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Chapter Seven

Sabe approached Queen Amidala as she sat in a small speeder, cleaning blasters for the battle ahead. They would be leaving shortly.

"My Queen, I know now is not the time, but I feel I must discuss something with you."

"Sabe, you know you can come to me anytime."

"Thank you, your Highness.", Sabe said, giving a quick curtsie. "It is about my status as decoy."

"Oh yes, I meant to congratulate you. You did a remarkable job as queen with the Gungans."

Sabe smiled to herself. She was first in line to become the Royal Decoy for Amidala should danger present itself. She'd fooled everyone until she'd revealed herself to everyone before the gungans. And now that is what worried her.

"My Queen, but it does seem to me now that our whole plan has been revealed and is no longer fit for use. The secrecy is gone."

Amidala had not thought of this. What if their switch no longer fooled anyone? Or what if one of her handmaidens was killed by mistake?

"I hadn't thought of that." she said, her face dropping. "The gungans had to be told. We couldn't deceive them while asking for their trust."

"Indeed we couldn't. " said Sabe.

Then Amidala thought for a moment and a very simple solution presented itself: Who had seen them?

"The only ones who witnessed the revelation were our security forces, who already knew the secret, the trustworthy Jedi, and the gungans, who had a right to know who they were dealing with, and they're not likely to leak it anywhere." said Amidala.

Sabe's face brightened. "You're right!" she said. With a bow, she excused herself. Now she could continue to serve her queen to her fullest potential.

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

The marble streets were deserted. No ships departed from the spaceport. The shops and plazas boasted no customers. No dignitaries and Naboo officials ascended the steps of Theed Palace.

Battle droids filled the place of Naboo citizens. They invaded the homes, cleaned out the stores, and infiltrated the palace. Their evil presence was felt everywhere, along with that of the Neimoidian officials, Nute Gunray and Rune Haako.

Nute watched in awe as Darth Maul entered the room.

"I wish to communicate with my Master. I will need to use the hologram projector in this room."

The Neimodians, though irritated with having to leave their comfortable chairs, didn't want to upset anyone in connection with Darth Sidious.

"As you wish, our guest. Take as long as you need." Nute Gunray gushed.

Rune could only stand there behind him, quivering.

"Anything you wish." Gunray repeated.

Darth Maul only nodded, wishing they would hurry and leave. He was anxious to speak with his master.

He quickly turned on the communicator and activated the large projector in the middle of the floor. Within moments, an eager Darth Sidious faded into view.

"Yes, my apprentice." he said.

"My Master" Maul started, his impatience evident. "The Jedi have not arrived. Do you sense something wrong?"

"Patience, patience. They will come and you will have them soon enough."

Darth Maul smirked.

"But be mindful" Sidious added. "Let them make the first move."

"Yes, my Master."

Chapter Eight

Qui-Gon stood at the edge of the pond that led to Otoh Gunga. He looked up through the tree-roof to the sky above. In some places, the light barely filtered through the thick foliage.

He suddenly felt a pull at his mind, a tug indicating the presence of another Force-enabled individual. A moments more concentration and he recognized the ripple: Obi-Wan.

The disturbed Padawan approached him with hesitation. Both new that discussing Obi-Wan's grievance was no longer avoidable.

Obi-Wan spoke first, but only to apologize. "I'm sorry for my behavior earlier, Master. It's not my place to disagree with you about the boy." He truly was selfless.

As he spoke, Qui-Gon spoke to Obi-Wan in his mind:

Obi-Wan hesistated in his speech, glanced up at Qui-Gon, and continued.

"And I am grateful that you think I'm ready to take the trials."

Now he spoke aloud, addressing Obi-Wan's comments. "You're a much wiser man than I am." came the belated reply.

"I foresee you will become a great Jedi Knight." Qui-Gon continued.

Obi-Wan stiffened with pride upon hearing his Master's comments. He smiled slightly.

As the two walked away, Obi-Wan thought of Anikan. Any grief he had for the young boy had vanished with his Master's reassurance. He looked ahead to the time when Qui-Gon would be training Anakin. He would teach Anikan well. Of that Obi-Wan was sure. After all...Wouldn't Anikan's teacher certainly be Qui-Gon?

The End
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