"We shall meet again, Obi-Wan. May the Force be with you." -- Yoda
Obi-Wan angled the Jedi fighter toward the planetary system he now knew to be Dagobah. He had researched the system briefly on Coruscant from the safety of the Jedi shelter, seeking to distract his mind from the stunning revelation that was Darth Vader.
Now he used the ship’s logs to recreate the flight pattern he had taken on his first trip there, taking into account that it was earlier in the day and that the planet was in a different phase of rotation than it had been when he and Yoda had fled here just ahead of Tyrannus’ forces.
As he neared the murky blue-gray planet, he stretched out through the Force, searching for the signature of his Master, but instead found nothing. It was not that Yoda was not there, it was as if the Force itself was blocked from his registry here. It was a very odd phenomenon, not one he remembered during their initial flight.
Very curious now in addition to his anxiousness, Obi-Wan landed the fighter on the exact same hill where he had last seen Yoda, battling the Sith Lord with all his might. He shut down the engines and unhooked both himself and Luke from their restraints. Cautiously, he opened the cockpit and stepped out, holding Luke close to him. Obi-Wan cradled the baby boy and begin walking down the hill, moving in a slow circle until something caught his eye.
There, maybe one hundred yards from where had landed, a tiny house rose out of the bog, flickering lights emanating from its rounded windows. Standing solemnly outside the door, looking years older than the time that had passed since their last encounter, and leaning heavily on a wooden stick of a cane, stood Yoda.
Relief flooded Obi-Wan as he moved quickly, covering the distance. All the while, Yoda stared at him, without speaking or moving.
"Master Yoda, you’re alive... I feared the Sith ..."
"Unwise, your return is. Danger to yourself and the boy it could bring."
Obi-Wan was taken aback by Yoda’s gruffness, his Master was seldom cheerful, but considering the time he had clearly spent alone, Obi-Wan thought he would have at least been glad to see him.
"I ... I had to see if you were all right, Master. I have made some horrible discoveries and did not know where else to turn."
"The Emperor," Yoda said, nodding. "The Sith he is."
Obi-Wan was stunned, despite his Master’s infinite wisdom in such matters when he had been Obi-Wan’s teacher.
"You know?? How long have you known?"
"Since my battle with Tyrannus ended," Yoda said with a sigh. "Realize did I that the Master he could not be. Too full of weaknesses, too full of pride. While my body began to heal, seek out with my mind the truth. Know of Palpatine do I ... and of Skywalker."
Obi-Wan’s head hung in shame. He could not make eye contact with his Master now, as his failure was brought fully to light.
"Palpatine remade him into a monster, Master. He murdered Master Windu before I could reach them. He calls himself Darth Vader now. I tried to find Anakin’s soul inside him and could not."
Yoda’s eyelids seemed heavy as he replied.
"Felt Master Windu’s passing, did I. A great friend he was, and a powerful Jedi. Now but two are we, where once stood ten thousand. Overconfidence, arrogance, lack of vision, all these things were our weaknesses, now our downfall they are."
"Two Jedi ... two Sith, " Obi-Wan ruminated slowly. "It is balanced, is it not Master? Qui-Gon was right, Anakin has brought balance to the force, the prophecy has come true."
"NO!" Yoda retorted loudly, shaking his head vigorously. "Balance is not in numbers in the Force, balance is in its harmony. Disrupted by the dark side is it now. The one who rids the universe of the Sith, the chosen one will he be."
Obi-Wan frowned, then looked down at Luke, sleeping contentedly in his arms.
He looked back to Yoda, "Could it be?"
Yoda sighed at Obi-Wan’s suggestion, apparently it had crossed his mind as well.
"In him, the Force is strong, stronger even than his father. But force upon him destiny, you and I will not. Protected he must be, not here, his strength in the Force with mine, discovered it would be by the forces of evil."
For a moment, Obi-Wan forgot about Luke, his earlier curiosity recalled.
"Master, as I came closer to Dagobah, I felt a void in the Force.. Did you create it?"
"Not I, Master Kenobi, show you I will, why this place shall hide me long."
Forced to walk very slowly as Yoda hobbled across the swamp, Obi-Wan’s vision finally encompassed pieces of the Imperial shuttle that had been torn off by the sheer velocity of Yoda’ bold gambit as he wrenched the craft off the ground and into space to free Obi-Wan’s starfighter from the tractor-beam snare of the Dominance.
