Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. But ya'll already knew that.

I

Qui-Gon Jinn and Anakin Skywalker raced across the desert sands toward the Queen's ship. The wind howled in their ears; Anakin strongly suspected a storm was brewing.

"Anakin! Drop!" He hit the ground just a speeder bike shot over his head. A black shadow dived from the bike, a blood-red blade clutched in his hand.

Qui-Gon's green blade met the attacker's; their lightsabers crackled with impact after impact. The shadow moved with impossible speed—Qui-Gon had to devote all his energy to defense.

The shadow lost its cloak; Anakin saw the face under it. He was Zabrak, tattooed red and black, a crown of horns circling his bald head. His yellow eyes glowed with a fierce rage as he guided his blade in closer and closer swipes at the Jedi Master's head.

"Anakin! Run to the ship—tell them to take off! Run!" Qui-Gon shouted, his voice strained with fatigue.

Anakin fled.

The shadow continued his furious assault. Qui-Gon tried his best to keep up, but the shadow's rage kept him exempt from the fatigue he was feeling.

The sleek ship appeared overhead, it hatch open and waiting. Qui-Gon glanced at it, only for a split second—

The Zabrak slid his lightsaber cleanly through Qui-Gon's torso. The Jedi Master fell in two halves to the scorching sand. A sigh escaped from his aged lips.

The shadow leaped up into the ship. Obi-Wan Kenobi rushed at him with a cry of anger and sorrow, his own blue blade extended. He sidestepped, brought his fist to the Padawan's face. Obi-Wan lost his balance and stumbled back. The shadow spun and impaled the Jedi on a blade of crimson. He crumpled.

The Zabrak moved forward, expecting another ambush. The Naboo captain, Panaka, and couple of soldiers stepped from either side of the hall. A final stand to protect their Queen.

They failed miserably.

The Zabrak deflected all their shots, angling them back at the shooters.

He stepped over their bodies into the Queen's quarters. There she sat, blaster in one hand. "I will die before I sign the treaty," she growled. She fired twice at the shadow, shots he easily blocked, then brought the blaster to her temple.

The shot resounded in the small room.

He deactivated his lightsaber. Without the hum of the blade, he heard a faint sound of crying coming from elsewhere on the ship. He followed the noise to the lounge, where he found the Queen's handmaidens clustered around the boy he had seen outside, tears staining his cheeks.

He reignited his blade.

A whisper of the Force; he turned to meet the pilot, blaster rifle ready. The pilot fired. Once. At the same time, three of the handmaidens fired blasters they had kept hidden. He couldn't block them all—one struck him in the shoulder, merely a bee sting. But it was enough to enrage him.

He jerked the blasters away with the Force. One he took himself. He fired at the three handmaidens, each square in the forehead.

The last handmaiden, the one that had not fired, wore dusty desert clothes. This one was especially beautiful…a shot to the face wouldn't do.

The shadow reached with the Force; she began to choke. She gasped and sputtered, flailed around a bit.

"NO!" the boy screamed. The hull screeched as it bent and twisted; chairs tore from the floor and shot into the walls; the dense metal of the floor dented and gave as a bubble of pure Force energy emanated from the boy. Anakin, faster than even the Zabrak could see, grabbed a blaster and fired.

The shadow dropped the girl to deflect the shot. The bolt flew back and struck the boy on the back of his right hand. The bolt burned all the way through his small hand. He dropped the blaster and fell to his knees, fresh tears welling.

The Force spoke to the Zabrak. It told him to spare the boy, that he would be very useful in the future. Another whisper; the one outside was a decoy. This handmaiden was the real queen. He had a use for the girl now, as well. He lifted them with the Force and carried them out of the ship.

He looked up at the ship and reached with the Force. There was another on the ship…a Gungan. The Zabrak waved his hand. The ship burst into flame and crashed to the ground. He looked at his prisoners.

This was a successful day.

This was Darth Maul's day of victory.


The Infiltrator slid silently and unnoticed into the hangar on Coruscant. The hatch slid open and Lord Maul stepped out. Behind him, shackled in durasteel cuffs, came Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala.

He led them into the elevator that went up to his apartment at 499 Republica. Neither of the prisoners tried to resist.

"Padme," Anakin whispered as the elevator took them upward.

He was answered with the hardest blow he had ever taken in his life, the hilt of a Sith lightsaber in the back of his head.

"Silence, boy," Lord Maul growled threateningly.

The door opened to reveal a huge apartment, bare except for a cushion in the center and the many weapons on the walls—Gammorean axes, force-pikes, primitive swords. Anakin wiped the tears from his eyes to view them up close.

He and Padme were suddenly jerked across the room into a wall. Restraining belts sprung from the walls and tied them down. Maul gestured again; two of the ancient swords lifted from their racks and went to hover in front of the captives' necks.

Maul turned and left through a door. Anakin tried to see what was beyond the door but it was too dark inside.

"Padme," he tried again. Blood ran down his neck from the previous try.

"It's okay, Anakin…all he wants is for me to sign the treaty. He has nothing against you," the Queen replied.

"I'm not afraid, Padme. We're on Coruscant, right? The Jedi will save us," he said with such conviction Padme wanted to believe him.

"I hope so, Annie."


Maul kneeled before a hologram of his master, Lord Sidious.

"I have located the Queen of Naboo, my master."

"Good, Lord Maul," the Sith Lord said. "But I sense another."

"There is no other, my lord," Darth Maul had never before lied to his master.

"Very well. Are you prepared to crack the girl's mind?"

"Yes, my master."

"You have done well, Lord Maul."

"Thank you, Master."

"Do it tonight."

Maul cracked a rare smile. "Yes, my master."