Star Wars: Episode 1—A Retelling
The Phantom Menace
By: Tellemicus Sundance
#13: A New Journey Begins
About half a day had passed since the battle came to an abrupt end, and Anakin could honestly say that he'd never been so busy in all his life. But he had more than happily cleared up his timetable to make time for Padme's arrival on the Droid Control Ship. She had vaguely mentioned to him during a brief conversation earlier that she already had ideas for what the Naboo could use the Control Ship for, something about strengthening ties between them and the smugglers of Havoc Force.
Regardless, he happily met her in the hangar bay after the ship she was riding on landed. The ship was a light freighter that he quickly recognized as a G9 Rigger, one of the older models of recent years. Padme was still dressed in her battle clothes and there were shadows under her eyes, hinting to her exhaustion but she didn't seem otherwise affected by the late hour or all the work that she'd doubtlessly be doing as well. With a sudden surge of abundant youthful energy, Anakin gave her a quick tour of the warship before taking her to one of the conference rooms to rest.
It was here that she decided to finally broach the subject that she'd no doubt been want to address for a while. "I'm sorry I couldn't tell you sooner…about my being the Queen." There was a strained smile on her face as she said that softly. "I know it was a surprise."
"It's okay," he said, shrugging nonchalantly.
"I guess knowing I'm a Queen makes you feel differently about me, doesn't it?" she asked.
"I guess," Anakin admitted, somewhat hesitantly. "But that's okay! Just so you still like me. Because I still like you." He looked over at her hopefully.
"Of course, Ani. Telling you who I really am doesn't mean my feeling for you have changed. I was the same person before, whether you knew the truth about me or not."
He thought about it a moment. "I suppose." Then he brightened up. "So I guess my feelings for you shouldn't be any different now either."
She smiled broadly at him. Then her eyes gained a particular twinkle as she said, "I know that losing the Dandy Eagle was hard on you, Anakin. But I think I may have something to offer up as a suitable replacement." At Anakin's surprised and quickly curious gaze, she said, "The freighter I came up here on has recently lost its previous owner because of the invasion. If you want it—"
"I'll take it!" Anakin interrupted loudly, his voice rising as his eyes lit up with childish eagerness.
Three days later, Obi-wan Kenobi stood in a small room of the Theed temple in which the deaths of heroes were mourned and their lives celebrated. There were a surprising number of fresh bodies that were currently within the temple, almost a two hundred and most were Gungans, that were awaiting cremation. Already the citizenry and officials of the Naboo and the Gungan peoples were gathering to honor their fallen.
Much had changed in the lives of those who had fought in the struggle for Naboo sovereignty. With the 'betrayal' of the droid army, the Trade Federation's control over Naboo had been broken. All of the ground transports, tanks, STAPs, weapons, and supplies were in the hands of the Naboo who were hoarding them away in multitudes of warehouses scattered across the planet. They may have been a peaceful people, but no more would they ever be considered defenseless. Viceroy Gunray, his lieutenant Rune Haako, the remainder of the Neimoidian occupation council, and the bridge crew of the control ship were all locked up in the Naboo's most maximum security prisons to await trials for their crimes. That was something that Queen Amidala was absolutely resolved to have happen. Without membership in the Republic, that meant that the Naboo were free to try and imprison the Neimoidians under Naboo law alone.
However, of course, things were not so simple. Shortly after the battle had ended, a handful of Republic Judiciary Forces ships had entered the system and began investigating. They had reported their findings to the Republic, who was now demanding the Viceroy's return to them for the trials. Amidala had refused, and since then things had become deeply muddled in politics.
There had already been considerable tension when the Republic arrived. The Republic fleet had apparently thought they'd be seen as heroes, come swooping in to save the day, only to find the battle already won and over with. A lot of the Naboo and Gungans were now starting to see as them trying to seize the glory of the Naboo victory for themselves for political advantages. But as tensions rose between the Naboo and the Republic, members of the Jedi Council arrived to mediate the dispute, and the discussions were still taking place. Obi-wan could say with heartfelt sincerity that he did not envy the three Masters who in attendance for that.
