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The Guise of Fate

Chapter 1: Beginnings, Part I

by Amara

Summary: When the Force binds two hearts together, nothing can be done to change Its Will. Or stop the chain of events triggered by their love, or the consequences that will shake the foundations of an Order and bring a galaxy to its knees.

Rating: T for some violence, swearing, and romantic situations.

Timeframe: AU TPM

Disclaimer: The characters and general TPM plotline belong to George Lucas and Terry Brooks, the latter from whom I've taken some elements of his novelization to heart. I do, however, own any characters you do not recognize. I am also making no money from this my heart's work.

// Text // denotes mental thought
{ Text. } denotes Mindspeech.

X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X


Chapter 1 - Beginnings, Part I

Space. An emptiness existing without time or light, a nothingness that had given birth to a universe, a vacuum threatening the very hull of the small Republic cruiser that dared pierce its way through the blackness that was studded with stars of far-distant systems. Systems where the fates of worlds unknown collided everyday with the limits of reality and the visions of dreams. As had the fates of Jedi and angel approximately twenty-four Standard years before, in a remote part of space by sheer chance…or by some grand design set before the beginning of Time, through forces beyond control or understanding, that sent now a pawn of that Fate, designed since before the birth of the galaxy, through the emptiness of space to a small planet in the Mid Rim sector of the Republic.

Eyes of gray-blue looked out of the hood of a billowing cloak, their depths taking in the sight of the blue-green jewel that was Naboo, his and his Padawan’s current assignment. They took in the sight of the bulky Trade Federation starships that were increasing rapidly in size as the pilot took them closer, noting how many he could see, sensing those he did not, and contemplating on the mission at hand.

He began to turn his head slightly to the shorter figure beside him, then changed his mind as the viewscreen suddenly switched on, the face of the Neimoidian Trade Viceroy, Nute Gunray, stretching to fill the screen.

“Captain.”

The woman turned slightly in her seat to acknowledge the cloaked figure behind her.

“Yes, sir?”

“Tell them we wish to board at once.”

His voice was deep and smooth, but its unmistakable note of determination compelled her to nod unconsciously.

“Yes, sir.”

Jead Kantil gave her copilot an uneasy glance, which was returned. Turning back to the viewscreen, Jead spoke in a clear voice, “With all due respect, Viceroy, the ambassadors for the Supreme Chancellor wish to board immediately.”

The Neimoidian nodded his green-grey head quickly.

“Yes, yes, of course…We would be happy to receive the ambassadors.”

As the screen went dark, Jead turned again in her seat to the dark figure behind the pilot’s chair.

“Sir?” she asked.

“Proceed, Captain.”

Jead nodded and turned quickly back to the controls. On Coruscant when she had learned the identities of her ship’s passengers, she had grown nervous: Jedi seemed to have that effect on everyone who wasn’t one, and their tendency to wear long, concealing cloaks did nothing to put her at ease. She knew Jihod, her cousin and copilot, felt the same. Putting the ambassadors in the back of her mind, the captain focused all of her concentration on navigating through the armaments that jutted out of the blocky Trade Federation command ship, sighing a little in relief when the hangar came into view and they were able to land the cruiser.

Turning around to speak to the Jedi, Jead found only empty space. Quirking an eyebrow at Jihod, she shook her head. / I should've known that Jedi would already know procedure. / Wondering where her common sense had gone, Jead returned to the controls.

The Jedi in question, meanwhile, had made their way through the bowels of the ship to the main hatch, and were waiting for the release of the locking bar so that the ramp could be lowered. Hoods raised to conceal their faces, they stepped out onto the Trade Federation command ship. Immediately a protocol droid, glinting silver in the harsh light from the hanger power generators, stepped forward.

“Hello. I am TC-14 and I am at your service. This way, please.”

The droid lead them through a series of corridors and hallways before stopping and motioning them inside to an empty conference room.

“I hope your honored sirs will be comfortable here. My master will be with you shortly.”

The droid spoke with respect, closing the door on its way out of the room. Once the door hissed shut, both figures withdrew their hoods from their faces. Qui-Gon Jinn, his brown hair worn long and tied back and his beard and mustache cropped close, stood at nearly two meters in height, and his sharp gray-blue eyes missed nothing as they took in their surroundings. The younger man was shorter, not nearly as tall as his Master, standing a few centimeters below him. His own hair was reddish-brown, and cropped close save for the small ponytail and braid that marked him as a Padawan-learner. Obi-wan Kenobi was strong and compact, light on his feet and intelligent; his Master couldn’t help but feel pride in him, though he was careful to not allow the feeling to be transported along their bond.

