[[Feb 2013 – This is getting finished. I found it again, and I'm going to finish it. For anyone who's still interested after all these years; thank you.]]

So yes, this is my new story, for those who already know of my writing. I hope it's decent, as my first stories always seem to be better (to me at least). Anyway, enjoy!

Disclaimer: Not in this galaxy. Perhaps in one far, far away...

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The pirates had come out of nowhere.

Blue lightsaber blade deflecting the oncoming blaster bolts, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Senior Padawan of the Jedi Order, moved back to better protect Illaryn. Next to him, his Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, sent two of the pirates sprawling with a well-timed Force push.

It had been a routine mission – witness protection. Dustin Illaryn was going to testify against a criminal arms-dealing ring; located in the Expansion Region – such was the name of the region between the Inner and Mid Rims. The gang had been slowly gaining power within the underworld circles of many of the planets, causing trouble and making many of the planets plead to the Senate, who started an investigation. The Jedi Order also put two Knights on the search, who had helped the initial investigation. The ringleaders had been found, as had many witnesses to provide damning evidence – the leaders were on their way to prison, that was certain, and the ring crumbling; the members disorganised and revealed.

Illaryn was a governor of Sermeria, and when it came to his attention that there was an increase in attacks and violence, he had devoted himself to finding the cause of it. An intelligent and quiet man, much of Illaryn's information had been vital to helping uncover the ring.

That had all been months ago, and the trial had finally come around. The collected witnesses, of which there were said to be many, had all made their way to the Core to testify and put this at an end. Illaryn was here for that exact reason – to be present, and speak, at the trial in the Courts.

But days before he left, he began to get death-threats, warning him that he may not get to the Courts at all and to watch his step in Galactic City. Worried, Illaryn had contacted the Jedi Order, requesting an escort to the Courts for protection. Being paranoid about the current situation he was in, he had landed planet-side on a commercial shuttle that docked at one of the smaller ports; and as a result he was a few hours from the centre of Galactic City where he needed to be. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan had been asked to meet with him and get him to the Courts.

Simple enough.

The two Jedi had met Illaryn as he stepped off his shuttle: he had been very grateful for their assistance, and spoke of how relieved he would be when the trial was over and the criminal ring shattered. On the way back to their speeder (borrowed from the Temple's hangar), both Jedi had felt a warning from the Force, and had watched helplessly as the speeder partially exploded. Lightsabers ignited, the Jedi cautiously advanced: Obi-Wan had taken a quick look at the smouldering wreck as Qui-Gon looked around, fully alert for danger.

He had come to the conclusion that the bombs had been handmade and hastily wired in; obviously not meant to be subtle. Nor had they meant to kill – they did not explode in themselves, but instead used a chemical reaction in the wiring. It was to incapacitate the speeder, not kill or harm them.

In short, it was the work of pirates, or gangs, or mercenaries – those who had the knowledge, but not necessarily the materials to do such a thing.

And sure enough, a few moments later, a group of that description had appeared on the platform. The speeder had been parked on a bridge-like platform, which served as an access route to the spaceport. It had low barriers along either side, and was a fair way off the ground – not an ideal fighting terrain at all. There was no cover to hide behind, nor could it provide any kind of advantage to the Jedi.

Obi-Wan deflected another shot, this time into the leg of one of the oncoming pirates. The being screamed and fell, no longer a threat.

He didn't feel right. Something wasn't right here. It was almost as if the pirates weren't trying to kill them – they were all fighting cautiously yet aggressively, not all-out hostile. They could have killed them, overwhelmed them with sheer numbers, but some members held back, watching, weapons at the ready.

It was now the young Jedi realised that he had been drawn away from Illaryn. Obi-Wan knew the tactic. Distract the guardians and kill the guarded sentient. He spun, to get back to Illaryn, only to see that none of the pirates had gone after him. Illaryn was shooting with a blaster picked up off a pirate body, crouched by the partially burnt-out speeder, but the pirates were ignoring him, for the main part – concentrating on overwhelming the Jedi…

Amidst the fighting, the leader of the pirates watched the Jedi holding their own, from a vantage point outsider the fight. Obi-Wan was closer to him than Qui-Gon was, and caught some of the leader's words as he fought defensively.

"We getting both, Boss?" Asked his rat-like companion.

The leader, a Trandoshan, scowled. "If we can. We get more credits that way, idiot. But still, either should bring in a good amount. True, they ain't exotic races or anything, just filthy humans – but still, Jedi. And that's all that matters."

Obi-Wan hesitated momentarily as it all clicked into place. Hurriedly deflecting a blaster bolt that almost got past his blade, and spinning to engage a pirate with a vibrosword, Obi-Wan realised what was going on.

'Master! They're not here for Illaryn – they're here for us!'

Qui-Gon was silent for a moment, concentrating on his own fight – dealing with two pirates, both with blades and trying to dodge oncoming shots . 'How do you know, Padawan?'

Gritting his teeth as the lightsaber and vibrosword blades locked, Obi-Wan replied hurriedly so he could return his focus to the pirates who wanted his life. 'The leader – he mentioned something about credits and bringing in Jedi. They haven't gone for Illaryn at all, even though he's the one supposedly getting death threats.'

The pirates – no, the bounty hunters – were getting nowhere in this fight, and they knew it. The Jedi – even though there was only two – were holding their own well, and some pirates lay wounded, others dead.

"Boss, this isn't working! They ain't tiring! What we do now?" called one, a Rodian, who was outside the central fights.

The bounty hunter leader shrugged nonchalantly. "Anything but kill them. No reward for dead Jedi, only living."

