once again.
     A slight headache forming behind his eyes, the Jedi decided to call it a day with the exercise and shuffled the pile of rods into a small box sitting on the table next to them.
     “I’m going now, Master Obi-Wan!” Anakin called from the front door to their quarters.
     “Anakin, remember to keep your mind on your task,” he barely got out before he heard the door slam shut after his Padawan.
     Feeling frustration welling up and threatening to overflow, Obi-Wan decided that it was time to get back to basics.  Since nothing was more basic than nothing, meditation was the option open to him.

     Obi-Wan could hardly believe it was true, but Anakin was almost an hour late for mealtime.  Since a search of the classrooms had turned out to be fruitless, the Jedi Knight was now searching the vast main basilica of the Jedi Temple from his vantage point on the west gallery, one story above the main floor.  Reaching out with the Force and searching for the training bond he had formed with Anakin, he attempted to zero in on him and met with only minor success.
     Moving south, Obi-Wan caught sight of a small form heading his way.  Once she was close enough to identify by sight, he recognized her as the green-skinned young Padawan of Knight Belia and a classmate of Anakin’s.
     “Pheria,” he called to the girl, stopping her in her tracks.
     “Yes, sir, Master Kenobi?” she responded.
     “Have you seen Anakin?”
     “I think he’s with some of the others in the gardens, sir.”
     “Thank you, Pheria.  Please give your regards to your Master for me.”
     “I will, Master Kenobi.”  Pheria then bounded off in the direction she had previously been traveling, leaving Obi-Wan to follow this new lead.
     Once back on the ground floor of the basilica, he again reached out with the Force in an effort to find his young apprentice.  He felt a minor, momentary pang of excitement through the bond and went in its direction, wondering just what situation Anakin had gotten into this time.  Concentrating on the bond, he tried to surmise what Anakin’s situation was, but found considerable casting about for possibilities clouding the connection.
     Finally, Obi-Wan spotted Anakin coming in from the garden and carefully closing the gate behind him.
     “You guys wait here,” he instructed to someone else out beyond Obi-Wan’s view, “I’ll go and get him.”  The boy turned around with the intention of rushing off somewhere with a gleeful look in his eyes and practically ran right into Obi-Wan.
     “Here you are,” Obi-Wan exclaimed, “I’ve been looking all over for you, Padawan.  What are you up to?”
     “Just playing with my friends, Master,” Anakin responded, somewhat elusively, “we had something that we wanted to show to Byan, so I was just going to go and get him.”
     “Really?” Obi-Wan inquired, searching the training bond.  All he found was excitement.  “What in the Living Force is so interesting that it made you, of all little black holes, late for dinner?”  Ruffling the boy’s hair and moving past, Obi-Wan went to the gate that Anakin had just come in with a fair amount of curiosity flowing through him.
     “No!  Master, wait!” Anakin exclaimed just as Obi-Wan opened the gate and went through.
     Suddenly, from above, a great mass of wetness fell on Obi-Wan, covering his head and shoulders and flowing down most of the way to his waist and splashing to the ground below his feet.  The Jedi stood there for a moment, letting whatever the stuff was drip.  Once it had vacated his face enough so that he could open his eyes, he found himself covered in some unidentifiable green stuff.
     “Surpri…” the gleeful cry of the three young Padawans who were already in the garden bled off to an uncertain horror when they found who it was who had ultimately been the victim of their little booby trap.
     Anakin cautiously approached from behind.  “I… tried to warn you…”
     Obi-Wan stood in the doorway dripping for several silent moments, letting his obvious annoyance show through.  “I don’t suppose any of you are going to explain?”
     The four young ones all shifted uncomfortably.
     “Well?” Obi-Wan pressed.
     “Well, Master Kenobi, sir,” one of Anakin’s friends finally ventured, “Byan’s been having trouble sensing coming trouble.”
     “And we were going to try and help him sharpen his skills,” Anakin explained.
     Obi-Wan blinked, still dripping.  “By dropping a bucket of slime on him?”
     The four Padawans all shifted uncomfortably again, looking to each other for mutual support.
     “We thought… anyone else… would be able to sense it,” one of them stated, pouring on the innocence.
     Once again, Obi-Wan blinked, letting the green stuff continue to splat against the brick patio he was standing on.  In an effort to cover up how foolish he felt, he turned his annoyed look into a serious scowl.
     “All of you will clean this up,” he commanded, “and then, you will all sit here for an hour and meditate on nothing but unforeseen consequences of your actions.”
     “Yes, sir, Master Kenobi,” all four of the young ones acknowledged in unison.
     “And consider how Byan would have felt if he had been the victim of this prank.”
     “We will, Master,” Anakin answered for them.
     “Anakin, meet me in the north chapel afterward.”
     “Yes, sir.”
     With a final sigh and a shake of his arms to finish off his dripping, Obi-Wan exited the garden and went in search of the nearest fresher.  On the way, he passed a rather confused looking Mace Windu.
     “Obi-Wan, what in the name of-”
     “Respects, Master Windu,” Obi-Wan bit out on his way past, not even breaking stride, “but please… don’t ask.”
     As Obi-Wan continued on his way, Mace was left with a perplexed look on his face.  However, upon noticing the four young Padawans in the garden, beginning to clean green stuff off the brick patio, he put two and two together.
     A slight smile tugged on the corners of the Council member’s mouth in amusement.  He very nearly laughed out loud right then and there, but held back, not wanting to encourage the youngsters to pull pranks on other Knights who might react less patiently than Obi-Wan.

