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Title: The Padawan & the Prince (Parts 5-6/8)
Author: obi's girl
Author's Note: actually, I've combined both Ch. 5 & 6, for a longer prelude to the conclusion.
Disclaimer: I think we all know SW belongs to GL. Need I say more?

Nute Gungray and Rune Haako stood before a darkened hologram of Darth Sidious. He gritted his teeth, "The Prince is on his way to you. I regret he is of no further use to us. When he gets there, destroy him."

Gungray nodded, scared to face him. "Yes, my Lord."

"Viceroy, is the planet secure?"

He nodded again, still unable to look at him. "Yes, my Lord, we have taken over the last pockets of primitive life forms. We are in complete control of the planet now."

Sidious smiled, "Good. I will see to it that in the Senate, things stay as they are. I am sending Darth Maul to join you. He will deal with the Jedi."

"Yes, my Lord." Rune concluded as Sidious faded off. He turned worriedly to Nute, a strained expression on his face unable to believe how deep things had gotten. "A Sith lord here with us?!!"

**

Anakin stood next to Ric Olie, pointing to various buttons and gauges. Still, a little boy and already he knew so much in so little time. But he was amazing, able to recognize anything and tell what they were meant to do. "...And that one?"

Ric nodded, "The forward stabilizer."

"And those control the pitch?" Ani added, pointing to another set of instruments. Olie smiled back, amazed and impressed, "You catch on pretty quick." and Ani smiled back.

**
Eirtae and Sache stood behind the Prince as he talked with my Master and Captain Panaka while Master Binks and I stayed back. Panaka scowled as he faced his ruler, trying to convince his highness this was a bad idea. His highness wanted to return and reclaim what was rightfully theirs, which was a valid argument but I feared the outcome. I didn't want him to loose his people, my people.

Panaka nodded, "The moment we land the Federation will arrest you, and force you to sign the treaty."

"I agree...I'm not sure what you hope to accomplish by this." my Master added. He looked down briefly, catching my gaze and regained his confidence. "I'm going to take back what's ours."

Panaka was still not convinced. Of course, he had always been the cynical one. "There are only twelve of us, Your Highness.... We have no army."

My Master's eyebrow's furrowed, nodding, "I cannot fight a war for you, Your Highness, only protect you."

"Master Jedi Binks?" Jar Jar glanced at me and I shrugged in return, both of us puzzled.

"Mesa, Your Highness?"

"Yes. I need your help."

**

As I headed toward the lush green planet, I noticed only one Federation battle cruiser orbiting as Captain Panaka viewed the screen. He nodded, glancing at me. “The blockade's gone...I have one battleship on my scope.” He scowled, looking to me for some answer.

“They've probably spotted us.”

I huffed, rolling my shoulders a bit. “We haven't much time.”

**

As we landed in the Gungan swamp, troops unloaded the ship as I approached my Master. He smiled hello at me as I glanced around at the lush world that was my birthplace. It really was beautiful, and now I had to help to protect it. I cleared my throat slightly, grabbing some of my Masters’ attention.

“Jar Jar is on his way to the Gungan City, Master.” His thoughts were elsewhere, I could tell. I glanced over at the groove where the Prince, his guard and Anakin were waiting. He saw me looking at him and smiled. Qui-Gon saw my smile and nodded as I continued, “Do you think the Prince’s idea will work?”

“The Gungans will not easily be swayed, and we cannot use our power to help him.” I bit my lip again, looking at Anakin. He really was special and sighed, “You were right about the boy, Master. He is special.”

Qui-Gon looked at him for a long moment and smiled, placing a hand on my shoulder. “You have been a good apprentice, Padme. You are much wiser than I am. I foresee you will become a great Jedi Knight.”

I smiled back at him sudennly feeling another premonition. My Master fighting against the same Sith that attacked him on Tatoonie, only I was no where to be seen. The Sith growled at him, striking his blade into Qui-Gon’s chest as he fell to the floor unconscious. Tears started to sour my eyes but I forced them back, not wanting to believe the vision.

Qui-Gon saw my worry and frowned but I only smiled back at him, hiding my feelings. “Padawan?”

I nodded, glancing at the Prince. “It’s nothing Master. Just the wind.” I whispered back, deeply disturbed by the vision.

**

Jar Jar swam down into Bubble City, bobbing his head from side to the other. He shrugged his shoulders before entering the main square of the Bubble City. He stood, stunned, in amazement and fear. They were gone, all of them. He nervously walked about the empty plaza. “Ello! Where das everybody?” He noticed that many of the buildings were shot up as if there had been a battle of some kind. He hung his head low and started back.

**

Jar Jar exited the Swamp Lake and walked over to the Prince, Captain Panaka, Qui-Gon and I. Eirtae, Rabe, Anakin, and Artoo, four pilots, and eight guards stood in the background near the starship. He shrugged, “Dare-sa nobody dare. All gone. Some kinda fight, I tink. Sorry, no Gungas...no Gungas.”

Fight? Had the droid army killed the Gungans? If they did, we were lost. The Naboo had no defenses, nothing strong enough to fight against an army. I leaned back and started to reach through the Force, but my Master stopped me as Captain Panaka spoke, “Do you think they have been taken to camps?”

“More likely they were wiped out.” Some one said, sending a shudder through my body.

The Gungan nodded, “No...mesa no tink so. Gungan hiden. When in trouble, go to sacred place. Mackineeks no find them dare.”

**

We followed Jar Jar as he moved through the swamp; we stopped briefly as he sniffed the air. He turned to me and smiled, “Dissen it.” Jar Jar made a strange chattering noise and suddenly, out of nowhere, an old Gungan riding a kaadu and six other Gungan guards confronted us. “Heyo-dalee, Captain Tarpals.”

Tarpals nodded, scowling, “Binks!! Noah gain!”

