Qui-Gon Jinn frowned as he peered around the courtyard corridor, signalling the small crowd behind him to follow quickly. The two Jedi followed closely by Jar-Jar, Panaka, the Governor and the Queen's entourage dashed across the deserted Naboo streets, weaving their way to the main hangar.
"This is almost too easy" Obi-Wan remarked to his master as they were met with yet another completely deserted courtyard.
"I know" Qui-Gon replied, his frown deepening.
"Master Jedi!" Panaka called. Both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan turned just in time to see the queen disappear down a nearby alley, one of her handmaidens close behind.
"Your highness!" Qui-Gon called, running after Queen Amidala.
The group rounded the corner to see the Queen standing by a fallen figure, her handmaiden kneeling nearby the body, holding a small hand. As Qui-Gon neared, he saw that it was a child laying prone on the ground, chest burnt by blaster marks.
The Queen bowed her head in sorrow, and the handmaidens followed suit. Qui-Gon moved return to the main walk, but was stopped by the kneeling handmaiden's shout.
The Queen knelt, paying no mind to the state of her dress. She touched the Girl's pale face, then looked to her handmaiden. The two shared a look, then both Queen and Maiden looked at the Jedi.
"Master Jedi, your powers are strong. Please help this child" The Queen said softly. Qui-Gon sighed as he looked at the woman before him. For a moment, he didn't see the powerful queen. In that instant, Qui-Gon saw how scared the monarch really was. Scared for her people, her planet, and possibly herself.
"Master?" Obi-Wan asked. Qui-Gon gave an almost imperceptible nod, then knelt, placing his hands on the girl's temples. A purple glow emanated from his palms as he used the force to heal the girl's wounds.
When he was finished, the still unconscious girl sighed. The kneeling handmaiden and Queen let out a breath, sharing another glance. Qui-Gon stared at the young girl's face, studying it. He had felt a light touch in the force as she had returned to health, almost unrecognizable.
He looked to Obi-Wan, and the look on his apprentice's face told him that he wasn't the only one who felt it.
"The girl comes with us" Qui-Gon said, nodding to the guards accompanying the group. The guards picked up the child, and the handmaidens went to aid their Queen, helping her to her feet.
"Thank you, Master Jedi" Queen Amidala said, her and her handmaidens bowing as one. Qui-Gon nodded his head, then gestured for the group to keep moving.
Once in the main hangar, Qui-Gon assessed the situation. Only one battalion of droids occupied the hangar, and most were occupied with a group of prisoners.
"We'll need to free those pilots before we take off" Panaka said.
"I'll handle it" Obi-Wan replied, striding cat-like towards the enemies. The rest of the group seemed to draw strength from his confidence, and began to run for the ship.
The battle between droids and Jedi was over in seconds, leaving only a pile of scrap where fully functional droids had been not a moment before. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan shared a glance before hopping aboard the Queen's transport.
In the ensuing chaos, Qui-Gon didn't get to see where the handmaidens and guards took the foundling child, but he took note to study the girl when he had a moment. It was odd that she had reached out through the force to him, only Padawan students knew how to do that, and only later in their studies...
"Master?" Obi-Wan asked as he entered into the hold where Qui-Gon was pacing, startling his master from his thoughts.
"Yes, Obi-Wan?" The older man replied.
"What we felt on the planet, do you think it indeed came from the girl?"
Qui-Gon looked into the youthful eyes of his Padawan and sighed.
"I don't know. We will look into it once we reach the capitol. For now, we must be vigilant. Keep your mind in the moment, Obi-Wan"
Qui-Gon shielded his eyes against the harsh winds of Tatooine, looking off at the barely visible buildings of Mos Eisley. He had a bad feeling about their adventure so far, there was too much risk involved. For the Queen, for Obi-Wan, for everyone.
As he disembarked the ship, Artoo and Jar-Jar at his heels, he heard Obi-Wan call his name.
"Be careful, Master" His apprentice said, blue eyes filled with genuine concern.
"I always am" Qui-Gon replied before turning to stride away across the sand, his long hair blowing slightly in the breeze. Jar-Jar and the Astromech droid followed suit, the Gungan's ears flapping comically around his head.
"Wait!" Captain Panaka's powerful voice came, stopping Qui-Gon with an agitated sigh. He turned to see Panaka jogging across the sand, a female figure at his heels. As they came closer, Qui-Gon recognized with a start of surprise that the girl accompanying the Captain was the same girl he had rescued on Naboo.
"The Queen commands that you take her newest handmaiden with you" Panaka said. The girl stepped forwards.
"No more commands from her Highness today" Qui-Gon said, shaking his head.
"The queen wishes it" Panaka said curtly, touching the girl's arm once before returning to the ship.
"Very well. I am Qui-Gon Jinn, this is Jar-Jar Binks, and Artoo-Detoo. What is your name, child?"
"Ariana, sir" She replied quietly.
"Stay close to me. The city is no place for a child" Qui-Gon said before striding off once more.
"Dontsa paya nono attenti-yon to bombad Jedi, hesa always grumpay" Jar-Jar said, shaking Rani's hand enthusiastically before running after Qui-Gon. Artoo beeped in agreement, and Ariana shrugged before running to keep up with her group.
As they walked to two miles to Mos Eisley, Qui-Gon expected the young girl to complain about the fast pace he had set, but she didn't utter a sound, except to offer Jar-Jar some water from a pocket canteen when he began to whine about the heat.
Every so often, Qui-Gon would feel a twinge in the force emanating from the girl. She obviously wasn't doing it on purpose, which meant that her gifts were given, not learned. This set the Jedi's lips in a hard line.
Ariana was small and thin, built in the usual way of the Naboo. Her long brown hair was pinned back in one brain, accenting her pale face and large eyes. As Qui-Gon observed her movements, he estimated her to be not much younger than Obi-Wan, perhaps in her fourteenth of fifteenth summer.
At last, the motley crew reached the outskirts of Mos Eisley. Around them, space pilots, pirates, traders, slaves and oddball creaturs from the deepest reaches of the galaxies thronged, clamoring for goods. Small stalls selling everything from weapons to water were put up everywhere, their owners yelling in foreign tongues.
"Stay close, but keep an eye out for small dealers" Qui-Gon said to his group. "This is not the place to get lost"
"Master" Ariana said after a few moments, tugging on the hem of Qui-Gon's sleeve. She pointed to a small building to their right. Qui-Gon followed her gaze to a small junk shop to their right.
"Good work" He said, patting Ariana's shoulder before heading to the shop.