     Standing in the middle of the small north chapel, staring up at the rose window in the apse there, Obi-Wan wore a deeply perplexed look.  Arms akimbo, fingers tucked into his belt, tunic still stained green, he contemplated his young apprentice.
     After a year, they still hadn’t managed to meaningfully connect and Anakin’s instruction was beginning to slow because of it.  If not for his amazing talents, he would have fallen behind the others of his age in skill.  As it was, Anakin still had considerable lessons in discipline to catch up on.
     Training the boy was quite the monumental task for a newly knighted Jedi.  Most Jedi waited a few years before taking on even the most disciplined of Padawans.
     Not for the first time since his train of thought began, Obi-Wan’s mind wandered back to that awful day on Naboo.  His mind replayed that battle with the mysterious Sith Lord.  Just thinking about it, his legs began to ache as if having actually run that horrible expanse ten seconds ago.
     Just another foot.  If he had just made it another foot, he would have been beyond that last laser barrier and everything… everything would have been different.
     “A noble color, green is,” a voice said from the chapel entrance, bringing Obi-Wan out of his thoughts.  The Knight turned to it and found Yoda slowly hovering down the center of the room in his hover chair.  “However, look good on you, Knight Obi-Wan, it does not.”  The diminutive, green Master of Jedi Masters allowed himself an amused chuckle.
     “Please forgive my appearance, Master Yoda,” Obi-Wan greeted him, bowing his head, respectfully.
     “Your Padawan’s handiwork, do I sense, Jedi Kenobi?”
     “Oh, he had help this time, Master.”
     Yoda nodded, letting out two hums of understanding.  “Clouded your senses, they must have.  Or see the prank coming, you would have, hmm?”
     Obi-Wan sighed and turned his attention back to the rose window above them in the apse of the chapel.  “Not… entirely, Master.”
     “Much frustration, I sense,” stated Yoda, settling into a more serious tone, “what troubles you?”
     “Master Yoda, I’m finding it hard to… connect to my Padawan.  Even after a year, our bond is still very weak and hard to read.  Sometimes, it’s even hard to find at all.  It’s beginning to slow Anakin’s progress.  And, I have to admit, it’s beginning to distract me.”
     “Hmm.  Distracted by the task of forming your bond with young Skywalker, you are,” Yoda said, understanding.
     “I have to concentrate on the bond so intently that I lose track of the Force around me.  It’s… debilitating.  And extremely frustrating.”
     “Obi-Wan, finished with your learning, thought you?  Being Master and being Padawan, two different things, they are.  Learn the ways of the teacher, you must.”
     “I understand that, Master.  But what of the bond?  Is there no way I can connect with Anakin?”
     “Different for each pair, a bond between master and apprentice is.  Find it on your own, you two must.”
     Obi-Wan sighed.  “And if a bond was not meant to be?  Master, what if this task was meant to have fallen to Qui-Gon?”
     In a surprising move, Yoda brandished his gnarled wood glimmer stick and whacked Obi-Wan upside the head with it.  “Self-doubt, you must not dwell on, young Obi-Wan,” he said, forcefully, “pondering past failures and their consequences, no where will it get you.  Counterproductive, it is.”  Yoda shook his head.  “Advise you further in this matter, I cannot.  Either a time when you and young Skywalker connect or not, there will be.  Fix the problem for you, I cannot.”
     Rubbing the spot on his head where Yoda’s glimmer stick had connected, Obi-Wan looked down at the floor for nothing more than to avoid the Master’s gaze.  “I understand, Master Yoda.”
     “Meanwhile, a mission for you, the Council has,” Yoda continued, changing the subject.
     Obi-Wan’s head snapped up and he regarded the Master with trepidation.  “A mission?  Now?”
     “Easy.  Routine.  Paired with Knight Keerina and her Padawan, you shall be.  Famine on Algerog, there is.  Assistance with planning food distribution and storage, they require.  Depart tomorrow, the four of you shall.  Details on the mission, I will have sent to you before the evening is out.”
     “Perhaps a trip will do Anakin good,” Obi-Wan agreed, “and it sounds like something even the two of us can handle with Keerina’s help.”
     “Of your Padawan’s restlessness, be mindful,” Yoda counseled, “lest further troubles, he cause.”
     “I will, Master Yoda.  Thank you for your guidance.”

