The One Overlooked
By Alice J. Capen
Qui-Gon takes Obi-Wan out on a training mission and finds a Force Sensitive.
The Brianna landed on a lightly populated part of the planet Ohn. The countryside was beautiful, and the sun was just beginning to set.
The ramp of the ship opened, and out walked Qui-Gon, his 17 year-old padawan Obi-Wan, and the ship's pilots, Zen and Teilor. Qui-Gon breathed in the air with obvious pleasure, and Obi-Wan took in the scenery.
"I love coming to places like this." said Qui-Gon.
The two pilots walked to a nearby ridge which overlooked a valley in which nestled a town. The valley also had two rivers that converged at the edge of the town. The larger river flowed out to the sea in the west. The blue of the sky gradated into orange and red toward the sunset and made the rivers glow and sparkle like shiny ribbons.
Zen and Teilor sat down. They each opened a drink and relaxed. This training mission was going to take a while, and the two pilots had all evening to take it easy.
Qui-Gon gazed at the forest. That was where he was going to take his padawan through.
"Well, Fuzzy, now's a good time to start."
Obi-Wan smiled when he heard one of his nicknames that his master sometimes used. It always took away a piece of the padawan's somber dignity in a humorous kind of way.
Qui-Gon continued, "In one hour you start after me." And putting up a force shield so that Obi-Wan could not automatically detect where he was, he walked off into the woods.
Obi-Wan liked these exercises. It honed his Force tracking skills and allowed him to explore various terrain on whatever planet his master chose. Last time, it was through a metropolis on Terrell. Qui-Gon's path had taken Obi-Wan through various neighborhoods, boulevards, subways, and through a fast-food restaurant. Force-thought residue told Obi-Wan what his master ordered -- a roast beef sandwich with hot sauce -- and Obi-Wan ordered the same.
With each of these kind of training missions, the tracking exercises got harder and harder. Qui-Gon would conceal his Force path more on each sequential mission. Obi-Wan could count on it being almost nonexistent this time. But it served to sharpen his senses and ability to search.
Obi-Wan kicked around at the grassy dirt for a while before meandering toward the two pilots as the hour strolled by.
Qui-Gon was enjoying the scenery, but he wasn't slow with his travel. He wanted to cover as much ground as possible. Sometimes he didn't touch the ground as he employed levitation over large areas of forest floor so as not to leave a trail, and he broke up the trail left by the levitation itself. He sometimes used the Force to fly from tree to tree much like a flying squirrel. It was almost as much an exercise for him as it was for his padawan. But something was tugging at him. Qui-Gon gradually veered his course northward. That's where the pull was coming from. He wondered if Obi-Wan would feel that pull. The beacon of Force energy guided Qui-Gon through the woods for some time, then finally led him into a large clearing.
Obi-Wan was vigilant of the time, and when the hour had lapsed, he said "See you later." to the two pilots and embarked on his task. The obvious starting point was where he saw his master disappear into the woods. It was dark by then, and the moon hadn't yet risen over the horizon. Obi-Wan flared his Force senses out wide, to not only pick up his master's trail, but to "see" his surroundings as well. Yes, he could see everything. He immediately tripped over a rock.
The source of the Force-pull was centered around an old mansion on a hill. Qui-Gon headed toward it with eagerness, like a bee to a flower. Maybe it was a child who's destined to be a Jedi? Though a bit tumbled down, the mansion held itself with stately beauty; its soul quietly telling its grand past to whomever could hear. As Qui-Gon strode along the front of the mansion, studying its architecture, he saw two youths looking apprehensively into a window of the only room that was lit. When they saw Qui-Gon approach, they quickly left. They obviously weren't residents of this house. Qui-Gon walked to the window, curious about what the boys were looking at, and looked in. He found the source of the Force-beacon. A reclusive old man was contentedly playing music on his violin to whatever ghosts might be listening. The melody was simple but beautiful, and as Qui-Gon listened to the sound of the strings, he became somewhat spellbound and he slowly danced in the darkness of the night.
Qui-Gon seemed not to know when the music had stopped. The old man had opened the front door and found Qui-Gon Jinn standing still, his face toward the stars, eyes closed.
"Hello there." quietly spoke the old man. "Is there something I can do for you?"
The sound of the old man's voice broke the surface of the meditative reverie, and Qui-Gon opened his eyes, looked at the stars, then looked at the old man.
"Oh....I was listening to your music. It was beautiful."
