Sunday, October 09, 2005

Qui-Gon : Spiritual Hang-Ups

"So," Qui-Gon began, "We have to go through these rings and face our fears."
JawaJuice's glowing eyes slid closed. "Yes. You know, this whole 'asking about the challenges that you already know how to do' thing is getting kinda old."
The ghost looked hurt for a moment.
JJ shook his head. "You know that I'm not meaning to hurt your feelings, you big wuss. Now, go on. Don't make me get out Mr. Ghost Trap again."
Qui-Gon's eyes went wide and he floated through the first ring.

Deja vu.
Before Qui-Gon could acclimate himself to his new surroundings, there was a voice behind him. It was that of his former Master, Count Dooku. "Qui-Gon, I do wish you'd pay attention. This is quite important."
"Quiggy." The words left his mouth without a thought.
He was tangible. He was alive! Looking at his hand, he saw it pulsed with life. The fingernails were lacquered black, with paint chipping away. Glancing downward, he was in skin-tight mauve PVC pants and wore tall platform heels. His chest was lightly covered in a mesh shirt and over that was a multi-coloured corduroy frock. Around his neck was a feathered tinselled boa. Here, he was nearly 21, and newly knighted.
He knew where he was. He knew what this was about.
He had replayed it every night for years.
Dooku scowled. "Quiggy," he said with disgust. "I have called you lot here to make a bit of an announcement." He glanced at the other gents in the band, Spike Deadly, the Zabarak drummer, looking casual in his jeans and a ripped t-shirt, and Max, a long eared, long snout blue keyboardist. "Have a spot of tea and a crumpet."
The four were a mixing station of a recording studio.
Qui-Gon felt as if he were on auto-pilot, as he turned his nose up at the offered snacks and crossed his arms tightly across his chest. "What is this about, Dooku?" His tone was taught. "Some of us have better things to do than sit here and have a tea party." Deep inside, his anger was rising at the sheer pompousness of his own manner.
Dooku turned sharply, and glared at the foppish young man. "A tea party?" he said, angered amazement thick in his voice. "I daren't wish to keep you from your girdle fitting or more shoe shopping, mate."
'Quiggy' scoffed.
"To placate our poncy friend here, I shall cut to the chase."
Qui-Gon would have held his hand to his ears, if he could, but the body sat there, oblivious in his decadent naivety.
"I am leaving the band."
Qui-Gon felt Quiggy's stomach clench, like it had taken a punch. His breathing stopped it's rhythm and he knew, for a second, so did his heart. His jaw tightened, and he could taste blood and feel the stab, as Quiggy bit his cheek. Hard.
"Things just don't seem to be working out as they should. We quarrel far more than even the Senate does."
The band-mates laughed. Quiggy and Qui-Gon sat, silent. Eyes wide, in a state of shock, yet the words still rang clear.
"More so," Dooku said, pouring himself a cup of steaming tea, "There have been some creative differences as of late that have caused our sales to slump. Our new LP has failed to do half the sales of "A Night at the Coruscanti Opera." We've had singles that have sold better." Dooku drew in a sad sigh. "I have given this considerable thought, gentlemen, and I feel it would be in my best interest if I go."
A lump formed in Quiggy's throat. Qui-Gon had seen this enough times to know the truth of was to come, but that knowledge did not make reliving the fact any easier.
"Why?" It was the only thing Quiggy could say without a deluge of tears. he felt as though he were drowning in his own emotion.
"You want the truth, dear Padawan?"
With a nod, Quiggy's gaze met the floor, unblinking.
"It is because of you."
That wasn't right. Qui-Gon knew what Dooku was supposed to say. That was not it.
"Your pathetic 'shock-and-awe' cries for attention. The rouge on your cheeks and the lacquer on your nails. Your delusions of grandeur. Your pompousness. Your vain sense of glamour and your blatant attempt to hide your inadequate self image. You always parading around like a drugged peacock, all feathers and fop. Shall I go on?"
Hot tears slipped down Quiggy's face as he worried on his lip.
"Be careful, my dear boy, your mascara might run."
This was wrong. Dooku had never said those hurtful things. He was very businesslike when he had left the band.
Max started in on the silently weeping young man. "OokTa oo'Ba lak Chikuum, " meaning "your weakness shows greater when you wear the mask of a woman."
Quiggy stood and started for the door, his shoulders shaking, and his makeup running.
The nightmare worsened as the door was locked. The two band-mates and their leader, Dooku, laughed heartily at the sobbing young man.
Spike chimed in, "Did wearin' them women's knickers change ya' in'ta one there mate?"
Quiggy was hysterical. "How can you say these things?"
Dooku stepped between the locked door and the crying man. "They are the truth."
Lies. All lies.
"You know that it is true."
Nightmares woven of sticky lies.
"We live in the real world, 'Quiggy.' You hide in effeminate dreams of power."
Real world.
"You have sold your soul to Madame Maybelline." Dooku wiped at Quiggy's face with a finger, looking at the streaked mascara. "Pathetic."
Your focus determines your reality.
"You'll never be anything but a cheap two-credit drag queen. You went from a bright young lad to a tremendous disappointment."
Quiggy slumped back into his chair, his hands balled into fists at his sides.
"And do you want to know the worst thing, 'Padawan'?" Dooku's words were bitten off, dripping with spite. "I've turned because of you."
Dooku spun with a graceful flourish, his simple jeans and shirt morphing into his crisp maroon suit. His curved hilt lightsabre was in hand and electric blue fire crackled in his other outstretched palm. The band-mates were gone, and the room became that of oozing blackness.
"I am a Dark Lord of the Sith because of you. Your failure is complete. You turned your Padawan, Xanatos, and now, old chap, you have turned me. You are more a tool of the Dark Side than ever I could be."
Quiggy stood as Qui-Gon. The garish clothing melted and joined with the colours of the earth to form Qui-Gon's Jedi robes. His corporeal body faded into a light green haze.
"No," he said, conviction ringing in his voice.
"No?" The brilliant red lightsabre ignited and was held in a near salute in front of Dooku's scowling face.
"You never said those things. This never happened."
Dooku lowered his sabre and chuckled. "Foolish boy. The truth is not in the words but the meaning between them."
"Failure and hatred. Your meaning... But you didn't hate me."
Dooku flashed a smile. "Hate you? I have loathed you since the day I found you."
"No. I know the truth. This place is made of lies. It is made of doubts, misconceptions and repressed fears."
"How do you know that your precious memories are not lies themselves? Bedtime stories spun to comfort the weak."
Qui-Gon felt the familiar prickle of fear in his stomach. He stood resolute. "I have the relived the truth a thousand times in my dreams. That was the day that changed my life. It changed my destiny."
Dooku shook his head and smiled again. "Yes, it was the day that you turned your Master into an agent of the Dark Side, you pathetic imbecile."
"No," Qui-Gon choked out, "No! That was the day I became a Knight. Beyond the Jedi traditions. That was the day that my Master let me become the man I needed to be. We had walked away, peaceably. You, to your solo music. And me to my life. From there, the band went back onto the charts with 'Wish You Were Here' which I wrote for you, as well as 'Shine On You Crazy Jedi'... But you, in turn, had success in music, with your grittier 'Jedi Mind Games' LP. We left on good terms. We still phoned. We wrote letters, e-mail." Qui-Gon waved a hand to the shifting darkness of the room in which the stood.
"All of this is a lie. Lies and fear playing on the power of the Dark Side. You cannot fool me, Master. I am a being of the Light. I know the truth as it was the will of the Force." He held out a accusing finger. "You have failed."
With a blast of blinding light, Qui-Gon Jinn was elsewhere.