     Anakin approached the north chapel with more than a little trepidation.  As he entered the vast, empty room, dimly lit with the orange light of the Courascant sunset, he swallowed nervously.
     Obi-Wan was there, of course, waiting for him near the front of the chapel, kneeling on the floor in a meditative crouch.  As silently as he could, not sure if he should interrupt his master, Anakin approached and sat down a few meters behind Obi-Wan.  It was several moments before the Knight sighed a heavy sigh, indicating to Anakin that he was aware of the young Padawan’s presence.
     “Anakin,” Obi-Wan said calmly, turning to his left and facing toward the side of the chapel, “come here.”
     Obediently and fighting down the forming lump in his throat, Anakin did so, plopping down opposite Obi-Wan.
     “Are you mad at me?” he asked, carefully.
     Obi-Wan sighed again, an obvious attempt to keep his emotions in check.  “No,” he said at last, “not any more.  But I am disappointed.”
     “So was I,” Anakin blurted out, defensively, “I didn’t mean to make Byan feel bad.  I thought we were really trying to help him.”
     “Tell me what happened.”
     “Well, Byan told us he was having trouble, so the others suggested we help him by seeing if he could sense a booby trap.  But, then, after it accidentally fell on you, Marpha, Gelgoog, and Salu-Kor told me that it really was a prank and that I was too gullible if I believed it wasn’t.”
     “And how did that make you feel?”
     “Well, I know they weren’t trying to be mean, Master, but… I’m still kinda mad at them.”
     “Anger is not allowed a Jedi, Padawan.”
     “I know.  And I tried to make it go away when we were meditating, but I just couldn’t do it.”
     Obi-Wan nodded his understanding and scooted closer to Anakin, motioning for the boy to turn around.  He put both his hands on either of the Padawan’s small shoulders and closed his eyes meditatively, seeking out the elusive training bond.  “Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and find your center,” he instructed.
     As Anakin did as he was told, Obi-Wan continued to cast about for the training bond.  Through the Force, he felt only faint, passing glimmers of it.  Realizing he was tensing up with the effort and that that tension was manifesting itself in the form of his clenching hands, he abandoned the task so as not to transfer that tension to Anakin.  Instead, he brought himself out of his meditative state, forced himself to relax, and observed his Padawan’s body language.
     “Good,” Obi-Wan said reassuringly once he was certain Anakin was sufficiently relaxed, “now, picture your thoughts and emotions as an orb, floating in front of you.  Then, step back from it and let it fade into nothing.”  Beneath his hands, Obi-Wan felt Anakin’s shoulders tighten with the effort and the boy’s face twisted slightly.  “You’re too tense.  You’re trying too hard, Anakin.  Add that tension to the ball.  Then step away.”  Gradually, Anakin’s shoulders loosened and he sighed contentedly.  “Good.  Where is your anger now?”
     “It’s gone, Master.”
     “Very good,” stated Obi-Wan, “remember, you can do this exercise whenever you need to.  Just excuse yourself, find a quiet place, and do it.”
     Anakin squirmed out of Obi-Wan’s hands and turned back around to face the Knight.  “But, what if it’s during a battle?”
     Obi-Wan sighed and nodded.  “That takes further practice, believe me.  All I can tell you is that when you’re in a battle, you must never, ever, let the Force guide your hand to kill, directly.  Not in anger.”
     “But… what about Naboo?  Didn’t you use the Force to kill that Sith?”
     Obi-Wan paused, not having expected that question from the boy.  He was observant, that was sure.  “No,” he said at length, “but I came very, very close.  Which is why a Jedi must always be mindful of his thoughts and emotions.  You must always know what you are feeling so you can act accordingly.”
     Anakin nodded his understanding.
     “I assume we’ve learned our lesson about booby traps, then?”
     “Yes, sir.”
     “Lecture over,” Obi-Wan stated, getting to his feet.  Anakin did likewise.   “Now, you and I have something very important to attend to.  The Council has decided to send us on a mission tomorrow.  And every Jedi that goes on a mission needs one thing.”
     Anakin perked up, a grin a mile wide brightening his face as he bounced along next to Obi-Wan on their way out of the chapel.  “A lightsaber?”
     The Knight ruffled his Padawan’s hair and nodded down to him, smiling his own smile.  “It’s time you had one of your own instead of one of Master Yoda’s training sabers.”
     Anakin’s gleeful cheer echoed through the main basilica as they exited, clearly heard by the two figures standing on the gallery above them.  Leaning on his glimmer stick, neatly balanced on the marble railing, Yoda observed the young Master-Padawan pair.  Standing on the floor next to him, Mace Windu did likewise.
     “Very unorthodox, young Kenobi’s teaching methods are,” Yoda stated, evenly.
     “That may be,” Mace agreed, “but Obi-Wan’s connected with the boy even better than he knows.  He may be on to something.”
     Yoda nodded.  “Yet, the training bond, they still lack.  Heavily it weighs on Obi-Wan, his promise to Qui-Gon to train young Skywalker.  A hindrance, that is.”
     “You don’t suppose we allowed him to take a Padawan Learner too quickly, do you?”
     “Possible it is,” Yoda admitted, “but with the loss of Qui-Gon, no one else would the boy accept.”

