Title: Mission on Kamino

Fandom: Star Wars, just a bit after episode 2

Rating: G
Warnings: none
Spoilers: Yeah, um, don't read unless you've seen episode 2 and the others

Summary: Obi-Wan, on mission on stormy Kamino, catches a bit of a cold. Really no plot otherwise, just a few interesting cold-related exploits on the distant planet.

Comments: I'd love some. Just drop me an e-mail



Mission on Kamino



            "No, Master. There appears to be no trace of the boy at all here. His quarters are completely cleaned out." The dancing holographic projection of Obi-Wan Kenobi rubbed the back of its neck. There was no trace even that the boy had been the one to return to clean out the only rooms he had ever called home. But if not he, who? The Kaminoans were just as clueless as to where the items had gone and where the boy might be. But they, closed to the universe and a bit naive, seemed unconcerned.


            Master Windu nodded. "We'd like you to remain on Kamino a while longer to supervise the new batch of clones."


            Obi-Wan nodded while coughing into a fist.


            Chancellor Palpatine spoke up next, "And please pay attention to their training areas and report to us on that."


            Obi-Wan, finished coughing, leaned closer to the projector. "I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that?"


            Master Yoda raised an eyebrow and Master Windu passed the message on, "Pay attention to their training regiments."


            Obi-Wan nodded. "Yes, of course." He held a hand up, motioning for a pause, and turned, panting a moment into his fist. Then pitching forward, "ep'ehshh! Hep'teshh!"


            Master Windu looked surprised this time, and the few others in the office looked slightly ill at ease at well. But it was Yoda who voiced concerns, beginning to pace with stick back and forth in front of the projection. "Sick are you? If sick, able to fulfill the mission properly you are not."


            Obi-Wan smiled, shaking his head. "The rain here. I assure you I will be fine once I get out of these damp clothes. But I appreciate the concern. I shall contact you when I have further news. May the force be with you." Ended rather suddenly, oddly quickly.


            "May it be with you," Master Windu replied as they severed communications transfer.


            Obi-Wan sighed, sniffing strongly, and pulled his hood up over his head, falling just below his eyes. With a deep breath, he reluctantly opened the door to the outside. A gust of wind splashed seawater in this face, missing his eyes for the hood but still causing him to bend over and spit some out. He tucked his hands into the robe pocket and sniffled, feeling his nose which needed to be cleared from seawater as well. He trudged through the rain and mist over to the means of transportation he hadn't quite adapted to. He sniffled into his sleeve as he raised a hand in greeting.


            The Kaminoan in charge of his transport was beginning to know him well by now, but he still bowed politely to return the greeting. Its silvery, smooth skin was well adapted to the rain, and he looked to be enjoying the weather.


            "Back to my quarters, then!" he yelled over the noise of the rain, wind and thunder. He tried to smile politely as he mounted the large seabird and, after putting the breathing device in his mouth, gripped the saddle of the bird tightly with both fists. He closed his eyes to keep the seawater from stinging them again. As the Kaminoan climbed up beside him, he braced himself as the three dove beneath the tumbling waves. Admittedly, it was the fastest way across the planet to the living quarters, but at this point he would perhaps have preferred the several hour-long walk through the long hallways. Long, cold, silent hallways. His nose filled with water as he breathed through the mouthpiece, tickling with what would be a vicious sneeze rather soon, underwater or out. He hoped, for his sake, it would be out.


            Just then they emerged; the splash stung his eyes as he opened them a bit too soon, and the rain felt strong and heavy against his soaking form lying flush to the large seabird. They landed on a ledge, and he slid off, robes dripping as if raining along with the constant cloud covering of the environmentally destroyed planet. Turning his head into his shoulder, he let out two rather wrenching sneezes, "ehr'CHISHHOO! arh'KESHHH!" He managed to stay balanced, on his feet, despite the torrential downpour and wild winds.


            He thanked the transporter and headed in, finding Minga La, one of the Prime Minister's assistants who had been assigned to his well being waiting for him, perhaps having heard of his departure through communication. He certainly hoped she hadn't been standing by the seaport doors waiting all evening for his arrival. He gave her tall form a nod hello and lowered his hood as the door shut tightly behind him.


            She nodded back. "Hello Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi," she spoke slowly, smiling. "Shall I show you to your quarters?"


            "Yes, please." He had the urge to wring out his robes but instead pulled them off and folded them hastily over his arm so they wouldn't drip as much. His boots squeaked a little as he walked, making him a bit embarrassed, but noticing that the sound covered his light sniffles just fine. As the cold of the halls chilled him more, he began to realize he would not be able to wear these clothes to bed, or the next day, which was the first instant he would have to make it across the city again to where they had taken his ship and belongings while he stayed there as a guest. So he asked, "Do you think, perhaps, I could get a dry change of clothing? Mine are..." he looked down as the wet tunic sagged and his soaked pants clung tightly to his thighs "A little damp," he finished tactfully.


            She paused as they rounded a widely curving corner. "You are not made to fit into our clothes," she stated the very obvious as she thought. "But I could get you humanoid clothing from the cabinets where we keep the clones' clothing." She slowed, then stopped in front of a large white door with a variety of scratches on it. She pressed her hand gently on the plate beside the door, then stepped aside with a graceful gesture, welcoming Obi-Wan to do the same. He did, and the door slid inside the wall beside it. "Will that be sufficient?"


            "More than helpful," he said, nodding, stepping in, his footsteps muffled by the lightly carpeted room. "Thank you."


            "I will return in a few moments with some, then." And, leaving the door open, she left with soft footsteps.


            Obi-Wan closed the door himself, feeling a little sneezey still and not wanting the rest of the silent hallway disturbed by it. He quickly located the bathroom, which was just to the left in the tiny passageway between the door and the bedroom. There, he slid out of his boots and hung his robe over the side of the very tall shower stall for it to dry out. Shivering as the air conditioning kicked in, he stripped out of most of the rest of his garbs, hanging up the shirt and prying himself out of his pants just as a knock sounded on the door. He gave a violent shiver, looking around the bathroom for something dry to cover up with. If it were always so cold in here, he decided as his nose ran, it was going to be a long night. The bathrobe wasn't at all his size or shape, so he wrapped a towel around his waist and answered shirtless, his hair dripping down his back.