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan shot a quick look to each other. Both had heard that.

The Rodian bounty hunter unclipped a concussion grenade from his belt. He held it lightly for a moment, picking out his target – the older one or the younger? – and threw it: straight at Qui-Gon.

It exploded on contact, hitting the ground near Qui-Gon's fight. Even Jedi couldn't defend against everything, and the Master, having many things to focus on at once, couldn't prepare for it. As the other hunters around him fell, unconscious, Qui-Gon struggled to keep himself awake. He heard Obi-Wan call out, still fighting, and looked up in time to see the pirate grenadier throw another grenade in Obi-Wan's direction.

This time, it wasn't a concussion grenade, but a fragment grenade: one which produced an explosive blast and sharp shrapnel, not a knockout gas. The grenadier was good at his job, and so, knowing this grenade would probably kill the Jedi if thrown at him, he threw it nearby, to knock the Jedi off balance.

It worked a little too well.

Obi-Wan felt the shockwave move though the access-way and knock him back. Something hit the back of his knees – his eyes found Qui-Gon's, across the way – and before he knew it, he was falling – away from the fight, away from his Master – had he really been that close to the edge of the platform without realizing? How had he managed that? This wasn't good.

He tried to reach out to the Force as he heard laughter from the bounty hunters above him.

The ground was coming up quickly to meet him.

Obi-Wan wondered, just before impact, if he would survive the fall.

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Qui-Gon, still clutching to consciousness, saw the grenade explode, near to Obi-Wan but not near enough to cause direct injury. He watched as the bounty hunters were thrown to the ground from the blast, and his heart jumped as he saw Obi-Wan thrown back – and over the edge of the causeway. It happened in the flicker of an eye.

The pirates were laughing; lifting their wounded from the ground, as a few looked over the edge where Obi-Wan had fallen.

"Well?" growled the Trandoshan leader.

"Sorry, Boss – we only gonna get the one bounty. He's dead." The Rodian grenadier grinned sheepishly. "He can't have survived that fall."

The Trandoshan grunted, cuffing the Rodian around the back of the head. "Kriffing idiot! I said not to kill them." His gaze landed on Qui-Gon. "At least we still have this one."

The concussion grenade was overpowering the Jedi Master – his focus was slipping, he was about to pass out, his thoughts were disorganised and mixed. Obi-Wan…dead? No, no…he couldn't be…their bond was hazy and indistinct…Qui-Gon couldn't feel his apprentice's presence…he wasn't there…but he couldn't be…dead…he had seen him fall…he knew it was a long way down…Force, no

His despair gave way to darkness as he passed out, succumbing to the chemicals from the grenade.

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Illaryn was still crouched by the speeder as everything unfolded. The pirates, or rouges or whatever didn't seem to care about him at all, as they picked up the now unconscious Qui-Gon and carried him unceremoniously away. Illaryn, petrified, watched them go. It was obvious from what had happened they weren't interested in him. He hesitated as they neared the end of the access-way, before standing and running quietly behind the mismatched group, following.

He didn't want to, but felt he had some kind of responsibility – after all, they were out here because of him. And besides, he had to contact the Jedi Order and having some kind of lead would make him feel less guilty.

Keeping to the shadows, Illaryn followed the group to their ship, which had been set down on a lower landing pad only a few hundred meters away. He watched the Jedi Master be loaded into it, disappearing through the doorway at the top of the landing ramp. There was nothing more he could do, so instead he began to take in every detail he could about the craft.

It was old, worn and held the scars of many battles. Illaryn couldn't even begin to think what sort of model it was – a freighter? It was armed, whatever it was; two laser gun turrets adorned the wings. And on the wings themselves, was a symbol.

It appeared to be a sphere, possibly representational of a planet. There were two much smaller spheres off to the side – orbiting moons? Presuming that the main sphere was a planet, of course. A horizontal rectangular grid stretched behind them, and on the main 'planet' there was a stylised 'S'. Beneath the logo, almost hidden beneath the grime, was a slogan of some kind: NOWHERE TO HIDE.

Illaryn stared at it, committing it to memory, although he had no idea what in the name of the Gods it could possibly mean.

By now, the ship was beginning to make noise – Illaryn could only watch as it took off, leaving him behind at the edge of the landing pad. Still looking up to the sky and the fast vanishing ship, his hand dropped to his belt and pick out his comlink. Calling the central line, he found his way through the various frequencies to the Jedi Temple.

Asking to be put through to the Council, or someone in authority to report a mission gone awry, Illaryn waited impatiently for the transmission to connect. He felt immediately relieved (and slightly nervous) as he was put in contact with one of the most formidable and famous Jedi Masters, but the one who could ultimately help him the most.

"This is Jedi Master Mace Windu."

"Master Windu – my name is Dustin Illaryn, I'm here as a witness for the Steel Armaments trial?"

"Yes, the Governor," came the Master's soft yet authoritative reply. "You requested a Jedi escort to the Courts. What's happened?"

Illaryn hesitated. "We were attacked, by pirates or something. Master Jinn has been caught – and I think Apprentice Kenobi may be dead. He…fell from a great height."

There was silence over the comlink. Illaryn was about to speak, when the Jedi beat him to it. "Where are you, Governor Illaryn?"

"The Bindai District. Near the spaceport."

"A Jedi is coming to meet you. Return to the space port and wait there."

Illaryn thanked him and sighed as the transmission closed.

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So, right into the action. One Jedi caught and the other is dead. Or is he? (Anyone who has read anything of mine will know the answer to that). Hope this was interesting - updates will be soon!