Binks huffed, still smiling, “We comen to see da boss.” Captain Tarpals rolled his eyes. Obviously, Jar Jar wasn’t well liked by his people because he left Naboo and became a Jedi Master. The Gungans were a secret people; they were believed to be monsters by the Naboo and ate children in their sleep. I used to believe the same thing when I was younger, but after knowing Jar Jar for a couple years, it was obvious to me he wasn’t a killer. “Ouch time, Binks... Ouch time for all-n youse.”

**

Jar Jar, the Prince, Anakin, R2, my Master, and I led the rest of our group through a clearing full of Gungans refugees. At the far end were the ruins of a grand temple with massive carved heads. Boss Noss and several other Council Members walked out on the top of a three-quarter-submerged head.

“Jar Jar, yousa payen dis time. Who's da uss-en others??”

The Prince stepped forward, lightly brushing my left shoulder. Captain Panaka and the handmaidens stood behind him. “I am Prince Obi-Wan Kenobi of the Naboo...I come before you in peace.”

Boss made some click sound with his tongue or cheek, eyes wide-eyed. “Naboo biggen. Yousa bringen da Mackineeks... Dya busten uss-en omm. Yousa all bombad. Yousa all die'n, mesa tink.”

Captain Panaka and half a dozen guards and pilots looked around nervously, as the Gungan troops lowered their long power poles. My Master remained relaxed, though I was a bit nervous and Anakin watched everything with great interest. “We wish to form an alliance...”

Suddenly, one of the guard stepped forward, “Your Honor...” R2 whistled a quiet "uh oh."

Boss raised a suspicious eyebrow, “Whosa dis?”

He raised his chin and smiled partly, “I am Prince Obi-Wan Kenobi.” He pointed to the younger man kneeling, “This is my decoy...my protection...my loyal bodyguard.”
Anakin was stunned as I smiled knowingly, though I growled and mentally kicked myself. Decoy? If that was true, whom was I flirting with in the ship? Was it really Obi-Wan or the decoy?

“...I am sorry for my deception, but under the circumstances it has become necessary to protect myself. Although we do not always agree, Your Honor, our two great societies have always lived in peace...until now. The Trade Federation has destroyed all that we have worked so hard to build. You are in hiding, my people are in camps. If we do not act quickly, all will be lost forever...I ask you to help us...no, I beg you to help us.”

He knelt down, turned slightly and winked at me. He was the Prince. Only that cockiness could make me swoon. There was a gasp from Captain Panaka, his troops and handmaidens. “We are your humble servants...our fate is in your hands.”

Slowly, Captain Panaka, the handmaidens and troops bowed down before the Gungan Council. I smiled, kneeling down as my Master studied Boss Noss’ face. Our actions and their leaders’ action puzzled the Gungans. He started to laugh, wiggling his fingers, “Yousa no tinken yousa greater den da Gungans... Mesa like dis. Maybe wesa bein friends.”

***

Nute, Rune and Darth Maul walked along side a hologram of Darth Sidious. Rune fidgeted, his eyes away from Sidious as Run explained the situation. “...We’ve sent out patrols. We've already located their starship in the swamp.... It won't be long, My Lord.” Sidious scowled, “This is an unexpected move for him. It's too aggressive.. Lord Maul, be mindful.”

The Sith bowed his head in respect, “Yes, my Master.”

“Be patient... Let them make the first move.” Sidious glanced back at Rune and Nute. The both of them looked nervous, worried – they were weak as he always thought to be.

**

The Prince walked over to me as I talked with my Master. I smiled, laughing, “Don’t even think about it, your highness.” The Prince frowned and stood on my left. “So, I just have one question. The whole time on the ship, was that you I was flirting with or the guard? You say the guard, I’m going to be really angry.”

“No, it was me. After you and your Master left the throne room, my decoy came out of hiding and we switched places. Sorry about the deception but it was necessary to keep myself out of danger. I mean, I trust you ---.”

I waved my hand, smiling, “I get it. I’m not angry with you.” As Captain Panaka, R2 and Anni joined us.

Anni ran over as Boss Noss joined the group, standing on my Master’s right side. The Prince gazed up, winked at me before facing Captain Panaka. “What is the situation?”

“Almost everyone's in camps. A few hundred police and guards have formed an underground movement. I brought as many of the leaders as I could. The Federation Army's also much larger than we thought, and much stronger. Your Highness, this is a battle I do not think we can win.”

Obi-Wan cleared his throat, gesturing for R2 to start up the hologram. Before us was an exact layout of the palace, well the outside anyway. “The battle is a diversion. The Gungans must draw the Droid Army away from the cities. We can enter the city using the secret passages on the waterfall side. Once we get to the main entrance, Captain Panaka will create a diversion, so that we can enter the palace and capture the Viceroy. Without the Viceroy, they will be lost and confused.”

My Master and I looked on with interest. Obi-Wan looked up at my Master, “What do you think, Master Jedi?” Qui-Gon sighed, examining the hologram,

“The Viceroy will be well guarded.” Panaka nodded, “The difficulty's getting into the throne room. Once we're inside, we shouldn't have a problem.” Still, I knew he was worried.

“There is a possibility with this diversion many Gungans will be killed.” Mindful of the living Force, Master. I remember. Qui-Gon caught that thought and smiled at me.

Boss Nass struck his chest, his beady eyes narrowing. “Wesa ready to do are-sa part.” Jar Jar smiled a very worried and sheepish grin as Anakin and Artoo watched with interest.

“We have a plan which should immobilize the Droid Army. We will send what pilots we have to knock out the Droid control ship, which is orbiting the planet. If we can get past their ray shields, we can sever communication and their droids will be helpless.”

“A well-conceived plan. However, there's great risk. The weapons on your fighters may not penetrate the shields on the control ship.” My Master reasoned.