     Early the next morning, Obi-Wan hurried through his breakfast and left Anakin in the mess hall conversing with his friends as he finished.  Since they were to leave shortly for a famine-plagued planet, he wanted to make sure the boy got his fill and he wanted to make sure he was able to patch up his relationship with his friends after the incident the night before.
     Meantime, Obi-Wan sought out Knight Keerina, having decided it was high time he checked in with her before they departed for Algerog.  He found her in the practice rooms, observing four students practice their skill with the lightsaber.
     Even taking into account that she wasn’t Human, Keerina was noticeably older than Obi-Wan.  In the back of her tri-horned head, long locks of grey hair tumbled down her arched back, around her pointed ears, and over her shoulders, starkly offsetting her dark brown skin.  Her three-fingered hands were clasped behind her back in a gesture of observance and her serpentine tail gently swayed behind her.  She stood on two animal-like legs with three toes, shoeless but for the bindings from her pointed knees to her ankles.  Her concentrating, cat-like eyes kept close watch on the four students who were, for the moment, under her tutelage.  All in all, she stood no more than four feet tall.
     Obi-Wan approached and prepared to make his presence known, but Keerina beat him to it.
     “Jedi Kenobi,” she said, without taking her eyes off the Padawans, “a pleasure, as always.”
     Obi-Wan shook his head in amazement as he approached; even for a Jedi, Keerina seemed to have eyes in the back of her head.  He stood next to her and bowed respectfully.  She did likewise.
     “Greetings, Master Keerina,” he said.
     “You have my apologies for not offering my condolences on the death of Qui-Gon and my congratulations on your knighthood.  My Padawan keeps me… quite busy.”
     Obi-Wan nodded in amused understanding.  “That I can understand.  I came about the mission to Algerog.  We are to be paired as a foursome?”
     “So I hear.  Quite the easy mission for four Jedi, don’t you think?”
     “I was curious about that.  I was wondering if you knew anything about Algerog that would warrant sending all four of us.”
     “I do not.  Perhaps the Council is not telling us the whole story.”
     Obi-Wan looked down at Keerina incredulously.  “Would the Council really withhold information from us?”
     Keerina chuckled.  “No, no, not on purpose.  But I remember hearing about a certain mission to Naboo that turned out to be so much more than what it appeared.  And, I understand that when Supreme Chancellor Palpatine requested assistance from the Council he specifically requested you for the mission.”
     “The Supreme Chancellor did?”
     “It appears he has great faith in your abilities.”
     “Glad to know someone does,” Obi-Wan mumbled under his breath, then cleared his throat, “our transport will be ready within the hour.  It will reach the capitol city of Quitzagrin by the end of the day.”
     “Very good.  It will give us a chance to catch up on the way.  I’m curious to know how you’re getting on with your Padawan.”  She turned to the group of practicing students and clapped her hands twice.  “All right, that’s enough for today,” she called out, “we’ll be ending early.  Master Shiris will be continuing your lessons for the week as Tila-Shen and I shall be otherwise occupied off world.  You are dismissed.”
     The four students deactivated their lightsabers, bowed to their sparring partners, and bowed to Keerina, then three of them silently filed out of the room leaving the lone female of the group behind.
     The young lady, a Human who looked to be no more than eighteen years old, approached Obi-Wan and Keerina.  Besides the standard Padawan braid over her right shoulder, her mouse-brown hair was neatly tied up into a pony tail with a strap of leather and as she came up to them, her blue eyes danced with a touch of excitement.
     “You’re improving, Tila-Shen,” Keerina stated, “but you still have to learn to guard low.  Remember, in a real battle, your legs are prime targets.”
     “Yes, Master, I’ll remember that,” she responded as Keerina turned back to Obi-Wan.
     “Master Kenobi, this is my Padawan Learner, Tila-Shen Razeek,” the older knight stated, motioning from one to the other and initiating a mutual bow between them.
     “An honor to meet you, Master Kenobi,” Tila-Shen greeted, clipping what appeared to be two lightsabers to her belt.
     Obi-Wan took note.  “Two lightsabers?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow.
     “Oh, no,” Tila-Shen stated, handing Obi-Wan the shorter of the two, “one is a dagger.”
     Obi-Wan switched it on and it lit a green blade no more than ten inches in length.  The blade felt somewhat awkward in his hand; its handle was noticeably shorter.
     “My Padawan has the bad habit of getting her left hand in the way of her opponent’s weapon,” Keerina explained, “so we decided to turn that weakness into a strength.”
     “You could say I carry a lightsaber and a half,” Tila-Shen added.
     Obi-Wan deactivated the lightdagger and handed it back to the Padawan.  “Always refreshing to see a unique style,” he told her, “I would hope we have no need for our weapons on this mission, but I’d very much like to observe one of your sparring matches, some day.”
     “You would be most welcome, Master Kenobi.”
     “I’m certain Tila-Shen wouldn’t mind some input from one who defeated a Sith,” Keerina appended.
     Obi-Wan blinked and shifted somewhat uncomfortably.  It never failed; ever since Naboo, almost any time he was introduced to someone by another Jedi, it was as the Sith-killer.  It always served as a reminder of the emotions of the past year he worked so hard to keep in check.  He was getting quite practiced at hiding his discomfort, though, and Keerina and Tila-Shen didn’t seem to notice at all.
     “Well, I should go and collect my Padawan so we can get under way,” Obi-Wan stated, “I imagine even Anakin’s eaten his fill by now.”
     “Ah, yes,” Keerina laughed as all three of them began to wander out of the room, “the black hole stomachs of the young.  If only I could still eat like that.  I swear, some of you young ones could digest a droid if you swallowed it whole.”

