Title: Return to Naboo
Author: Leia Sky
Her gaze was transfixed on the stars; the bright streaks of light sailed into obscurity as the small craft glided toward Naboo.
Her home. The only home she had ever known. Now she was returning there under circumstances that had not been completely revealed before the Senate. She was not going back to surrender until the Senate had a chance to vote on the catastrophe that had engulfed her small world.
She was going back to fight.
She had not informed the Senate of her plans and was certain Palpatine would not have looked on her actions with approval.
The Jedi would support her. Of this, she was certain.
She had never been so happy to see the Jedi in all her life when the Master appeared on the landing platform and informed her that he and his apprentice would be escorting her back to her world.
She knew, they could not fight the war for her, but they could help her re-gain control of her planet once again. She knew they would do everything that was in their formidable power to help her.
So lost in her thoughts, she did not hear the door slide open. She did not hear the ruffle of his cloak as it billowed out behind him, caressing the polished floor like a lover.
"I can sense your desire to return."
The young Queen smiled at the soft voice. She was used to the deep voice filled with a stern, yet calm, tone. Now, it was filled with something more. It sounded like - regret.
‘Why?’ She wondered and she turned around to look up at the tall Jedi Master. The long train of beads, weighing heavily upon her head, caused the movements to be slow and regal. She was every bit the Queen of Naboo in her ceremonial dress. Just the rich, heavy fabric was enough to alter her demeanor, and even that of her identical bodyguard.
"My duty is to my people." She stated matter-of-factly. "I could do no more in the Senate than Palpatine. My place is on Naboo."
She noticed a small respectful smile crease his lips.
She'd never seen him smile, she recalled.
Since she had known him, and it really hadn’t been that long, the stoic Jedi Master had been nothing if not cool, calm and a bit too collected for her taste.
"A brave sentiment it is, Your Highness," He took pity on the strain he was putting on her neck, and took a seat across from her, "But you do realize that when we arrive, if you surrender, you will be placed in their custody."
"I have no plans to surrender."
A well-shaped eyebrow lifted slightly, the only testament to his surprise.
"You see, Jedi, I plan to raise an army."
Jinn crossed his arms and leaned back, fighting back the urge to dissuade her from this action.
She explained, in quick, short terms, what she was planning, and Jinn had to admit that he liked the plan.
"The Council has given us no resources. You will be fighting the battle alone, without Republic aid," The Master leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "Obi-Wan and I can't fight a war for you. We are here to protect you."
"Then you will protect me as I fight my war," She stood, and stared down at the Jedi Master.
A lesser man would have been intimidated by the young woman standing over him, but the Jedi Master simply regarded the fiery-tempered woman with kind eyes. He admired her spirit and dedication to her people. He just hoped that dedication and love did not get her killed, or worse.
"Obi-Wan and I will protect you to the best of our abilities."
"I know you will, Master Jedi." The Queen nodded, and walked slowly from the observation deck, leaving Qui-Gon to think on her words.
"But I don't like it." Jinn whispered, without thought or care if she heard his comment.
"You don't have to Jedi," He heard her voice carry to him along the hallways.
With two Jedi, how can we not win? Padme thought as they made their way virtually unmolested, into the hanger.
It was wrong to put so much hope into the two men who strode beside her, their calm, arrogant swagger just enough to brand a confidence no living man could hope to live up to.
What could go wrong, indeed.
It would not be easy taking back her home even with two powerful Jedi Knights beside her.
They entered the hanger easily but Amidala's smug grin was wiped away as the doors to the hanger opened.
She heard the hum of two lightsabers being ignited as she gave the order. The Jedi flanked her. Their dedication to her safety unwavering.
"Get to your ships!"
She fired at a Federation droid, knocking out its power supply, and functionality.
The droids were disposed of in short order, but not without casualties.
Padme heard Qui-Gon order Anakin to get to safety. At first, Padme had questioned why Qui-Gon had thought to bring the boy along on this dangerous mission.
