Chapter One

Two hooded figures strolled the length of the balustrade, the glow of distant red and blue lights of passing air traffic casting eery reflections upon their forms. The bustle of activity in Galactic City never slowed, even at such a late hour, but the younger individual, a man with fine features and a sharp, piercing, yellow gaze appeared eager. Ready for anything, much like the city itself.

"Go to Tatooine, my apprentice. Capture the Queen and bring her to me." The older man rasped from beneath his dark shroud.

"And what about the Jedi?"

"Kill him."

"I don't think the Queen trusts the Jedi."

The Royal Handmaidens from Naboo shot a glance up toward Sabé, the Queen's First who was donned in royal attire in order to protect their leader.

Rabé stared at her companion for a moment and then back down to the sabaac cards she held in her hand. "What makes you say that?"

"Apparently, the parts we needed to repair the ship and make it to Coruscant were gotten by rather dishonest means." Sabé answered.

"Who told you that?" Another handmaiden by the name of Yané asked as she placed her cards upon the small circular table in front of her.

Sabé turned away from the view portal of their private cabin, the blur of lightspeed always making her a bit queasy. "Padmé did."

The two seated young women exchanged wary looks.

"Where is Padmé?" Rabé asked.

"She was worried why we left Tatooine so quickly and went to go find out what's going on."

The young leader of the small pastoral planet of Naboo swept back the orange hood of the disguise she wore as her hastened steps led her away from the Royal Cruiser's engine room, where her Head of Security, Captain Panaka, was making the final adjustments to the new hyperdrive motivator Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn had retrieved on Tatooine.

Retrieved, right.

Stolen was more like it. Qui-Gon was the first Jedi Padmé had ever encountered, and although his appearance of serenity and unflappable calm was pretty much what she had expected based upon rumor, his mannerisms and actions while in Mos Espa were not. In fact, they were quite shocking.

Gambling against the most notorious gangsters in the Galaxy in order to acquire the needed parts was bad enough, but Padmé would have never believed a Jedi was capable of cheating.

She supposed she should be grateful that they had gotten off the planet and were now on their way to Coruscant to petition the Senate to put an end to the trade blockade set up outside Naboo, but something had happened while they were loading the part onto the ship, and it seemed as if they had left in an awful hurry.

When Master Jinn had passed her earlier in the galley, he appeared overheated as expected due to the hot, desert climate of Tatooine, but he also appeared quite upset. And for something to break through the man's serenity, it must have been something important.

However, when she asked him about it, he brushed her off.

Captain Panaka had just informed her that there had been an attack of some kind in the outskirts of Mos Espa.

If that were true, it was time to reveal her identity to the Jedi and demand some answers. If someone were threatening their lives, as Queen, she had a right to know.

Padmé slipped down the narrow corridor leading from the engine room to the open galley, which preceded the bridge, her jaw set firm in determination, but her steps slowed as she neared the comm station located on the right outer wall of the room, and she stopped short to listen to the low, rich tones of the Master Jedi.

"A Sith, you say. Recognize you, he did not?"

"I don't believe so."

"Lost to us, he is. His mind, cleared of his past it was, now filled with darkness. Know it is what you must do."

"Obi-Wan was my apprentice. I don't think I can…"

There was a long pause of silence, during which Padmé carefully edged closer to the galley entrance, catching sight of the Jedi's broad shoulders usually held so straight and confident, now slumped in defeat as he replied.

"Yes, Master."