Disclaimer: not mine
So who should Sora's master be? They will be dying in a year or two of becoming his Master before someone else takes over, if you read Death Steps in then you know who. Was considering someone else reincarnated from KH but not sure. Any jedi who didn't survive the gap from Phantom Menace to Clone Wars?
"We are greatly honoured by your visit Ambassadors. Make yourselves comfortable. My master will be with you shortly.," the droid bowed and left, the door closing it behind him.
Obi-Wan followed his master to the window, lowering his hood. "I have a bad feeling about this."
"I don't sense anything," Qui-Gon frowned slightly.
"It's not about the mission, Master, it's something...elsewhere...elusive." and it worried him, the feeling had been growing for some time now.
"Don't centre on your anxiety, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now where it belongs."
"Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future..."
"But not at the expense of the moment. Be mindful of the living Force, my young Padawan," his master chided, and Obi-Wan looked down.
"Yes, Master..." and that was that, discussion closed. Young Padawan…he wasn't young. "How do you think the Trade Viceroy will deal with the Chancellor's demands?"
"These Federation types are cowards. The negotiations will be short."
He hoped his master was right.
Yan checked the roster and frowned, he had hoped to finally corner his old Padawan and meet his Grand-padawan but they had been called off for emergency negotiations after only just returning. Their mission log was…concerning. They'd spent little enough time in the Temple when Obi-Wan was young and it had only gotten worse as he passed through his education. He wanted to know why the young man hadn't been put forward for the Trials yet. If there was something missing in his training then perhaps, he could help given the difference in his skills to Qui-Gon's.
But since he was in Temple, perhaps he could check on the boy, from a distance. It wouldn't do for people to make assumptions after all.
Riku cuddled into his Buir, happy the hard shiny stuff wasn't there. He liked the ship, lots of places to hide and play. He was allowed to play now, not like before. Way better than being left behind while Buir left. He didn't care that he didn't look like Buir, lots of the other kids didn't look like theirs. He still missed Mama, something inside reaching for her, but he couldn't find her and it hurt.
"Love Buir," he pressed his face into warm cloth, feeling a hand stroke his hair.
"Love you too Riku," Buir whispered, and Riku grinned sleepily.
Yan watched the Younglings in the garden, playing together. It had been just over a year since he had met the child, Sora, but he still recognised him. He'd even taken a sneaky look at his file; he would be five now. At the age to be moved into a Youngling clan but he was still with the Creche group which was interesting. Was he still struggling with the language?
Though, as he watched, it seemed Sora was being teased by some of the other boys. He'd noticed it in another group he'd seen…and seen it in Obi-Wan's file, though it'd been worse than teasing in his case. Had this really become such an issue with the Younglings? If it had then that was very concerning.
Just another concern to add to the many he had about the Order.
Nute Gunray watched the attack with Rune Haako beside him. He was beginning to think that perhaps they should not have agreed to the blockade, concern that grew as the droid they were watching was cut in half, Rune shooting him a worried look.
"What is going on down there?" he demanded as the alarms sounded. The gas should have killed them!
"We've lost the transmission, sir," an officer called across the bridge.
"Have you ever encountered a Jedi Knight before, sir?" Rune asked as they moved out of the way of scurrying crew.
"Well, no, but I don't..." he swallowed. Sidious had not said anything about Jedi before! "Seal off the bridge," he ordered.
"That won't be enough, sir," Rune shook his head.
"I want droidekas up here at once!" he yelled.
"We will not survive this," Rune mourned even as the doors to the bridge slammed into place.
Surely, they would keep even Jedi out?
She took her place on the throne, the governing council and her handmaidens around her in a show of power. But it wasn't real power, the ones with true power were the Trade Federation above…and the Chancellor's Ambassadors. She nodded and the call was made, the screen clearing to an image of the Viceroy and one of his people.
"Again you come before me, Your highness."
"You will not be pleased when you hear what I have to say, Viceroy ... Your trade boycott of our planet has ended," she stated coldly, voice remote as practiced.
"I was not aware of such a failure."
Trying to hide their situation from her? "I'm aware the Chancellor's Ambassadors are with you now, and that you have been commanded to reach a settlement."
"I know nothing of any Ambassadors ... you must be mistaken."
Surprised at his reaction, she studied him carefully. He seemed…smug. She didn't believe he knew nothing for one second. Surely…he hadn't killed them? "Beware, Viceroy...the Federation has gone too far this time."
"We would never do anything without the approval of the Senate. You assume too much."
