He's stood here many times now. The edge of a massive cliff looms just a few centimeters from where he stands. If Obi-Wan were to lean over he's absolutely positive he would topple over and fall a hundred meters down to the rocky waters below. He watches the waves crash against the cliff violently, erupting into a cascade of foam and water droplets. Many times he's stood here and gazed out onto the endless horizon of rough waters. Every time he's turned around and walked away from the cliff, ignoring the melodic cadence of the rolling waves. Come, Obi-Wan, it beckons him. It's time to rest.
"No," he says to the wind that howls in his ear. "I won't do it."
You mean you can't.
Seaspray bites at his cheeks.
There's always a moment he gazes down at the water below. The seas like to calm at that moment, and for a split second, the sun comes out from behind the clouds and shines a warm beam upon the waters. It sparkles and reflects a gorgeous deep blue that attempts to seduce him with promises of a safe landing in the soft embrace of the sea. Tempting as it is, Obi-Wan always steps back. He turns away from the siren sound and the violent nature of the waves pick up again.
The land behind him is just as endless as the sea but at least it's solid ground. He will walk until he wakes.
"... don't think it's such a good idea."
"It's been nearly thirty-six hours Qui... need answers."
"That is... you could harm his already unstable..."
Obi-Wan drifts in and out of light sleep. There are people standing at his door it seems, and despite their attempt to talk quietly-- so he assumes from the way someone keeps shushing the others-- they are doing a poor job.
"I don't support this." he hears the familiar voice of his Master.
"I'm well aware of that, Master Jinn, but you know how important this could be."
He rolls over to get a better listen. The voice is definitely that of Master Windu.
"Important enough to undermine the health of a child?"
This surprises Obi-Wan. Usually, Qui-Gon is quick to remind Obi-Wan that he is a Jedi before he is a kid. While he may get certain passes because of his age these will not last for long. It's not often he emphasizes Obi-Wan's age, let alone use it as an attack against Master Windu's orders...
"Listen," Master Windu huffs, his voice dropping to a lower tone. "I understand your convictions. But I wouldn't do anything that would put the boy in harm. Vokara signed off on it already. His shields are better and his Force exhaustion is healed."
"I believe he is ready. I assure you I will be there to monitor him the entire time." the voice of Master Che says.
There's a lull. Obi-Wan doesn't need to see Qui-Gon to know he must have that I'm-not-pleased-and-I'm-not-responsible-for-anything-that-goes-wrong look that he often displays when dealing with council affairs.
The door opens and Master Qui-Gon enters followed by Master Windu, Master Che, Master Yoda, and Master Billaba. Obi-Wan tries to look surprised to see the group.
"Masters," he says in greeting, bowing his head in respect.
"Padawan, how do you feel?" Master Windu asks, stopping at the end of his bed.
"Much better," he replies. He's telling the truth, too. After an IV and some medicine that Master Che gave him to help him sleep, Obi-Wan's fever has broken and he's finally gained enough strength to repair his faulty shields.
"The council members are here to follow up with you, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon says, not hiding his displeasure. "Are you up for it, my padawan?"
Obi-Wan nods. He really just wants this to be over. To find relief.
Master Billaba steps forward. "Have you ever had anyone look into your mind, Obi-Wan?"
She pulls a chair up and sits next to the bed. "It is quite simple if you are open to it. We will meditate first and once our minds have reached a relaxed state I will enter carefully into your mind. I assure you I will not see anything that you do not offer to me of your own free will. It is simply a way to get another set of eyes on your vision. I may see things that you may not think important. Do you understand?"
A bit of nervousness still itches at the back of his throat, but he knows Master Billaba, while a bit intimidating, is respectful and good.
"Will Master Jinn stay here with me?"
She looks at Qui-Gon, who is staring at Obi-Wan with a look of visible relief.
"Of course, my padawan." He says, coming round to the other side of the bed to stand opposite to Master Billaba.
Obi-Wan looks back at Master Billaba. "I am ready, then."
The meditation began as most sessions do. Deep breathing, honing in on the life that surrounds. The light and the dark. Cosmic and living forces intertwining and feeding into one another. The world around him melts away until he's only barely aware of the Force signatures of the powerful Jedi surrounding him. He reaches within himself and takes the nervousness that he once felt, lifting it up to the Force and watching as it fades away in a mist. Peace spreads through his body.
