“When Qui-Gon Jinn was struck down by Darth Maul, he truly became more powerful than we could possibly imagine.
Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, the landmark collection of short stories celebrating the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, hits stores today. In this exclusive excerpt from Claudia Gray’s “Master and Apprentice,” Qui-Gon Jinn returns to visit Obi-Wan — now Ben — Kenobi in the deserts of Tatooine. This beautiful passage gives us insight into Obi-Wan’s concern for the boy he is protecting, Qui-Gon’s higher plane of existence, and the nature of the Force.
Some believe the desert to be barren. This proves only that they do not know the desert.
Deep within the dunes dwell small insects that weave nets to trap one another, and burrowing snakes with scales the color of stones so that no hunter can find them. Seeds and spores from long-dead plants lie dormant in the warmth, waiting for the rainfall that comes once a year, or decade, or century, when they will burst into verdant life as brief as it is glorious. The heat of the suns sinks into the grains of sand until they glow, containing all the energy and possibility to become glass the color of jewels. All of these sing individual notes in the one great song of the Whills.
No place is barren of the Force, and they who are one with the Force can always find the possibility of life.
Awareness precedes consciousness. The warmth is luxuriated in and drawn upon before the mind is cognizant of doing so. Next comes the illusion of linear time. Only then does a sense of individuality arise, a remembrance of what was and what is, a knowledge of one’s self as separate from the Force. It provides a vantage point for experiencing the physical world in its complexity and ecstasy, but the pain of that separation is endurable only because unity will come again, and soon.
That fracture from the all, that memory of temporal existence, is most easily summed up with the word the fracture was once called by. The name.
The name is spoken by another. Qui-Gon has been summoned. He draws upon his memories of himself and takes shape, reassembling the form he last had in life. It seems to him that he feels flesh wrap around bones, hair and skin over flesh, robes over skin—and then, as naturally to him as though he had done so yesterday, he pulls down the hood of his Jedi cloak and looks upon his Padawan.
“Obi-Wan.” It is worth the travail of individual existence just to say that name again. So he says the other name, too. “Ben.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hair has turned white. Lines have etched their traces along his forehead, around his blue eyes. He wears Jedi robes so worn and ragged as to be indistinguishable from the garb of the impoverished hermit he pretends to be. Most would walk past this man without a second glance. Yet while Qui-Gon perceives the physical realities of Obi-Wan’s appearance, he is not limited to human sight any longer. He also sees the confident general of the Clone Wars, the strong young Padawan who followed his master into battle, even the rebellious little boy at the Temple that no Master was in any hurry to train. They are all equally part of Obi-Wan, each stage of his existence vivid in this moment.
“You are afraid,” Qui-Gon says. He knows why; the events taking place around them are clearer to him than they are to Obi-Wan. “You seek your center. You need balance.”
The living find it difficult not to tell the dead that which they already know. Obi-Wan doesn’t even try. “There may be Imperial stormtroopers waiting for Luke at the Lars farm. If so—”
“Then you will rescue him.” Qui-Gon smiles. “Or he may rescue himself. Or the sister will find the brother instead.”
Obi-Wan cannot be so easily comforted. “Or he could be killed. Cut down while still hardly more than a boy.”
To Qui-Gon, all human lives now seem impossibly brief. Years are irrelevant. It is journeys through the Force that matter. Some must struggle for that knowledge through many decades; others are very nearly born with it. Most never begin the journey at all, no matter how long they live.
But Luke Skywalker . . .
“Luke has a great journey yet to go,” Qui-Gon says. “It does not end here.”
“You’ve seen this?”
Qui-Gon nods. This relieves Obi-Wan more than it should, because he cannot guess the shape that journey will take.”