She had felt rightly put back into her place, when he explained to her the importance of his charge and his dedication to the boy's safety. Anakin would be safer with the Master Jedi than in the forest hiding from the massive army that approached the Gungan's, ready to destroy.
As the last of the pilots launched out of the hanger, Padme turned and led the remaining group toward a large double door that would lead to a short cut to the throne room.
It had been surprisingly easy to achieve their goals thus far but Padme had learned that overconfidence was a weakness that Padme realized she carried too much of.
That was when the bridge dropped from underneath her well-laid plan and splintered into pieces beneath their feet.
Of their own volition, the large, hanger doors opened and Padme's heart plummeted into her stomach.
She heard of the creature who had attacked the Jedi on Tatooine, nearly defeating the Jedi Master more from shock at his appearance than anything else, or so she forced herself to believe.
She knew this dark-clad devil was a distraction and added danger they did not need.
Those eyes, those tattooed features, were enough to burn terror into the hearts of any adversary.
Before she could give the order to fire, the two Jedi, Master and Padawan, stepped between the small army, and informed her that they would handle this new development.
Padme nodded, reluctant to leave the Jedi in the presence of this monster. Padme turned to the Master, but his hard gaze and tone caused her to accept his words without argument.
"We'll take the long way," She agreed, silently hoping that they would turn and follow her. They were obligated to protect her, after all.
When they did not follow, she was distracted by blaster fire at her back . They turned to defend themselves and the last thing Padme saw before her attention focused on her task ahead, was the calm and determination with which the Jedi removed their cloaks and the simultaneous ignition of their deadly blades.
The real battle had begun.
"Now Viceroy we will discuss a new treaty," Amidala glared at the intruder and indicated that her guard lead them to another place, out of her personal throne room.
"Lock them in the dressing chamber for now." Amidala instructed and her guards rushed to carry out the order.
" I will contact Chancellor Palpatine."
Amidala noticed, out of the corner of her eye, one of her Handmaidens speaking with a technician. She trusted the Handmaidens' judgement and opened a communication link with Coruscant.
She didn't have long to wait before Palpatine's smiling image appeared before her.
"My mission was successful, Chancellor." Amidala's voice deepened and she resumed, once again, the persona of the stalwart Queen of Naboo.
"Excellent!" Palpatine pressed his hands together. Digging fingers into his hands in anger was not seen by anyone.
"I will arrive as quickly as my duties permit."
The Queen nodded and the communication link was cut.
Amidala smiled and turned to inquire as to the reason for the technician's presence.
The smile faded from her lips when she noticed that the gathered group held looks of great fear. Sache cast a look at the Queen and immediately lowered her eyes in respect.
Amidala crossed the distance between herself and her Handmaiden in less time than it would have taken Master Jinn, with those never ending legs, to do. Padme grinned at the analogy. The man certainly towered over the tallest man she had ever been in contact with.
"Your Highness," Sache began, blinking her eyes to keep away the tears.
"The Jedi have met with a -"
Padme's eyes widened. She had forgotten about the battle in the hanger!
Sache's reaction worried the Queen. Her Handmaiden was thoroughly shaken. Something had gone wrong.
"What about the Jedi, Sache?" Padme demanded, her eyes narrowing at the confusion and despair she felt burying itself deep within her heart.
"They, he, I mean they," Sache faltered and the technician continued for the shaken handmaiden.
"One of the Jedi down in the hanger was killed. I don't know who it was, but we caught sight of the battle as we searched for more of those battle droids." The technician spoke the words, the facts, with little or no emotion.
He had not known the Jedi who had defended and saved the life of his Queen. He only knew who they were by the brightly colored lightsabers that they carried. Everyone knew the lightsaber was the weapon of the Jedi Knights.
Padme was startled and she shook her head to clear her thoughts. "Take us there."
"With all due respect, Your Highness," The man bowed, " I don't think they would still be there. I sent a medical team to them, to see if there was anything that could be done. They took him to the facilities. When I called a few moments ago, they told me that there was nothing that could be done for him. He was dead before they arrived."