            It was Minga La, with a pile of clothes held up with one hand. She did not mention his appearance or shy away from him as she handed him the clothes, but Obi-Wan thought he perhaps noticed a bit of a pinkish tint in her white-gray cheeks. "I had to guess on your size, so I got you two of each. I hope they will suffice."


            He assured her they would, and apologized for his state anyway. "I don't think the damp weather outside agrees with me." He rubbed a tickle halfway out of his nose and sniffled a little more strongly.


            "We have so few guests here on Kamino," she said with a slow nod, "that we sometimes forget that the environment is not as suitable for everyone."


            Obi-Wan meant to protest that it wasn't so bad, and that their wonderful hospitality more than made up for it, but was presently caught with one hand to his nose, breath catching as he attempted to either hold back his sneezes or just force them out. After what seemed like ages but equated to only a minute or so, he drew two large breaths and pitched forward with hand covering the lower half of his face. "ah'Ehshhh! ehh'KESHOO! HepKeshhh! Hehpt'Chooo! Ah--heh..." the sensation died back. And though the helpless expression lingering on his face indicated that he did want to let out the final sneeze, it had playfully backed away too completely for him to even force it out. He rubbed his hand against the base of his nose and sniffled. "Excuse me, Minga La."


            "Not at all," she hesitated at the threshold, leaning in a little. "May I enter for a moment?" she asked rather timidly.


            Sniffling, he nodded yes and took a few steps back, nearly dropping the pile of clothes in the process. He pressed them against his chest and held them with both hands to be sure they were not falling any time soon.


            She stepped in with two hesitant steps, and leaned forward a bit so as not to need to walk in more. She reached up with her three-pronged hand and adjusted a dial on the wall. "These are the temperature controls in here. Perhaps you'd like less blowing upon you and more heating you? Until you dry, at the least?"


            "Oh, yes, thank you very much!" He was, of course, very appreciative and, though sniffling, gave her a nod as she quickly took two large steps back out of his quarters.


            "I shall come for you around nine in the morning to escort you around the city. Will that be satisfactory?"


            "That's just fine. Thank you and good night." He rubbed again at his nose, this time with his bare shoulder rather than drop his newly acquired clothing.


            Seeing his preoccupation, she shut the door for him, and it found him in dim light and warm air spurting out of the vents. Steadying himself by leaning back on the wall, he sneezed again, into his shoulder this time. "heh...ehh-Chishh!" The sneeze that hadn't shown itself earlier, finally coming out.


            With a sigh, he let the towel drop to his ankles and he stepped over it, walking to the bedroom and depositing the clothing on the bed there. The lights zipped to life as soon as his movement was sensed in the room, making it now brighter and surprisingly warmer. Not so bad as he'd thought it might be.


            The uniforms she had retrieved were perfect for his uses. One of the pair seemed just right for his size, the other a size or two too big and ideal for sleeping in. He pulled the long-sleeved beige shirt on at once, and levitated the towel back over to him, wrapping it around his shoulders as he pulled off his wet socks as well. He sat down on the bed, surveying the room as he kneaded his hair dry with the towel. It was small, with outstandingly tall ceilings. It seemed a Kaminoan youngster could easily jump on the bed without banging a head on the ceiling. The lights were scattered around the rim at the top of the room, shining down and covering the whole room rather evenly. There were paintings of city scenes on the walls, of shops and carnivals and festivals, all very soft and calming scenes painted in soothing pastels. The bed was larger than any Obi-Wan had seen before, and much longer than it was wide. Aside from the bed and a small metal nightstand beside it, the room was empty.


            When his hair had been sufficiently towel-dried, he carried the towel to the bathroom, finding that the light in the bedroom turned off as soon as he left it for the hallway and the bathroom light snapped on as soon as he entered it. He hung up the towel, rinsed his mouth and face, and made sure his clothes were in good positions to dry. Then he headed back to the bed, crawling in slowly, wriggling as the cool sheets hit his body delightfully. Quickly they warmed to him and he smiled as the lights turned themselves off helpfully.


            Unfortunately, they did not stay off for very long. Despite feeling warmer and dryer, the bit of a tingle remained in Obi-Wan's stuffy nose. What would be helpful would be tissues, but they did not seem to have any of that about, nor was there any sort of paper product that he recalled in the bathroom. Certainly not surprising considering that a planet covered with water would not have a multitude of forests. Or that such a planet far on the outer rim would have any sort of stable trade set up to deliver something as easily substituted for as paper.


            Finding his nose running again, he rubbed it briefly on his sleeve and sniffed strongly. However, this only made his nose tickle. Covering his nose and mouth with his sleeve, he let himself sneeze again. "hept'Tchahh! hep'Tchooo!" He sniffled, closing his eyes, wiping his nose on a dry spot of sleeve and pulling himself back beneath the covers. The lights went off again, and he was bathed in silent, sympathetic darkness.


            Glad to be in bed, he found in no time that he was not too entirely tired at the moment. He felt weary, and frankly exhausted from a rather trying day of diving beneath the city , of searching the corners of a room for prints and hairs, of attempting to understand the details of additional training regiments the republic wanted while trying to fly his ship in through lightning storms, of talking longer with the Jedi than they talked to him in person, of meeting more Kaminoan personnel and attempting to prepare them and himself for a lengthy stay. But for some reason, he was worn out but not all that tired. And as he tried to slow his breathing for a meditative relaxing trance, it was a tickle in his nose rather than a yawn that made him stop.


            "heh-ehhh..." he started, unable to control his breaths properly. He pulled his arm out again, holding it to his face. "heh-EMPSHHH! eh-KEMMSHH!" he sneezed, squashing his face against his arm. The lights flicked back on and as he sniffed and rubbed his arm against his nose, he had to squint at the brightness. Frustrated, he turned onto his back, using both pillows in the bed to prop up his head. He sniffed but remained still, and the lights turned back off.


