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Chapter Five

Jar Jar entered one Gungan house-bubble after the other. He swam through all of the routes of Otoh Gunga: deserted. The whole city was deserted. Even Boss Nass, the Gungan leader was not in his throneroom. He knew that the battle droids would eventually run them out of their city. Qui-Gon Jinn had told him so and that was enough for him. He trusted completely the Jedi who'd saved his life.

In most cases, anyone faced with the situation that Jar Jar now faced would have panicked. But Jar Jar remained completely unalarmed. He knew his people weren't lost. He knew exactly where they were.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Amidala took a moment to steal away by herself for a moment. Once she'd landed, she'd had not time to be afraid. She'd been racking her mind for plan and consulting with her handmaidens. She thought again of part of a vital part of the plan she'd formed in her mind earlier. This information was known only to herself and Jar Jar Binks. She planned to ask for the help of the Gungans in taking back the planet they both shared. She hoped that they would realize the urgency of the situation. Now, looking up at the sun as it peaked through the lush Naboo forest, she felt more than ever that she must not fail. She'd made her mind: No more weakness. No more crying. No more uncertainty. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jar Jar cracked the surface of the water with an excited jolt. He sloshed his way onto the bank and found his comrades.

Amidala had only moments before revealed her plans to use the Gungans to their aid.

Secretly, everyone thought she was crazy.

"There'sa nobody dere!" Jar Jar declared.

"Maybe they're in the camps." Obi-Wan suggested.

"Most likely they were wiped out." concluded Captain Panaka disgustedly.

"Me no think so." Jar Jar said. "Whenever dere is trubble, Gungans go to sacred place. Come on!" he urged, leading them deeper into the forest. "Meesa show you. Meesa show you!"

Everyone in the group, though no one admitted, had great doubts about following the clumsy Gungan into the forest. Jar Jar led the way with he Queen and her handmaidens. Then came Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, keeping Anakin in front of him at all times. Captain Panaka and the small security force followed close behind, followed by the few other Naboo officers who'd accompanied them.

As they trapsed through the forest, Padme slowly moved in closer to the Queen, dressed in a simpler headdress and her battle gown. And the traditional face paint, a true constant.

The Queen spoke first.

"What am I to do?"

Padme replied without even looking at her.

"Introduce yourself. Tell them we wish to form an alliance."

"Then what?" The Queen whispered, taking a suggestion from Padme and not looking at her when she spoke.

"Don't worry." Padme said. "I'll intervene when the time is right. Don't be afraid. We will persuade them."

The Queen gave a barely perceivable nod and marched on.

Chapter Six

Hours later, the group stood once again at the entrance to the woods. Amidala faced a hologram of Theed and studied it. Boss Nass stood at her side.

Amidala dismissed everone for a moment while she spoke privately with the Gungan leader.

She knew she didn't have much time to make her point.

"Once again, I am grateful for your help. This will be mutually beneficial.'' she said.

She received a nod from the gungan.

"I want to warn you, as I have warned by own people; this is a very dangerous situation. Many may be killed."

Again, he only nodded. The truth was, he didn't know exactly how to converse with the Queen.

Amidala just stood there. The alliance had been formed, but was she getting through to him?

"Naboo Queen" he started in his low, deep rumble. "When weesa wera driven out of Gunga City, weesa realized the..." he paused, searching for the right word. "Gravity, eh, of de situation. Now, weesa see dat dis army of macanecks es all bombad. Bombad for da Naboo, and for de Gungans. Oursa army will do whatever is needed." He drew out the word needed and smiled broadly.

Amidala smiled as well. This was just the reassurance she was looking for.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Obi-Wan had still not attempted again to make things right with Qui-Gon. But how could he, when Qui-Gon was making it so hard? Every time Obi-Wan turned around, there he was, falling all over Anikan. It was as though Qui-Gon wanted to anger Obi-Wan with his behavior towards the young boy. But Obi-Wan knew that wasn't true. Qui-Gon would never try to make him angry. That's what made this difficult. He wanted to be angry with his master, but he couldn't. He had too much love and respect for him.

He stared over at his Master again. He tried to penetrate his mind, to see what he was thinking, but he was just too distracted.

Qui-Gon looked up. Had he felt a weak tug at his mind? Then he sensed Obi-Wan's gaze upon him and looked over at his apprentice. Obi-Wan looked away quickly, but not before Qui-Gon noticed that he'd been staring.

Qui-Gon had been listening to Captain Panaka, but now he turned his attention to his Padawan. He filled his mind with the Force and channeled out in a strong flow. He directed it at Obi-Wan.

[You are troubled, young Padawan.] he sent to the far side of the clearing.

Obi-Wan's head snapped upright as he felt the pulse coming from his Master. Did he know how Obi-Wan felt?

[Think nothing of it, Master. Your concentration is needed elsewhere at the moment.]

Qui-Gon could feel Obi-Wan's relucatance to disclose his feelings. Qui-Gon would just have to discover them on his own. He closed his eyes and surrounded himself with the Force again. He touched deep within Obi-Wan's mind: jealousy. His eyes snapped open. He was genuinely shocked. What could have possibly caused Obi-Wan's obvious jealousy, an emotion rarely felt in the Jedi order?

[My concentration lies wherever my aid is needed. Now, I am needed to help you.]

[Perhaps that is so, Master.]

Qui-Gon concentrated harder, trying to find the source of the problem. He at last felt a dark wave come from the young man in the form of Anikan. That was it. Obi-Wan was jealous of the attention he'd been giving Anikan. Now that he thought about it, he had barely spoken to Obi-Wan since they left Coruscant, and it was rude of him to try and force Anikan as his new Padawan when that was Obi-Wan's position.

Qui-Gon was suddenly terribly ashamed. How could he have made Obi-Wan suffer like this?

Obi-Wan sensed his Master's realization, and was embarrassed that he'd felt conceited enough to be jealous. Still, traces of his earlier anger floated in his mind. He remembered how yesterday he'd stood in the Temple and brooded, almost to the point of tears.

Qui-Gon sensed that his Padawan had surely been affected by his enthusiasm for Anakin. But had the damage been this great? Had he hurt him so deeply?

[My dear Padawan, please do not shut me out.] [Yes, Master] came the unemotional reply.

[We will discuss this later] was Qui-Gon's final message.

Chapters 7 and 8
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