Padme found herself wishing it was one of the Jedi and not the other. Unfair it was to wish one of her great protectors dead over the other, and she stared at the technician that had brought this distressing news.
"Who was it?" She whispered. She needed to know. Before they arrived. She needed to prepare. The comfort would be the same, but the words would be different.
"I don't know, Your Highness," The man admitted. "I don’t know who they are, were, their names, or…"
"Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi," Padme whispered, as if speaking the name would bring back the dead. "Master and Apprentice."
"Oh." The man lowered his gaze, trying to remember what the two looked like.
"The one was definitely older than the other," The man began, looking into his memory for the words to describe the scene.
"It was horrifying, Your Highness," This was the first time the man had interjected an opinion with the facts.
Padme closed her eyes, feeling the sting of tears spill between the lids. It was him, she knew it. Honor and the man he was would have dictated no less. He wouldn't have let his Padawan fall before him.
"What was?" She asked, gripping Sache's hand tightly to ground herself, steady her footing.
"The battle. Like I said, we caught the end of it. One of them was trapped behind the electron barrier, the other was fighting with this thing all in black. I ran toward the controls, to try and shut them off."
The man took a deep breath, calming his racing heart.
"Then the Jedi took that red blade right through the chest. It went right through him." There was a mixture of awe and sadness in the man's voice.
"I've never seen anything like that. There was no blood, nothing, just the other one screaming from behind the electron wall. I - recovered from my shock and reached for the controls but they cycled and that boy attacked with more anger than I have ever seen."
"Boy." Amidala whispered, her eyes downcast. A cold chill ran the length of her spine and now there was no doubt in her mind just who had taken the killing blow.
"Yes, Ma'am. I would consider the young man a boy next to the other."
Padme lifted her head, squared her shoulders and hardened her eyes. " Where are they?"
"I called for a team to bring a lift to carry the Jedi out."
"I will see them." Amidala hardened her voice, leaving no room for argument.
The assembled group could simply watch as the Queen strode down the cut marbled floor, her Handmaidens scurrying behind her retreating form.
The small medical center was filled, not surprising, due to the large battle that had been fought outside its walls.
She walked evenly, stately but as quickly as her short legs would carry her.
She knew where they would have taken him. Where all dignitaries, heads of state and important leaders were taken after they died. There was a special place built for the rulers of Naboo, the elected family and Senators. They were to be taken to this place when their time had come.
Amidala knew those who had found the Jedi would honor him by taking him to this place.
Panaka followed quickly at her side, a steady support system for her to lean on if her resolve should fail.
Large ornate doors were closed to the public and no one was entering or leaving.
At the raise of her slim hand, the energy panel to the left registered the Queen's presence and the doors slide open with a soft hiss.
The room was filled with light, with life. Large glass panes surrounded the small garden, allowing the natural sunlight to warm the room. Small plants of all kinds resided in large pots , on tables, on the floor.
At the center was a flat table, very similar to the one in the oval burial chamber, but with carvings etched into its ancient wood.
The native language of the Naboo was depicted in the writings, honoring life and light. Honoring the goodness and the presence of the life lying upon the table.
Amidala's steps slowed, her heart catching in her chest. Unable to speak, unable to swallow, her mouth suddenly felt dry. She knew who she would find lying there. She knew with every fiber of her being as she strode towards this room.
She knew who had met his end at the end of the evil Sith's lightsaber. She had refused to believe it until she saw with her own eyes. Chastising herself for wishing it hadn't been him, wishing it had been someone else.
She drew a shuddering breath when the head bowed over his Master's chest raised and blue eyes caught and held her own dark orbs.
She saw him take a deep breath and return his attention to his Master.
She had seen the dried tears marring a path down his cheeks and she felt repulsed that she had ever wished that this boy had taken the blow for his Master.
She took a step forward, another, and another.
Time slowed until she reached the boy's side. She could hear his shallow breathing and realized that it was shaking as much as her own.
She reached up and covered his hand with her own, brushing the brown cloak away from where it so often hid the callused flesh.