            He tried again to meditate, slowing his breaths, concentrating on emptying his mind and growing one with the force so completely that he could feel it surging through his veins. He could feel it fill him from his feet up, warming, relaxing, tingling. Tingling, like his nose. His nose, running again, pulled him out of it with a jerking sneeze. "Ehh-Heh-KET'choo! Eh'Keshoo!" He sneezed, lurching forward, bouncing against the bed. The lights shot back on and he growled at them, not so angry as frustrated. He wasn't sure whether to burst into laughter or tears. Feeling a little too warm, suddenly, he rose and turned the dial down just a little. The artificial air breezed through him, waving the shirt around him and tickling his chilled and flushed skin. Not sure if he would achieve any sort of temperature he would be comfortable in, he got back into bed, lying on his other side and closing his squinting, strained eyes as the lights shut off. Undoubtedly, it was indeed going to be as long a night as he had originally suspected.


*          *            *


            Obi-Wan heard the knocking just as he was dragging himself out from a curled ball beneath the warm blankets. He'd managed to fall asleep finally by settling on the floor at the foot of the bed, curled against wall and footboard in a nest of covers, where his movements seemed undetectable from the motion sensors and where the air blowing just missed blowing directly on him but kept him warm just the same. His nose had been a bit of a pain until he finally fell asleep, and as he pulled off his shirt and padded to the hallway, he noticed it was still feeling a fit stuffed and tickly.


            One touch to his damp pants and robe gave him a shiver and told him he would need to wear the uniform today rather than his normal clothing. "One moment!" he called out, hoping he could be heard through the door as he struggled to pull on a better fitting shirt, pants, and top. As he reached the door, he paused, holding a fist up to his nose and mouth. He swayed back a moment, forcing the sneeze out rather than have it sneak up on him in front of anyone. "ehh...heh...come on..." he panted, eyes squeezed shut, fist hovering at the cleft of his chin in wait. "heh...keh...hep'huh'EHHSHH! EHTSHOO!" He blinked, suddenly feeling considerably clearer. He sniffed and wiped his hand on his pants leg discretely as he opened the door, hoping perhaps the walls and door weren't as thin as he'd hoped before. "Good morning, Minga La," he said with a nodding sort of bow.


            "Good morning, Master Jedi Kenobi." She gestured for him to follow her down the corridor. "I trust you had a pleasant night of sleep?"


            He paused, wishing to be diplomatic but holding out for the possibility of a room without sensors if he complained. He settled for the first option, "I slept quite warmly and soundly, yes, thank you." That is, when he finally fell asleep, he did. He ran his hand through his hair, straightening it out as they walked. "I'd, uh, prefer to take routes though the city if at all possible. I'm not sure I'd like to get wet again so early in the day." He shuddered to think of walking around in a sopping wet uniform for the next ten hours straight.


            She nodded. "Of course, Master Jedi Kenobi. I should like to show you around our city in more detail. I should think you'd be most interested in..." she stopped, realizing that Obi-Wan was no longer at her side.


            In fact, he was a pace and a half behind, holding hand over his mouth and nose and bending forward just slightly. "hef'KESHhhhh! Eh'Katchuhh! eh'Keshhh!" Quickly, he caught up, sniffling, rubbing his nose. "Please, do excuse me." He was glad for the ground route; he wasn't at all sure his nose could do to be filled with seawater so soon again.


            "Are you all right?" she asked as they continued on.


            He wasn't quite sure himself, let alone sure if he should say anything. His nose tickled again, and he gave it a forceful scrub to keep it quiet. Assuming he couldn't hide whatever it was he had for very long anyway, he answered, "I believe I'm a bit under the weather. But nothing to be worried about."


            Curiously, she looked up and around at the rain pouring down on the clear hallway walls. "We are under the rain, so to speak. But I fail to see how that has any bearing upon your sneezing."


            Smiling, and restraining an amused chuckle, he shook his head. "No, I meant to say I think I might be coming down with something."


            Going from curious to confused, she looked around them. "You are coming down this corridor with me?"


            This time, he did chuckle, but covered it quickly with a cough. "I'm sorry." He tried again, as bluntly as possible. "I believe I may have a bit of a cold."


            "A bit of a cold what?" she asked, seeming to find this both entertaining and confusing.


            With a sigh, he tried for what he hoped would be the last time. "I..." But he did not get a chance. His breath caught, and it was all it could do to turn away from her and sneeze. "heh'EPSHHH! Hep'KEHshhh!" He was slower on the recovery this time, sniffling into the side of his hand and blinking as his head attempted to clear.


            Slowly, "Are you sick, Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi?"


            "Yes!" he exclaimed, pulling his hand down and turning back to her with enthusiasm. "Yes, it's just a simple sickness. Nothing to worry about."


            "Ah," she noted, understanding finally with a nod. "We've eliminated sickness here within the last century. There is no reason for any of us to be sick with the way we've constructed our dwellings and such."


            "I probably picked it up somewhere," he explained, sniffing and looking around as a rather large green creature jumped out from beneath the waves with six Kaminoans holding to giant scales on its back.


            "Was what you picked up heavy?" she asked as they rounded a corner and came upon what looked like a busy street of shops within a large glass dome.


            Shaking his head with a sigh and another smile, "Not at all." He closed his eyes, hoping all his conversations with the planet's inhabitants would not prove as confusing. "I'll be fine, I guarantee it."


            "That is good to hear," she said happily, and gracefully pointed a hand toward a row of shops. "If you are hungry, we could find breakfast." Obi-Wan was, however, not hungry. He was, he decided, most definitely with a cold of some sort. The symptoms he had before attributed to the fatigue and dampness of his first day there was much more identifiable as the aches and chills of a mild cold. The question was, how had he managed to catch and hold onto a cold in a hermetically-sealed city?


~*~      ~*~            ~*~            ~*~            ~*~


            "So sorry to keep you waiting, Anakin," called a medic, sliding into the examination room in a wave of green robes and a bright smile. "Your arm isn't giving you trouble, is it?"