The old man smiled. There was something about this younger man that he liked. Some kind of pleasant aura surrounded him.
"Would you like to come in for some tea?" asked the old man.
Now this is going to be a pleasant evening. thought Qui-Gon. "Yes, I would like that. Thank you."
Everything was old. Everything had an ambiance of oldness. There was the pleasant smell of a comfortable home. The old wood floor did not creak under Qui-Gon's weight as he entered the room where the old man had played his music. It looked to be the parlor or sitting room. A large rich rug, worn by feet of past time covered most of the floor. There was carved wood paneling on the walls, and there were carved images in the dark wood surrounding the fire place. The room was gently lit by an elegant red fringed-shaded lamp that arched gracefully over its portion of the floor.
Before he left to prepare the tea, the old man invited Qui-Gon to sit where he pleased, and Qui-Gon sank into one of the comfortable old chairs by the fireplace. There was no fire lit; it wasn't cold enough. But just sitting there was nice. Qui-Gon knew that this old man was the only resident here, and he wondered sadly if he had anybody to pass on this beautiful place. It felt as if there was nobody. There were paintings of people. Old photographs of people long gone; perhaps long forgotten except by the old man. There was a tiny holo on a small table between the two chairs. The violin was lying next to it. Where will these end up? On a table in a flea market? Qui-Gon grimaced. He had been to flea markets and auction houses where he saw portraits and holos of people, all untitled. People with souls who lived, loved and worked. Uncles, sisters, mothers, friends. Newlyweds and people standing proudly in front of their houses, or next to their first brand-new speeders. The people who recorded those images wrongfully took it for granted that people would know who they were, and didn't bother to name and date them. Two or more generations later, no one would be able to tell their children who they were. The identities of relatives and friends lost. Qui-Gon could sometimes feel an aspect of their souls when he touched those forgotten images, and it would sadden him.
The old man came out with a tray on which was a pot of tea and a plate of scones. He carefully set it on the table, crowding his violin up against the holo. "Would you like sugar, milk or lemon?"
"I would like to have a bit of lemon in mine, thank you."
The old man poured the tea in a cup, added some lemon and handed the cup with saucer to Qui-Gon.
"You're quite welcome."
The old man prepared his own cup, then settled himself into the other chair. "I can pretty much tell you're a Jedi." he smiled.
Smiling also, Qui-Gon looked down at his clothes and his saber. "Since I was six months old."
The old man pushed the plate of scones toward Qui-Gon. "Have some."
Qui-Gon took one and bit a corner off. It was good. "Did you make these yourself? They're good."
The old man smiled self-effacingly. "Oh no. They're from the bakery."
After taking another bite, Qui-Gon said, "You have a lot Force energy around you. Was there anyone related to you who was a Jedi?"
The old man shook his head. "No. Not that I'm aware of." His face lit into a smile, and with mirth, "Some folks around town rumor that I'm a witch or a sorcerer. That notion is especially popular with the children. And of course, every town has to have its haunted house. 'Though, I'm not sure if this one is."
Qui-Gon gazed thoughtfully upward at the walls and ceiling and felt the house's consciousness emanating, and whispered, "There may be spirits here."
The old man laughed. "Well, I suppose I shouldn't doubt it. This house had seen a lot of people." He repeated in a quiet, more reflective way, "A lot of people." His thoughts seemed to go inward as he took another sip of tea.
There was silence for a while, and Qui-Gon gazed non-seeingly into the dark fireplace as he took sips of his tea and meditated on the energy surrounding them. The old man was content with his quiet companion. The old man didn't speak; he drank his tea and ate his scone with hushed enjoyment. After a while, something his young friend said entered his thoughts.
"Did you say you were a Jedi since you were six months old?"
"Well, I was found by Jedi because of the Force energy, shortly after I was born. And six months is the usual age when children are given up to the Jedi Temple to start training. Sometimes babies are found before they're born."
"Parents are willing to give up their children?"
"Most, yes. When it is confirmed that the child is Force sensitive, the parents are usually pleased to give them the future as a Jedi Knight. 'Though not without some heart-ache with the parting."
"It's a bright shining vocation though." observed the old man, "Much better career than a data-entry clerk."
Qui-Gon let out a soft laugh and scratched an eyebrow with a finger. "Yep. The responsibilities of the Jedi are also much higher." Qui-Gon's thoughts moved to a bit more regrettable circumstance. "A lot of young people and adults show up at the Temple hoping to be accepted as a trainee, not understanding that they're too old. They carry too much baggage."
