The lush green planet was growing larger in the viewport window, as the Jedi aircraft came closer to the planet. Obi-wan leaned closet to the viewport, as though trying to get a better look. A light laugh came from the seat on his right. “Oh, Obi-wan, you’ll be able to see it better when we get closer. I promise.”
Obi-wan slowly sat back, and looked over to the pilot chair, where Ninde sat. She was going over the switches, and preparing the craft for entering the planet’s atmosphere. It had been hard to believe that it had already been about a year since Obi-wan and Ninde had been put under the guardianship of Jedi Master Qui-gon Jinn. And now, more than ever, he was happy that Ninde would not accept a master unless he had one. Because, not only was he still a Jedi, but his friendship with Ninde had grown all the more stronger. In fact, there were times when he began to wonder if their friendship went deeper. If perhaps their feelings for one another would classify under something stronger than a mere friendship.
“Ok, I’m about to enter the atmosphere. Obi-wan, quickly look over the coordinates, and make sure everything is correct. I don’t want to slip up or anything. It would be a shame if we had to pay the council for this ship.” Although there had been many pilots who had offered to carry the team to this planet, the council had thought it best to just send the team in a ship of their own. After all, Obi-wan and Ninde were the top pilots out of everyone in the temple that happened to be their age.
Obi-wan nodded, and sat back, looking at the charts in front of him. “They’re all correct,” he clarified after a little bit. He then glanced at Ninde and watched as she gracefully began to lower the ship into the plant’s atmosphere. “Hey, Ninde, remember when the two of us ventured to the ground level of Corusant, and we started putting that really spicy liquid mixture of yours into people’s drinks?”
Ninde grinned widely, “how could I forget? It was hilarious to watch them.”
“I can’t believe they actually thought it was the bar tender putting that stuff in their drinks.”
“Yeah, that was quite a mess to switch around. Even with Jedi Mind Tricks, it was difficult to convince them into believing that something had spilled into the brew. That poor bar tender. He hadn’t done anything, and yet he was getting blamed for everything.”
“Those people might have killed him had we left.”
“Yeah, I honestly didn’t think they’d overreact like that.”
A few moments of silence hung before Obi-wan spoke again. “Did you used to always pull pranks like that?”
Ninde nodded, “yes. Back on my home planet, the elders use to call me an irresponsible, disrespectful, annoying little brat because of the pranks I pulled. They were never meant to harm anyone, but they didn’t understand. They viewed them as unforgivable, intolerable acts. But it doesn’t matter anymore, if I were to back now I’d still pull off my pranks. Not to annoy them, but to make sure they know I didn’t completely change.”
Obi-wan nodded, and then his mind went to another question. “When are you going to return?”
For a few long moments, Ninde was silent. Her eyes seemed to glaze over in a daze before she answered. “I don’t know…”
It was at about that point that Qui-gon entered the room. “How are we doing?”
“We’re nearly to our landing port.”
“Good,” Qui-gon said as he sat down in a chair behind Ninde’s, and went silent as he looked out the view port. Ninde and Obi-wan exchanged glances for a brief moment. Although they had been a team for nearly a year, they still wondered about Qui-gon from time to time. He was always so silent, and never seemed to speak more than he needed to. And he never let out his feelings to them, neither through facial expression, body gestures, or words. So, more often than not, they didn’t know the difference between when he was proud of them, and when he was disappointed in them. But, nonetheless, the bond between the three was stronger than what average teams at this point had. And Ninde had upheld her promise to open up more to Obi-wan, and, after time, she had even started allowing Qui-gon to know her feelings. They worked well together, but they still weren’t the team that they should be. But Obi-wan was sure that they would achieve a well working team within the next year or so. Right now they would just continue doing what they had been doing over the past year together. They would fight, rescue people in need, even just plain old hanging out, and having some fun at some local entertainment center.
The landing port they were to set the ship down upon was swiftly approaching, and the two padawans were quickly working to make sure they were ready to land. As soon as they were, Ninde piloted the craft until it hovered over the landing pad. Then, she gently set her down.
After sharing glances, and grins with one another, the two quickly powered down the ship, and undid their crash webbing. Then they stood and began to walk to the exit ramp that Qui-gon was lowering. They all paused for a brief moment to smooth out their uniforms and make sure they had all their gear, especially their lightsabers. Once they had determined that all necessities were with them, the three exited the craft together; Ninde and Obi-wan descending two steps behind their master.
