Chapter 1:

Perched atop a tall ledge in the upper levels of the planet-encompassing city, a hooded figure watched as a sleek silver cruiser sliced through the busy Coruscanti skyline, flanked by it's two Starfighter escorts. The figure watched as, first the fighter escorts, then the glimmering vessel came to alight on the circular landing platform that extended below it's vantage. As the figure observed, the boarding ramp of the majestic vessel lowered, whilst the fighter pilots dismounted their ships to join the entourage of the Republic delegate exiting the cruiser.

With Force enhanced hearing the figure listened as the male pilot remarked to his female companion. "Well, it looks like you were right, there was nothing to worry about after all."

"Yes," the female replied distractedly as she removed her helmet, "another happy landing." Even from his tall vantage point the figure could make out the female's wavey hazel locks, his sharp eagle-like eyes only barely making out the concerned frown the marred her angelic visage, matching the note that permeated her musical voice.

As the two pilots turned to observe their companions' descent from their craft, the observing figure turned it's hooded head to monitor the other crouched individual standing on a similar, lower ledge a few buildings away, next to an unremarkable one-man speeder. The individual that was vigorously pressing the button of the detonator clenched in it's hand.

As he was watching this, the observing figure glanced down at the small activation device clasped in his white glove adorned hand. A little red light on the device flickering in time with the individual's presses, signalling the reception of the detonator's signal. He had saved the device from it's explosive demise when he rescued it from that poorly constructed IED that someone had just left lying around on the bottom of the aforementioned landing platform.

Some people were just so careless.

Looking back up the figure saw that the individual had given up it's assault on the helpless detonator & was reaching for the sniper rifle propped against the wall next to it.

Deciding to end this quickly, before things got messy, the figure focused on the mercenary that was now taking aim at one of the delegates that had congregated on the landing platform.

The figure blinked. The world shifting to appear in hues of grey. The congregation below appeared mostly in a mass of greyish-white, one individual, however, shining brighter that the rest, in an intense shade of blue. The crouched mercenary appeared in a solid shade of gold, confirming the figure's target.

With slow, deliberate movements, the figure reached to his belt & withdrew a small, old fashioned, yet amazingly sharp, blade; drawing his arm horizontally across his chest as he did so. Quick as a flash, the blade was expertly launched from the figure's suddenly outstretched hand, sailing almost gracefully through the air before burying itself to the hilt in the exposed neck of the would-be killer. Though the weapon was crude & rather primitive, given the advanced technology that permeated the galaxy, it did it's job.

Quick. Silent. Effective.

The mercenary collapsed, like a puppet with it's strings cut, onto the wide ledge of the skyscraper. Nobody even noticed as the Clawdite mercenary breathed it's last breath & was still.

His task accomplished, the figure took one last look at the Senator & her entourage as they left the platform, blissfully unaware of how close they had come to death; nor of the white robbed figure that had saved them from their tragic fate.

Without another thought, the robbed figure jumped, arms spread, feet together, head first from his perch; ignoring the ever present Coruscanti traffic; plummeting without fear into the depths of the Republic's capital.

Dropping through a hidden latch, the robbed figure entered the bureau. Passing through the doorway, the figure greeted the rafiq, "Safety & peace, Brother."

"And to you as well brother," the rafiq replied, turning from the datapad he was reading, "it is done?"

"Indeed," the figure replied, lowering the traditional hood of his robes to reveal the face of 19 year old Anakin Skywalker, "Pad… the Senator is safe, for now."

"Good," came the response as the elderly rafiq nodded his approval, "hopefully she'll be able to put a stop to this Military Creation Act, before this dispute with the Separatists devolves into war."

"We can only hope," Anakin agreed, "but I doubt even a politician as skilled & influential as her would be able to convince the Sith, even if she can convince the Senate. They seek only power & control, & they revel in destruction. They need this war to get both & they will get it, one way or another. They will not stop until they are dead."

"In time brother," the rafiq appeased, "for now, rest, you know the mercenary you dispatched was only a sub-contractor, the bounty hunter is still out there. It will not be long until he tries again."

"I know," Anakin replied, acknowledging the caution, "I will be ready."

The rafiq nodded in acceptance & returned to his datapads.

Recognising a dismissal, Anakin departed for the small quarters in the back of the bureau & lay down on the bunk to rest.

In the Senate chamber, the Galactic Senate of the Republic was in session, the meeting being lead & mediated by the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

As the debate shifted to the latest, and highly controversial, topic of the proposed Military Creation Act, the Chancellor's aid whispered in his ear. Standing, the Chancellor prepared to address the senate with a grave, & grief-stricken air about him.

"My esteemed colleagues," Palpatine began, "I hate to interrupt these most important proceedings, but I have just been the recipient of some tragic & disturbing news." Here the Chancellor paused. "It seems there has been a terrible accident, I regret to inform you that earlier today, there was an explosion on one of the landing platforms. It is with a heavy heart that I inform you, that Senator Amidala… is dead." He finished with a remorseful sigh & a bowing of his head.

The senate grew still for a moment, before bursting out in uproar. It seemed the entire senate was trying to speak at once. Some seemed genuinely saddened & angered at the loss of one of their most respected & idealistic members from their ranks. Most however, were using this as an example to press their opinions; whether against the bill, by claiming a military will only incite more of these atrocities; or those for the bill, such as Senator Ask Aak of Malstare who claimed the incident as even more proof of the Republic's need for an Army to protect it & it's citizens.

It is this scene of organised chaos that greeted the delegation from Naboo as they entered the session. Having caught the end of the Chancellor's speech, the Senator for Naboo, Padme Amidala Nebarrie immediately steered her senate pod to join the Chancellor's in the centre, 'stage' area, of the chamber.

"Chancellor," Amidala began, "I know not who your sources are, but I can assure you, these rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated."

"It is with great surprise, and immense joy, that this body recognises the Senator from Naboo" came Palpatine's shocked response.

"Honoured members of the Senate, it is with great relief that I stand before you today," Amidala addressed the chamber, "Though I can assure you that this alleged bombing did not in fact take place, I will admit to having received several threats against my person; threats from those who seek to silence my voice in the hopes to press their own agenda. But I refuse to be silenced!" She ended angrily.

The Senator paused to collect herself.

"Good people, I have made no attempts to conceal my opinion on matters such as this. It is well known that the people of Naboo, & I myself, have long stood & been advocates for peace & democracy. I have led the opposition to building this army, but there is someone in this body who will stop at nothing to assure its passage..."

At this, many of the senators shouted their opposition and yelled at the young Senator. This did not deter her, however, and she pressed on.

"I warn you," she continued, "if you vote to create this army, war will follow. I have experienced the misery of war first hand; I do not wish to do so again."

There were sporadic yells for and against her statement.

"Wake up, Senators - you must wake up!" the Senator continued passionately, "If we offer the Separatists violence, they can only show us violence in return! Many will lose their lives, and all will lose their freedom. This decision could very well destroy the very foundations of our great Republic. I pray you do not let fear push you to a disastrous decision. Vote down this security measure, which is nothing less than a declaration of war! Does anyone here want that? I cannot believe that they do…"

This impassioned cry sparked another round of argument within the Senate, preventing Amidala from speaking further. This debate continued for several more hours, until Senator Orn Free Taa of Ryloth moved that the vote be deferred, and Chancellor Palpatine adjourned the Senate; delaying the vote until a later session the following day.