Rating: PG-13 for violence. Not much gore, no language, no sexuality, just violence.
Disclaimer: Lucas owns Qui-Gon Jinn, and Dooku. He also owns the Jedi, their universe, the temple, etc. Jude Watson owns Tahl and Clee. U2 owns the lyrics placed randomly throughout the fic. All to them, I make no money.
Thanks to: Borath and Katharine for being the worlds best betas. Marnie for her words of wisdom and letting me nick "Yan" as Dooku's first name.
Dedicated to: My padawan, for her continual support and friendship. If it wasn't for her, this fic would be trashed. I don't know how many times she's looked over this story, and given me her feedback. Thanks.
Primal animal fear ran through him like a current of electricity. His lungs pleaded for air as he gasped, completely winded, and leaned against the stone wall. He couldn't rest, he wasn't safe here! His pursuers were closing in on him. He couldn't run anymore. He was trapped! Suddenly he was a small child again. A boy lost on Coruscant, cornered by a street gang...the old terror was back. Panic rushed through him, consuming his bravado like a fiery internal whirlwind. He forgot himself...
"So that's a Jedi Knight?" the guard peered around the corner, eyeing a boy of about eighteen who sat bound to a chair in the main stronghold of the Lord Thorno, the ruler of the Muh-hadden. It was a rough, ugly building, full of rusted metal and broken glass. Not a proper base perhaps, but it served it's purpose well. The chair scraped as the body struggled against his bonds. He looked out of place, and was, really, for his kind were about as welcomed as a blaster to the head by the Muh-Haddan.
The guards' companion, a burly human thug-type narrowed his beady eyes. "Nah! He's a bit small for a Jedi Knight."
The boy in question pulled against the binders that restrained him angrily. He had decidedly shaggy chestnut colored hair which was relatively short, save for one long braid that hung over his right shoulder. His eyes were deep, deep blue, usually reflecting calm, but now frustration at his position. He took no notice of the curious guards' stares, rather focusing the Force on the binders. Yes, he was a Jedi and a rather talented one too, although he still couldn't believe how he got into this mess. His name was Qui-Gon Jinn.
"But the boss said..."
"Yeah, I know, Lord Thorno would love to say he caught himself a real Jedi, but that there's only a baby one. A pada-whatcha-call-em...see his braid?"
"Yeah, I see it. So he really is one of them Jedi? Huh, he must be pretty young and stupid though, I hear he was really easy to catch!"
A few feet away, Qui-Gon gritted his teeth angrily. He was trying not to notice what the guards were saying, but the last phrase he felt enter him like a blade. Perhaps it was because it was just what he had been thinking himself.
He had been sent to the planet of Childor to act as a guardian of peace between the two opposing parties of inhabitants, and to investigate claims that the Muh-Hadden were planning an attack. Childor was made up of two species, Philomel, a fuzzy sort of cross between a Wookie and an Ewok, and then the humanoid Muh-Hadden. In the past, the two societies had always lived in peace, until more recent years when the Muh-Hadden came under the leadership of Lord Thorno. Thorno was known to be a cruel dictator with what was best described as an unhealthy taste for power. He could be dangerous, yet the Philomel were known to be very paranoid about such things. It had been Qui-Gon's job to ensure that the arrogant ruler wasn't up to anything.
But the Council never thought he'd be bold enough to attack a Jedi Ambassador! *Well, neither did I!!!* Qui-Gon reflected ruefully.*But here I am.* It was his own mistake, he knew. If he had paid closer attention to the position of the guards, rather than brashly rushing in there, thinking they'd give him respect as a Jedi...It had been his first real solo mission. And he had flubbed it royally.
*What will Master Dooku think??!!!* His breathing hitched anxiously at the very idea. His Master was the perfect picture of elegant, lethal grace, which made Qui-Gon feel even clumsier and stupider in comparison. And now I've proved again how incompetent I am. But he was spared further thought on the matter as a tall robed man stepped forward and seized his arm. His voice was silky but icy cold and dangerous.
"Lord Thorno will deal with you now!"