            Shaking his head, Anakin wiggled his shiny gold fingers in answer. "Actually, I was sent here by Master Winston. I was having a difficult time in his lecture. Coughing, sniffling, sneezing mostly." He smirked. "More entertaining than his lecture on the significance of light saber colors, I guess."


            The medic raised an eyebrow, putting one hand on Anakin's chest and the other on his forehead. "I don't sense anything wrong with you." He stepped back, looking perplexed. "You? Sick?"


            He shrugged. "There's a first time for everything."


            "Not for you, Anakin..." he mumbled, fumbling around for some instruments for a slightly more scientific approach. "Tell me again what symptoms you had? And start from the beginning."


            So Anakin, sitting on the examination table, swinging his legs in a relaxed, playful sort of way, explained. He'd woken that morning to feel a little achy and attributed it immediately to overdoing sparring sessions the day before. He'd gone to his first lecture of the day, and began to feel sniffly, with tickles in his throat and nose that just didn't seem to want to come out. He forced a few coughs but to no avail. It wasn't until halfway through the lecture that the sneezing started, firm, wet sneezes. They were certainly forceful, but Anakin had managed to restrain the lot, sneezing into his sleeve and then into a handkerchief that had been passed to him by a fellow padawan. The sounds were muffled well, and the largest distraction seemed to be needing to straighten out his papers and throw his braid back over his shoulder after a harsh set struck. They seemed to come in two's and three's ever ten or fifteen minutes. It wasn't until the coughing started that he had begun to feel much worse. The coughing made his throat raw, and made him tired as it wracked his body and he attempted to keep it quiet as well. Finally, both at the same time were two much for him, and he'd been a bit louder than hoped, with a triple of sneezes and a dozen moist coughs. The professor had looked disapprovingly in his direction, but it wasn't until another set of unrestrained, wet sneezes that the professor had invited him to leave and sent him to the healing dome. Anakin politely followed the advice, slipping out of class as quickly as possible, stopping near the door as another few sneezes shook him. He had made his way to the healing dome, sneezing and coughing all the way.  During his wait outside, the symptoms backed away as quickly as they had come.


            "I was offered some water, and a fresh handkerchief," Anakin finished telling the medic. "But by the time the droid returned with them, I was feeling much better. It couldn't have been an aller- ah!" He exclaimed, finding the medic had drawn a large syringe of blood without warning him first.


The medic reached over for a pad of gauze, but by the time he had moved back to Anakin, the small prick on his arm had all but vanished. Smiling, the medic used it to wipe a single drop of blood that remained, before taking the sample over to a microscope, and injecting a bit more into a computer. "No, I don't think it was an allergy, Anakin," he murmured, absorbed in the results. "It looks as if, yes, you caught a cold. But for the same reason your arm took very quickly," he checked the computer printouts and paused a moment. "You have an extremely good immune system, Anakin. It's certainly not unheard of in Jedi to have such powers in healing, and it's not unheard of for a Jedi to be sick once in a while despite them. But it seems when you finally did catch a cold, your system seemed to fight it extraordinarily quickly."


            Anakin nodded, placing his hands on the table behind him, and leaning back. "The last time I remember sneezing was when I pod-raced for the first time as a little boy. There was an expected dust storm that caught a handful of us in it, and though I still managed to place fourth, I did do a fair amount of sneezing and coughing before I felt fully cleared out. Felt much different than this time, though. This time the aches sort of took over. I felt tired and helpless even as I managed to hold them back in sound and strength for so long."


            The medic nodded, returning to him. "Had you been around many people before taking ill this morning, Ani?"


            He shook his head. "I just returned yesterday afternoon, so aside from sparing yesterday and class today, I've talked with very few people."


            Nodding again, "Well, if you happen to notice any of them coming down with what looks like what you had, send them my way. I'd like to see how long this virus was supposed to last." He patted Anakin's upper arm, and gestured that the young man could jump down and let himself out.


~*~      ~*~            ~*~            ~*~            ~*~



            "ehh'Keshhhhhhh! Ar-heh'EMPSHH!" He snuffled into his sleeve.


            "I've brought you some tea, Master Jedi Kenobi." He looked up to find Minga La standing before him, a cup of tea in her outstretched arms.


            "That was very thoughtful of you," he croaked, taking it with a thank you nod and sipping. It certainly wasn't as good as most tea he had ingested, and could certainly use a good cup of sugar or at least honey and lemon to balance out the natural taste. But he smiled and thanked her anyway as he choked down another sip. It tasted terrible, but it was warm and soothing and did his throat a favor.


            It was early in the afternoon, yet, but he had nothing scheduled until dinner so he'd asked for a general tour of the rest of the city, and retrieving his things from his shuttlecraft on the way back to his quarters. The morning had been spent surveying the clones from above, trying to take in the details of their development process with special concentration on their training regiments without sneezing too much. What he had started out unsure about, was now undoubtedly a full blown cold, with the fatigue and sneezes both. There was little chance in infecting the Kaminoans, but he did not want to take the risk of getting near the clones. Yoda had been right, he wouldn't be able to perform his duties if he were sick. He certainly hoped the cold passed fast, or he'd have to call for another Jedi to take over the mission, and they needed all the Jedi they could get back on the home world right now.


            "heh'Ihshhahh! Hep'Ehshhh!" He sneezed again, nearly spilling the tea down the front of his uniform. It had been quite odd to wear it through the day, while looking down upon the clones. He still wasn't quite sure how he felt about them, despite the fact that their presence had saved his life once already. There was simply something not right about growing humans for fighting, for dying. Perhaps if he knew who exactly had issued the order in the first place, it would sit a little better in his stomach. But as he watched them running through a fighting regiment, firing at plastic targets and flipping over plastic barrels in the uniform he was wearing... he felt that the Jedi's roles of protectors were not only at an end, but somehow threatened.


            "This is one of our many food processing plants," she said, sweeping her hand out towards the window at a large dome filled with shiny metal mechanical devices and machines. "We grow the food from seeds in a process of genetic engineering and cloning to get a perfect result every time. We manage to sustain our entire planet with such plants in every city."


