Thursday, June 19, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 23: The Qui-Gon Job

Ben Kenobi had lived in the outskirts of civilization for so long, he could hardly remember how he'd gotten there.  One day his father had brought the both of them to Tatooine, to the notorious spaceport of Mos Eisley, intending only to fuel up and leave again, but then a disagreement had occurred at the local cantina, his father was dead in a flash, Ben was an orphan, and he was trapped on the desert world forever.

Perhaps he didn't want to remember.

Living by himself had been so much easier.  When he was younger, the anger had always threatened to consume him.  He only survived thanks to all the old tales he'd gather from the holorecordings he'd discovered in the hut he found, after wandering the dunes on his own for what seemed like weeks but could only have been hours, traveling in an old land speeder and avoiding the Sand People as best he could.  The tales told him all about the Jedi, mighty warriors who protected the galaxy from the forces of evil.  Had they ever been to Tatooine?  It was easy for the younger Ben to believe they hadn't, but as he grew older, he hoped otherwise.

One day, during one of his rare but necessary excursions into town, Ben came across a few of the local podracer pilots in one of their endless disputes.  This occasion was different, however.  The boy wasn't alone, for the first time Ben could remember.  With him was a noble-looking man, a girl, a droid, and a funny-looking amphibian of questionable intelligence.  "Pathetic life-form," is how Ben would have described the last of this curious group.

Sometime later, he found the noble-looking man wandering the dunes on his own, muttering to himself about the injustices of the galaxy, something Ben knew all about.  He wondered what that would mean for this man in particular.  As a rule, Ben kept to himself, but he decided to make an exception.

"I don't seem to recall your kind ever visiting Tatooine before."

"No, I suppose not," the man said.  "Qui-Gon Jinn."

"Ben Kenobi," he replied.  "You're a Jedi, aren't you?"

"Very perceptive," Qui-Gon said.  "That can be dangerous here, I imagine."

"You have no idea," Ben said, fighting the urge to laugh.  He couldn't remember the last time he'd laughed.

"I won't cause you any trouble," Qui-Gon assured him.  "I'm only looking for parts, same as anyone else.  I wish to be gone from this world as soon as possible.  No offense."

"None taken," Ben said.  In another lifetime, he thought they could have been friends.  "Listen, I can take you as far as Anchorhead, in my speeder, but I'm afraid I can't offer you much more.  That's this world speaking.  It doesn't want any of us here."

"I'm beginning to sense that," Qui-Gon said.  He flinched, as if sensing something else.  Ben could almost feel it, too.  They took a look around for a moment, didn't see anything, but the Jedi did not appear to relax at all.  "There is a Sith here.  I didn't come here to find you, but now I wonder...Take this."

Ben took the strange object into his hands.  He'd seen something like it in the holorecordings: a lightsaber.  He wanted to give it back right away, not because he wasn't grateful, but that it felt more like a sacrifice than a gift.

"I foresaw what would happen to me," Qui-Gon said, as if reading Ben's mind.

Before either could say anything else, he became aware of another presence, a demon with a head of horns, one who moved with lightning speed and precision, holding a lightsaber of its own.  Two blades, red as blood, emerged from either end, and sliced through the Jedi as Ben watched, helpless.  The assassin was gone before he could do anything.

Qui-Gon was gasping for breath on the ground.  "Don't...don't go after him.  This...doesn't matter.  My friends will get away.  Forget...ever having met me."

Except Ben couldn't.  As the years progressed, and he tried, and nothing happened, he continued living as he had, but everything had changed.  One day, he met the boy's son, and knew in an instant that everything would change again.  If...if either of them was ever going to leave this world behind, it would be this one.

Ben started laughing again.

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