Chapter 1

The water was cool and green. Light trickled down and made shifting patterns on the bottom. Ripples of gentle waves were formed from the force of the waterfall hitting the surface high above.

Obi-Wan Kenobi followed the shimmering tunic of his friend Bant, who swam ahead. He was wearing a breathing tube, but she was not. As a Mon Calamari, she could stay underwater for long periods of time. Bant navigated the deep pool with grace and ease.

There had been a time when he hadn’t enjoyed swimming with Bant that much. He had felt clumsy in the water next to her. He hadn’t liked that she was better at something. But his Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, had taught him that to value a friend’s better ability was to be a true friend. Once Obi-Wan realized that, he had looked forward to their swims as much as Bant.

Bant turned and smiled at him, her arms waving softly. It was always amazing to Obi-Wan that Bant could feel so peaceful in this pool. It was here that she had almost died, chained to the bottom by the evil Xanatos. Yet here was where she always chose to swim. She wanted to remember, she told Obi-Wan. The day she had felt her life ebb was the day she had felt closest to the Force.

Bant pointed to the surface, and Obi-Wan nodded. They burst upward into the bright sunlight. They knew the sun was artificial, created by vast illumination banks overhead, but they welcomed its warmth on their cool skin.

Obi-Wan hauled himself up on the grassy bank facing the waterfall. Although Bant found peace in this place, he did not. Here he had battled the former Jedi student Bruck Chun for Bant’s life. Here he had seen Bruck fall to his death. It had not been his fault that Bruck had died, but he still felt responsible.

“Thank you for coming here,” Bant told him. “I know it is hard for you.” A glint of mischief lit her eyes. “Maybe I ask you to do it because I know that.”

He nudged her with a shoulder. “Oh, am I your Padawan now?”

Bant’s gaze clouded, and Obi-Wan realized he had made a mistake. He had reminded her of what they came here to forget.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I didn’t mean —”

“Don’t be silly.” Bant hugged her knees. “I have to face my disappointment. Didn’t you come here to talk to me about it?”

Bant had been hoping to be accepted by Jedi Master Tahl as her Padawan. Tahl had seemed to take special interest in Bant, giving her projects to do and tracking her progress. Yet just yesterday, Tahl had taken off on a mission and told Yoda and Council that she had decided to take no Padawan at all. Obi-Wan knew that Bant was upset by Tahl’s decision.

“Yes,” Obi-Wan admitted. “I know how it feels to be rejected. Even though Qui-Gon took me as Padawan in the end, he said no at first, and it hurt.”

“I don’t think there is any hope that Tahl will changer her mind,” Bant said sadly.

“There are other Masters,” Obi-Wan said gently. “You have done well as a student. You will get the Master you were meant to have.”

Bant brooded as she stared at the green water. “Yes, I know that is Jedi wisdom. But what do you do when you feel it is wrong? I felt so strongly that Tahl was the right Master. Do you know what I mean, Obi-Wan? Didn’t you have the same feeling about Qui-Gon?”

“I did,” Obi-Wan admitted. He did not know what to tell Bant. Jedi students were taught to trust their feelings. They were also instructed to be certain that those feelings were pure. That meant that a feeling could have more to do with what you wished could be, rather than what was meant to be. The feeling must rise in you like something that breaks loose from a deep place and floats to the surface, where it touches the sun.

Was Bant’s feeling like that? He couldn’t say. He could only trust his friend’s judgement.

“Then maybe it was meant to be,” Obi-Wan said.

“Still, I must wait for it,” Bant said. “I know that much.”

Obi-Wan spied the tall form of his Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, approaching along the winding path to the pool. He stood in expectation.

Bant rose as well. “I have stolen Obi-Wan’s time away from you,” she said to Qui-Gon as he walked up. “I’m sorry. I needed his counsel.”

Qui-Gon gave Bant the special warm smile he reserved for her. “I’m glad Obi-Wan had you as a friend, Bant. You may take all the time you wish. But right now, the Council requests Obi-Wan’s presence.”

“The Council?” Obi-Wan asked in apprehension. Being summoned by the entire Council was an unusual event. In Obi-Wan’s experience, it was never good. Bant gave him a concerned look.

Qui-Gon nodded. “Dry yourself off, Padawan, and come. They want us immediately.”

Obi-Wan quickly toweled off his hair and buckled his utility belt. He wished he had time to change into a fresh tunic. He hadn’t done anything wrong…lately. Why did he suddenly feel as though he had?