     Finally giving in to the shiver that made its presence known along his spine, Anakin pulled his brown cloak in tighter and shoved himself further into the cushions of his seat.  Briefly, he wondered what it was about transport captains that made them refuse to turn the heat up.  If he looked at something dark, he could swear he saw his breath against it.
     Hours ago, he had tried to meditate to keep his mind off it, but every time he tried he was brought out of the state by still another shiver.
     From the aft compartment, just outside the door to the room of the ship Anakin was in, something made a thump against the wall.  It was followed by two more in rapid succession, a slap, and then the cycle started again.
     Hopping out of his seat, Anakin followed the noise to the aft compartment.  There, he found Tila-Shen outstretched on the floor, leaning against one wall, and throwing a rubber ball of one sort or another into the corner.  It hit two walls and bounced back into her right hand.  Over and over, she threw the ball into the corner, all the while wearing a very board expression.
     “This is the part I hate the most,” she said, not breaking her rhythm, “sitting in a transport and waiting.  There isn’t even enough room to do anything.”
     “Obi-Wan would say we should take this time to meditate and do thinking exercises,” Anakin responded.
     Tila-Shen caught her ball in her hand and looked over at him.  “You don’t see him doing that, do you?” she pointed out.  “That’s a laugh.  Obi-Wan Kenobi sitting on a ship and thinking.  Doesn’t seem much like him.”
     “What do you mean?” Anakin asked, plopping down on the floor opposite her.
     “Let’s just say I’ve heard stories.  For a while, they were calling him ‘The Padawan Terror.’”
     Anakin laughed.  “But he listened to Qui-Gon all the time.”
     Tila-Shen joined in his laugh.  “From what I hear, that was the problem.”