"Obi-Wan," a soft voice says, and he turns to find Master Billaba on his meditative plane. She smiles at him. "Are you ready?" He nods and she approaches him, lowering herself to the ground across from him. Master Billaba leans forward, gently pressing her thumbs to his temples. "Take me to Kath."
Suddenly he's staring at that painting again. The one with the kneeling Jedi and the Sith standing over him. Obi-Wan looks to his right and finds Master Billaba beside him, looking upon the landscape with great curiosity.
"You see, this one is newer than the rest."
Her head snaps to him and he can feel a tinge of shock through the Force. "You can see me, Obi-Wan?"
"Should I not be able to?"
She stares at him for a moment before reaching out and touching the wall. She seems surprised when her fingers run along the smooth stone.
"This is... it's just been a while since I have entered another's mind. I have forgotten the feeling."
He can sense unease in her but he attributes it to the dark hallway.
"Come this way. This is when I lose Master Qui-Gon." Obi-Wan says and turns to walk down the hall. He can feel Master Billaba close behind him. Just as he remembers, his master is gone and the hallway gives way to the room with the Holocron. He walks straight to it, stopping in front of the small table to show the councilmember.
"This is a Holocron, right?"
"Indeed, Padawan. This is."
"I have to pick it up and open it now."
"I will try and pick it up with you. Is that okay?"
Obi-Wan's eyebrows knit together. "It's painful," he says, his voice small. "And scary."
"Do not worry for me, Padawan. All will be okay."
Obi-Wan raises his hand and Depa Billaba mirrors him. Together they reach out and open the Holocron. Just like every other time the cube twists and opens and a hologram appears.
Depa Billaba has been in the minds of many, so it takes quite a feat to shock her. Usually, she goes beyond the shields of the Jedi and is able to passively view their thoughts, feelings, and memories. Passively, being the keyword.
But this... this is different. The Force is impossibly strong. Everyone on the council could feel that Padawan Kenobi's situation was out of the ordinary. Visions are one thing, but to find an artifact that apparently belongs in the future is... it raises many questions, to say the least. Even so, she expected to see a particularly vivid vision in the mind of a padawan not... not have him give her a guided tour of his memories.
When her fingers touched the solid rock she nearly withdrew herself from his mind. To be honest, it scared her. This is nothing she's ever experienced before and she doesn't want to cause this young boy further harm.
But she saw the way he walked the hall in a relaxed state. Like it is familiar-- she recalls Master Yoda mentioning he believes Obi-Wan is reliving this memory over and over again. It seems it has practically become palpable in the few days since it happened. She looks down at the boy. He doesn't look afraid.
She follows him to a larger room where he takes her to a small table with a Jedi Holocron hovering above it. When he expresses that the vision is painful and scary she resists the urge to take his hand in comfort. The look on his face reminds of her of his youth.
Together they open the Holocron. Depa is struck with the Force swirling around them as it hums to life and a hologram of a middle-aged man appears.
"This is Master Obi-Wan Kenobi I regret to report that both our Jedi Order and the Republic have fallen with a dark shadow of the Empire rising to take their place."
The man says, his Core accent identical to Obi-Wan's. She looks down at the boy, who has fallen into a trance-like state as he stares at his future self. His body sways side to side until he tips, and Depa reaches out and catches him before he collides with the floor.
The moment her skin comes in contact with his, she feels it. The Force saturated around them, but it feels... off. Darkness chills her to the bone and the room seems to spin as she clutches the padawan tighter. She tries to find the light. It's there-- she can feel it pushing against the cold tendrils of darkness on its threatening conquer, but something is wrong. The light has faded, and every moment it seems to fade further and further away. Voices cry out in pain and agony and Depa realizes what she's feeling.
And then all is still.
"And in time, a new hope will emerge."
Depa is sitting on the ground with Obi-Wan cradled in her lap. His eyes are open and forehead slick with sweat, but he doesn't react to her as she moves to place her hand over his heart. It's beating rapidly.