She noticed it was different, darker, and with a pang she realized that he had replaced his own lighter cloak with that of his Master's.
He didn't look at her, didn't acknowledge her touch. She could feel his pain, his rage, could see it in the tears that dripped anew from his eyelids and onto his Master's tunic.
Seeing her, and those who had come with her, caused a new fresh wave of pain to sweep over him and he could no longer hold back the tears.
Her hand slid from Obi-Wan's and onto the chest that no longer rose with breath. His body was not yet cold, the Force would keep it indefinitely until the body was honored as befitting a Jedi Master who had fallen so bravely in battle.
She drew a shuddering breath, her heart breaking at the sight she feared would become an all too common occurrence now.
The life that had been, such a short time prior, guarding her own with no concern for his own well being, lay here now. Sworn to preserve and protect, he had lost that final battle in an effort to keep her alive.
The kindness in the now closed eyes, the concern in his voice as he spoke, even when he was exasperated with the 'Handmaiden' and her determination, was all encompassing. It overwhelmed her until she felt she would wilt beneath its weight.
She held the strength of her entire world, the lives of her people, on her shoulders. Yet the unexpected and violent death of one man, whom she had known for less than two days, was enough to cause her to break down into uncontrollable tears.
She struggled, drawing deep, shaky breaths, in an effort to retain her regal bearing, to keep from crumbling under the weight.
In a last desperate attempt to conceal her anguish, she turned and ordered everyone out of the room.
Only a moments hesitation did she receive in response before Panaka, and the handmaidens alike, stepped just outside the door.
The hand that rested on the dead Master's chest began to shake and as the door hissed shut, the tears began to fall. They slipped like a trickle of a river down her cheeks, creating a pathway into her clothing.
Her sobs were quiet. She had no desire to disturb the young Knight who shared her pain and emptiness.
This Jedi Master had filled a place in her life that she had not known existed. He had created a calm aura of peace around himself and that extended to whomever was in his presence. Even in the midst of battle, that calm soothed her nerves and gave her the hope that they would win the battle.
They had won, but at a greater price than what she had been willing to pay. If given the choice, she would have died for the noble Knight.
Never before had she met a Jedi Knight, much less a Master. Her people had been honored by the Chancellor when he had sent a Jedi Knight to deal with her small planet's problems.
And now she would be sending back a dead Jedi Master.
The sacrifice had been too great.
A quiet sob escaped her lips as she stared down at the calm face, so peaceful.
She felt the young man move beside her. She could feel his eyes on her face but made no attempt to wipe the tears she was sure that he could see.
Out of the corner of her eye, she could see his hand moving towards her face. A soft, gentle touch wiped away a drying tear but the kind gesture just brought fresh reserve. They washed over his fingers and over her chin until she sobbed once again.
She could feel his fingers tremble against her cheek and she averted her eyes to stare into his face.
There were tears as well, slipping freely down the handsome face. Revealing a human side to the otherwise mystic Jedi.
The kindness that had been shown to Amidala and her people was unimaginable as this young man, who had lost someone as close as a father, took the time to comfort her.
She pulled her cheek away from his fingers and wiped his tears away with a swipe of her hand.
"You do me an honor but it is not necessary." Amidala whispered, her voice unsteady from the sobs.
Obi-Wan nodded and she knew that he would be unable to speak.
"I will set up a temporary quarters for you." She turned her attention back to the man lying before them. "Have you contacted Coruscant?"
She noticed a shake of his head and realized that he had not done so. It would need to be done. The Council and the Chancellor's office would need to know what had happened.
"I will provide you with a communications uplink to Coruscant immediately."
"Thank you," He finally whispered but the words were muffled as he leaned over and rested his forehead into his Master's neck.
"I'm so sorry," Her voice broke at the sheer anguish revealed in the boy's features.
She saw him take a deep breath and stand straight. Wiping the tears from his face, he turned to Amidala, "I will take that uplink now. I must notify the Council immediately. I have been lax in my duties."