     The stars always made Obi-Wan gape in wonder.  The lights of Courascant were too bright, the buildings too tall; even if one could have seen enough sky to encompass an entire constellation, the city lights would have drowned it out completely.  So, whenever he found himself traveling in space, Obi-Wan always allowed himself a moment to enjoy a view out a window in the hull of the ship, simply for the view’s own sake.
     This is what the Jedi Knight was doing now.  He had picked a spot on the starboard side of the ship and watched as the distant points of light slowly drifted by from left to right.  From time to time, his gaze shifted to his reflection in the glass; it was more perplexed and anxious looking than he had ever seen it and for some reason, he couldn’t get that out of his mind.
     “It seems our Padawans have banded together,” Keerina’s voice came to him from the end of the corridor and Obi-Wan turned to it.  The older Knight was leaning against a wall, cloak pulled in around her.
     “Shall I sound the alarm, or do you want to?” Obi-Wan asked her, a hint of a laugh on his voice.
     Keerina responded in kind, wandering over to join him next to the window.  “They’re sending big enough waves of mischievousness through the Force, I’m sure the Council is already alerted to the situation.”  Her tone grew much more serious.  “You, however, seem rather distraught.  Might this have something to do with Anakin.”
     Obi-Wan nodded and looked back out the window again.  “Master Keerina-”
     “Just Keerina.  We are both Knights now, after all.”
     “Give me a while on that one.  But, can I ask you something?”
     “Of course.”
     “You’ve had two Padawan Learners before Tila-Shen.  Is it always this hard to communicate with a student under your tutelage?”
     “Ah, so you’re experiencing the age gap on the other side, now.  Does this have anything to do with the fact that I saw Anakin and three others cleaning up something green in the gardens last night?”
     “Needless to say, I never envisioned taking Anakin to claim a lightsaber while covered in green slime.  Anakin lacks any prior training.  I’m not convinced he truly understands what it means to be a Jedi.”
     Keerina poked him in the chest.  “That, young one, is your job.  The whole point of a master and student is to teach the younger anything about being a Jedi that he or she does not yet know or understand.”
     “Yes but… how?”
     She shook her head and looked back up at him.  “You keep searching for definite answers, Obi-Wan.  The only definite thing is that there are no definite answers.  I sense a great deal of strength in the Force emanating from Anakin.  He has the ability to learn.  And you have the ability to teach him.  But doubt will get in the way, if you allow it to.”
     Obi-Wan sighed and tucked his arms into the sleeves of his robe in thought.  “Qui-Gon would have known what to do with the boy,” he said, half to himself and half to Keerina.
     “I understand you and he disagreed about Anakin a year ago.”
     The younger Knight nodded, bowing his head in remembrance.  “Anakin is strong, but there is so much he has to work past.  Until he gets past the fear he still has, he’s dangerous.  Qui-Gon told the Council he was going to teach him, anyway, and I sided with the Council.”
     “And now that Qui-Gon has rejoined the Force, you have taken up his cause despite your reservations.  He would be honored you thought so highly of him, you know.”
     “Still, I find myself wishing…”