            Though interested, Obi-Wan found his mind wandering more and more back to the clones. And the longer he wore the uniform, the longer he got the feeling that he was being strung along, used as the clones were being used. But for what purposes?


            "The energy the lighting and tossing waves generate is captured quite purely and funneled through with very little of it lost. It is used to run nearly everything, from our factories and industry to our bedroom lights."


            Obi-Wan gave a shudder, remembering his distaste for the lights in the bedroom he had been assigned. Though other thoughts of his bedroom, particularly the warm blankets and pillows, were much more inviting.


            "Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi?"


            "Hmm?" he looked up, rubbing at his nose, realizing he had not been following a word she had said. He coughed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Pardon me... I, uh..." not so suave as usual, even his excuse was clouded in his mind by the thoughts of warm sheets and blankets embracing him.


            Not fully understanding his rudeness, she repeated herself. "Would you like to retire to your quarters for a few hours before dinner instead?"


            Obi-Wan already felt a sneeze approaching, and rubbed at his nose to let it back away long enough for him to answer. But instead, it stuck in place, not letting him answer or simply sneeze out the tickling sensation. Holding his hand up to his nose, eyes closed, mouth hanging half open, he did however manage a weak but very affirmative nod. Yes, he did wish to retire for a few hours.


            "All right then. If you'll just follow me this way, then..." she gestured down the corridor to their side and took a few steps in that direction.


            Obi-Wan, however, was not in any condition to go anywhere until he sneezed. The tickle was growing fierce and he could neither stop it or sneeze. He panted, keeping his hand to his nose, leaning forward as if to ease it out, hair falling past his ears, past his cheeks into his face. "huh..." he tried drawing it out. Suddenly, it came in full form, stabbing at him. "huh'Ehchuh! Eh'Ketchahh!" There was one more, and he hovered in place, keeping his dampened hand in place, still leaning forward. "heh...ehh..." playing with him, refusing to come out. After a minute and a half of silence, he gave a sigh and lowered his hand. Slightly embarrassed, he pushed his hair back behind his ears and sniffled. "Please excuse..." but there was the sneeze again. His arm snapped into place, as he bent forward. "huh'EHCHUSHHH!" Sneezing just in time into the crook of his arm.


            With a sigh, he sniffed and hurried a few feet ahead to keep up with her. They made their way down one corridor after another, each looking the same as the one before, each cold and chilly. Before too long, they had arrived back at Obi-Wan's quarters, and she had opened the door for him at the panel.


            "I will come to collect you in enough time to walk over for dinner." She took the empty cup of tea from him as he went in, eyeing the blankets fondly.


            "Thank you, Minga La. If you could come a little early in case I... fall asleep again?"


            She nodded. "As you wish." And was gone as he gave another thank you.


            He had hoped for an opportunity to apologize again for his illness and having to cut the tour short. But, though Kaminoans were a little slow, he had a feeling she understood. Closing the door, he headed to the bedroom, snuggling under the blankets at the foot of the bed again. His head melted into the pillow and his eyes quickly closed in accordance. The lights turned themselves off again. And though he was still rather sniffley, he found himself falling to sleep with no trouble at all this time.


*          *            *


            He woke with very little trouble hours later. Obi-Wan attempted to convince himself that he needed more sleep but he pulled himself out from the warm nest of blankets and into the bright light of the bedroom before he gave into his argument. He trudged into the bathroom, blinking at his reflection in the tall mirror in front of the sink. Dreadful. He looked perfectly dreadful. Before doing anything else, he had stripped out of the clone uniform, leaving it in a heap against the wall, and stepped into the showerstall. Thankful it was a sonic shower and thus not remotely chilly, he cleaned and stepped out feeling quite refreshed.


He pulled on a completely fresh pair of clothes, from socks to tunic, finding them warm and comforting. Then he tended to his hair, brushing and slicking it back into proper place. Aside from a rather pale complexion and tired-looking eyes, he didn't look all too dreadful, really. Of course, his nose had begun to run again and his throat was dry and rough still. And he could have done for another six or seven hours of sleep.


            He snuck a handkerchief out of his bag and tucked it into his inner pocket, glad for his own clothes again. Thinking better of it, he dipped into his bag and took out a second, tucking it away as well. With all the sneezing he'd done that morning, being extra safe couldn't hurt. Then he settled on the bed, brining one of the blankets and the pillows up with him to sit and read a spell before being summoned to dinner. He, in fact, made it a few pages further into the training manual before nodding off again.


*          *            *


            "Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi?"


            Obi-Wan recognized the familiar voice before he opened his eyes to see the face peaking into the room to find him still in bed, the data pad left open in his lap. "Sorry, fell asleep. Weren't knocking long, I hope?" He hadn't even sensed her arrival, let alone heard the knocking that he was sure she'd given the door, as hesitant as she seemed to be in his quarters. After checking his appearance briefly in the bathroom mirror on the way out, he gave his nose a rough rub and headed out with Minga La.


            "Did you have a pleasant nap?" she asked as they made their way through the hallways. Why were all cities and ships simply a maze of hallways?


            "I did indeed. I'm feeling much... better..." Or he had been, at least, before the sneezey sensation came rushing back to him in full. He sniffled, narrowing his eyes, then closing them completely as his breath caught. "heh...huh'EPSHH! heh'Ihshh! Hup'teshuh!" into the back of his hand. He sniffled, wishing perhaps he'd gotten his handkerchief out in time. But Minga La did not seem to have minded, or noticed much, as they continued down the hallways.



            The banquet room had another special series of hallways to them, with carpet-like designs spread around the floor. The walls looked painted as well, with bright scenes that resembled the paintings in his quarters. But the lights were much different in the form of elaborate chandeliers hanging from the curved ceiling. All about the room, which Obi-Wan assumed was some sort of lounge, as a number of Kaminoans in red and black uniforms were walking about with big platters of food and drink upon them. There were a few others milling around, wearing the same sort of colors as he'd seen other Kaminoans in. He spotted the Prime Minister at once, despite the crowd. Suddenly feeling just slightly self-conscious, he hesitated in the doorway before Minga La left him.