“I have a bad feeling about this, Master,” said his Padawan, turning to look around the room.

“I don’t sense anything,” replied Qui-Gon, shaking his head.

“It’s not about the mission, Master,” Obi-wan responded, “It’s something…elsewhere…elusive.”

The older Jedi placed a hand on the other’s shoulder.

“Don’t center on your anxieties, Obi-wan. Focus your concentration on the here and now, where it belongs.”

“But Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future…”

Qui-Gon smiled at his apprentice.

“Yes, but not at the expense of the moment. Be mindful of the living Force, my young Padawan.”

“Yes, Master,” Obi-wan said, to his credit a small smile forming on his lips as they walked to the viewport, looking out at the blue-green planet beyond, “How do you think the Trade Viceroy will deal with the Chancellor’s demands?”

/ How indeed, Padawan. / Qui-Gon gave an easy shrug.

“These Federation types are all cowards; they will not be hard to persuade. The negotiations will be short.”

X X X X


Below the Federation starships and beyond the city of Theed, a woman wiped beads of sweat from her brow, impatiently adjusting the straps of her haversack. Looking up at the sky, her frustration quickly became concern as she wondered again at the reasons for the Federation blockade. She would need to leave soon, and she doubted she’d be allowed passage off-planet if the blockade continued much longer, especially with her connections to one of the Federation’s rivals.

The woman sighed and pulled one last time at a strap that refused to remain taut. / Zasa better appreciate the gifts I’ve brought for her. Some of the small “trinkets” she asked for weigh more than their price in gold. / Looking away from the ominous sky, she cast her eyes back once more at the trail she had hidden, and then at the one she had engineered. / They won't find me very easily. / she thought, impressing her boot slightly on the damp ground, giving the slightest hint of human passage.

The trackers were close; she had seen them as she left the outskirts of Theed not a Standard half-hour before, and had tried to lose them in the dense undergrowth of the forest-country. / They must be better than I thought. // Glancing around for shelter, her sharp eyes, flashing blue in the early sunlight, caught sight of a massive fallen log, nearly half a meter wide in diameter. Walking over to the fallen tree, she knelt and felt around the bottom, pleased when her fingers found a hollow of leaves where earth should have been.

Sticking her head into the hole beneath the log, she pressed down, pleased that it appeared large enough for a person and that there were already leaves and broken branches at its bottom, giving it a natural resistance to mud and other more unpleasant sensations of nature. Retrieving her head and hand, she pulled off her haversack and placed it on the ground, being careful of its contents. Once free of its weight, she crawled under the log feet first, keeping an eye on the clearing, and made herself as comfortable as possible.

Some of the branches she moved around, and others she pulled up to examine closely. Those passing inspection were laid with care around the mouth of the hole, covering any evidence of its existence to the outside; those that didn’t were placed back in her hiding place. A sudden tingle raised the hairs on her neck, and reacting instinctively, she opened herself to her power. Raising a hand, she Called her heavy pack to her, and it rose as if weightless, flying silent through the air until it was caught with bare hands and tucked under the fallen log, branches raising in place once it was safely hidden with its owner. / And now I must wait. /

They were not long in coming. Hidden in the undergrowth, she watched as they entered the clearing, the leader at the front, his shoulders set arrogantly. His walk reminded her of one of the young Court dandies she had left behind; she wondered suddenly if after his days of playing bounty hunter he also donned pink breeches to be in fashion, and a sudden snort escaped her control.

The trackers halted, looking to their leader, who proceeded to brandish his oversized blaster and swagger carelessly around the clearing, never noticing that his weapon was still switched off. She sobered almost instantly, and began to inch away from her haven’s edge closest to the trackers. The man called his company’s attention and they obeyed him despite their hidden looks of contempt. She wondered briefly why anyone would follow him, then shrugged mentally. His haughtiness had nearly caused her to give her place away in laughter; she wouldn’t make that mistake again. / But he’s so funny. He looks like a child playing elder. Or hunter. / As they passed her she could see that not all his company was human: an Aqualish and two Rodians were part of the group, their weapons screaming bounty hunter. / What are they doing this far out from civilization? / she wondered, peering out from the underbrush.