I raised my chin, looking at the Prince, “And there's an even bigger danger. If the Viceroy escapes, Your Highness, he will return with another droid army.”

“That is why we must not fail to get to the Viceroy. Everything depends on it.” He concluded.

***

Nute, Rune, Lord Maul, OOM-9, and a hologram of Darth Sidious walked through the throne room. “ ...He is more foolish than I thought.”

“We are sending all available troops to meet this army of hers assembling near the swamp. It appears to be made up of primitives. We do not expect much resistance.” Nute added, nodding to the droid. “I am increasing security at all Naboo detention camps.” OOM-9 reasoned.

Maul sighed, halting, “I feel there is more to this, My Master. The two Jedi may be using the Prince for their own purposes.”

Sidious remained silent for a moment, thinking, “The Jedi cannot become involved. They can only protect the Prince. Qui-Gon Jinn will not break that covenant.... This will work to our advantage... “

“I have your approval to proceed then, My Lord?” Nute asked, the room sudennly feeling colder than usual. “Proceed. Wipe them put...all of them.” Sidious concluded, his image fading.

(CH6)

All was peaceful in the Naboo swamps. Small critters drank out of a large swamp lake. A small disturbance in the middle of the lake disrupted that natural silence. A rush of bubbles formed in the middle of the lake as a Gungan soldier, riding a Kaadu emerged from the water, followed by several others. Frogs and other little animals fled in all directions as the Gungan army marched through the swamp. The Kaadu shook themselves free of water as they exited the lake. When Jar Jar's Kaadu shook, the Gungan fell off. Soldiers on Fambas with large shield generators mounted on their backs followed the marching warriors as they head out of the swamp and onto the rolling grassy hills.

Hundreds of Gungan warriors marched in long lines toward the horizon as Federation tanks moved to a ridge and stopped. In the distance they saw the Gungan army marching towards them. Gungan General Ceel saw the tanks on the ridge and ordered a halt. The Gungans were spread out in a large line. Jar Jar was nervous as General Ceel signaled to start the shield operators. A red ray shot out of the generator and blasted into a large dish on the back of a second Faamba and spread like an umbrella over the assembled warriors.

**

I stealthily followed Eirtae, Obi-Wan, my Master, Anakin, and R2, as we made our way towards the entrance to the main hanger. About twenty Naboo guards, pilots, and troops followed us. We stopped briefly as Obi-Wan pulled out a small red laser light to signal across the plaza to Captain Panaka, Rabe and twenty other assorted Naboo troops. They signaled back.

My Master leaned over to Anakin, "Once we get inside, Annie, you find a safe place to hide and stay there."

The boy obediently nodded his head, knowing how dangerous our mission was, "Sure."

My Master held out his finger, "And stay there!"

Droids troops patrolled the tank-filled plaza. At the far end of the plaza, several droids began to run and fire as Naboo soldiers began to fire back at the battle droids. As the ground battle erupted at one end of the plaza, Obi-Wan and his guard rushed into the main hanger while Captain Panaka and his soldiers continued to engage the droids outside. Alarms sounded as we rushed into the hanger.

Battle droids began firing at us as we ran for cover. Anakin ran under a Naboo fighter as my Master and I deflected bolts aimed at his highness. Obi-Wan focused his pistol, targeting a main function/weakness onto the battle droids, causing them to explode. I smiled to myself. If he were brought up on Coruscant, he would have been an excellent Jedi and opponent.

**

Nute worriedly shook his head as he watched along with four council members the battle in the large plaza on a large view screen. "I thought the battle was going to take place far from here...this is too close!"

"What is going on?" Rune mused as Lord Maul entered the throne room.

The Sith Lord crossed his arms around his middle, "I told you there was more to this...the Jedi are involved."

***

After firing several shots against the Gungans, the tanks stopped firing. The Gungans cheered briefly until they saw the doors to the massive transports open, and racks of battle droids were pulled out and lined up by a squad of STAPS. The battle droids reconfigured into their standing position as the Gungans readied for an attack. OOM-9 gave the command to move forward, and thousands of droids marched towards the Gungans. The Gungans powered up their weapons as the droids slowly marched through the protective shield and started firing. Gungan lieutenants threw their power poles and flung small balls of energy with slingshots. The warriors dumped large balls of energy into mortars that heated up and fired the energy balls onto the battle droids, causing them to short out. The battle raged on as the Gungans defended their shield generators against the army of droids and OOM-9 watched from a tank on a hill overlooking the battle.

**

Anakin hid behind one of the Naboo fighters, ducking as large bolts whizzed past and exploded near him. I swirled my lightsabre around, cutting droid after droid. I glanced behind me. A droid stood still for a moment then fell down. Obi-Wan winked at me, then darted off to deal with more droids. His highness' troops and Eirtae blasted away at the droids as Obi-Wan signaled to the pilots.

"Get to your ships!" he yelled, taking down two more droids.

The pilots and several R2 units ran for the Naboo fighter craft stacked in the hanger bay. One of the pilots jumped into a fighter right above Anakin. "Better find a new hiding place, kid. I'm taking this ship."

The ship began to levitate out of the hanger. Battle droids fired at all off the ships as five other fighters made their escape. R2 directed Anakin to a second fighter not far away. Anakin ran and jumped into the second fighter to hide as two Naboo starfighters exited the main hanger. A tank fired, hitting one of them, which caused it to pinwheel into the ground and explode. Captain Panaka, Sabe and Naboo troops rushed into the hanger and overwhelmed the few remaining battle droids as Obi-Wan, my Master and I joined forces with the Captain.

"My guess is the Viceroy is in the throne room." the Prince reasoned, looking at my Master.

He nodded, "I agree." As we started for the exit, we passed the fighter where Anakin was hiding.