     “…that Qui-Gon was still here.”
     Once again, Tila-Shen stopped bouncing her rubber ball and looked over at Anakin curiously.  “Oh?” she asked.  “Do I sense a disturbance in the Force?”
     “It’s just… well, I’m not sure Obi-Wan likes me,” Anakin responded.
     “What makes you say that?”
     “He just always seems so irritated.  And I know he wasn’t happy with Qui-Gon when he first brought me along with him from Tatooine.  I heard them arguing about me, once.”
     “Nah,” Tila-Shen corrected, waiving it off, “it’s your imagination.  He cares about you, I can sense it.”
     “He sure doesn’t show it much.”
     “I’ll let you in on a little secret, Ani.  It’s a Master’s job to…”

     “… be strict, at times,” Keerina continued, “I know you were a Padawan yourself not that long ago, but it’s time you left that behind.  You’re the Master now.”
     “I understand that.”
     “Up here, perhaps,” she said, tapping her temple, “but not here.”  She pointed to her chest.  “Qui-Gon taught you to be mindful of your thoughts, but I always felt his greatest mistake was not teaching you what to do with them.”
     “I know what to do about it,” Obi-Wan said, defensively, “if I’m having a problem, I need to find a way to fix it.”
     “Sometimes it is enough simply to confront it.”
     “But how can I do that until Anakin and I form the training…”

     “…bond that all the other Padawans are always talking about?  Obi-Wan and I don’t have it, yet.  Or we just don’t know how to use it.”
     “No training bond yet, huh?” Tila-Shen asked.  “Ouch, that’s gotta be annoying.”
     “What’s it like?”
     “Well, sometimes it’s like having one big spy looking over your shoulder and sometimes it’s like having a constant lifeline.  But the best thing about it is that you can instantly understand each other.”
     “That would sure help a lot,” Anakin stated, “because he sure doesn’t…”

     “… understand me at all.”
     “Have you tried understanding him?”
     “Of course I have, Keerina.  But, I just can’t seem to…”

     “… get him to say anything to me about anything besides lesson stuff.  He’s obsessed or something.  He’s always…”

     “… wanting to learn how to use the Force, how to be more powerful, how to…”

     “… be calm, centered, blah blah blah.  He just doesn’t…”

     “He simply does not…”

     “… understand me.”
     “… understand me.”

