AN: Life has sidetracked my friend and I from our joint author attemptof an Obidala story -- so in the meantime, you'll just have to suffer with little 'ol me.; )
Things to keep in mind when reading this story: It is Pre-TPM, and I am changing some ages a little. In this slightly AU tale - Obi-Wan is 17 to start off with and Padmé is 14.
The blue and green planet of Naboo filled the large horizontal viewport of the Coruscant diplomatic starship.
It had been four years since he had become a Jedi Padawan. Four years of countless missions with his Master. And in those four years he had learned much. Master Qui-Gon himself even said so, and as Obi-Wan had learned, his Master's praise wasn't offered freely or abundantly. He was becoming more comfortable with each mission they undertook.
Then, what was it about this particular mission that bothered him so much?
Obi-Wan Kenobi stood in the cockpit of the ascending vessel, watching the rapidly approaching city of Theed, the capital of Naboo and the location of the Theed palace, where King and Queen Naberrie ruled. He glanced to the tall Jedi who stood at his side. Always the picture of calm and serenity, even in the most difficult situations, he wondered if Qui-Gon Jinn shared his feelings about this mission.
Obi-Wan had discovered his gift of foresight years ago and often counseled with Master Yoda concerning his visions of the future. Emotions clouded a Jedi's judgment, he had been told on numerous occasions. Maybe he was reading too much into his feelings this time. It was not a sense of doom or dread he was experiencing, but more like the realization that the outcome of this mission, whether it be good or bad, would change his life.
Focus on the moment, padawan. Don't let emotions cloud your judgment. He could hear Master's Qui-Gon's words once more, although they had not yet been spoken.
Obi-Wan decided to keep his opinions to himself...for now. After all, the mission was not considered particularly dangerous. The princess of the reigning King and Queen of Naboo had disappeared. There had been no ransom demand, no suspicion of foul play.
The 14-year-old girl probably got sick of living in a palace and simply ran away. 'Obi-Wan thought to himself as he moved alongside the older Jedi Master who was walking in great strides across the docking platform toward an older-appearing gentleman obviously waiting to greet them. Qui-Gon bowed curtly to the gentleman and Obi-Wan did the same.
"I am Palpatine, steward of Naboo. I am so pleased you have come. We need your help." Obi-Wan took up his accustomed step slightly behind and to the right of his Jedi Master as they proceeded to follow Palpatine through the hangar and into the palace.
As a Jedi Padawan, he had visited numerous worlds in many systems, but none quite compared to the grandiosity of the Theed Palace. It was a technologically advanced civilization, but its architecture attested to the fact that its history was ancient. Enormous marble columns flanked the hallways they walked leading the eye up to extremely tall, ornate ceilings. Stone and marble comprised most surfaces, and everywhere he looked, there were large arched windows and marble statues. It was obvious that Theed was a city of great wealth. If the princess had been kidnapped after all, a ransom demand would not be unexpected.
He quickly brought his attention back to the men walking ahead of him and listened intently to their conversation.
"As you know, Master Jedi, Princess Padmé disappeared two days ago, in the light of day. No ransom demand has yet been made, but the King and Queen suffer greatly. The princess is their only child, you see."
"Do the family have any known enemies?" Qui-Gon asked the man as they stopped before a set of arched doors.
"There have been some recent disputes over trade agreements, but nothing so bad as to suspect anyone of this. King and Queen Naberrie are loved by their people. They are kind and generous. I hate to see them suffer. Come. They are waiting to see you."
Obi-Wan noted the sincerity in the man's voice.
Palpatine motioned to a nearby security guard who performed a retinal scan before allowing them entrance into the main audience chamber. The room reflected the beauty and wealth of the hallways, but was much more opulent, with dark carved wooden furniture, bold tapestries and rugs in rich colors.
Obi-Wan followed Qui-Gon's lead and bowed before the approaching royalty. He noted that the King appeared approximately the age of his Master, if not slightly younger. The Queen held a lace cloth in her hand and it was obvious that she had been crying.
King Naberrie cleared his voice before acknowleding them. "I am so grateful that you are here. I assume that my steward has informed you of our situation?"
"Yes, your highness." Qui-Gon replied.
"Then I must let you know how desperate we are to find our daughter."
As usual, Qui-Gon was quick to comfort any being he encountered in pain. It was one of the many qualities of the Jedi Master that Obi-Wan admired. "I am sure that the situation is not as grave as it appears. We will do anything we can to help." Qui-Gon added to his statement by placing a comforting hand upon the Queen's shoulder. Her previously worried expression shifted to a small, shaky grin.
"Perhaps you could show us where the princess was last seen?"
"That would be her personal chambers." The King replied.
The King's steward directed them back toward the large doors. "Please follow me."
Qui-Gon motioned for the King and Queen to proceed and then followed. Obi-Wan stepped up from behind. They soon entered an oval-shaped room once more lined with marble columns. The stone floor was glossy and glowing in the midday sun pouring through the high arched window. Obi-Wan noted the intricately carved bed and various pieces of furniture about the room. He wondered, if the girl had run away, why she would do so. She obviously lived a life of luxury and her parents obviously loved her.
The King moved to a high-back dresser and picked up a silver frame, bringing it to Qui-Gon and placing in his hand. "This was the last holoimage taken of Padmé just a few weeks ago."
Qui-Gon studied the image and then handed it to Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan took the frame in his hands, a smile immediately coming to his lips as he took in the features of the young woman. Her dark brown eyes glittered with happiness that matched the broad smile on her face. It was obvious that she was content and Obi-wan began to believe his assumptions had been correct.
He handed the photo back to the King, a nagging worry now plagueing his heart. Something else had happened here. Something dark. He looked to Qui-Gon who had now proceeded to move about the room looking for anything out of place. Obi-Wan did the same.
His Master surprised him by asking if he and his apprentice could be left alone in the room for a moment. After brief exchanges between the King and Queen, the steward ushered them out. He then turned to his padawan.
"Sometimes, strong emotion can cloud the Force." he explained. "Focus on this room, padawan. Let the Force guide you. Perhaps we may discover something that will answer some questions."
"Do you believe she was taken?" Obi-Wan asked.
"I do, Padawan. There is a slight disturbance in the Force here."
"I feel it too, Master."
Obi-Wan moved about the room glancing at various personal items, when his attention was drawn to one in particular. He picked up a delicate golden locket from a side table, noticing its intricate details on the filigree heart, running his finger over the curls of roses and vines. He snapped it open, revealing two tiny portraits, one of the King and Queen and the other of the princess. She smiled up again at him and her smile seemed to tug at his heart. He tried clearing his mind, but the locket hung heavy in his hand. He realized that she probably had worn this locket around her neck on many occasions, as her life force still lingered about it.
Glancing back to Qui-Gon who was on the other side of the large room, Obi-Wan slipped the piece of jewelry inside his tunic.