A crater held the pieces, and they were entwined with a grotesquely blackened tree of some species Obi-Wan did not recognize. As they drew near it, Obi-Wan felt the dark side of the Force roll over him in waves emanating from the dark recesses of the crater. He shivered involuntarily.
"That place ... Meet his end, Dooku did there," Yoda said softly. "Still strong with the dark side of the Force it is. Negate my presence it does, as mine does it."
Obi-Wan understood his earlier dilemma now, it was like the forces of light and dark were counteracting each other here. Tyrannus’ taint on the Force negated the strong emanations of Yoda. That was why the Jedi Master had not been tangible to Obi-Wan’s searchings. That was why Yoda had been able to touch the Sith Lords through the Force without fear of detection.
"Here I will stay," Yoda declared. "Only through healing this place may I heal myself. Nurture it I shall through the Force, my destiny it is."
"And what of Luke’s destiny?" Obi-Wan asked, as if suddenly remembering the original dilemma. "Shall I train him? Shall I bring him to you when he’s older?"
"His future, still undecided it is," Yoda intoned solemnly. "Stay close but do not interfere in his life unless you deem it necessary. The chosen one he may be, but force that on him we will not to compensate for the failures of our own."
Obi-Wan accepted Yoda’s decisions without argument. After what had happened to Anakin, the thought of training Luke frightened him badly.
"I suppose I should go, then," Obi-Wan said, trying to keep his voice even. "Surely, all three of our presences here at once cannot bode well for your secret staying safe."
This time Yoda did crinkle his face up in a smile.
"Not yet, Obi-Wan. Sit. One more lesson do I have to teach."
Obi-Wan looked down in surprise, then sat down with Luke on his knee.
Yoda continued, in a voice of awe now. "Five hundred years ago, my Master, Odij Endei, discovered did he knowledge of prolonging one’s existence in this world after death. A Jedi places himself in a deep trance before death, and is able to retain his essence in this world, for a time thereafter."
Obi-Wan was wide-eyed by this idea, he had never heard of anything like it.
"Taught to me alone, did he this wisdom," Yoda continued, without even a hint or arrogance. "Only the most powerful of a generation should receive it, said he."
Yoda fixed his intense stare on Obi-Wan.
"The boy’s protector, you shall be, but I sense sacrifice of yourself may some day save him, Master Kenobi. Practice what I will teach you well, and you will have the power to counsel him for a time before you become one with the Force forever."
It was strange how a premonition of his own demise made Obi-Wan Kenobi feel more at peace in the Force than he had in a long time. The thought of giving his life for another had often come to him in the years since the Sith had slain Qui-Gon. Now knowing it might be Luke Skywalker who he would trade his own life for, Obi-Wan felt he might some day truly be at peace with his past.
A stray thought slipped through Obi-Wan’s mind and he frowned a bit.
"But Master, you said the knowledge was only to be passed to the most powerful, I don’t deserve that honor."
Yoda looked strangely at his former student for a moment then chuckled. "If a weakness in you exists, Obi-Wan, too much humility perhaps it is. Never time it seems I had to tell you, my greatest student you were. Your survival in a purge across the galaxy, no coincidence it is."
"Lives you have saved, burdens you have carried, battles you have won, Obi-Wan, Too busy with your next cause you have been, to reflect on the wonders you have achieved. Correct, Qui-Gon was once. A great Jedi have you become."
Warmed to his very core by his Master’s praise, Obi-Wan sat down in the bog again, and slowly, Yoda revealed him the secrets of his final lesson.
At dawn, Obi-Wan knelt in front of Yoda, who touched both the Knight’s shoulders with his lightsaber and bade him safe journey. Again, Yoda was full of smiles for tiny Luke as Obi-Wan repacked the cockpit of the fighter before safely securing the baby in his crib in the back seat.
"I shall practice my training, Master, I won’t fail you."
Yoda nodded once. "We shall meet again, Obi-Wan. May the Force be with you."
Obi-wan secured the cockpit and keyed in the ignition sequence as Yoda stood firm near the intense heat and fumes. The good-byes were growing harder for Obi-Wan, as he took one last look down at his great Master before rocketing through the trees and off Dagobah.
Below him, Yoda watched the ship depart, then hobbled forward with his walking stick to inspect the peat on which Obi-Wan’s fighter had sat for the previous day. Not too bad, very little of it was crushed beyond repair.
The tiny Jedi turned and headed steadily back toward his home, to meditate on the future and live in the will of the Force.