"We will see." With a flick of her finger, the screen was deactivated.
"Your Majesty?" Governor Sio Bibble looked from the darkened screen to her in concern.
"He was lying," she stated, and several others nodded, having seen the same thing.
"Could they have killed the Ambassadors? Surely, they wouldn't dare."
"We simply do not know enough," she admitted. "Contact the Senator, perhaps he knows who was sent and if they have reported back."
Silas watched as Riku worked on his Mando'a unit, proud that he was learning so quickly considering how young he was. He was making sure he continued learning Basic though, it was necessary since he travelled. Though, the galaxy was getting more dangerous, he may soon be forced to leave Riku behind for his own safety, not that Manda'yaim was exactly safe but there were some few remnants of the Haat Mando'ade who might be willing to take Riku in when Silas couldn't take him, who could train him when Silas couldn't.
He missed Jango, Myles…Riku would never know their people as they should be. Getting his armour sorted as he got older was going to be fun, the training gear would be simple enough, thankfully Mirialan's were outwardly the same as humans when it came to armour which made it easier. Proper beskar'gam, made from beskar, was becoming harder to come by. Most were alloys now, or pieces of beskar and durasteel used to make a whole set. His own armour was a mix, the most protective pieces in beskar. He would need to contact a goran to speak about beginning to put aside the necessary supplies to make Riku's eventual armour.
"There are too many of them," the captain pointed out as they peered into the hanger.
"That won't be a problem," his Master stated before looking at the Queen. "Your Highness, under the circumstances, I suggest you come to Coruscant with us."
"Thank you, Ambassador, but my place is here with my people."
"They will kill you if you stay."
"They wouldn't dare," the oldest of the group argued, obviously a government official of some sort. Politicians.
"They need her to sign a treaty to make this invasion of theirs legal. They can't afford to kill her," the captain quickly explained.
A treaty to make it legal? Did they really expect the Senate to accept that? Then again, nothing had been done about the blockade, they were here on the Chancellor's private request…not the Senate's.
"There is something else behind all this, Your Highness. There is no logic in the Federation's move here. My feelings tell me they will destroy you."
Obi-Wan bit back a wince, when he had a bad feeling, it was ignored. And yet his Master acted on his own.
"Our only hope is for the Senate to side with us ... Senator Palpatine will need your help."
"Either choice presents great danger," the Queen murmured before glancing at her handmaidens. They all looked a lot alike, dressed identically… "to us all."
"We are brave, Your Highness," one of them answered, and Obi-Wan was impressed. Not a bad security measure.
"If you are to leave, Your Highness, it must be now," Qui-Gon told them.
"Then, I will plead our case to the Senate. Be careful, Governor."
With that they headed into the hanger.
"We need to free those pilots," the captain motioned to the men being held in a corner by battle droids.
Obi-Wan nodded and drew his lightsabre. "I'll deal with that." He moved towards the group as the others headed for the ship.
Sora sat on his bed, arms wrapped around his legs, almost completely blind in the darkness. The Healers had given him a day for his surgery and he was scared but it meant he'd be able to see like the human kids at night. Maybe they'd stop teasing him then? He was human, wasn't he? He looked like them, he didn't understand the words the Master had used when he'd asked. After they fixed his eyes, he'd be joining an initiate clan. Maybe then he could make friends?
"Peedenk! Naba dee unko!"
At his Master's yell, Anakin grimaced but dashed inside, hearing the tall human as he did.
"My droid here has a readout of what I need."
"What took you so long?" Watto demanded in Huttese.
"I was cleaning the bin like you..."
"Watch the store. I've got some selling to do here," he snapped, cutting Anakin off, before turning to the human male. "Soooo, let me take - a thee out back. Ni you'll find what you need."
"Don't touch anything," the human warned his alien companion, a species Ani didn't recognise, but he recognised the rude face and stuck out tongue give in answer.
Anakin leapt up to sit on the counter, picking up a part to clean and then he saw her. A girl…she was so pretty and clean and…soft looking. She was the most beautiful creature he has ever seen in his life. "Are you an angel?" he finally managed to ask.
"What?" Even her voice was pretty!
"An angel. I've heard the deep space pilots talk about them. They are the most beautiful creatures in the universe. They live on the Moons of Iego I think," he explained.
She stared at him, but it wasn't like how most adults did. "You're a funny little boy. How do you know so much?"
