miarath - I have attempted to keep the events surround TPM close to the original story without completely rehashing it.

modeiohem - thanks

Jocasta Silver - Qui-Gon will be very relieved.

Emperor Andross - I think the reflection was necessary as Obi-Wan and Garen are making decisions that will affect a lot more than them.

Chapter 38

"Hold still."

Garen washed Obi-Wan's arm with a wet cloth, trying to clean the raw spot of charred and bloodied flesh where the blaster had hit. Obi-Wan hissed, his arm shuddering at the less than gentle treatment.

"I'm sorry," Garen said, wincing. "It's deep and I don't think all this fighting has helped. It looks like the movement keeps reopening and aggravating the wound. You really need to try not to use your arm until we get it treated by someone who knows what they are doing."

"That depends on whether or not we meet any more battle droids … or Sith … or whoever."

Garen set the cloth down, frowning as he considered their situation. He felt blind being out of contact with the rest of the galaxy, and realized that at some point he and Obi-Wan had ceased to be a senator and his chief of security. They were now operating as Jedi, a team of two working to protect peace and the lives of those in their charge. The decisions they were making caused him to long intently for any nugget of wisdom from the Jedi elders, a fact that would make at least half of them nearly fall over dead in shock if they knew.

"Do you think we can chance contacting at least Dantooine when we get there?" he asked.

"We shouldn't take the chance of making transmissions from this ship," Obi-Wan replied. Garen paused, studying Obi-Wan for some sign that his fellow knight was feeling at least a fraction of the apprehension he was in their current situation, especially with having revealed themselves to the small group of Naboo. Obi-Wan seemed to be much more comfortable in the role of Jedi. "Our best option is to make repairs to the ship and continue on to Coruscant." Obi-Wan let out a deep breath as Garen finally covered the wound with a bacta patch. "And no, you are not the only who wishes we had guidance from the elders."

"I was wondering …" There was a knock at the door of the small room. "Who is it?" Garen called, though he didn't have to ask. He could sense the presences of five people, including the queen, outside.

"Captain Panaka."

"Come in," Obi-Wan said.

The door opened and Panaka and two guards rushed in, immediately pulling their blasters on the two Jedi.

"You have got to be kidding me!" Garen snapped in annoyance. Certainly the captain of the queen's guards had to realize that three men with blasters were hardly a match for two men who had single-handedly dispatched squad after squad of battle droids. Still, he understood the duty to protect, and could sense that the dark-skinned man in front of him would give his life before allowing anything to happen to the young girl waiting outside.

"Have a seat. Queen Amidala has questions."

Garen looked at Obi-Wan, receiving a nod, and reluctantly backed up and sat down beside him. Obi-Wan reached to pick up his shirt, and all three blaster shifted nervously to cover him. "Sorry." Obi-Wan lifted his hands up slowly. "If the queen is coming in here, I would like to put my shirt back on."

"Of course." Panaka shook his head, obviously nervous and Obi-Wan picked up his shirt, sliding one arm into the sleeve and draping the ruined sleeve over his wounded arm before pulling it around him.

Panaka motioned for the queen to enter. She pulled her skirt around her, feathered headdress swaying as she squeezed through the doorway into the small space. One of her handmaidens trailed her, head slightly bowed in submission, but deep brown eyes keenly studying the two men.

"You are both wounded," she observed, little inflection coloring her words.

"That tends to happen when your ship is shot down and crashes and you are outnumbered by patrols of battle droids," Garen suggested.

Obi-Wan frowned, leaning over to whisper to the other Jedi. "Garen … perhaps I should handle the diplomacy." Obi-Wan schooled his features as he would for any bout of negotiations. "We would be glad to answer any questions her highness may have. I am sure there are many." That was an understatement. "However, this is not an interrogation and I assume we are not under arrest for rescuing you." Panaka looked down as his blaster began to wiggle before being wrenched from his grip by an invisible hand and seeming to fly to the senator seated before him. The other two guards in the room closed in, looking down as their weapons soon left their hands, one flying to Garen, the other to Obi-Wan. "Shall we leave weapons out of this?" Obi-Wan asked, as he tossed all three blasters onto the floor at Panaka's feet. "I know I have looked down the wrong end of enough for the day." Panaka gestured to his two guards, and both exited the room, leaving Panaka, the queen, and her handmaiden.

"How did you do that?" the queen demanded. She was serene and calm on the outside, but her apprehension was almost palpable.

"We are Jedi," Obi-Wan replied simply. Garen squeezed his eyes shut, practically groaning as another level of carefully preserved secrecy came tumbling down. They didn't actually have to name themselves, did they?

The queen shared a quick glance with her attendant before simply stating. "There have been no Jedi since the Jedi Order was disbanded with the Ruusan Reformation, the senate and the Jedi Council mutually agreeing it was in the best interest of the Republic …"

"That is what was recorded in Republic history, Your Highness." Obi-Wan nodded in acknowledgement. "Unfortunately, your knowledge is incomplete."

"Perhaps you can fill in the relevant details."

Obi-Wan grew quiet, pausing to gather his thoughts, causing Garen to wonder how he was intending to explain everything to the three people standing before them. "The Jedi Order was given little choice in the matter and assertions that there was a possible surviving Sith were ignored. All of the Jedi were turned out of the only home they ever knew, all of the younglings and apprentices they considered their children were taken away." Obi-Wan met the queen's gaze. "They found strength as they always had, in fellowship together. They had to adapt, but they preserved who they were and passed that on to their children."

"Where are the Jedi at, and how many are there?"