"I take it you don't mean luggage."
Qui-Gon laughed, then answered, "Emotional baggage that they've accumulated during their lives. And a lot of learned untruths." Qui-Gon turned and looked into the eyes of the old man. "If someone where to hold a lot of negative emotions such as anger, based on past experiences and misunderstandings within themselves, have pre-assumed "knowledge" of how things are, have a hard time recognizing the existence of others' souls, or have avarice within their own souls -- the idea of having someone like that being able to wield the power of the Force......"
The old man nodded with understanding. "A baby is a clean start."
"Yes please." Qui-Gon held his cup in position as his host poured. Qui-Gon reached for another scone and studied it, and quietly said, "There are people born who should have been Jedi, but for some reason were not discovered in time."
The old man sat back into his chair with a peacefully patient look on his face, and softly sighed. His eyes looked off into a horizon as he wondered about his own life.
Qui-Gon squeezed more lemon into his tea. He had taken a few bites off of his scone before someone at the front door knocked. "That was quick! I know who that is. My padawan. My apprentice."
The old man's eyes lit up. "More company!" He got up from his chair. "I'll get the door!"
A short while later, Obi-Wan walked into the parlor with his arms folded in his sleeves. His look of dignity was undermined, however, by the leaves and pine needles and bits of feather stuck in his hair. Qui-Gon had turned the two chairs so that they were facing the couch, and he had sat back down in his chair. The look on Obi-Wan's face was of mild reproach as he walked toward his smiling master. Obi-Wan stopped in front of him and raised an eyebrow accusingly. "So. You were sitting in here having a tea party while I was out there banging my toes on trees and rocks."
Qui-Gon brought a hand to his laughing mouth, then waved it toward his padawan as he introduced him to the old man. "My Jedi apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi."
The old man said, "How do you do?"
Obi-Wan took his hand and shook it. "I am well, thank you."
The old man gestured toward the couch. "Please! Have a seat!" He brought the plate of scones to Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan took one. The old man then started off toward the kitchen. "I'll bring out another cup. And I'll add more hot water to the pot."
Obi-Wan kept his accusing eyes on his master while nibbling on the scone.
Qui-Gon's grin had broadened. "We need to hire a monkey to pick that stuff out of your hair."
Obi-Wan stifled a smile and leaned back in the couch, still holding a glare.
The old man came back in with a cup and saucer in one hand and a kettle in the other. He gave one to Obi-Wan and poured the other into the pot to heat and dilute the steep-strengthened tea. Then he offered Obi-Wan milk, sugar or lemon -- Obi-Wan chose sugar -- and he poured the tea.
"I had taken my padawan out on a training mission." explained Qui-Gon. "To sharpen his Force tracking skills."
Obi-Wan's eyes narrowed as he leaned forward. "Yes, Master. Whatever happened to that mission anyway? The first part was a challenge. But as I got closer, you evidently forgot to keep your shield up. And what with this place emitting Force energy," he looked at the old man, sensing that it was coming from him, then back at his master, "and you dropping your shield, I was virtually yanked here by a lasso!"
Qui-Gon pictured the image in his mind. Obi-Wan gave up with a sigh as his master chortled. Qui-Gon then became a bit more serious. "Yes, it wasn't much of a challenge this time. But if we don't run into another Force-sensitive next time, I promise you it will be very difficult."
Obi-Wan took another bite of his scone, tucking his master's promise into long-term memory.
The night once young, was beginning to age, and after a third cup of tea and a second scone for Obi-Wan, and more conversation, Qui-Gon said it was time to go. Zen and Teilor were waiting.
The old man slowly saw them to the door. He wasn't in a great hurry for them to leave. Good company they were. Qui-Gon promised that they would return to visit. The three shook hands, and the old man was thanked for the delicious tea.
The old man watched them as they disappeared into the night, before closing the door.
The Jedi Master and his padawan took a direct route to the ship. Qui-Gon picked the stuff from Obi-Wan's hair as they walked.
"Did you learn anything today?" asked Qui-Gon.
"I learned that you can get distracted by nice old men."
Qui-Gon laughed. "Not just any nice old man can distract me." and more quietly, "He was a Force sensitive."
"He should have been a Jedi?"
"He's another one that's been overlooked."
"Another one missed."
"I'm glad I was found." said Obi-Wan.
"I'm glad you were found too, my padawan."