            As if beginning to know him well enough to know what was wrong now, she leaned over his shoulder. "Prime Minister Lama Su knows you're a little sick," she said. "Not to worry, Master Jedi Kenobi." And with that, she departed, leaving him to smile and mingle with a room full of strangers. He wasn't sure she meant not to worry because he didn't need to explain it or not to worry because it was such a little thing that the Prime Minister and others wouldn't mind.


            Whichever it was, the Prime Minister wasted no time in approaching him, as Obi-Wan still hovered in the doorway. Obi-Wan gave a small, polite bow towards the Prime Minister, who seemed to be smiling as much as any Kaminoan could smile. "Good evening, Prime Minister."


            "Good evening, Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi," the Prime Minister greeted him back. "Are you feeling well enough?" He seemed to waste no time to get to it, but seemed a bit curious at the same time.


            Whether he felt well enough or not, he sniffled a tickle away and assured the man, "I'll be fine, thanks."


            "We're set to meet tomorrow morning about the growth acceleration and then the early development stages from infant to year three. I think you'll enjoy..."


            Try as he, might, Obi-Wan couldn't help tune the Prime Minister out already. He knew what was being said, and could sense already where it was going, and the fact that he'd just hear it all over again tomorrow morning. But everyone presuming what he'd enjoy... this was a mission, only that. And there were so many strange things he sensed everywhere. From the clones, themselves, even through the observation glass, he had sensed something underlying that they were all overlooking. Something strong, something a little darker than the residuals of Jinga Fett and his clone Boba. But he had little time to dwell on the thoughts as sneezes barged into his concentration. "hept'chuhhh! Heh'Cetchahh! hep'Ehshoo! hapt'Tushhh!" Rather forceful but somewhat restrained sneezes.


            "Oh!" the Prime Minister exclaimed with an inane curiosity. "My goodness!"


            Not feeling embarrassed, but wishing he weren't sick, he quietly excused himself.


            "What's that?" the Prime Minister asked even more curiously.


            Remembering how there hadn't been sickness there in many generations, Obi-Wan did his best to try to explain. "It's just something polite to say after one sneezes. I was just apologizing for the disruption."


            "Ohhhhh," Prime Minister Lama Su looked intrigued. "Am I supposed to say something?"


            Rubbing his hand on the back of his neck, Obi-Wan shrugged. "Some people say 'Bless you' I suppose..."


            Looking proud and excited, "Then Bless you!" He then launched back into the details of putting together the long term plan of cloning an entire army at the beginning.


            After a while, the Prime Minister began mingling with others, and left Obi-Wan alone. But he hadn't the time to even collect himself before more officials went up to him and engaged him in deep conversation. As smooth, calm and naive as the Kaminoans were, they were also tremendously curious and also apparently easily entertained. Many asked about the Jedi and how he liked the army, which of course he gave enthusiastic responses to. Some asked about his illness, which he gave short answers to and tried to change the topic of conversation. Though one woman came up to him and asked him to sneeze for her; he had apologized and told her it didn't work like that.


            He was quite thankful when the whole lot of the guests in the lounge were prodded into the dining room. Obi-Wan wanted to sit nearest to the door, and as out of the way as possible. But there was assigned seating and he had been placed at the center of the longest long table right across from the Prime Minister himself. The center of attention, which the guests certainly made him feel.


            While it was nice to get off his feet again, he was still feeling a bit self-conscious to be sick. And even more so as his nose tickled fiercely. He took his handkerchief out and, as discretely as possible, covered the lower half of his countenance. "hep'Karshm! ep'kshmph! Hep'SHUmph!" Hoping the sneezes would go overlooked, he sniffled and lowered the handkerchief. He raised his head with the intention of picking up the present conversation where he had left it. However, he met mostly silence in the room. With an apologetic smile, he muttered a very soft, "Excuse me."


            And then a good number in the room chimed back in an enthusiastic "Bless you!" Apparently, the Prime Minister had passed on the exciting learning. In fact, his next few sneezes were met with even more 'bless you's and so on until every member of the room spoke in excited unison after one or more of his sneezes. It seemed with just a few sneezes that it was going to be a very long night.


            Dinner was indeed as long as he was dreading. And the eight courses seemed to get slower and slower with each. Each tasted quite good, despite Obi-Wan's stuffiness which kept him from tasting everything in its entirety. But by the sixth course, the 'bless you's were less numerous, as most of the diners were too busy eating. Instead, he received assorted 'bless you's from individuals who had quickly swallowed or been close enough to lean over and give him a sympathetic pat with it.


            Obi-Wan sat patiently throughout the meal, joining into a few conversations about ethics and answering a number of questions about the Jedi, but otherwise staying away from any musings as to what was going on in the galaxy. The less the Kaminoans knew, the better. But as the mean progressed, his sniffles seemed to worsen. "ehh'Humph! Hep'Chumph! hept'Karshah!" He held the handkerchief in place as random individuals around him blessed him. But he was not finished. His eyes stayed closed, his brow still furrowed. "heh-ehp'Keshhh!" Much better. He excused himself yet again, receiving another handful of 'bless you's. After a while, the sneezing grew to be too much and it took a bit of internal debating on Obi-Wan's part to decide what to do. His final decision, of course, was to retire.


            It wasn't enough that he had to slip, slightly embarrassed, from the table as the desert course was served. He had mouthed a very sorry apology to the Prime Minister, who waved it off as a trifle and bid him goodnight all the same. But now, he had to stand in the abandoned reception lounge and wait his escort, Minga La to return. She hadn't been due back for another half an hour at least, perhaps longer, depending upon how long after dinner conversations usually lasted for the Kaminoans who were slow enough at speaking that Obi-Wan was feeling rather glad at his early departure.


            He had insisted to the few attendants milling about the outside in their uniforms that he would be perfectly able to find his way back to his quarters without help. But they had insisted upon calling Minga La over immediately to see him back. Perhaps it was partially due to the fact that Obi-Wan's incessant sneezing and coughing made him light-headed and forced him to lean against the walls or even sit down frequently during the wait. But their stern insistence which convinced him was that Minga La had been relieved of normal official duties to see to his comfort and transportation for the duration of his stay, and was being paid far beyond normal wages for it. And to deny her simple tasks would be an affront to their honor, let alone cause to dock wages for the evening. So there he waited, feeling tired and sick, but not quite like retiring to bed just yet.