R2 whistled a greeting as the small boy peeped out of the cockpit. "Hey! Wait for me." My Master's eyes darted to the Ani, "No, Ani you stay there. Stay right where you are."

"But, I..."

"Stay in that cockpit." my Master commanded.

As we were about to go through the door, everyone scattered, revealing the dark-hooded Sith standing in the doorway. Captain Panaka, Obi-Wan and his troops backed away as my Master and I stepped forward. "We'll handle this..."

We removed our cloaks, igniting our lightsabres. Mine, purple, my Master's blue. The Sith Lord took off his cape, and ignited his lightsabre which was surprisingly, double bladed. I worriedly glanced at my Master. He didn't look at me except nod, <Don't let Fear cloud your mind, Padawan. May the Force be with you. >

At the far end of the hanger, six droids rolled in, shields covering their metal bodies as they began to fire. R2 called Anakin’s attention to the droids as we began to fight the Sith. Lord. "Oh, no..." The droids began to advance and started to fire at Obi-Wan and his troops. "We gotta do something, Artoo." R2 whistled a reply, as the ship's systems were sudennly turned on and the ship itself began to levitate.

Ani nodded, "All right, thanks Artoo! Great idea! I'll take over. Let's see...” As Skywalker steered the ship toward the droids, he pushed a button, and the ship began to shake. "Where's the trigger? Oops, wrong one.. Maybe this one...." Ani pushed a second button, and the lasers began to fire, wiping out several destroyer droids. R2 whistled a cheer.

"Yeah, all right. Droid blaster. Yeah!"

**

We were engaged in a fierce lightsabre duel with the Sith, moving into the center of the hanger. While the droids were momentarily distracted by Anakin and Captain Panaka, Obi-Wan and his troops exited into a palace hallway as destroyers started firing at Anakin.

"Oops...shield up! Always on the right...shields always on the right." As Anakin flipped several switches, the after-burner ignited. "I know we're moving. I'll shut the energy drive down." The fighter rocketed out of the hanger as R2 and Ani held on for dear life. "Oops!! Wrong one." R2 beeped a question. Ani nodded his head, his hands not even touching the computer screen. "I'm not doing anything!" The small droid beeped again. "I know...I didn't push anything."

**

The Naboo fleet left the planet and head toward the space station. Ric Olie as the lead fighter, "Bravo Flight A, take on the fighters. Flight B, make the run on the transmitter."

~~<Roger, Bravo Leader. >~~

As the fleet approached the space station, many Federation fighters exited the hangers and attacked. Ric nodded his head, "Enemy fighters straight ahead!"

**

Jar Jar’s clumsiness worked for him on the battle. He got caught up in the wiring of a blasted droid, dragging the torso around with him, the droid’s gun firing randomly, accidentally blasting several droids in one process. OOM-9 decided to send in the destroyer droids and gave the signal. Hundreds of destroyers rolled out of the transports and head down toward the battle. They slowly rolled through the deflector shields, then transformed themselves once they get on the other side. The Gungans blasted the droids with energy balls, but droids equally blast as many Gungans.

***

A giant dogfight ensued as Anakin’s fighter flew into space above Naboo. R2 beeped a worried concern. "The Autopilot is searching for what other ships?" R2 beeped and whistled again. "There is no manual override, Artoo. You'll have to rewire it or something." R2 chirped that he's trying, as Ani noticed their point of destination. "Look! There they are! That's where the autopilot is taking us." Anakin’s fighter maneuvered towards the Federation Battleship.

**

The Sith Lord drove us out of the hanger and into the power generator area next door. Our swords crossed in an intense display of swordsmanship. We fought our way across a narrow bridge of the Theed power generator. The Sith jumped onto the bridge above them as we followed.

***

Obi-Wan, Captain Panaka, Eirtae, Sabe and their troops were trapped in a hallway by battle droids. Kenobi scowled, shooting down two more droids. "We don't have time for this, Captain."

Panaka nodded, "Let's try the outside stairway."

The Captain blasted a hole in the window, and they made their way outside the building onto a ledge about six stories above a raging waterfall while Sabe, Eirtae and about twenty Naboo soldiers stayed in the hallway to hold off the battle droids.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan, Panaka and about ten other Naboo soldiers lined up along the edge. They pulled small attachments out of their pistols and fired at a ledge about four stories above them. Thin cables shot out of the pistols and were embedded into the ledge as they began to climb up the wall.

**

The Gungan army was no match for the destroyer droids. Jar Jar tried to run from the battle droids as General Ceel waved his hand, "Retreat! Retreat!" They began to turn and run, on foot, on their kaadu. As Jar Jar attempted to escape on a wagon of energy balls but only managed to unhitch the back gate, causing all of the energy balls to roll out of the wagon and down the hill. The clumsy Gungan scrambled to avoid being hit by one of the balls, however four destroyer droids weren't so lucky. The Gungans renewed their attack on the droid army as Jar Jar's bumbling destroyed several more destroyers.

**

Anakin found himself in the middle of the space battle as a ship exploded over his left shoulder. "Whoa, boy! This is tense!" He looked forward to see enemy ships approaching head on. "Oops! Artoo, get us off Autopilot!" The small droids screamed a reply. "I've got control?" Ani flipped switches, his hands finding the control stick. "Okay, let's go left!" He moved the controls left and the ship responded, turning left. "Yes...I've got control. You did it, Artoo!" R2 beeped something else, a worried question. Ani raised an eyebrow in disbelief, "Go back!?! Qui-Gon told me to stay in this cockpit and that's what I'm gonna do. Now c'mon!"