He shrugged slightly, still cleaning. "I listen to all the traders and starpilots that come by here. I'm a pilot, you know, and some day I'm gonna fly away from this place." He knew he would, he saw it in his dreams all the time.
She smiled at him. "You're a pilot?"
"All my life," he nodded, proud.
"How long have you been here?" She moved closer, watching him work.
"Since I was very little, three, I think. My Mom and I were sold to Gardulla the Hutt, but she lost us, betting on the Podraces."
"You're ... a slave?" there was horror and…pity.
He glared at her defiantly. "I'm a person and my name is Anakin!"
"I'm sorry. I don't fully understand," she admitted, shocking him. Who said that to a slave? "This is a strange place to me."
He stared at her, but she felt…genuine. Where could she be from that there weren't slaves? His head snapped around at the clattering noise to see the alien struggling with a droid. "Hey..."
"Hit the nose!" he yelled as it crashed into a shelf, great.
"Oh!" he hit the noise quickly thankfully, and the droid shut down.
He couldn't help a small laugh, hearing her laugh too. He glanced back at her to see a soft smile on her face. He wished…
Sidious sat in his office, staring out at the never-ending traffic. Soon, he would have a much nicer office. His plans were coming along and tomorrow he would rid himself of his Master, allowing him to send his apprentice after the Queen and her Jedi escort. Those foolish Neimoidians hadn't even managed to kill them.
Maul suited his purposes, for now, but for what was coming he needed someone to be the face of the army. Maul was no idiot, but he was far too savage looking. He'd been carefully feeling out several possibilities, including Jedi Master Dooku, he was the one he preferred. But, while he had distanced himself from the Order, something seemed to be drawing him back in. He would try and if the man refused, he would die, and Sidious would move on to another.
"All slaves have transmitters placed inside their bodies somewhere," Shmi explained gently.
Qui-Gon was well aware, but the whole idea was very new to the naïve handmaiden, and part of him felt sorry for having to shatter her utter surety in the Republic and its laws.
"I've been working on a scanner to try and locate mine," Anakin chimed in, and if he managed it, that would be impressive considering what he had to work with.
"Any attempt to escape..."
"... and they blow you up ... boom!" he was an excitable child, it was good to see his spirit had yet to be broken, neither had his mothers'.
So many slaves were and there was nothing he could do about it. He'd pushed for the Order to do more, but they were beholden to the Senate and too many Senators owned slaves or got rich off the trade.
"I can't believe there is still slavery in the galaxy. The Republic's anti-slavery laws..." Padme trailed off, looking bewildered.
"The Republic doesn't exist out here...we must survive on our own," Shmi's voice was firm but not unkind to the younger woman, obviously realising how sheltered she was.
His attention shifted as Jar Jar snatched some food from a bowl at the other end of the table with his tongue. Qui-Gon gave him a stern look in response, that was not polite.
"Has anybody ever seen a Podrace?" Anakin changed the subject and Qui-Gon felt his presence brighten. The child was Force sensitive, almost blinding to his senses, and that intrigued but also worried him. The Sith may be long gone but there were other Darksiders out there, and Anakin would be easy prey.
"They have Podracing on Malastare. Very fast, very dangerous," he offered even as Padme shook her head.
"I'm the only human who can do it," Anakin grinned, happiness at the freedom it gave him and some pride in his skills coming through.
"You must have Jedi reflexes if you race Pods," Qui-Gon told him, making Anakin smile.
Jar Jar attempted to snare another bit of food from the bowl with his tongue, but Qui-Gon intercepted him, grabbing his tongue between his thumb and forefinger, startling the Gungan.
"Don't do that again," he told him sternly, receiving a garbled mumble so he let go.
"You're a Jedi Knight, aren't you?"
"What makes you think that?" he looked back at the boy.
"I saw your laser sword. Only Jedi carry that kind of weapon," Anakin motioned at where his lightsabre was hidden.
Qui-Gon leant back and slowly smiled. "Perhaps I killed a Jedi and took it from him."
"I don't think so ... No one can kill a Jedi."
Such surety…it hurt. "I wish that were so..." he murmured.
"I had a dream I was a Jedi. I came back here to free all the slaves... have you come to free us?"
"No, I'm afraid not ..." no matter how much he wished otherwise.
"I think you have ... why else would you be here?" the blonde head tipped to the side, the child studying him…sensing. Untrained yes, but not unskilled. Impressive. Then again, he likely needed the abilities the Force granted to stay safe.
"I can see there's no fooling you…" he admitted, leaning forward. "We're on our way to Coruscant, the central system in the Republic, on a very important mission."