Obi-wan's thoughts drifted back to the pair of the Naboo's youngest heroes, as they had been ever since the battle ended. Even without a genuine plan, Anakin Skywalker had flown his starfighter and led an assault force that captured the ship. After word had reached them that the 'Havoc Force' had captured the Droid Control Ship, Obi-wan and several others had flown up to personally investigate the battleship. What they'd found was mostly pretty standard as far as a droid army supply ship and controlling station were concerned. However, thanks to R2's incredible hacking skills, they had discovered several recordings of holo-transmissions between the Viceroy and a dark cloaked being whom answered to the title of 'Lord Sidious'. Obi-wan's suspicions were very strong that this Sidious was a Sith Lord and the master of the Zabrak Sith Lord.
After hearing the boy's tale and questioning him thoroughly, Obi-wan believed Anakin was guided by something more than the thinking of ordinary men. That extraordinarily high midi-cholorian count gave the boy a connection to the Force that even Jedi Masters on the level of Yoda might never achieve. Qui-gon, he now believed, had been right. Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One of Prophecy. But there was a resounding problem if that was the case. The boy had openly declared no desire to become a Jedi, or to at least join the Jedi Order.
Obi-wan paced the room, dressed in fresh clothing for the funeral. He wore the soft, loose-fitting, sand-colored Jedi Knight garb with his lightsaber hanging upon his belt as always. The Jedi Council had officially come to Naboo to help mediate the dispute of Viceroy Gunray's arrest, but it was also there to speak again with Anakin and Ahsoka to make a final assessment based on what had transpired since their last session with the boy. They were doing so now, up on the Droid Control Ship with which Anakin had almost literally taken total control of to prevent some of the more unsavory smugglers from trying to make off with it. Obi-wan thought the outcome of their deliberations must be a foregone conclusion. He could not imagine now that it wouldn't be.
He stopped his pacing and stared momentarily at nothing, thinking of Qui-gon Jinn, his Master, his teacher, his friend. He had failed Qui-gon in life. But he would carry on his work now, honoring him in death by fulfilling his promise to train the boy, no matter what. 'Listen to me,' he thought, smiling ruefully. 'I sound like him.'
The door opened, and Yoda appeared. He entered the room in a slow shuffle, leaning on his walking stick, his wizened face sleepy-eyed and contemplative.
"Master Yoda," Obi-wan greeted, hurrying forward to meet him, bowing deferentially.
The Jedi Master nodded before solemnly stating, "Confer on you the level of Jedi Knight, the Council does. Decided about the boy, the Council is, Obi-wan."
"He is to be trained?" Obi-wan asked, but his expression and tone more than stated his obvious lack of belief.
The big ears cocked forward, and the lids of those sleepy eyes widened. "So impatient, you are. So sure of what has been decided?"
Obi-wan bit his tongue and kept his silence, waiting dutifully on the other. Yoda studied him carefully. "A great warrior, Qui-gon Jinn," he gargled softly, his strange voice sad. "But so much more he could have been, if not so fast he had run. More slowly, you must proceed, Obi-wan."
Obi-wan stood his ground. "He understood what the rest of us did not about the boy."
But Yoda shook his head. "Be not so quick to judge. Not everything, is understanding. Not all at once, is it revealed. Years, it takes, to become a Jedi Knight. Years more, to become one with the Force." He moved over to a place where the fading light shone in a through a window, soft and golden. Sunsent approached, the appointed time for their farewell to the fallen heroes.
Yoda's gaze was distant when he spoke. "Decided, the Council is," he repeated. "Not to be trained, the boy shall be."
Obi-wan felt a momentary rush of anger and incomprehension at those words. How could the Council to decide this? The boy was so powerful in the Force that not training him as a Jedi could be a huge mistake. With the sudden realization that the Sith were still alive and active, that made the danger posed by not training him even greater than it otherwise would've been!
"Disagree with this, you do?" Yoda asked, his voice and face questioning but stern.
"I do, Master," Obi-wan said, using all his self-control to keep himself from expressing just had disappointed and angry he was. After a moment to calm himself, he said, "There is something I excluded from my report of Qui-gon's death," he admitted quietly, keeping his gaze to ground in slight shame. "I admit that I mostly did so because I myself did not truly believe or agree with him at that point in time. But Master Qui-gon believed that this boy, Anakin, could be the Chosen One. The One who'll bring the Force back into balance."
