The Marionette's Dance

Chapter one

Disclaimer: I don't own em, I'm just playing with them. I promise to be good and have them back at a descent hour.EG I make no money, so don't get any ideas about suing. Don't go after my sci-fi collection, or I'll hunt you down like a dog.

Takes place 9 years before TPM. (Obi is 16)

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Special thanks to my sister/beta reader, Debbie. Special thanks goes out to all my friends and family that encouraged me to keep writing and helped me with their ideas and feedback. If the feedback and responces are good for this part, I'll post the continuation. Hope ya like, and enjoy! :)

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Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi waited patiently as their transport sat down on the beautiful planet of Belarius. The massive transport doors slid open to reveal a vast array of overwhelming sights and smells from the tropical planet. Large trees, some the size of buildings on Coruscant, lined the perimeter of the landing field. Wildflowers scented the light breezes that lazily wound their way around the visitors. Occasionally the sun would peek out from behind soft billowing clouds, casting an almost ethereal glow onto the land.

Surprisingly, both parties of the warring factions were there to greet the travelers. The planet Belarius has been feuding for almost a century. No side gaining any advantages but losing lives of countless millions. When they agreed upon a peace treaty, they requested a Jedi be present to oversee the signing. Supreme Chancellor Valorum knew of Qui-Gon's extended resume and dispatched the elder Jedi immediately.

Both Jedi met with the leaders of the factions, bowing deeply. Qui-Gon addressed them, "First Prime Wesh of Upper Belars, First Prime Murg of Lower Belars, it is an honor to meet you. I am Qui-Gon Jinn and this is my padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. We are in your service."

"We are the ones honored by your presence Master Jinn. This is my assistant, Narm, he will see to your every need. Don't hesitate to ask for anything." First Prime Murg said with a slight incline of his head.

"We are also honored by your presence Master Jinn. My assistant, Zalles is at your disposal as well." First Prime Wesh said, repeating Murg's actions.

At the mention of their names, the two assistants bowed and smiled at the two Jedi.

"Shall we?" Murg asked, gesturing towards a large domed building.

Qui-Gon nodded and walked side by side with the dignitaries. Obi-Wan fell into step behind his master, the two assistants flanking him and walking behind their respective leaders as they walked to a large, shell shaped structure. Obi-Wan glanced nonchalantly at them, hiding his sensing of a disturbance in the force.

//Master, I sense something, but I can't pinpoint it. Can you?//

//Yes Obi-Wan, I feel it. But it's not clear where it's coming from. Keep on guard and be mindful of the living force.//

//Yes Master//

The leaders entered the domed structure and lead the Jedi's into a large oval room. The room had been once beautiful, but years of war had taken its toll on the foundation and supports. Large cracks wound their way along the walls and crumbled around the rim of the large dome that sheltered the room. The floor supported cracks, much larger, and scarring the once smooth polished surface. The visitors left noticeable tracks on the dust-covered floor.

Murg waved his hand around the vast area, "This used to be a beautiful library and place of great knowledge, but the years of constant wars and bombings have all but destroyed all that was our heritage. The building has become a reminder of what we once were, and will be a symbol of the ushering in of peace. We will rebuild it, and make it better than it was before."

"And the people of the Upper Belars will help, signifying our new alliance." Wesh assured with a smile.

Murg looked over at Wesh, his happiness showing on his face. Murg looked over to Qui-Gon, "Thank you for attending these procedures. They should go by quick and things should be peaceful."

Qui-Gon nodded, "We are here to offer whatever aid we can."

"It is greatly appreciated, Master Jinn. This room will serve as our meeting hall. I hope you don't mind, but we have already settled the peace agreement and am ready to sign. It can wait until after you've rested, if you prefer." Murg said.

"Nonsense. My padawan and myself are fine. May I take a look at the agreement?" Qui-Gon asked.

"Certainly. Please have a seat." Murg offered the Jedi master a chair at his side.

Everyone seated themselves around a large table. The table was as dusty and scarred as the room that sheltered it, and could easily seat 100 or more people around it. Only the small section at the top was cleared of all debris, with three small chairs placed at the beginning for the dignitaries to sit. Obi-Wan seated himself with the two assistants, a short distance away.