"You can tell Lord Thorno that he can-"
"Look *Jedi* if I were you I would shut my impudent mouth, unless you wish to suffer." The man turned sharply, his yellow eyes flashing. They were quite intimidating, those glowing eyes. Qui-Gon had never seen a human with a color like that. The man looked somewhat like a viper, with a narrow face and...*those eyes.* He had shoulder length silver hair, but didn't look any less fit for someone of his apparent age.
"Well, well. Councilor Conn!"A deep voice echoed down the hall as a round man who looked about middle-aged came into view. He had a twisted, mangled face as if he had lost a fight with a vibro-cutter, and a grizzled mane of fuzzy black hair that was pulled back away from his face. Immediately Conn dropped into a deep bow, murmuring something that sounded like "m' lord" Qui-Gon moaned. This was classic.
"We found this...*boy* right where you said he would be coming. Our men easily surrounded him, then he was overwhelmed. And take a look at this..." Conn tossed a slim metal cylinder to Thorno. "Jedi"
Lord Draven Thorno eyed the gangly teen curiously. Of course, he knew already that this boy was a Jedi, just as he had known the exact time when he would be crossing the bridge into Muh-Hadden territory. A man named Tyrannus had commed him with the information. He had wanted Thorno to capture the Jedi. The Muh-Hadden leader cocked his head to the side. All the man had said was that he would pay well any one of his number to capture the boy, and then given them the coordinates, and a tip. He had informed Thorno that this particular Jedi could be easily taken alive if they used electro-jabbers on him. And it had proven true!
But now that Thorno had this infamous Jedi kid, what to do with him? Tyrannus had left no instructions on what to do with him, nothing except to comm him back after they had captured him. Highly unusual, Thorno thought, whoever this Tyrannus was, but then again what was his business thinking? He wasn't paid to think. But Tyrannus had certainly taken great pains to set up this capture, obviously he wanted whoever this Jedi was, dead. That he could do! Thorno smiled, and turned to his top advisor, Conn. "Mmm, this would be the Jedi ambassador those Philomel fools sent for the moment we moved camp closer to their border. Paranoid idiots" He snorted and then stepped toward Qui-Gon. "You're a foolish little brat Jedi. You came a long ways for nothing." Thorno addressed Conn coolly. "He came from the Philomel. Eh, he might still be useful. Take the kid to your jungle prison. Get the names of the people who sent for him, they need to be disposed of. Use any means necessary, I want those names." Meanwhile, Conn looked down at Qui-Gon. His lips twitched.
Qui-Gon tried to swallow the ever-growing lump in his throat. He now desperately wished he hadn't picked a fight with this Conn. That was all he needed, a pychopath with a grudge. Some first-solo mission this was turning out to be!
Tahl awoke with a start. Her brilliant green and gold striped eyes widened, straining to see in the darkened room. As her eyes adjusted, she anxiously glanced about. Her clothes were folded neatly by her desk, the book she had been reading the night before lay face down on her nightstand untouched, nothing was out of place. With a quick touch of the force she knew she was alone. The threat had been imaginary.
She sat up groggily, concentrating on the dream which had frightened her. But it seemed as illusive as trying to catch a cloud, every time she attempted to summon up the images they fell away. Tahl could only remember a feeling...almost as soft as a whisper. A warning, a premonition, something...but it wasn't meant for her, it seemed. She could remember someone else, someone else there that was in danger. *But where is 'there?' And who is in danger?* She shook her head to clear it. Perhaps the dream meant nothing.
Yawning, the young Jedi crossed the room and pulled back the heavy curtain across her window. The sun was beginning to rise over the Temple; a warm golden glow penetrated her dark room. Soon the initiates would be making their way to the gardens for meditation. *I should probably join them* she thought idly. *Then afterwards I'll do some sparring. Wonder if Qui-Gon's back from that mission yet..* She gave a start. *Qui-Gon!* a strange feeling engulfed her... a sort of de javu. Swallowing hard, she tried to fight the feeling and prepare for the day ahead. It was probably nothing. And maybe later she'd comm Qui-Gon and see if he was...see how his mission was going. *It was only a silly dream, get a hold on yourself Tahl.* she chided herself. *Just a silly dream...*