The light Depa has come to expect to feel in the Force is restored, but she can feel the anxiety growing in the boy in her arms. As though he's entranced he suddenly reaches out with his hand.
"No," he says softly. "Master, no."
Then the world feels like it's crumbling once again, but this time is different. There is only a small amount of darkness that she can sense and it's all prodding at Obi-Wan. She can feel the conflict, grief, and anger coming to fruition within his mind and Depa takes his hand as the Force lets out a sigh of anguish and Obi-Wan's body goes limp. Depa hadn't realized she was holding her breath until she lets out a shaky exhale, surprised by her own unease. The Holocron still glows blue in front of her and she finally turns her attention back to the Jedi Master. He seems to be staring at her with those tired, sad eyes-- something she thought Obi-Wan had over-dramatized in her drawings but now she can truly see the war-torn Jedi looks just as broken as the padawan had indicated.
"What happened to you?" she says to the hologram, knowing full well that it can not possibly respond. How can this man be the same boy that lies in the Halls of Healing?
"May the Force be with you, always."
Obi-Wan's head hurts when he awakes. A lot. When he first opens his eyes the lights make it feel like everything around him is exploding and he squeezes them shut once again. The outline of someone standing at the end of his bed flashes in his vision.
The light turns off. Obi-Wan slowly opens one eye, testing the waters. His master is the one at the end of the bed, looking at him with a mix of amusement at his obviously overdramatic expressions and concern. He's not sure what the concern is for yet, but he's sure he will find out.
Masters Yoda, Windu, Billaba, and Che are gone. He wonders how long he's been asleep.
"Six hours," Qui-Gon says, walking to the chair stationed to the right of Obi-Wan's bed. "Your shields are down again. Not as bad as last time, though."
Obi-Wan blinks, feeling that his mind is indeed as good as open.
"I thought I fixed those," he sighs, putting up a few weak ones until he has more time to better construct them later.
"You did, my padawan, but the session with Master Billbaba was not kind to you."
Obi-Wan can remember a few parts of the session, but it turned into a blur after they opened the Holocron. There wasn't much different that happened anyways.
"Did the council get what they wanted?"
Qui-Gon winces at his question. "Obi-Wan..." he says softly, trailing off like he doesn't quite know what to say.
He's being too careful. Too gentle. Qui-Gon doesn't talk to him like this. Not unless he's sick and even then he doesn't give him much leeway unless he's sick-sick. He's looking at him like he's a stray loth-cat and Obi-Wan hates it but he's also terrified of what will come out of his mouth next. Did he do something wrong? Is his vision going to make him weak like this forever? Has he been tainted by darkness?
Qui-Gon looks at Obi-Wan with alarm. "Obi-Wan, breathe, my padawan." He places a hand over his chest and Obi-Wan realizes he's been hyperventilating. Qui-Gon looks behind him like he's searching for Master Che, but Obi-Wan puts his hand over his masters.
"What did they say?"
Qui-Gon stares into his eyes for a long moment before exhaling shallowly. "Master Billbaba did not just look into your mind. The Force was so strong and so insistent that she was brought into the vision with you."
Obi-Wan's eyes widen in surprise. He'd never heard of such a thing.
"You were in meditation for about twenty minutes. You were too exhausted to come out of it so Master Che helped you transition to sleep. Even Master Billbaba had to be taken to another room to rest after the encounter."
"But why? What's wrong with me?"
Qui-Gon frowns. "Nothing is wrong with you, padawan. Nothing. This is not your fault. This is the work of the Force. Why the Force is showing you such upsetting images is beyond me and even Master Yoda. But we will figure it out. I promise you that."
Obi-Wan takes in Qui-Gon's words. Still, he can't help but feel like something is missing. "You aren't telling me something."
His master looks surprised at Obi-Wan's words, but he nods in confirmation. "You are young, Obi-Wan. There are things you don't understand because you have not lived through it. Master Billbaba was able to identify some of these things that may have been unfamiliar to you in your vision."
"These are not things you need to know, Obi-Wan. Not yet."