An enemy fighter came into his sights as Anakin pushed the controls, looking for the trigger but instead of firing, his fighter accelerated past the enemy ship. "Oops! Whoa!" Now, the enemy ship was on his tail. Ani rolled his eyes, grabbing hold of a helmet, trying evasive maneuvers. "I'll try spinning, that's a good trick." Anakin rolled the ship as R2's screamed desperately. "I know we're in trouble! Hang on! The way out of this mess is the way we got into it." R2 beeped a reply as Ani's eyes scanned the controls, "Which one? This one?"

Skywalker yanked on the reverse thrusters and the ship slowed instantly - the enemy fighter shot past and exploded against the space station.

**

Our duel continued on the small catwalk around the vast power pit as the Sith kicked me off one of the ramps, falling several lower levels below. My Master knocked the dark lord off another ramp, and he landed hard on a ramp two levels below. Qui-Gon jumped down after him as the dark lord backed away along the catwalk into a small door. My Master followed as I jumped back up and ran after them. The Sith Lord, followed my Master entering a long hallway filled with a series of deadly rays that went on and off in a pulsing pattern that shot down the corridor every minute or so. He was a fast devil; made it down several walls of deadly rays before they closed. Qui-Gon was one wall away from the dark lord. I was just starting into it but the walls closed down, separating us. I nodded. I hated waiting. I paced myself, waiting for the wall of rays to open as I noticed my Master kneel and meditate. The Sith Lord tried to patch up his wounds.

**

A window in the hallway blasted apart, as Obi-Wan, Captain Panaka, and his soldiers climbed into the hallway. They head for the door to the throne room but was stopped when two destroyer droids skittered in front of the door. Obi-Wan turned around and saw two more appear at the far end of the hallway, trapping them in the middle.

He threw down his pistol and turned to Panaka, "Throw down your weapons. They win this round."

"But we can't...."

Obi-Wan scowled, gritting his teeth, "Captain, I said throw down your weapons!" Panaka nodded and his men threw down their weapons.

**

A Destroyer droids blasted one of the shield generators, causing it to explode. The protective shield began to weaken and fell apart. OOM-9 saw the shield weaken and ordered his tanks forward. The Gungan General signaled a retreat as the tanks entered the battle. The Gungans fled as fast as they could as Jar Jar was blown off his Kaadu and landed on one of the tank guns. A Gungan warrior signaled Jar Jar to jump off, but he refused, afraid. The gun swung around trying to knock Jar Jar off. Jar Jar hung from the tank barrel as it moved along. Finally, he jumped onto a Kaadu behind a Gungan warrior as explosions from the tank fired everywhere.

**

The electric rays cycled as Qui-Gon sat meditating. The wall of the deadly rays turned away, and I started running toward my Master and the dark lord. When the wall between Qui-Gon and the Sith opened, he was in a split second fighting the dark lord with a ferocity not seen before. They moved toward the melting pit, located at the end of the corridor. The electron ray gates began to close as I tried to make it to the melting pit but was caught one gate short. I slid to a stop just before hitting the deadly electron field as my Master and the Sith battled around the melting pit. The Lord caught my Master off guard. He glared at him, bashing his lightsaber handle into my Master's chin and ran him through.

****

The Gungans had been overrun as some fled into the hills, chased by battle droids on STAPS. Many others were herded into groups by droids and destroyers. Jar Jar and General Ceel were held in a small group with other officers "Dissa bad, berry bombad." Jar Jar mused.

Ceel nodded his head, "Mesa hopen dissa working for da Prince."

****

Obi-Wan, Captain Panaka, and six other officers were brought by ten battle droids before Nute and Rune. "Your little insurrection is at an end, Your Highness. Time for you to sign the treaty...and end this pointless debate in the Senate."

The decoy officer dressed as the Prince appeared in the doorway with several troops. Several destroyed battle droids could be seen in the distance. "Viceroy, your occupation here as ended!"

Nute and the others were stunned to see a second Prince. Nute yelled at the ten guards in the room as the decoy ran off. Obi-Wan slumped down on the throne, opening a secret compartment. "After him! This one is a decoy!" Nute yelled, as six of the droids rushed out of the throne room after the decoy.

Obi-Wan smirked, nodded to something outside and as Nute turned to see what it was, Obi-Wan stood up from the throne and hit Nute in the back. The Neimoidian turned around, rubbing the back of his neck as Captain Panaka secured weapons from the Neimoidians. The officers rushed to the door control panel as Obi-Wan hit the switch to close the door. The officers at the door jammed the controls as Panaka threw more pistols to the other guards.

**

I screamed at the top of my lungs as the pulsing electron gate opened. I wanted to kill the Sith Lord and send him straight to the Netherworld. I sucked up my gut, grabbed my lightsabre and leapt on top of him, kicking him onto the ground. He sprung right up again, calling various objects and throwing them at me, using the Force. I dodged several of them, my eyes occasionally glancing at my Master's limp body. Though the Sith Lord was stronger than I am, but he wasn't going to win. He can't win! No one hurts my family and gets away with it. Not even him.

He smiled briefly, catching me off guard and pushed down a well, using the Force. I gasped, barely able to hold onto a nozzle on the side of the pit. He grinned evilly at me as he kicked my lightsaber down the endless shaft. His smile deepened as he paced around the pit, waiting for me to lose my grip and fall.

I blinked my eyes, glancing at my Master's fallen lightsabre. I knew it was impossible to grab mine but his was lying right on the floor. I closed my eyes, calling it to my hand as I back-flipped out of the pit, feeling the lightsabre fall into my palm in mid-air and when my feat touched the ground, I drove the sabre into his stomach. He felt the split, looked down and fell backwards into the pit, his body splitting in two as he descended further and further.

I rushed over to my Master, shutting off his sabre. I knelt on his right side, trying to force back the tears that threatened to take over. I couldn't allow him to see me like this. I had always been strong in his eyes. I couldn't stop being strong now but it was pointless. The tears flowed anyway and I had no control over them.