"Know this, the Council does," Yoda said, his voice deceptively calm and placid. "Change decision, it does not."
Obi-wan looked up from the floor to Yoda in surprise. They'd known about Qui-gon's belief all along? "Master, that just means that—"
Thumping his walking stick upon the floor hard enough, Yoda silenced Obi-wan's retorting question by the sharp knocking. Once the young Knight had quieted down and returned to his earlier submissiveness, the Grandmaster stated, "Trained as a Jedi, he will not be. But left unwatched, he will not be either. Appointed, his Jedi Guardian, you are, Obi-wan Kenobi."
"Guardian?" Obi-wan repeated, quite shocked. Although the traditional Jedi version of the title was reserved to for the warrior-class among them, he quickly understood just what Yoda meant. He was to become Anakin's chaperon and legal guardian in place of any parental absences. But, more than anything else, it also meant that he'd be largely responsible for keeping the boy from getting consumed by the dark side of the Force. Something that he truly expected he'd be performing on multiple occasions if the boy was truly as reckless as he'd already seen him to be. But it also presented him with the incredible opportunity to train the boy in a more indirect manner than just taking him as his official Padawan.
Nodding to the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order, he said, "I understand, Master Yoda. I will not fail."
Yoda clearly saw Obi-wan's thoughts on the matter. "Pleased, you are? So certain this is right?" The wrinkled face tightened. "Clouded, this boy's future remains, Obi-wan. A mistake to train, it is."
"Anakin makes his own future," Obi-wan said, more as a reflex for the boy's opinions. But, as soon as he said it, Obi-wan realized the truth behind his own words. In a rather ironic twist, he realized there and then that whatever choices he made, Anakin's decisions would always be his own, for better or worse as they may be. "But I swear I will closely watch over him. I will not let him fall into darkness."
Yoda studied him a moment, then nodded. "Your promise, then, remember well, young Jedi," he said softly. "Sufficient, it is, if you do."
Obi-wan bowed in acknowledgement. "I will remember."
Together, they went out into a blaze of light.
There was a grand parade the following day to publicly recognize the newfound alliance of the Naboo and Gungan peoples, to celebrate their hard-fought victory over the Trade Federation invaders, and to honor those who had fought to secure the planet's freedom. Crowds lined the streets of Theed as columns of Gungan warriors astride kaadu and Naboo soldiers aboard speeders rode through the city to the sounds of cheering and singing. Fambaa lumbered down the avenues, draped in rich silks and embroidered harnesses, heads weaving from side to side on long necks. Here and there, a captured Federation tanks hovered amidst the marchers, Naboo and Gungan flags flying from cannons and hatchways. Jar Jar Binks and General Ceel led the Gungans, both riding their kaadu, Jar Jar managing to stay aboard this time for the entire parade, though he looked to those in attendance to be having a bit of trouble doing so.
Captain Panaka and the Queen's own guards stood at the top of the stone steps in the central plaza, watching the parade approach. Panaka's uniform was creased, metal insignia on his epaulets gleaming, proud and strong. Anakin and Ahsoka stood with Obi-wan and Shaak Ti near the Queen. Anakin especially was feeling out of place and embarrassed. He thought the parade was wonderful and he appreciated being honored with the others, but his mind was elsewhere.
It was with Qui-gon, gone back into the Force. It was with Padme, who had barely spoken to him since the Republic forces and Jedi Council had arrived. It was with his destroyed Dandy Eagle, which he'd never even got a chance to fully embrace as his own. It was with Ahsoka and her growing attachment with Shaak Ti. But, most especially, it was with his mother, whom he wished could see him now and whom he'd not seen for nearly two years now.
He wore new clothes now, gifted to him by Naboo well-wishers, with his hair cut short. He had achieved what he truly wanted to do since arriving in the Naboo system and seeing it blockaded. He should have been happy and satisfied, and he was. But his happiness and satisfaction were clouded by the sadness he could not banish at losing Qui-gon, his ship, and his newfound sense of freedom. They were lost to him in different ways, to be sure, but they were gone out of his life. Qui-gon had provided stability and even a tentative foundation to build and explore his still-yet-untested Force Philosophy. And while he could sense that various others of those gathered around him now would play key and vital roles in his future, he felt lost, stranded, and imprisoned all at once. So he smiled, but he was sick in spirit and lost in his heart.