Frustration bites at Obi-Wan. Something he has always appreciated about his master is that Qui-Gon is good about treating Obi-Wan as a mature counterpart rather than a mere child. Yes, he's his apprentice and he follows his master's orders, but he does so out of respect. But to not explain what in the worlds he is seeing in his own head?
"I have to see these things every time I close my eyes, Master. I believe I'm past the point of you protecting me from whatever horrors they truly represent. I will be haunted either way, but you could at least grant me the benefit of being able to put a name to the things I am feeling."
Qui-Gon blinks in surprise. Maybe he expected that Obi-Wan would just accept that reply. Maybe he doesn't know his own padawan as well as he thinks.
"You described in the council chambers that you felt someone returning to the Force. Depa felt that too, but it wasn't just one person, Obi-Wan. It was thousands."
"Yes," his voice is soft and careful. Obi-Wan can feel him scanning over his face every few moments like he's waiting for him to break down. "She felt great darkness overtaking the Force."
"And the light?"
"It was there but diminished."
"What... what does it all mean, Master?"
Qui-Gon shakes his head. "We don't know yet. There is still so much that the council needs to riffle through, but your duty is done now. You did a good job, Obi-Wan. You've been through a great ordeal."
Obi-Wan smiles, but he can't help but feel... a little unsatisfied. Qui-Gon reassures him that the council will continue to discuss the meaning of his vision and he's been told everything they discovered but his mind still nags at him. He's missing something. He's also well aware that the council isn't telling him everything-- they likely aren't telling Qui-Gon either. He just feels like there is something else prodding at his mind and he can't explain what it is.
"I think I will sleep again, Master, if that's okay with you."
Qui-Gon nods. "You certainly need it. Rest well, my padawan. I will be here when you awake."
Obi-Wan lays back and closes his eyes.
He soon returns to that place. The cliffside seems higher and more jagged. The waves are raging even more violently if that could even be possible. But Obi-Wan knows he is here for a reason. It must be the thing he's missing.
Like every other time, the sun comes out and the waves calm.
This time, he doesn't peer over the edge and contemplates jumping.
This time, he leaps.
Mace Windu has a headache. He sits in the council chambers with the lights off. Only the lights of Coruscant illuminate the room in an array of neon shades.
The council met for nearly four hours. They could have gone on for longer, but Yoda insisted they recess until the next day. The tone of the room was heavy, and there was already too much to meditate on.
War. Death. Too much death. The Order falling while darkness rises. The Sith. All in the mind of a padawan.
A shiver runs down his spine.
Depa told them what she saw. The things she felt. He can't get the image of the look on her face when she came out of Obi-Wan's mind out of his head. Depa was always a levelheaded padawan and an even more put-together Jedi Knight and Master.
Tears were streaming down her face. She looked ready to collapse.
He waited by her bed just as Obi-Wan's master sat by his. When she finally had enough strength, she looked at him, this faraway look in her eyes.
"He saw his Master die," was the first thing she said. "That was the person he felt return to the Force. The one he screamed for."
Mace took a deep breath to keep his calm. To watch another Jedi return to the Force is a horrific thing, even to experienced Masters. But to be a padawan watching one's Master... It is no wonder his mind protected him from identifying the Force signature.
"We mustn't tell the boy or his master this. It would cause too many anxieties in their training."
Depa nodded, though he could feel a tinge of disagreement from her. If she had any reservations she doesn't say.
"That wasn't all. I also felt more return to the Force. More Jedi."
"Master Windu, I believe the meaning of the vision is to warn us that thousands of Jedi are going to die."
Her assessment made sense. Mace looked over the handwritten transcript of the Holocron message again. Depa confirmed it was correct word-for-word. I regret to report that both our Jedi Order and the Republic have fallen... This message is a warning and reminder for any surviving Jedi.
Any surviving Jedi.
It all makes sense and yet he can't stand to even think about that kind of future. The Jedi have never taken too much stock in any vision before. The future is ever-changing. Mace has to continuously remind himself and his fellow council members of this. The Jedi won't fall. The Order and the Republic are secure.
He closes the boy's journal.
Does this vision that is so strong in the Force scare him? Maybe a little bit. He's ashamed to say so, but it's an emotion he must meditate on and release to the Force. The worst thing they can do is succumb to fear of this child's vision. That will only cause weakness in the Order and make the vision come true. He won't let that happen.