He smiled, reached up with his hand and tried to wipe them away. "Don't cry, Padme. Don't cry..."

"I can't help it. It's a girl thing." I whispered, my hands supporting his head, "Master -- I..."

Qui-Gon nodded, still smiling at me, the same smile I remember growing up by his side.

"You have always been strong --- I need to ask you something; very important."

I nodded okay, my eyes stoned from the tears. "Yes, anything."

"Padme promise...promise me you'll train the boy..."

I smiled okay, kissed his forehead and smiled back, "Yes, Master...I promise."

His hand stroked my cheek again as tears filled his eyes, "I have always been very proud of you; I love you --- the daughter I never had; train him!"

His eyes closed and I felt my voice catch in my throat as I brushed my hand over his face and closed his eyes. He was going to help me prepare for the Trials and now I was a Jedi Master, with no one to guide me. What was I going to do?

**

Anakin peeked over the edge of the cockpit and saw battle droids beginning to surround the ship. He frowned, ducking back down and hurriedly played with several switches, hoping one of them ignited the engine. "Uh oh. This is not good." He looked at the dashboard as several red lights were blipping. "The systems are still overheated, Artoo."

He peeked out the window again and slipped under the seat as the battle droids Captain walked up to the ship. "Where's your pilot?" R2 beeped a reply. The droid turned briefly to the surrounding droids and shrugged, "You're the pilot?" R2 whistled yes. The droid cocked his gun, pointing it towards the small droid. "Let me see your identification!"

Anakin, who was below the seat, noticed the dashboard lights go from red to green and smiled, springing up from the below the seat and grabbing hold of the stick. "Yes...we have ignition!" He flipped the switch and the engine ignited.

"You! Come out of there or we'll blast you!" the droid commanded. Ani laughed, "Not if I can help it! Shields up!" Skywalker flipped a switch and the ship began to levitate, knocking over several battle droids, including the Captain. The other droids shot, but Anakin deflected the shots, using the lasers. R2 beeped. "This should stop them." he mused, firing laser as the ship began to rotate. "...and take this!"

He pressed a button and launched two torpedoes, which missed the droids. Ani frowned slightly, "I missed!"

However, the two torpedoes flew down the hallway and into the reactor room, hitting the core. "Let's get out of here!" Ani added, as the ship roared through the hanger deck, bouncing over the droids. "Now, this is Podracing! Whoopee!"

**

Tey How turned to Captain Dofine, "Sir, we're losing power... There is some problem with the main reactor..."

"Impossible!! I don't..." He froze, hearing the loud blast as it raced towards the bridge; the fire burned through the door and burst in their faces.

**

Ric Olie watched in amazement as the Federation battleship started to explode from the inside out. ~~<What's that?? It's blowing up from the inside. >~~

He shrugged, "I don't know; we didn't hit it."

~~<Look! One of ours! Outta the main hold!! >~~

**

Suddenly, all of the droids began to shake upside down, ran around in circles, then stopped. The Gungans carefully moved out to inspect the frozen droids; Jar Jar pushed one of the battle droids and it fell over. "Wierdind..."

**

Meanwhile, Anakin and R2 followed the squad of yellow Naboo starfighters into the main hanger. Ric Olie and other pilots gathered around as they exited their ships. Ani shrugged, climbing down from the fight, pushing his way into the group as one of the pilots described what happened during the attack. "He flew into the hold, behind the deflector shield and blasted the main reactor..."

Bravo Three smiled, "Amazing... They don't teach that in the academy." While Ani was listening to the fighters talk, ground crews rushed to his ship.

Olie shrugged, "We're all accounted for. Who flew that ship?"

Anakin sheepishly walked forward and smiled, "I'm not going to get into trouble, am I?"

The pilots looked at him in bewilderment. Some of them smiled as Ric lifted the boy up in the air and settled him down on his shoulders as the pilots whooped and yelled. R2 beeped, his head whirling around.

**

A large, grand cruiser landed in the courtyard of the main hanger as Captain Panaka and twenty troops guarded Nute and Rune. I watched Obi-Wan as he stood before the Neimoidians. "Now, Viceroy, you are going to have to go back to the Senate and explain all of this."

Panaka nodded, "I think you can kiss your Trade franchise goodbye." and gestured to some guards to escort them to the Republic cruiser.

The main ramp of the cruiser lowered as Obi-Wan and Captain Panaka led the Viceroy and their assistant toward the ship as Grand Chancellor Palpatine and several Republic guards descended the walkway, followed by Yoda and several other Jedi Masters.

"Congratulations on your election, Chancellor. It is so good to see you again." Obi-Wan smiled.

Palpatine's lips pursed, eyeing his surroundings. "It's good to be home. Your boldness has saved our people, Your Majesty. It is you who should be congratulated. Together we shall bring peace and prosperity to the Republic." I silently huffed, greeting Master Yoda and the other Jedi as Captain Panaka took the Neimoidians onto the cruiser.

**

The sun streamed into the multi-windowed room at a low angle as Master Yoda paced before me. Barely a day since I lost my Master and I was knighted and had the responsibility to train young Anakin, but Master Yoda, refused my Master's wish. It was his last wish, and as his Padawan, it was my duty to carry it out. He was family to me as most of the Jedi I knew.

Yoda firmly hit his gimmer stick on the floor, walking around, "Confer on you, the level of Jedi Knight the Council does. But agree on you taking this boy as your Padawan learner, I do not."

"Master Yoda, it was his last wish -- I have to do this. Qui-Gon believed in him. I believe in Qui-Gon." I mused.

He perked up, nodding, "Family he is to you; was more operable word. All family are we... The Chosen One the boy may be. Nevertheless, grave danger I fear in his training."

I bit my lip, tears nearly stinging my eyes, "I gave Qui-Gon my word. I will train Anakin. Without the approval of the Council if I must."