            "ehh-Ihshhh! Hep'Kushh! Kep'Kishhhah!" he sneezed, stopping his pacing a moment to rub at his nose with the handkerchief which would need to be swapped once he reached his room. He ducked his head in apology to the attendants, who had all turned their heads toward him when he sneezed as many had done at the dinner.


            Sure his thoughtful pacing had been a bit distracting to the attendants too, he spent most of the wait by a small window, of which there were few in this structures in this area of the city. The waves were tumultuous outside, splashing against the walls many times. His view of other buildings in the city was done only by their own light sources, which turned a fuzzy yellow when the waves blurred the glass of the window for a while. Perhaps he would contact the council tonight, record a message to be played later, as he was certain cutting through to them now would bounce a few out of nightly meditation. On second thought, a call to Anakin would be the perfect thing. If there were ever a padawan less inclined to meditate or sleep at night, it was he. When the boy had moved into his quarters, he remembered waking late at night to find the light in the main room still blaring and on while the boy worked on this or that. Many times he had woken to find Anakin still clothed in the day's clothes just dosing off on the main room couch, light saber on his stomach or papers scattered about him on the table in front.


            "Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi?" came a soft voice, and a hand on his shoulder, just as Obi-Wan sensed the woman's presence and turned.


            "Hello Minga La," he said with a smile, finishing the tour and sniffling his nose clearer.


            "Are you ready to go?" she asked, perhaps wondering if he'd seen something more intriguing in the window, or had a change of heart in the leaving.


            "Yes, please." He nodded goodbye and thank you to the attendants on their way out. As they walked, he apologized. "I am sorry to call you back so soon, at such short notice." His nose wriggled with tickle, despite pressing two fingers against it, and he pitched forward again, "heh'Keptchuh! Huh'Keshooo! Hep'Keshhh! hep'Cheshh!" After that, he needed a quick blow of his nose to clear himself.


            Waving a hand, "It was no bother at all, Master Jedi Kenobi. I had just finished seeing the little ones to bed."


            Rather startled, Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows. "You're a mother, then?" He simply had not thought of her as such. In fact, he realized he had not thought of any Kaminoan as such. Of course the subject of sex had been far from his mind in years, but amidst a civilization whose number one export was reproducing clones, he had not thought of the Kaminoans reproducing in any sort of natural method.


            She nodded, pressing both hands to her stomach. "You see my midsection?"


            Confused, he looked at it. It looked absolutely no bigger than any other Kaminoan's had.


            Instead of size, however, she was referring to color. "This red stripe here indicates that I have been spoken for by a mate. This blue stripe indicates I currently reside with the mate who chose me. And this green stripe indicates I have bread with him and produced children." She beamed, her large eyes dancing. "I have five little ones."


            "Congratulations," Obi-Wan said, not knowing what else was appropriate aside from, You must be very proud." Her slight motherliness toward him was beginning to make sense, now. And what he had attributed to professional politeness may have been cultural rule for a bonded woman to follow. He made a mental note to attempt to not need her to enter his quarters for any other reason. "So the Prime Minister... he wears red and a squiggley sort of black stripe down the middle."


            "That is the official symbol of the prime minister, and denotes that he is currently bonded to his job, so to speak." She paused, then stopped, seeing that he was readying to sneeze again.


            With his handkerchief raised, and turned to the side, "eh'kepchhh! heh'CHISH!" He blew his nose and rubbed the handkerchief at it miserably, sniffling, looking up at her. "Thank you for waiting," he snuffled, the tucked the handkerchief back into his robes.


            "You look sick, Master Jedi Kenobi. But you do not look tired as you did earlier this day. Would you care to get a tea and sit a while before heading back to your quarters?"


            He nodded rather decisively, wondering how he could have missed this mothering sort of instinct she had. "Yes, I'd like that."




            They were seated at a table at a quiet sort of café, lit minimally. The Kaminoans skin glowed in dim light, looking somewhat eerie and somewhat surreal at the same instant. "Do you think of him as a son?" Minga La asked him, as he finished telling her about Anakin.


            He smiled, attempting to narrow down his feelings for the young man into something simple and describable. "I suppose teacher is closer to it." And his mind strayed to Qui-Gon. Longing, heart-wrenching thoughts of his own master who had certainly thought of himself as much more than a teacher to Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon had been a master, true to the word in all senses. The master in dueling, the master in wisdom, the master in the bedroom. And Obi-Wan, young and formal, had followed his lead so willingly, so lovingly. He had hung on every word, but he had argued lightly, too, in the moments he felt he needed to- those moments Qui-Gon strayed from the rules, the moments Qui-Gon seemed to bend the standards. Bent much like young Anakin was doing, rebelling against Obi-Wan's own guidance. Perhaps it was simply in nature for it to skip a generation, especially as Qui-Gon and Anakin seemed meant for each other from the start. Not a bond like Obi-Wan's had been to his master, but strong, caring, alike. Or perhaps it was more. Perhaps it meant more. It was so hard to sense. But all sorts of things were becoming so hard to sense these days. Clouded in mystery... in deception.


            "He is lucky to have you as a master, Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi," Minga La stated, perhaps attempting to cheer up the doubtful, pensive look that had crossed Obi-Wan's face.


            Nodding, "I only hope I can be as good a master to him as mine was to me." Well, aside from the more sexual moments, of course. "I had made up my mind to contact him tonight to see his progress while I've been gone. I should probably return to my quarters before it gets too late."


            Understanding, she rose and guided him toward the doorway and towards the proper maze of hallways. And he followed, very thankful for the moment of reflection over a very soothing, healing sort of tea. "You should get a good rest tonight, Master Jedi Obi-Wan."


            He agreed, of course, and paused a moment before telling her. "Please, there is no need to be so formal with me. Just call me Obi-Wan, all right?"


She looked at first as if it would be too difficult to do so. But then her small head nodded. "Yes. Yes, all right."