The two leaders bowed to each other, then to Qui-Gon and took their respected seats, placing Qui-Gon between them. Qui-Gon nodded and examined the peace treaty that Murg handed him. Everything seemed to be in order, though Qui-Gon noted that there was no order to disband all weapons.

"Shall we sign?" Wesh asked.

"What about all the weapons? What will happen to them?" Qui-Gon asked the impatient leader.

"All weapons have been confiscated and locked away in several ammunitions depots. Only Murg and myself have the keys to the doors. Our people support what we are doing, they did not protest the action. Be reassured Master Jinn, there won't be hostilities on either side." Wesh said.

"Very well, then I won't delay you." Qui-Gon sat the treaty in front of himself and watched as each of the leaders picked up thin pens and made their mark on the historical document.

Both sides stood up and shook hands and touched their foreheads together, the gesture of familiarity and understanding. Obi-Wan raised his eyebrow in disbelief that the signing took so little time. He was so caught up in the moment, that he didn't see Zalles pull out a vibroknife from a hidden scabbard in his sleeve. Zalles walked towards the leaders, smiling ear to ear, pretending he was ecstatic with the new treaty. With one deft swing of his arm, he slashed Murg across the throat, and thrust the knife deep within his own leaders heart, his face showing no mercy as he wrenched the weapon deeper and deeper.

"You betrayed us!! You will suffer for what you've done!" Zalles shouted, twisting the knife in Wesh's midsection.

Qui-Gon grabbed the assistant, pulled him off his downed leader, then used the force to repel the attackers' continuing advances. Obi-Wan was at his masters side, lightsaber ignited and defensively postured in front of Zalles.

Qui-Gon knelt down and frantically tried to stop Murg's and Wesh's hemorrhaging. Blood poured freely out of the gash at Murg's throat. His wide eyes stared at Qui-Gon pleadingly as his life drained away from him, spilling out and staining the aged marble beneath him. Wesh sputtered, trying desperately to speak. With a shudder and a squeeze to Qui-Gon's hand, his life ebbed away and he relaxed into eternal sleep.

Qui-Gon rose up to his full height and stared the saboteur down. "Why did you kill them?"

Zalles realized he was outmatched by the two Jedi, and shouted out, "HELP!! THE JEDI HAVE ATTACKED OUR BELOVED LEADERS!! HELP ME!"

The wandering guards heard the commotion and hurried to assist the person calling out for help. They rushed into the oval room, seeing Zalles stand before two Jedi with his arms raised in surrender. Zalles smiled viciously at the two Jedi, especially the small student, whose lightsaber was positioned in front of himself in defense. Zalles took a deep breath, then moved to his left, making the blue blade mirror his move, then lunged forward, impaling himself on the deadly weapon.

Obi-Wan gasp and deactivated his weapon, watching Zalles limp form fall to the ground as the saber disengaged from his body, leaving a large, charred wound in the assistants chest.

Guards surrounded the Jedi, their blasters pointed at them from every angle. Qui-Gon placed his hand on Obi-Wan's arm, knowing his charge was uncertain about their situation. The gesture worked as the apprentice relaxed a little with his masters gentle presence by his side.

"Zalles killed the First Primes." Obi-Wan clarified.

One of the guards stepped forward, "That's not what we saw when we entered. We saw you run Zalles through. He alerted us to your treachery and you killed him for it."

"That's not what happened, tell them Narm." Obi-Wan said, glancing over to the stunned assistant that was forgotten in the flurry of activity. "Tell them to truth, that Zalles attacked your leaders."

Narm seemed to regain his composure, though his face was still very pale. "Zalles spoke the truth. The Jedi killed our leaders."

Obi-Wan's mouth hung open in surprise. Qui-Gon glared at the assistant, feeling the tingle in the force that whispers of danger and deceit, and warns of threats.

"Seize them and take them to the camp at West Alim to await punishment" A guard shouted.

'WHAT?" Obi-Wan stuttered out. "If you think we're going with you to be punished for a crime we didn't commit, you're sadly mistaken!" Obi-Wan reactivated his saber and swung in front of himself and his master, creating a protective circle that dared the guards to cross it.

The guards raised their weapons and fanned out, surrounding the Jedi in a pincer move.