He nodded, pacing about again, "Qui-Gon's defiance I sense in you. Need that, you do not. Agree the council does. Your apprentice, young Skywalker will be."

**

I tried to force back the pain in my heart as I watched the flames rise from my Master's body. Earlier in the day, I talked in private with Master Yoda; argued more like it, until he approved of my Master last wish. My Master. I'm the Master now. Ten something years with Qui-Gon and he was gone from my life. It was a nightmare. I had always imagined he would be there; I would be there by his side. He would help me prepare for the Trials; be there at my knighting ceremony and when I received my first Padawan.

How many years had we lost Qui-Gon, the many years we could have had together? Whatever could have been is long past. I have to be strong now but I'm still not ready to let go and I don't think I'll ever be ready. He taught me, held me when I was sad and now the idea that he's not here anymore hurts more than I can say.

I love you, Qui-Gon. You were my father for so long. It's hard to let you go and move on without your guidance. Yes, I still need guidance. Anakin, how am I going to train him? He's just a boy and before all of this happened, I was just a lonely girl but now, I have to be grown-up and be responsible and wise. I hate it.

"Padme...." I turned, thinking it was Master Windu. He knew me from the beginning and was friends with my Master for a long time...but it wasn't. It was Obi-Wan. I weakly smiled at him, glancing at Anakin, sadly watching Qui-Gon's body decay.

"It's going to be hard to move on without him...I was with him for so long, and now, he's not..." I mused, the tears threatening my eyes again.

Obi-Wan smiled, raised his hand and touched my cheek and kissed my forehead, "You know, you don't have to return to Coruscant right away. You can stay here for a couple days, weeks if you need to..."

"No. I appreciate the offer but it's best to start training Anakin as soon as possible." I mused, glancing at the boy one more time and nodded, "I don't even know where to begin...I'm so lost -- he knew what to do; even if it wasn't the best option but he knew. I don't know; I don't know what to do."

My head fell on his shoulder, crying for the second time. I know it wasn't a Jedi thing to show emotion but he was my family. "I was never ready for this; never ready to lose him..."

"Ssssh. It will be okay. You'll get through this; maybe not right away but eventually..." I nodded no, watching the flames decrease, "There's so much I could have done differently; things I could have said..." I almost jumped when the drum roll stopped and the doves were released. He was gone; he was really gone.

I turned to Obi-Wan, kissed his cheek then walked quietly towards Anakin and faintly, I heard my Master’s voice through the Force, saying, ~~<Be brave, Padme. And know I will always be with you. > ~~

I smiled to myself and my pace quickened a bit, confronting Anakin. He turned to me and shrugged, "What will happen to me now?"

"I am your Master now. You will become a Jedi, I promise."

On the other side of the pyre, Mace Windu turned to Yoda - his voice a low whisper, "There is no doubt. The mysterious warrior was a Sith."

Yoda gazed across the pyre, towards Anakin and I. "It will be hard for them, her - especially. Close they were - family."

He huffed, "Yes. In my opinion, she's always been the stronger one even when she thought Qui-Gon saw her weak. They had been together for more than ten years; now she has to learn how to do things by herself."

Yoda turned to him and nodded, "Hard it is to lose a Master." Windu nodded, "We'll help her through it, but back to the original point - the Sith, if they are alive - we must be careful and ready if they strike again."

"Always two there are.... No more...no less. A master and an apprentice."

Mace raised his chin, his eyes scanning beyond the pyre. "But which one was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?"

**

As the evening dragged on, I wasn’t even sure how I was going to feel the next morning at the parade, celebrating the liberation of Naboo. I was still sore and still getting used to the fact that I was alone. I know I have Anakin; in the beginning I never even gave the boy a second glance. Now he’s my Padawan, and although I wish I were still the Padawan it’s only a wish. Qui-Gon isn’t coming back and it scares me.

I mean, how does one even go about training a Padawan at this stage? Forget it! I’ll worry about when I get back to Coruscant. I need to think. I glanced around at the people around me. Several of the Jedi Masters had already left; Senator Palpatine was gone as well as Boss Noss and Jar Jar and Ani. He had gone too, probably with the other Masters. I sighed to myself as I felt some one linger behind me, waiting for me to recognize their presence. I turned around, my head low, glancing up at him. “What are you still doing here?”

Obi-Wan shrugged, smiling partially, “I thought you’d like some company or at least someone to talk to...And I wanted to ask you something else. Can you come to the parade tomorrow? I know you probably don’t feel like celebrating but Naboo has been liberated....”

I nodded, lowering my head, “I know your highness. I appreciate the sentiment and you’re right, I really don’t feel like celebrating...but if roles were reversed and I had died instead, my Master would probably attend the parade because it would be rude to refuse and it might offend you.”

He cleared his throat, stepping forward, staring at the barely lit bonfire. “About what I said before, you don’t have to return to Coruscant right away. You can stay here if you wanted to ---.”

“I know I could and I would love to. You’ve been so good to me, your highness. The only way I can think to say thank you would be to attend the parade tomorrow...”

Obi-Wan smiled, head high, “Is it that a yes, Knight Naberrie?”

I laughed, glancing at the bonfire and the body that used to be my Master. “Well, I’m not saying no. I think --- I think Qui-Gon would want me to be there.”

He grinned, leaned down and kissed my forehead, “If I were you, I wouldn’t let go right way either. Losing family is something you never forget or get over...” He paused, frowning slightly but perked up again. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

I smiled okay and as he turned to leave, he turned back to me and smiled, “May the Force be with you, Padme Naberrie.” And disappeared.

I smiled to myself, watching him leave. I glanced around again; every one was gone. I sighed to myself again as I started to leave but stopped briefly, looking back at the pyre. “May the Force be with you, Qui-Gon Jinn.” I mused then left.