An office.
JawaJuice's office. Cluttered and piled with junk, it was the office that Qui-Gon knew very well. It was small, with a squat desk and a short chair. The walls were covered in tacky dark wooden panelling, with a few pictures of assorted Jawa hanging in frames. There was a soft tie-dyed beanbag chair in the rightmost corner and a fine leather chair, of normal size, in front of the desk. There were the few office clichés, the clicking ball swing, the placard stating You Want It When? with the picture of a cartoon fellow rolling with laughter, and the monogrammed name plate, JawaJuice C.E.O.
The leather-backed chair to the diminutive desk swivelled around, revealing JJ, puffing a cigar.
"Qui-Gon. Buddy, just the man I wanted to see."
"You, like, wanted to see me, boss?" Qui-Gon said, in his mellow idiom.
JawaJuice sighed and closed his shining eyes. "Yes. That is exactly what I just said." He breathed out a short puff of smoke. "We need to have a talk. Sit." He pointed to the beanbag chair.
Qui-Gon nestled into the chair, his cowbell clinking. "So, like, what's the buzz, man?"
There was a light tapping on the office door.
"Enter," JJ said, in a very business-like fashion.
Count Dooku entered the room with his usual grace. He was dressed as Qui-Gon remembered him, a finely pressed black suit, with a short half cape.
JJ pointed to a nice leather executive chair. "Have a seat."
Dooku nodded gratefully and sat.
The two looked at Qui-Gon. Count Dooku gave him an oily smile, lacking in sincerity. JawaJuice simply puffed on his cigar.
"Do you know why we're here, Qui-Gon?" JJ asked, tipping off ashes into a glass ashtray.
"You remembered my birthday!" Qui-Gon beamed.
The other two looked at each other and back to the Force Ghost. "No," said JJ.
"So you forgot my birthday?"
JawaJuice chewed on the end of his cigar. "No, we... Uh, yes, but no. That's not why we're here."
The translucent man looked crestfallen. "...I don't even remember my birthday," he mumbled under his breath.
"Cut to the chase, my good man. I've got McDooku's to open and grand evil schemes to plot. Time is money." Dooku rapped his knuckles on the desk to enunciate his point. He gaze returned squarely onto the ghost beside him.
"Qui," JJ began. "I know we've had loads of wacky, zany adventures. We started Uncle Jinn and JJ's Home-Made Super-Fudgy Special-Spiced Brownies with a brownie pan, 27 credits worth of ingredients and the majority of your stash, but things are changing."
Qui-Gon nodded absently, mouthing along with the word 'changing.'
"As you well know I am the majority shareholder of stock in our company. Remember, you gave me your half. Remember?"
Qui-Gon didn't but he nodded to play along, oblivious as to where this was going.
JJ drew in a sigh. "Yeah," he exhaled. "Let me get to the point. You're fired."
The ghost's translucent chin dropped open. He blinked, wide-eyed.
"See," JJ began, "I've merged with Dooku into "Little Dookie's Sithy Brownies."
Qui-Gon laughed absently. "Sithy."
"We just don't need you," JJ concluded.
"I am sorry, Qui-Gon, old chap, but business is business."
Qui-Gon looked thoughtful for a moment. He turned his eyes back to JJ. "Like, so, like, you sold my recipe too, right?"
Dooku held up a yellowing paper with a wicked smile on his face.
The spectre exhaled a laugh. "Right. So, on there, read to me how much, like, spice to add to, like, let's say, one pan of brownies."
The Count pulled a pair of posh gold-rimmed reading spectacles from his top breast pocket. He slipped them on and read. A look of horror crossed his face. He uttered a deep sound of fear. He handed the paper to JJ, who was stubbing out his cigar.
"If you, like, add too little, they taste like a bit of chocolate sauce dabbed on cardboard. And, like, if you, like, add too much, they taste as if you substituted curry powder for cocoa powder, man."
"Um," JJ stammered, "A kee-lo?"
Qui-Gon broke into laughter. "A kilo?! That would be like substituting arsenic laced gold for cocoa! Try again."
Dooku gave it a try. "A teaspoon?"
"Huh," the ghost laughed. "Right, that would make them as tasteless as the muck you try to pass off as confections, Dooku, man." Qui-Gon stood, smiling. "So, can we end this little game? I know that I am invaluable to JJ's company. No doubts, like, there, man. There's another challenge I've, like, got to do, and, like, I don't want to, like, waste my time."
JJ's eyes became comically wide. "How did you know?"
"Your beard." Qui-Gon pointed to the beard that hung from the Jawa's neck opening in his robe. "This, like, isn't Mirror, Mirror. That, and, like, on the recipe, I blocked out the quantities on purpose, just, like, in case, like, something like this ever happened, man."
There was a snapping of fingers and Qui-Gon was elsewhere.