Her heart broke. She could tell the control that it took to keep his voice steady, and the desire in which he was determined to carry out this final detail.
She extended her arm toward a small doorway and led the way.
Inside, a small communications console rested, with enough equipment to run the entire city and communicate with anyone across the galaxy. A console she had never seen the necessity to use, but now, time was of the essence and protocol needed to be observed.
A calm settled over his features as he sat opposite the viewscreen. She saw him take a deep breath before the comm opened and a secure channel, bearing the royal seal of Naboo, appeared on the screen.
"It will take a few seconds for it to connect," Amidala offered and turned to leave him to his message.
"Please stay." He did not turn around to look at her. Simply stared at the screen as the communications symbol for the Jedi Temple appeared before him.
Amidala stood, transfixed in place as it began.
"I must speak with the Council and Master Yoda."
Obi-Wan's voice was formal, without a hint of the emotional boy she had seen mere minutes before.
Without delay, Yoda's form filled the screen, Master Windu standing behind him. Obi-Wan knew the rest of the Council would be listening, even if he couldn't see their faces.
"News have you?" Yoda asked, knowing that something had happened but uncertain of the details.
"The battle has ended?" Mace asked, leaning toward the viewscreen.
"Yes, Master. The Naboo were victorious."
"Pleased, we are, Kenobi, but tell me, why does Master Qui-Gon not give us this news? His duty it is."
Amidala noticed Obi-Wan's shoulders slump, straighten as he took a deep, shuddering breath. She could see his struggle to keep his emotions at bay.
"Master Qui-Gon was killed in the battle with the Sith."
Silence fell over the room and the Council as the news was digested by all present.
Amidala noticed Master Windu close his eyes and bow his head in respect. Even the revered and respected Master Yoda's eyes widened and he could be seen taking a deep breath. His large ears lowered in respect.
What the viewscreen did not reveal was the gasps and frantic whispers that followed Obi-Wan's announcement. The Jedi Council chamber, normally silent, was eerily so now. News of a Master's death was not taken lightly and there would be a thorough investigation.
Master Jinn had been well liked and respected among his peers, regardless of the fact that he normally followed a different code, putting him at odds with those on the Council.
"Have more to say, you do. Sense it, I can."
Obi-Wan did not speak and Amidala could see his struggle to remain calm, at peace with the emotions raging within him.
"Leave for Naboo, we will." Yoda offered, seeing the young man's discomfort. "For us, you will wait."
Yoda's form disappeared from the screen to be filled entirely by the stoic form of Master Windu.
"We will speak of this when I arrive, Padawan." Windu's voice was harsh, his tone denoting blame.
Something must have gone terribly wrong for Qui-Gon to have fallen, and although they had never agreed on much, Jinn and Windu had been good friends.
The screen went black and Amidala watched Obi-Wan's shoulders slump, watched his body sink into the chair as if to become a part of it.
"Your strength will be tested more than ever in these next few days."
"I have none left to fight with." He whispered and she knelt at his feet, far beneath her to do something so rash, and pressed her hands into his, gripping them tightly.
"I have known you for only a day but your Master instilled something deep within my soul that I had never seen before. His patience was unwavering and his dedication and duty above all else."
Sadness was overwhelming her and she doubted that she would be able to hold back the tears much longer.
"Through our grief we will grow stronger. Through our healing we will learn. His memory will live on in those whose lives he touched."
Her voice cracked and a sob escaped between her lips.
Just then did she remember Anakin and the impact this news would have on the young boy.
Obi-Wan picked up on her stray thought and gasped, taking a deep breath and exhaling it slowly.
"I made him a promise," Obi-Wan whispered, for the first time reaching for the Queen and enveloping her in a bone crushing embrace. "One that I intend to keep whatever the consequences. It's all I have left."
She rested her head on his strong shoulder, feeling his grief, the Force magnifying it one hundred fold in her mind.
"You will always have his memory," She lifted her head to stare into somber blue eyes. "And you will always have me."
TBC - Maybe