Perhaps sensing his discomfort, Obi-wan reached over to put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "It's the beginning of a new life for you, Anakin."
The boy smiled back dutifully, but said nothing.
Obi-wan looked off at the crowds in front of them. "Qui-gon always disdained celebrations. But he understood the need for them as well. I wonder what he would have made of this once."
Anakin shrugged, glancing over at Ahsoka who was openly marveling at the parade and the many beautiful banners fluttering in the air. Despite holding Shaak Ti's hand in her own, the youngling was practically hanging off of the Togruta Master, clutching at her a child would her parent. Shaak Ti had her usual expression of warmth but strained aloofness due to Ahsoka's open attachment to her in public.
Obi-wan smiled. "He would have been proud to see you a part of it."
Anakin looked at him. "Do you think so?"
"I do," Obi-wan said with complete confidence. "And I'm sure your mother would be proud of you as well."
Anakin's mouth tightened, and he looked away. 'I'm going to come free you, mom. Very soon!'
The parade wound through the central plaza to where the Queen and her guests viewed the procession. She stood with her handmaidens, Governor Sio Bibble of the Naboo, Boss Nass of the Gungans, and the twelve members of the Jedi Council. R2-D2 occupied a space just below the handmaidens and next to Anakin and Obi-wan, domed head swiveling from side to side, lights blinking as its sensors took everything in. R2 beeped at the boy and Anakin touched the little droid's shell gently.
Boss Nass stepped forward and held the Globe of Peace high over his head. "Dis grand party!" an exuberant Jar jar shouted above the noise of cheering and clapping. "Gungans and Naboo, dey be friends forever, hey?"
His enthusiasm made Anakin smile in spite of himself. The Gungan was dancing up and down, long ears flapping, gangly limbs twisting this way and that as he mounted the steps. 'Jar Jar never lets the bad things in life get him down,' the boy thought. Maybe there was a lesson to be learned in that.
"We bombad heroes!" Jar Jar laughed, lifting his arms over his head and showing all his teeth.
"You know it, Jar Jar!" Ahsoka cried out, grinning widely in pure glee.
The boy laughed. He guessed maybe they were.
On the broad avenue below, in a long, colorful ribbon of life, the parade that had carried them to this place and time continued on.
Darth Sidious stood alone on a balcony overlooking the city, a shadowy figure amid the multitude of twinkling lights, his visage dark and angry as he contemplated the loss of his apprentice. Years of training had gone into the preparation of Darth Maul as a Sith Lord. He had been more than the equal of the Jedi Knights he had faced and should've been able to defeat them easily. It was bad luck and chance that had led to his death, a combination that even the power of the dark side could not always overcome.
Not in the short run, at least.
His brow furrowed. It would be necessary to replace Darth Maul. He would need to train another apprentice. Such a one would not be easy to find.
Darth Sidious walked to the railing and put his hands on the cool metal. One thing was certain. Those responsible for killing Darth Maul would be held accountable. Those who had opposed him would be forgotten. All would be made to pay.
His eyes glowing an unnatural yellow as his rage deepened. The worst part of this whole fiasco was that he'd not even gotten what he wanted most. He had drastically underestimated just how affected the Queen was at the invasion and suffering of her people. And there was no way to anticipate who had advised her on an alternate and much more extreme course of action, or that she'd even take such a course of action! But he would bide his time. He could wait for his chance. He would immediately start laying the groundwork for what was needed.
A smile played across his thin lips. A day of reckoning would about soon enough.
TO BE CONTINUED...
(Author's Final Note) Wow! It's finally done! I must admit that I'm surprised I managed to keep my attention on this story long enough to finish it! Granted, most of the story was almost painfully similar to canon, but I hope my alterations and additions at least made it interesting. And a COLLOSSAL thanks to animefan29 for helping with all the fine and finite Star Wars details that I was ignorant of and for being a great beta-reviewer and friend!
Suffice to say, those small changes and additions are going to be the primary reason that Episode II will be so hugely different from canon.