            He bid her farewell at his door, and she left quickly, wishing him a good sleep and then heading away towards the docking ports for transport through the wetter method back to her own residence. The first thing he did was to take up a few new handkerchiefs and relax, sinking down onto the bed comfortably. And with relaxing, the sneezes came more easily. "ehhpt'heshhh! hep'Cheshoo! heh'Chushh!" He lay down on his side, trying to catch his breath between. "heh'Kushh! Arsh'chushh!" He buried his nose into the handkerchief, muffling the wet sneezes. "heh'Humphh! Hep'Umphh!" And quickly new his nose with one hand as he pulled his hair back with the other. He ran his hand over his beard. Feeling much better for sneezing, he snuffled, rubbed his nose, and sat back up.


~*~      ~*~            ~*~            ~*~            ~*~


            Anakin had just come out of the bathroom and was drying what hair he had with the fluffiest towel in their closet when the com buzzed. He sat on the couch and propped his feet up as he answered, the towel around his neck. "Yes?" His master stood there in formal robes, looking back at him rather critically, as if to tell him to keep his feet on the floor rather than the pillows of the couch without needing to say a word. And Anakin complied quickly, looking back at the glowing image sitting in front of him. "Hello Master."


            Obi-Wan nodded hello. "It is good to see you back home. Enjoying your time away from me, I take it?"


            Something like that. "I have been working, Master." And then something within him made him ask, "And you?"


            The look was stern, but the glowing man seemed to prefer to drop the lecture about knowing one's place especially around one's elders. "I attended a dinner with the Prime Minister here tonight."


            With a sly smile, "I thought you didn't trust politicians, Master?"


            "I still don't think otherwise, but he is in a certain position, isn't he." The man paused. "Speaking of which, have you spoken with your friend the Chancellor since your return?"


            After observing a slight shiver and hearing a sniffle from his Master, he decided he didn't need to be quite as exact at present. "Only briefly. He seems very concerned about the army. He's considering sending a whole group over to observe development and training."


            This had the proper effect of turning a raised eyebrow at such a quick meeting into distracting annoyance. "I'll send a message to the Council immediately on that point. But if you see him, please assure him that not only is the situation as under control as it has been for a number of years, but might be disturbed or broken by a larger group's interference."


            Anakin nodded, and narrowed his eyes at his Master. "You sound a bit hoarse. Are you feeling all right?"


            The glowing image of Obi-Wan shook its head, rubbing at his nose with another sniffle. "I've somehow managed to catch a bit of a cold. But don't go telling the Council. I'm feeling better."


            Attempting to conceal a humored smile behind a raised hand and cough, he nodded. "Ah, I'm glad." He'd seen Obi-Wan for a brief ten or twenty minutes when he arrived back on world and Obi-Wan was departing for Kamino. And yet, the only one who had caught his cold so far as he'd heard was his own Master. Well, that was typical at least. "Sorry you're ill." He hoped Obi-Wan would not say something to the extent of 'Thanks but it's not your fault.'


            But the glowing Obi-Wan did not immediately answer and instead gave a nod and a 'hold on' hand signal. He turned to the side, nearly out of the visual range of the projector. "heh-hep-hep'Kushhh! Heh'Cheshh! hep'Cuchoo!" The image recovered quickly and, sniffling, turned back to the projector. "Excuse me."


            Feeling a little guilty for both his responsibility and also his amusement, his tone turned a bit less cocky. "Bless you, Master. Look, it is late at night. Perhaps you should get some sleep?"


            Obi-Wan nodded several times absent-mindedly. "Yes... good idea. Thank you, my Padawan."


            Smiling pleasantly, Anakin gave a wave. Sweetly, perhaps too sweetly, "Goodnight, Master Obi-Wan."


            But Obi-Wan, giving his nose a rub, then a blow into his handkerchief, said nothing about the sweetness. "May the force be with you."


            "And you." He shut the transmission off and gave a bit of a chuckle, propping his feet back on the couth and lying back. He raised his hand and allowed a pillow to fly in from his bedroom, resting beneath his head. Then he beckoned a hot mug of chocolate drink to float over from the kitchen to him. He would be enjoying his time away from Obi-Wan. Indeed, he was grateful that his Master had been assigned to that particular mission. He didn't feel badly for staying up until all hours, enjoying the darkness of the night, practicing or not practicing as he saw fit. But at least he was feeling good enough to do so.


~*~      ~*~            ~*~            ~*~            ~*~


            Obi-Wan woke in the afternoon, having fallen asleep while meditating amidst the warm nest of pillows and blankets at the base of his bed. He had been feeling much better, deep into a healing trance, when he was so relaxed that he had fallen right to sleep. In fact, he felt much better now that he woke, albeit disturbed that he had missed his morning meetings.


            Naturally, he dressed quickly and dashed out with the intention of getting down to the training rooms. But as he left his room, he sensed the familiar presence of his escort, and he halted as Minga La turned around the corner heading right for him.


"Oh, good. You're up Master Jed- Obi-Wan," she said slowly upon seeing him. He tried to keep himself calm, which was certainly difficult when dealing with Kaminoans who never seemed otherwise. No matter what happened, they still seemed smooth and calm, as Minga La was now.


            "I'm late. I missed the morning meetings," he panted, coughed, and apologized. "I must have overslept from illness. I'm so very sorry. We should go straight away." For the first time since he'd woken, his nose felt tickly. He rubbed it with the side of his hand for a few seconds before leaning against the wall and giving in, sneezing into the back of his hand firmly. "hep'EHshhh! hep'Karchushh! Hep'Kushhh! ehp'Keshh!"


            Minga La put her hand on his shoulder as he sniffled and rooted through his robes for a handkerchief to blow his nose with. "It's all right. Prime Minister Lama Su suggested rescheduling it so that you might feel better. He instructed me to let you sleep as long as you needed, and I agreed."


            "I do feel better," he admitted honestly, despite the bit of a tickle that he still felt. And despite not being able to do his job properly, he was quite thankful for the chance at rest. "Thank you." He rubbed absentmindedly at his nose as they headed down the corridor once again.