"Padawan, do as they say. We will find a way out of this. Not to worry." Qui-Gon assured the younger Jedi.

Obi-Wan looked at his master in disbelief, but disengaged his weapon and secured it to his side. The guards flanked them and escorted towards the camp they were to be held.

One of the guards pushed Qui-Gon out of step with the rest of the contingent, making the Jedi Master stumble slightly. The guards all sneered, motioning to other guards to join them on their way to the detention center.

"I think I would like to have one of those light swords my Jedi friend." The guard escorting Qui-Gon said triumphantly.

Qui-Gon regarded the man momentarily, then sighed, waving off the comment and falling into step with his apprentice.

The guard moved to the beginning of the entourage, thrusting his chest out importantly, and swaggering up to the main guard at the detention center.

"Two more, eh?" he grinned as the Jedi were flanked by nearly a dozen guards. "Do they get a regular cell, or a `special' one?"

"I think a special cell is called for. They may cause some trouble." The guard that chided Qui-Gon said, leading the group into the center and into the first set of detention cells.

"Get in there!" one of the guards ordered, while pushing them into a cell.

"Have you confiscated their weapons?" The prison guard asked.

"They are unarmed." The guard said, spinning on his heels and leaving in a hurry, the door shutting behind him, leaving the two alone in the cell as the guard explained in details how he single handedly overcame the Jedi duo.

Obi-Wan raised his eyebrow and looked over to Qui-Gon questioningly. Qui-Gon smirked and winked at Obi-Wan, waving his hand over in front of his face as the explanation. Obi-Wan sighed, crossing his arms over his chest. Only last week had he been reprimanded for using such mind control.

Qui-Gon put his arm around Obi-Wan's shoulders, "It was to protect our weapons so we can later defend ourselves when we escape."

Obi-Wan continued to frown.

"At least I didn't use the force to make someone think they were a Corellian bat with a radar problem." Qui-Gon said accusingly, hiding his amusement.

Obi-Wan just smirked in his usual way, and cast his eyes skyward. He tried to play innocent, but Qui-Gon was used it, and only snickered slightly at his padawan.

The door chimed in anticipation of opening and both Jedi jumped to the back of the cell. The door opened to reveal several guards, one of whom was carrying electro-collars. As first set of guards focused on Qui-Gon, boxing him into a corner, the man with the collars stayed behind for protection.

Obi-Wan quickly roundhouse kicked one of the men in the back, trying despertately to protect his master from their combined effort. With a jump and a punch, Qui-Gon began his own defence against his attackers, and was so occupied with the ones surrounding him, he didn't see the man behind Obi-Wan, Getting steadily closer.

The force surged with a warning, but the apprentice mistook the tendril for alerting him of the immediate danger to his master, and not himself. The man lunged at Obi-Wan, quickly fastening the collar around his neck.

Obi-Wan struggled against the cool metal, attempting to pry it off by sheer brut force. A strong pulse of electricity shot through him, sending him to the ground hissing and writhing in pain. Qui-Gon attacked one of the guards, slamming him against the wall and pinning him by the throat to the wall of the cell. Obi-Wan screamed and clutched at the collar.

Another guard entered, holding a control box and grinning wickedly. "Let him go, or I'll kill the young one."

Qui-Gon released the guard and glared at the man with hatred, feeling a collar attaching itself around his neck. The guards sneered and followed the other man out, leaving the two Jedi alone in the cell. Qui-Gon was at Obi-Wan's side, assessing his injury and finding him unconscious. He lifted Obi-Wan's head and shoulders up into his arms and held him protectively against his chest, sighing at their situation.

From a control room, a dark figure watched the screen with a hint of admiration. His lip twitched and he ran his hand along a panel, tilting and focusing the hidden camera watching the two captives. And evil sneer spread across his face as he spoke, "They are very strong and well trained."

"Yes sir." Answered a being cloaked in shadows at his side. "But the collars will allow us to control them now."

"They are still a danger, make no mistake about that." The first man said, his eyes unwavering from the camera. "When the young one wakes up, you may begin your tests. Try not to cause too much damage, he may be useful later."

Another man hidden away in the darkness nodded in acknowledgement.