"Can you hear me?"
The voice is inside of Anakin's head, but it's not like the Queen's voice; he doesn't like it there. "Yes," he says weakly.
"Say it with your mind."
"Yes," Anakin thinks.
"Very good. You don't like me looking at you like this?"
Anakin's two open eyes dart between Ki-Adi's twelve open eyes, each one lightsaber blue and staring right back at him. "No, sir," he thinks.
"Of course not." The five rows of extra eyes close, and Ki-Adi says quite plainly, "We'll work our way up, shall we? Follow me." He leads Anakin to an elevator and they enter.
As they wait, Ki-Adi reopens the first pair and looks at Anakin in contemplation. "You wonder if these eyes mark me a Sith?"
"I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to think that."
"It's alright, Anakin. Are you sometimes afraid of the terrible things you cannot see?"
"Then imagine how much braver you must be once you can actually see them. The Force granted me the blessing of these eyes when I was ready to open them with compassion, and so I do not condemn others when I see their fear. These eyes are of the same substance as the deformities of the Sith, but I have been trained to bear them and make of them a thing of beauty. You understand, I can see." He smiles gently at Anakin, and Anakin feels more relaxed. "This isn't what you expected though, is it?"
"I thought..." Anakin says, and then instead thinks, "I thought there would be a test like in school, right? And maybe you'd ask me to guess shapes on hidden cards or something. Maybe a blood test to check my midi--midiklorons."
"Very good," thinks Ki-Adi. "Master Obi-Wan did mention your exceptionally high midichlorian count. Let's take a look, shall we?" He opens the next pair of eyes, and Anakin feels more than naked; the Jedi is looking beneath his skin, inside his body. "Yes, your flesh streams with creatures of the Force. Yet do they give you your great power, or are they drawn to the great power that is yours to give?"
From anyone else, Anakin would let that pass as a rhetorical question, but the way Ki-Adi-Mundi pauses makes him think he's expected to answer. "I--I don't know, sir."
"Correct," thinks Ki-Adi.
The elevator doors open, and Ki-Adi gestures for Anakin to exit first. He steps out to find himself atop the peak of the Senate building, with the lights of the capital twinkling through the clear night in every direction. There's a ledge, followed by a long drop into the brilliant ribbon of the street below.
Ki-Adi opens the third set of eyes and says, "I hear you had quite the fall today."
The scene replays in Anakin's mind, and he knows Ki-Adi can see it all: the cars he crashed, the driver he beat up. "I didn't know! It was an accident!"
"This is why we must train to control our powers, Anakin. Does a small bug care that it is an accident when your giant foot crushes it?"
"Now tell me, would you still have jumped, knowing that your survival might mean harm to others?"
Anakin tries to quell his response, but there is no hiding his thoughts from Ki-Adi. "Yes. I could stop the spy droid, and I did, and it helped me save my home world. I would do it again." Anakin is surprised by the brashness of his own thoughts.
"There is no hiding from your own darkness when you are seen through the eyes of the Force." The fourth set of eyes opens. "If you would fall again, then so be it." Ki-Adi pushes him off the ledge.
Anakin plummets between the skyscrapers of the capital, nearer the ground here than he ever was earlier today. Traffic is dense and aircars whip past him, but in his shame he avoids them. The orange glow of the massive street below draws rapidly closer, and he sees that it's not air traffic at all, it's fire--a great river of molten rock, flames licking off the surface. The heat begins to burn his flesh as he approaches. His world blazes. The pain consumes him.
Anakin's mind floats in darkness; he cannot feel a thing. "Am I dead?" he thinks. "Have I failed?" He recalls Qui-Gon's words of reassurance as they blasted into space. If this is death, then where is...
"Your thoughts dwell on your mother."
Anakin jumps back into his body. He wrings his hands together just to feel them. All he can see is the pale form of Ki-Adi drifting before him, five open sets of Force eyes glowing with a light of their own.
"I miss her," Anakin admits.
"You are afraid to lose her..."
Anakin grows a little angry. "What's that got to do with anything?"
"Everything!" The rows of eyes flare, and Anakin winces. "Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering..."
"I'm not afraid!"
Anakin finds himself again looking down on his mother as the Jedi shuttle takes flight. He once again hears her screams of desperation, and sees Darth Maul pace towards her maniacally. But this time, no closing hatch obscures his view as, with the briefest flick, Maul's saber cuts his mother in two.
"NO!" Anakin thinks. "That's not what happened!"
The scene fades, and he hears Ki-Adi's voice speak soothingly yet sternly. "This is what the Force has shown you, and you deny it? I sense much fear in you."
"I'm not afraid..." Anakin says quietly.
"Then we will continue..."
Above two pillars of five eyes, a single eye opens, shining gold. Anakin hears a deep rumble, as if existence were collapsing around him, and though Ki-Adi-Mundi's voice never loses its calm, it now surrounds Anakin and encompasses all things.
"A JEDI HOLDS THE FATE OF WORLDS IN HIS HAND. HE MUST HAVE THE DEEPEST COMMITTMENT TO OTHERS, THE MOST SERIOUS DESIRE FOR TRUTH. YOUNG ONE, I HAVE SEEN YOUR FEAR, AS IT WAS AND AS IT IS. LET US NOW LOOK INTO THE FUTURE, TO SEE WHAT YOU WILL MAKE OF IT!"
Just like that, the trance is over. Anakin is sitting in a conference room of the Senate building, quite real, without the insubstantial quality of the visions he has just seen. It takes a moment to get his bearings, but then he is filled with immense relief, like one who has just woken from a nightmare to discover himself safe in bed. Then he sees Ki-Adi.
The Jedi Master sits across from him, sweating and shaking. He grips the armrests of his chair so hard that one of them snaps. All his eyes are open, including the great gold one at the peak of his head, and every one is transfixed on Anakin. Ani does not feel this gaze; it's as if it passes around him and through him, and he glances behind him for a moment to reassure himself that there is nothing there but the wall.
"Hey," Anakin says, standing, "Master Mundi, are you alright?"
Ki-Adi recoils as Anakin draws near, eyes wide open, his face contorting into a silent scream. Then with a soft pop, all of his eyes explode, and he collapses to the floor.
Anakin stands frozen, covered in gore, panting mouth agape.
He doesn't know how long he stands there; he's simply in shock. The Jedi Master does not move. Blood seeps from his eye sockets into a pool around his head. Eventually there is a knock at the door, followed by distant shouting. A few moments later, Obi-Wan bursts into the room, and Anakin feels safe enough to faint.