**

My body swayed back and forth as I rode the Faama, a swampy lizard, sacred to the Gungans. I glanced at Obi-Wan. He was on another Faama, smiling at the passing crowd. He wasn't too far away from me. He turned to me and grinned. I smiled back. Despite the harsh pain I was going through I managed to hide to it all and it impressed him. He will always be grateful to me for what my Master and I did for his people. I gazed out among the crowd.

The Jedi Council was just arriving. I would be there sooner but these creatures are so slow, but it's enough. Being beside him is comfort enough. He will become my greatest confidant and friend. I’ll always love him for that. I smiled, gazing back at young Ani. He was whooping and yelling something a Jedi would never do but he's a boy. He noticed me and smiled. I smiled turning recognizing a teasing smile from Obi-Wan.

**

I rolled my eyes as we finally met the podium. It was a long slow ride from one end of the street where the parade began to this one spot. I glanced again at Obi-Wan. He rolled his eyes as well feeling a bit obligated and tired from having to show-off these to people. The Faama stopped, sending a short jolt through him. Anakin's Faama was lagging behind but his was in perfect range to help me off mine.

As I slid of the large beast, I turned my gaze to Obi-Wan. He smiled down at me as I positioned my legs to the other side of the animal. I extended my arms grabbing my waist. I blushed, falling into his arms. He smiled leaning forward though we were within distance of each other, "You shouldn’t blush, young Knight."

I pushed back the blush and smiled instead, moving away a bit. I eyed over his shoulder. Sure enough, I could feel Captain Panaka roll his eyes. I gazed back at him as he offered his arm, escorting me to the podium.

Watching the parade, I nodded to the Prince, almost leaning over. “If the offer still stands, I would like to stay on Naboo for a couple days before returning.” He smiled, waving his hand to his people, “And Anakin?”

“He’ll return with the Council.” I turned to him fully, lightly smiling, “I haven’t really had the chance to thank you for...everything.”

Obi-Wan nodded, dropping his hand and entwining it with mine. “There’s no need for that. Stay as long as you need.”

I smiled thank you at him as two large Fambas approached us - Jar Jar and Boss Nass. They smiled at everyone. Nass slid of the beast as Jar Jar tried to loosen his foot from the reigns. I laughed but stopped when he was able to loosen them. Obi-Wan turned to Sio Bibble as the old man handed him a large, bright white ball. He then turned to Nass and handed it to him. Nass nodded thanks, thrusting the ball up in the air, yelling, “PEACE!” I turned to Obi-Wan and smiled.

**

As if the Force was punishing me, my thoughts kept rewinding back through my Master’s death and the defeat of the Sith Lord that took his life. At one point, I almost passed out from the over flooding of memories but I used the Force to calm my thoughts and focus on the now...the Parade. I turned to Obi-Wan, smiling as I glanced at the street before me. The Parade had dispersed; several Gungans were off talking to Nubian officers and civilians - no was paying attention to the front. I looked to the side; the Jedi Council was gone as well as Anakin. I relaxed, stepping down from the podium but Obi-Wan stopped me, placing a reassuring hand on my shoulder. He smiled at me, nodding, “Why don’t we take a walk?”

**

Obi-Wan and I wandered away from the parade, strolling through the country side of Naboo’s grassy planes. Funny, how just hours ago, this plane was a battle ground, polluted and tarnished and now, it's silent and serene. I nodded, massaging my temples as Obi-Wan walked beside me. "I honestly don't know how I'll be tomorrow."

He shrugged, stopping, "What's tomorrow?"

I shrugged back, kneeling down, "That's exactly what I don't know. Up until now, I... I've had a guide. Qui-Gon was my guide, now I have nothing."

Obi-Wan nodded, "You have the Council. They'll help you get through this...Tomorrow the stuff of everyday living resumes."

I rolled my eyes, as my fingers trailed over the grass. "And everybody expects me to be strict and know what to do because I'm strong."

"You just need some time. I'm sure everybody understands that."

I nodded, standing up again, bracing my middle as I paced around, "Time's not the issue. I can drive a lightsabre into the stomach of a Sith ... but Qui-Gon was the strong one in real life. He always knew how to make things better... just what to say."

He smiled, kissing my forehead, "You'll find your way. I mean, not all at once, but..."

My closed my eyes, forcing back another round of tears. Sith, it was so a gurl thing to cry! "I don't know. I keep thinking about it... the scene, it keeps replaying in head over and over, what I could have done to get there faster or said even.."

"There was nothing you could have done differently, Padme. It was fated to happen. The Force willed it to happen..." I sneered at him, walking away. "I guess you probably didn't want to hear that...I'm just trying to make things better."

I cried, "It will NEVER be better, Obi-Wan! I wish I could take back all I said to him but I can't and I will have to live with that rest of my life! It's my fault!"

He nodded no, bracing my shoulders, "Doesn't make it your fault. You couldn't have done anything different..."

"I panicked; I fell apart. That's how good I am at being a grownup."

"Padme..." Obi-Wan raised his hand, cupping my chin and smiled hopefully, "Look, it's all right. I know you don't feel like it now, but you are strong, Padme. You're gonna figure this out. And you have people to help you. You don't have to do this alone."

I stared off into the distance, my eyes glazed, "Except I am alone...What am I going to do? How do I move on?"

"You live. I know you weren't ready to lose him, Padme. He was your father (not literally) but he was a father to you for the longest time but you can't let this despair destroy you. Qui-Gon, he wouldn't want you to sink into depression."

I nodded, closing my eyes again, "I don't understand anymore...All I feel is darkness."

"That's the way it feels at first, but it'll pass. Not right away, but it'll pass and you'll move on."

I smiled, “You’ll be here?”

He nodded yes, kissing my forehead again and hugged me, “I’ll always be here.”

>>TBC

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