They were passing her hiding place without a second glance, but that didn’t mean they hadn’t seen her. Once she could no longer hear them, she crept out from her leafy haven, and tried to remember another route to Lake Paonga. She stood for a few moments, quiet and still, trying to clear her mind of the bounty hunters. She had come too far, there was no other safe way for her to continue, save for the direction the trackers had taken. But…perhaps she didn’t need to take her exact route.


Her mind unconsciously calculating the width and height of the trees towering over her, she thought about the bounty hunters. As impossible as it seemed, if they were looking for her, if they were trailing her, then she could not simply go back to Theed; they might have friends waiting for her. Raising her head, she made her decision: she couldn’t go forward and she couldn’t back, so upward was her only choice.

A slight smile tugged at her mouth as she reached behind her for the climbing sticks she had never gone without. / I’ve missed walking in the trees since I left Dysis. Goddess, let’s see how much I’ve forgotten. / Settling them into her hands, she gave them a twirl, enjoying the feel of their grip against her skin, the carved wood-grain of their handles bringing memories of her foster-brother into her mind. She pushed them away, setting her heart against her memories and her chin in determination.

/ I don't regret my decision. / She could not. / They wanted me to be someone I’m not, someone I’ve never been, and never could be. / Despite the iron hand that controlled her mind, thoughts eluded capture, and as she began her ascent upward into the trees, memories of Jaris’ patient teaching surfaced.

Each limb was tested carefully as he had taught her, resting one of her feet lightly upon it and gradually increasing its weight more and more. After a few tries, she had picked a nice large branch about the width of her hips and placed both feet lightly onto its bark.

The climbing sticks were shoved into her belt, and with a slight adjustment of her pack’s weight, the woman began running along the length the limb, jumping at its bend onto another branch jutting out from a nearby tree. Landing with a slight sway, she caught her footing quickly, lest her weight pull her into a freefall that would end with her plummeting to her death. / And I’m not quite ready for that just yet. / As adrenaline began to rush through her veins, her breathing quickened and she smiled to herself. / Oh, how I’ve missed this. / Still smiling, she set off again, running along branches and across the gaps in between.

Soon she had come upon the group of bounty hunters with their asinine leader: his brilliant sense of direction had led them straight into a kashi swamp, and nearly all of them were mired in one way or another in the powerful suction of the soggy ground. As she passed them, her laughter became distorted as it traveled through the trees, causing them to look up and wonder if the spirits said to haunt the forest-country were real.

X X X X


Above the planet, in the conference room in which they had been left, Qui-Gon and Obi-wan stared at each other from across a long table. The younger Jedi was not as comfortable with waiting as his Master appeared to be: meditation was one thing, but this was another.

“Is it in their nature to make us wait this long?” he asked, finally.

Qui-Gon turned as if to speak when the door suddenly hissed open, and the droid, TC-14, stepped inside, carrying a tray of drinks and food. It crossed the room to the table, placing the tray in front of them and handing to each a drink. The older Jedi motioned to his Padawan, and they each took the glass offered to them, lifting their drinks and tasting them. Qui-Gon nodded to the droid.

“No,” he said, placing his drink on the table, “I sense an unusual amount fear for something as trivial as this trade dispute. We must be mindful of the Force, my Padawan.”

Obi-wan nodded.

“Perhaps-” he began.

An explosion suddenly rocked the room, cutting him off and causing the drinks to spill, the tray to crash onto the floor, food spilling everywhere, and the droid to stumble backwards, mumbling apologies profusely. The Jedi leapt to their feet, their lightsabers drawn and humming with power. A faint hissing sound could be heard as pale green clouds emerged from the vents near the doorway.

“Dioxis.”

As one the blades switched off, and the Jedi breathed in deeply before shutting off the air supply to their lungs. / And now, we wait. /

X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X


Author's Notes

Dysis pronounced “Dy-sis” a made-up planet; the system will come in later and is completely mine. I am basing much of the culture on Greece, so the names for the planets come from Ancient Greek: Dysis means “sunset”.

Kashi pronounced “Kah-shee”; my creation and not belonging to GL, these swamps are natural traps for outside invaders of the Naboo forest-country; once stepped in, mud and sludge cling to victim and slowly draw downward, a little like quicksand, but not life-threatening. Easy to get out of if carrying water: wash contaminated part of body with water and sludge will wash off.

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Chapter name
Beginnings, Part I
Created
06 Jul 2007
Last Edited
09 Jul 2007
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