Chapter 2: Siri Tachi
Obi-Wan Kenobi frowned at the smallish blonde girl on the other side of the cantina. He'd noticed her a lot lately.
He knew he was too the age where he might start having inexplicable urges to look at girls, but she looked about 9 years old and the class they'd taken had made clear it wasn't supposed to work like that.
He poked Bant (who seemed to know everyone), pointed at the girl, and said, "Who's that? The blonde one?"
Bant peered over, "That's Siri Tachi, two years below us. Why?"
"I feel like I've met her before."
Bant blinked. "I imagine you've met everyone here before, if only in passing."
"That's not what I mean." What did he mean? Over the last few weeks deja vu had become a way of life. "Is she very good with lightsabers?"
Garen rolled his eyes. "You're so weird lately, Obi-Wan. Why would Bant know that?"
Bant said, "I know because I've heard her lectured on it. She's the best of her agemates with a lightsaber, and lets her agemates know it."
"Except she's actually the best, and she's not mean about it, she's just loud and proud and lacking in tact."
Obi-Wan closed her eyes and reached out to the Force, focusing on Siri Tachi. He felt passive approval from the Force, but it wasn't as if the Force was prompting him to approach her. It was just him, being weird again.
Garen said, "Honestly, Obi-Wan, what's going on with you? You can talk to me."
"I just feel different. I don't know why."
Bant said, "Whatever it is, it's working for you, so I'd say to go with it."
Obi-Wan nodded, finished his food, gathered his courage (approaching people he had no reason to approach had never felt natural to him) and walked across the cantina to where the younger Initiates sat.
He stood next to her and she looked up at him, "Siri Tachi?"
"What's it to you?"
"I'm Obi-Wan Kenobi. I'm looking for a practice partner, and I hear you're good with a lightsaber."
"I know who you are. You're the champion of the group two years above us."
"I wouldn't say champion." It was true he'd lately been the best at all forms of lightsaber combat. "It's not as if we held a tournament."
"Why not? My group did."
"I can't believe the Instructors would set up a tournament."
"They didn't. But it's not my fault if you and your agemates lack the gumption and moral fiber to run your own tournament. But if you're from the two years up, why do you want to spar with me? Just kick me around to prove you're better than everyone younger than you?"
"If your lightsaber style is as unconventional as your speaking style, I'm the one who'll get kicked around. But no. I'm focusing a lot on Soresu, so I want to spar without attacking. I just want to defend and counter, but I don't know if any of my agemates would want to do that regularly." Plus, Bant and Garen weren't thrilled about endless lightsaber practice.
"Ah. So you want a subservient practice partner who'll do what you say. Excellent idea, I'll remember it for when I'm older. I accept." She stuck out a hand, and Obi-Wan shook it. "Do you have an open period after lunch? I have an open period after lunch, the west training room. Right. Scoot, scram, I'm eating."
Obi-Wan walked back to his table and sat between Bant and Garen.
"She's insane. Very. I didn't know people could act like that. She's 9, and her vocabulary is better than mine. She suggested we and our instructors 'lack the gumption and moral fiber' to run a tournament to see who's best. I'm not sure what that means."
Garen said, "You're smiling like you just got chosen as Master Yoda's Padawan."
"It was a fun insane. I'm meeting her after lunch for lightsaber practice."
They activated their practice lightsabers, Obi-Wan took his stance, and Siri launched herself at him.
He moved his blade to parry the thrust, and Siri stopped on a dime, retracted her thrust, and thrust again.
The goal was to stick the enemy as the parry flew by, but Obi-Wan's movement had been far too minimal for that to work. He easily deflected the second strike.
She battered repetitively and pointlessly at his blade, and Obi-Wan wondered why he'd thought it would be a good idea to spar someone two years younger.
Then she moved her lightsaber in a spiral that nearly passed his guard and kicked in him in the shin hard enough to scrape skin and make him fall back a step.
Siri said, "That would've been the knee if I didn't like you, so pay attention."
Siri resumed her attack, and while she wasn't as good as anyone he was used to practicing too, she was better than he recalled being at the same age, and quite creative.
Obi-Wan reached out to the Force. Hearing its prompting was one matter. Letting it guide his movements was much harder. For about six seconds, he managed, and was perfect and immovable. Then he lost his connection to the Force, his body jerked, and he had to leap back to avoid being burned by her strike.
That pattern repeated several times before Siri stopped, closed her eyes, and meditated while standing for about a minute.
Then she attacked, maintaining her connection for a bare three or four blows before withdrawing.
Obi-Wan said, "I couldn't call the Force on command at all when I was your age."
Siri poked her chest with her thumb. "That's why they call me a prodigy."
"Right," said Obi-Wan.
"If you're done talking let's get fighting. I've got approximately 42 minutes and 33 seconds before I have to shower."
Trapped in the unimagined ether between two timelines, the ghost of Old Ben Kenobi fell over laughing.
Old Ben had hardly known Siri until she was nearly 12, and he'd always assumed she'd worked up to her particular brand of crazy, but now it seemed she'd worked down to it. She'd evidently been even worse as a 9-year-old, and he imagined that her first spoken word had been 'no!' and her second spoken word had been a sarcastic 'really?' accompanied by a roll of her eyes.
Observing her form a friendship with his young alternate self was a welcome distraction from observing the Timeline he'd left, which he'd dubbed the Dark Timeline.
It was frozen, stopped, reminding him less of a holovid paused then a prisoner dipped in carbonite. He saw not just its frozen present, but its frozen past, continuing back to the point of divergence from whence it and the new timeline sprang-the moment that much of Old Ben had flowed into his younger self.
His convictions and thought processes had been, so far as he could tell, copied into his younger self's mind, where they were continuing to merge with his younger self in not entirely predictable ways. More critically, much of his connection to the Force had been transferred into young Obi-Wan, leaving him with only the minimal amount necessary to sustain his Force ghost.
Obi-Wan had become more talented as a result, but still, in Old Ben's opinion, lagged behind Anakin in talent, at least in terms of sheer power. Yet one more testament to how ridiculously talented Anakin had been.
Old Ben worried that he was responsible for the involuntary stasis of an entire galaxy, but he reassured himself that the Force had done it, not him, and the Force would presumably fix it. He gave his attention to his apparent mission of ensuring that the New Timeline was better.
As yet, he had been unable to communicate with anyone. The most he'd achieved was Yoda noticing a distant eddy in the Force. His best hope was his special connection to young Obi-Wan. Young Obi-Wan, unfortunately, felt him only as promptings of the Force, and Old Ben felt as if he were impersonating the Force every time he urged Obi-Wan to do something.
Old Ben hoped that he would eventually be able to give Obi-Wan visions. Jedi Prodigy Obi-Wan Kenobi telling Yoda that whenever he entered a deep force trance he saw Senator Palpatine slaughtering Jedi with a red lightsaber would go a very long toward saving the galaxy.
But visions were likely years away.
For now, the most prominent differences were in Obi-Wan himself. The boy was gaining a reputation as a prodigy, both in terms of his lightsaber skills and his connection to the Force, and his friends were improving through friendly competition. Even more important, Old Ben had helped the boy work through anger, fear and egotism that had taken him years to overcome the first time around.
Old Ben had no trouble thinking of a number of moments where a better Obi-Wan Kenobi could have altered the fate of the galaxy.
He just hoped the boy got a good Master.
I've seen Ventress in various Fanfics and am interested in including her. What book do I read to find out about her origins? How much younger is she than Obi-Wan?