     Tila-Shen fingered the rubber ball in her hands for a moment.  “Force!  I thought Master Keerina and I had issues.  You guys could open a side show at the Alderaan Circus!”
     “That isn’t helping,” Anakin pointed out, sourly.
     “Sorry, kiddo.  I just figured that the legendary prankster, Jedi Kenobi, would still be so much a kid himself that he would be able to understand a kid right off.  Don’t worry about it.  This mission is going to be such a bore, I’m sure you guys will have plenty of time to talk it over.   In the meantime…” she got to her feet and tossed the rubber ball to Anakin.  “Looks like you need that more than me, for now.  I’m gonna go see how much longer they’re gonna keep us sitting here in this tin can.”
     The older Padawan exited the aft compartment, leaving Anakin alone with the rubber ball.  It wasn’t long before he started throwing it against the wall, himself; bouncing it three times, catching it, bouncing it three times, catching it.

     For one of those rare times, Keerina was at a loss.  She could only conclude that Qui-Gon’s crowning achievement had been teaching Obi-Wan how to be stubborn.  “I’ve told you all I can,” she said at length, “all I can tell you is that Qui-Gon was right; you shouldn’t focus on your anxieties.  Stop trying to do what others do and be a teacher in your own right.”
     “I appreciate your input, Master Keerina,” Obi-Wan responded, somewhat dourly.
     She put one three-fingered hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder as a gesture of comfort.  “Perhaps this mission will do you and Anakin some good.  There is only so much that can be done in the Temple, after all.  In the meantime, I think I will go and see how far along we are.  We should be arriving at Quitzagrin in a few hours.”
     As Keerina departed, Obi-Wan went back to his gaze out the window, at the endless, uncertain sea of stars, and at the endless, uncertain look on his face.

     Keerina made it to the cockpit first and was there, waiting for Tila-Shen to enter when the Padawan did so only a few minutes later.
     “Looks like Master Windu was right about them, Master,” she said as she entered, paying no heed to the pilot and copilot who she knew would be discreet, “the kid’s stubborn as a gundark.”
     “As is Master Kenobi,” Keerina agreed, “Qui-Gon’s legacy, no doubt.  Tila-Shen, we will have to take on as much of the work on Algerog as we can.  Obi-Wan and Anakin must be left with nothing to do other than to confront their problem.  Are you prepared to be alert enough to intercept tasks that would otherwise go to them?”
     “Yes, Master, I am.  But, maybe we should consider putting them in an escape capsule together and leaving them in orbit, instead.”
     Keerina laughed.  “You’re too extreme, my Padawan.”
     “Hey, if it works.”

     The sensors of the Jedi transport ship were blind in one respect; they failed to see the tiny, black droid that had attached itself to the craft’s underside.  It left no strange signals, no odd side effects.  Its only task was to know where it was and remain unseen to its host vessel and it did its job with great efficiency.  Once the ship had entered orbit around the planet of Algerog, it silently disengaged its magnetic locks and set a course for the weak signal that was calling out to it from a particularly dark corner of the famine-ridden world.
     With no more than a vapor trail, it entered Algerog’s atmosphere and set down in the middle of the nighttime desert in the western hemisphere.  There to collect it was a dark figure, hooded in black, who left one long, unbroken trail in the sand as it floated toward the droid.  The figure fiddled with the droid and loaded some information from its memory into a smaller handheld device.  Reading the data there, the figure nodded, then activated another device that was being held in a four fingered hand.  A small holo appeared, bearing the image of another dark figure whose face was half shrouded in his own cloak.
     “Report,” the figure in the holo commanded.
     “Master Sidious,” the whispered contralto replay came from under the hood of the figure’s cloak, “they have arrived at Algerog, just as you said.”
     “Good.  Keep me informed of your progress.  You know what to do.  And remember, the boy is not to be harmed.”
     “Yes, my Master.  As you command.”


End Part One...

Well, I hope I spelled Sidious right... somehow, it looks wrong.  Can someone tell me?  Please?  ^^;
Cya laters when I finish part two!  In the meantime, please R/R!  Fanfic authors love feedback!