"I am not at liberty to offer that information," Obi-Wan said, and Garen released the breath he was holding. "It is not relevant to our current circumstances."

"What are the Jedi's intentions toward the Republic?"

"The same as they always were, Your Highness," Obi-Wan said firmly. "The Republic turned its back on the Jedi after generations of faithful service, but we have not turned our back on the Republic." The queen began to protest, but Obi-Wan continued. "The Sith have reemerged …"

"Impossible … they are as extinct as the Jedi."

"In this case, I will agree with you." Obi-Wan smiled in challenge.

Darth Sidious stood in the middle of the room, the holographic image of Nute Gunray and Senator Dodd before him. Xanatos kneeled on the floor out of the way of the holotransmitter, head bowed in his new found humility. It was still only a facade. His anger towards his master seemed to grow daily.

"Have you found Senator Kenobi and his chief of security?" Sidious asked with a sneer in his voice. He had been enraged to hear that the senator's vessel had not been destroyed in space.

"Our patrols found the wreckage, Lord Sidious, but then we lost contact. The second patrol we sent found evidence of fighting and the remains of the first patrol. In fact, we lost both the second and third patrols sent after them. I thought Senator Kenobi had only traveled with one guard."

"I want them located." The words caused both figures to bob up and down nervously. "And Queen Amidala, has she signed the treaty?"

"She has disappeared, My Lord," Gunray said. "One Naboo cruiser got past the blockade."

"I want that treaty signed!"

"My Lord." Gunray held his hands out to the side. "The ship is out of our range and could be anywhere in the galaxy. It's impossible to locate ..."

"Not for a Sith..." Sidious interrupted. Xanatos sensed a distinct command to stay where he was as Maul stood, casting a gloating sneer in Xanatos' direction. He walked up behind Sidious. "This is my apprentice. Darth Maul. He will find your lost ship."

The hologram faded and Xanatos remained in his spot, listening to his master speak to his fellow apprentice. "We must find that ship." Sidious folded his hands in front of his body, steepling long pale fingertips. "We should also assume that Kenobi reached the queen and is on board the ship with her. Bring the queen back to Naboo and eliminate Kenobi before he can further interfere."

"Yes, Master."

"And Maul …" Sidious said as the zabrak turned to depart. "Do not fail."

Xanatos was left alone with his master. Silence dragged on, the young Sith aware that Sidious was acutely studying him. The Sith master finally spoke. "You think I should have sent you, my apprentice." Xanatos shuddered as he felt the intruding tendril of Darkside energy try to weave its way into his mind, behind carefully crafted shields. Sidious walked toward him, stopping when he stood right in front of his apprentice. "I know you are angry, Acutus."

Xanatos looked up, finally allowing the defiance that burned inside him to filter into his gaze.

"Yes …" Sidious whispered. "Savor it … it will make you strong."

"We underestimate Kenobi, my master," Xanatos chanced strongly. "To have dispatched those detachments of battle droids … to avoid the blockade … it would have taken a …"

"Jedi?" Sidious suggested when Xanatos suddenly fell silent. The Sith Lord's thin lips curved into a pale smile. "Perhaps … I sense we will know soon enough." He placed a cold hand on the younger man's cheek, and Xanatos resisted the urge to shudder. "For now, your place is on Coruscant at my side. Lord Plagueis and I agree. You are still too important to chance revealing your identity."

"The hyperdrive generator's shot," Garen said.

"Any chance of repair?"

"No, the whole unit will have to be replaced."

"That complicates things a little more." Obi-Wan felt an urgency to get moving and get back to Coruscant. The Force was choked with disturbance, and he knew Garen felt it as well.

"I should go with you. You don't know what is waiting out there."

"One of us needs to stay here. We can't chance them sending transmissions. I still don't think they understand how much danger we are all in."

"Be careful … and may the Force be with you."

Obi-Wan made his way to the landing ramp, the astrometric droid that had saved them all from capture trailing on his heels. He opened the door and ventured outside, the temperature rising dramatically with each step. The droid emitted something that sounded like a sad chirp, and Obi-Wan turned back, chuckling lightly. "My thoughts exactly." He looked out across the desert toward the port of Mos Espa. "It's not that far. Come along."

He stepped off the durasteel ramp, booted feet sinking into the sand as a gust of wind blew a sprinkling of grit into his face. He was only a few paces away when he heard a familiar voice.


He turned to see Panaka and one of the queen's handmaidens running towards him. The young girl was no longer dressed in her rich flaming cloak, instead donning the coarse garments of a simple farmer, just as he was.

"Her Highness commands you to take her handmaiden, Padme, with you," Panaka simply stated.

"I doubt this spaceport is pleasant. I don't think …"

"The Queen wishes it. She is curious about this planet," Panaka insisted.

"A matter of hours ago you were pointing a blaster at me, and now you wish for me to accompany … her."

"I don't like this, but you have done nothing to harm us. The queen wishes it … and she trusts you."

"Stay close," Obi-Wan said, as she fell into step with him and the droid.

They spent most of the beginning of the trek in silence before Obi-Wan finally spoke. "I am still wondering how both a senator and a queen managed to get away from their chiefs of security, heading for the unknown."

"I don't understand what you mean," Padme said, stopping.

"The use of decoys, as I understand it, is a time honored tradition on Naboo. It allows the monarch to step out of such a formal role." Padme stared up at him defiantly as he turned around. "Don't worry, Your Highness, I appreciate the need for secrecy and will respect that." He smiled. "I only hope that you can have the same appreciation with my situation when the time comes."