He knew the place well. Cities made of smoke and rivers made of song. Swirling clouds of rainbow mists. He was floating in the Ether.
"Qui-Gon," a voice said, sadly, from the formless expanse.
The spectre's heart leapt into his throat and he stopped flat. "Tahl!" he exclaimed, eyes bright.
The mists churned, blues fading into violets, yellows into greens. A translucent figure of a beautiful woman drifted into view. Her face wore a mask of worry and sadness. "My love," she said, lowering her head.
He reached for her, his formless hand gliding through the clouds of her image. "Tahl?"
"I am sent for you, my love."
Qui-Gon drew back, glancing at his hand before returning to gaze at her. "Sent for me?"
"It is time."
Qui-Gon stiffened and went totally still. He knew exactly what that meant.
"No more games. It is time for you to rejoin the Living Force." She held out her palms, and, with a look, Qui-Gon saw a glimpse of the power of the Force.
Before he could think, he muttered, "My friends..."
She looked up, blue white eyes staring into the ghost before her. "Your friends? You wish to stay?"
He lowered his head and his eyes slipped closed. "I will do your bidding." He did his best to hide his feeling away, to push it down and release it into the Force.
"I sense resistance. You wish to stay."
He nodded sullenly. "I cannot hide the truth from the Force itself. I do wish to stay."
Tahl nodded thoughtfully. "Then I shall offer you a choice. You may stay, and remain in this form, but you cannot rejoin the Living Force. Or I will provide you with twenty minutes to say your farewells and you will return and rejoin with me."
"Cannot rejoin? Ever?"
The benevolent entity nodded.
"I will rejoin." Qui-Gon clenched his jaw and balled his fists.
"So be it."
In the blink of an eye, he found himself in the Temple. Fourth floor. He closed his eyes and centred himself, letting a gentle, light blanket of peace wash over him. He was still filled with a sense of urgency. He flew off, rushing toward the living quarters.
He first reached the flat of Mace Windu, phasing through the door. The room was vacant.
Next, he visited Master Yoda's flat, again, passing through the door. The aged master was deep in meditation.
"Master," Qui-Gon said, quietly.
The older Jedi's eyes flew open. A frown crossed his face and creased his brow. "Qui-Gon," he said, his tone less than patient, "Told you how many times have I, about sneaking up on me? To join you in death, you must want me."
"No, Master, I..."
"No," Yoda interrupted. "Go. Things to do I have. Meditation. Hmmph."
"But, Master..."
"Go," the small one said, this time spoken with no room for argument.
Qui-Gon hung his head and floated away. "Good-bye," he whispered as he passed through the door.
He found many of the other Jedi sparring in the largest open training room. Kit Fisto, Mace Windu, Aalya Secura, Ki-Adi Mundi, Barriss Offee, Shaak Ti, and Anakin Skywalker were there watching the match. Plo Koon was sparring with Agen Kolar. There was a great cheering crowd, rooting on the combatants.
Qui-Gon yelled to Mace.
No reaction.
He yelled to Aayla.
He called to each other Master.
They did not even know he was there.
His fists were balled up, and his eyes closed as he faded out the doors. "Good-bye."
There was not much time remaining. He flew, full speed, rushing to Obi-Wan's chambers. His former Padawan was there, napping. Qui-Gon slipped through and over to the occupied bed.
The dozing man did not stir.
Qui-Gon bit back the emotion threatening to overwhelm him, his chin quaking.
Again, there was no response.
"Obi-Wan. I know that you cannot hear me. You do not even know that I have been with you through all since my death." Tears of translucent colour slipped down his cheeks. "I love you like you were of my blood. Like my son. Never forget that." He let the lids slip over his eyes.
When he opened them again, he had returned to the Ether, standing before the form of Tahl.
"Are you ready, Qui-Gon?"
He shivered, his spectral teeth chattering. "You are weak," he said faintly.
The face of the woman before him registered shock. "What did you say?"
He cleared his throat, still shaking. "You are weak." The words were clear.
"Yes, weak." The reply was short. "I am a servant of the Living Force. She does not cater to my whims." His voice cracked with fear and emotion. "If I were to rejoin the Force, there would be no offers. It would simply be. Her Will is all." He squared his shoulders and stood tall. "If I am wrong, then I am willing to face the consequences. However, if I am correct in my belief that this is all a ruse, then I ask that you end this charade now, as it is far too painful."