"How did you end up here in the outer rim?" Anakin frowned in confusion.
"Our ship was damaged, and we're stranded here until we can repair it," Padme answered, and he could tell she wasn't happy with him giving that much away, but slaves knew the value of secrets.
"I can help! I can fix anything!" Anakin offered brightly.
"I believe you can, but first we must acquire the parts we need..."
"Wit no-nutten mula to trade."
"These junk dealers must have a weakness of some kind," Padme suggested.
"Gambling. Everything here revolves around betting on those awful races," Shmi shuddered, and he could guess why. How many times had she had to watch her son race for their master? But it might be useful.
"Podracing ... Greed can be a powerful ally."
"I've built a racer! It's the fastest ever...There's a big race tomorrow, on Boonta Eve. You could enter my pod."
"Anakin! Watto won't let you..." his mother argued.
"Watto doesn't know I've built it," the boy shrugged and then looked at Qui-Gon. "You could make him think it's yours, and get him to let me pilot it for you."
Qui-Gon looked to Shmi, she was Anakin's mother and he would not go against her. She had too little power over her own fate and her sons' as it was.
"I don't want you to race. It's awful. I die every time Watto makes you do it," she whispered to Anakin, reaching out to touch his face.
"But Mom, I love it. The prize money would more than pay for the parts they need."
"Your mother's right. Is there anyone friendly to the Republic who might help us?" He tried instead. Technically, any jedi could pilot a podracer, but it had likely been built to fit the boy and Qui-Gon was…considerably larger, even Obi-Wan was. His Padawan was a good pilot, despite his often-expressed distaste for it. Unfortunately, Shmi shook her head.
"Mom... you said the biggest problem in the universe is nobody helps each other..."
She sighed heavily.
"I'm sure Qui-Gon doesn't want to put your son in danger. We'll find some other way..." Padme stepped in.
"No, there is no other way... I may not like it, but... he can help you... he was meant to help you." Perhaps she had some Force sensitivity too?
Riku carefully put the pieces together, not rushing, then he'd make mistakes. He grinned when it all went together and then ran to find Buir and show him. He'd done it!
Buir smiled and picked him up, tossing him lightly in the air. "Good job ad'ika!"
Riku didn't know what it was, but it just felt right to put together, and he watched as Buir put it in the engine, making the sound smoother. It sounded right now.
Anakin followed the woman in robes into a room to see two beds and a younger boy sitting on one. He got onto the one she pointed at and then she left.
Anakin looked at the other boy warily. He hadn't seen any little kids since Master Qui-Gon had brought him from the Queen's place. There had been the scary Council people who didn't want to train him and there were lots of adults and older teens in the halls. But this kid was the first he'd seen younger than him. He looked so clean, even dressed in plain white tunics, his dark hair cut short kind of like Obi-Wan's but without the braid or tail.
"I'm Sora, I'm five."
Anakin blinked at him. "Anakin, I'm nine." That was safe enough, right? "Are you sick?"
"Nope," the boy shook his head. "My eyes are weird. So, they gotta do an op'ration to fix em."
"Oh," Anakin whispered. They could do that? He studied bright blue eyes. "They look okay?"
"I'm Hapan so I don't see good in the dark. If they don't fix it then I can't be a Padawan and do missions. Why're you here?"
"Um…" he shifted nervously and then the boy was climbing up beside him, taking his hand.
"S'okay to be scared. No one likes comin to Healers. But they give lollies!"
"Looking out for Anakin, Sora?" a new voice asked, and Anakin tensed slightly.
"Master Che! Is Anakin okay?"
"Yes Sora, he will be just fine," the female Twi'lek answered, her voice stern but not angry. She even reached out and ruffled Sora's hair, not hitting him. "And you Youngling, need to get back to your bed, it's time for your surgery.
"'Kay." He scrambled back to the other bed and under the sheet, Anakin watching as he was given something that made him fall asleep.
"He'll be okay?" he couldn't help asking, and the woman looked over at him.
"He will need to remain for a few days after his surgery while he adapts to the change in his vision. This is being done to help him. Another Healer will be here in a few minutes for your surgery, which will be much quicker and you will be released in a few hours," she explained.
Anakin nodded and watched as the bed was moved out, Sora sleeping soundly. That…didn't seem bad. So when another Healer came he did what he said and lay down, he wanted the transmitter out and not just deactivated. He was soon asleep and being taken for his own surgery.