The details of the boy's vision won't be known outside the council chambers. Mace will make sure of that. There will be no talk of fallen Jedi and Sith Lords. There will be peace in the galaxy.
As he falls, he can feel his padawan braid whipping straight behind him. The water is quickly approaching and Obi-Wan's mouth is open in shock but no screaming comes out. He just feels the wind slicing against his cheeks and blowing his robes around violently.
He hits the water but feels no pain. The sea swallows him, and despite him trying as he might to swim back to the surface it pulls him down. His lungs burn. His arms and legs thrash as his panic grows, but the sunlight grows dimmer and the water gets colder.
Obi-Wan calms his body, ignoring his screaming lungs. He closes his eyes and finds his center. If he is to return to the Force, he will do so in grace.
When he opens his eyes, the blue, cloudless sky lays above him.
Obi-Wan sits up and finds that he's not at the bottom of an ocean, but laying on a rock next to the water. The waves are serene, gently rolling up and licking at his feet. When he draws his legs in he finds that his boots aren't even wet. In fact, even his robes are dry.
"You came." A deep, voice says behind him, following by mechanical gasping. Obi-Wan flips around, jumping to his feet. Before him stands a... man? From his voice, it seems to be a man, but the modulator is so distorted he's not entirely sure. He's tall, clad in all black and wearing a bell-shaped helmet. Obi-Wan can't see beyond the visor. In fact, he can't see any skin that would give him an indication of his race.
"Who are you?"
"You got my message. I had to go through many of your journals to figure out when you would be in the right place at the right time."
He looks at the masked man in disbelief as the pieces fall into place. His eyes widen. "The vision... the Holocron was a message? From you? You're from the future of my vision?"
"It was no vision. I used the Force to contact you. There are many ways of the Force the Jedi do not understand."
"Then what did I see?"
The mechanical wheezing breaths fill the air. "Memories."
Obi-Wan takes this in. It would explain why he could see himself in some parts of the vision. And why they were so vivid.
"So there is a war. And the Jedi do fall?"
Obi-Wan can feel eyes on him even though he can't physically see the eyes of the mechanical man. Through the Force, he feels waves of regret and restraint.
"I made many mistakes, Obi-Wan. You will say you've failed me, but in truth, I have failed you."
There is a thread of familiarity when the man says his name, but Obi-Wan isn't sure from where. He's sure he would remember someone like this if they've met before. Then again, if this man truly is from the future... He is reminded of the painting of a young man kneeling before a hooded figure. I made many mistakes. Maybe...
"You fell to darkness."
"I was weak. It was too late."
"What happens? What is the meaning of the vis... the memories? I saw a war! And felt death. It was... it was horrible. Please, I must know so I can warn the council."
"Always focused on duty." the man mutters, shaking his head. "Even in your youth, you were the proper Jedi."
Obi-Wan steps forward. The man is only a meter or so away now, but he doesn't recoil at his movement. "At least tell me who you are."
"I know this will hopefully change our futures, but I do hope I still get to know you, Obi-Wan.
"Please, I must know!"
The man shakes his head. He steps forward, his cape flowing behind him in the wind. The man moves as mechanically as he sounds-- maybe he is a droid? But droids don't breathe...
"Don't let darkness rise. Protect her. If anyone can save the galaxy it is you, my old friend." He reaches out and places a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder. Beneath the glove, Obi-Wan is surprised to feel the heat of flesh and the feeling of a human hand. He tries to remain as still as possible. "May the Force be with you, Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan gazes up at the man. The Force is incredibly strong and turbulent around him, but Obi-Wan feels... secure. He smiles, peace spreading through him. He's not sure why, or what any of this means, but somehow this person from his future has done all of this. For what, he's not sure fo that either. Duty? Repentance? Guilt? Whatever the case, Obi-Wan can't help but feel this strange admiration that almost doesn't seem like he's the one expressing it. It's like these emotions are disjointed from himself, being felt through the Force. They feel right though. He can feel the Force singing around them.
"May the Force be with you," Obi-Wan says softly, and the man steps back as everything fades into a bright light.