He was outside. The sun was brutal upon the hot sands. Tatooine.
Qui-Gon quickly wiped his cheeks and regarded the voice. "JJ."
"You made it!"
Emotion still ran thick through the ghost, moulding his face into that of pain.
"Wanna brownie?" JJ rifled through his vast pockets to produce a brownie.
"No, thank you." Qui-Gon's reply was almost inaudible.
"Look!" JawaJuice exclaimed, pointing at the brownie. "It's got sprinkles. And hey! Look at that!"
Observing the jovial nature of the Jawa, Qui-Gon allowed a smile to break. "What?"
"That, my friend, that is a Jimmie."
"What's a Jimmie?"
JJ scoffed. "The mighty baker of the mighty brownies doesn't know his sprinkles, does he now? A Jimmie is a long mutant sprinkle. You can taste the difference. They pack more flavour blast in every sprink. Here. You tell me." JJ handed the ghost the brownie.
Qui-Gon ate it, savouring, not the brownie, but the moment with his friend. He placed his spectral hands upon the Jawa's shoulders. "Oh, wow, like, thanks, man. I could, like, totally taste the difference."


Blogger Master Yoda said...

Beautifully written this was!

8:29 PM, October 08, 2005  
Blogger flu said...

That goatee JJ is sporting looks awfully familiar...

...kinda reminds me of that claymation frosty the snowman narrator's goatee from that old crusty Christmas special where that elf didn't want to make toys anymore...


Great! Now I have a new fear.

8:42 AM, October 10, 2005  
Blogger Qui-Gon Jinn said...

"The Effeminate Dental Elf Saves Decemberween"?
That's a classic! Me and, like, Ben, like, used to watch that every year.
Which, like, might explain his fear of Dentists...

9:57 AM, October 10, 2005  

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