At the edge of the port stood a group of people who instantly moved forward to greet them. A human male, who seemed to be in about his mid-twenties, with dark eyes, was the one who spoke for the whole crowd. “Welcome to Tanvis 7, Jedi. We are pleased that you have come to help over see our elections and help keep the peace should riots arise, which we do fear will happen.”
“We will do what we can to keep peace and justice.”
“That is good to hear. I am Planet Side Representative Balank Culan and I will be responsible for your comfort, and needs during your stay here. May I request your names?”
“I am Jedi Master Qui-gon Jinn. These are my Padawan learners Obi-wan Kenobi and Ninde Lome.” When their names were announced the padawans bowed in turn to Balank, and the crowd gathered before them.
“Splendid! Now, come along, we have a speeder waiting to take you to the Capitol where your quarters are located. I am sure you had a long trip and are anxious to rest.” Balank turned, and walked off.
The three exchanged glances and did not follow right away. Something just didn’t seem right, but none of them could place it. Perhaps it was just the term `Plant Side Representative.’ It was a term not used much anymore. It was a political job where the person’s main job was to tend to their guest’s needs. But, in the past, it had also been that person’s job to spy, and sometimes either lead the unsuspecting victims into some sort of trap, or to assassinate them. They were also the people who made sure that nothing illegal about the government was discovered, and if it was they’d wipe out the discoverer of the details.
But, nevertheless, when Qui-gon started to move forward and follow Balank, so did the two padawans. If these feelings were something serious, they’d all know. But, so far, it was just an uneasy feeling brought up by a meaningless, and typically harmless term, and nothing more.
They all climbed into the speeder and sat down. As soon as everyone had climbed into one of the three waiting speeders, they took off. They sped down a small path cleared in the thick woods, heading for the city. As they went along, Obi-wan looked to Ninde who sat beside him in the back; Qui-gon and Balank had taken the front seats. She seemed to be dazed, her eyes glazed over. It was like this place was magical to her, or maybe even brought back memories of her homeworld. Even though he had known her for a few years now, she was still mysterious to him.
For the next hour, or so, they just weaved through the path made in the thick woods. But, when they broke through, and came to civilization, Obi-wan was relieved. However, Ninde wasn’t. Living among the planet wide city of Corusant wasn’t easy on her, especially when you consider her species, and upbringing. Elves lived in the woods, and were one with the nature about them. Their hearts rested in the trees they walked under, the flowers they admired, the animals they talked to, and so much more. Any time she was in an area that was naturally wild, Ninde would let herself go, and lose all track of time. She’d stay in the environment for as long as she was allowed. But neither Obi-wan nor Qui-gon understood that particular characteristic about her. They knew next to nothing of her kind. She spoke rarely of her home planet, or her native species. And, mainly due to lack of time to, they rarely asked.
As they sped through the city, many people looked up from their tasks, waved, and smiled. Their were many wonderful fountains, man made waterfalls, and statues of people who must be long since dead. All of which were appeasing to the eyes of Qui-gon and Obi-wan, but Ninde cared little for them. No matter how hard any being out there tried, they could not make anything as beautiful as pure nature could. Ninde believed that right down to her heart and soul.
Balank then yelled to them, over the roar of the engine. “We’ll be reaching the Capitol shortly. In the mean time, I’d like you to enjoy the sights of Venta, Tanvis 7’s ruling city.”
Ninde stepped out of the speeder, following Obi-wan’s trail, and looked up at the Capitol. It was a rather large, domed shaped building. The walls were pearl white, and vines with purple flowers were flowing along various parts of the wall. Some parts of the domed shaped building had sharp edges and had artificial waterfalls running off them. The building stood a good ten plus stories high and had a statue of a woman on the top. She was draped in a long dress and had a blindfold on. And, in her hand, was one of the first versions of a scale. Ninde had read about them from many of her data pads that were scattered about her room back at the Temple. It was one of those scales that had a beam, with two holders on each side, being held up by a string that was tied in the middle.
There was a straight path leading to the Capitol, lined with trees. Each tree had been planted about ten paces from each other and stood exactly parallel to the ones on the other side of the walkway. And there was a strip of grass on both sides of the walkway. To the left the building ran a rather large river, which most of the artificial waterfalls ran off into, thanks to underground piping. It was a sight to see, that was for sure. But, no matter what anyone said, Ninde knew in her heart that there was nearly nothing in this galaxy that could compare with the wonders back home on her homeworld. Nor was there any city that could match the beauty of the fair Valimar.
Balank motioned towards the building. “Welcome to the Capitol.”
They began forward, and, as they did, Obi-wan spoke up, speaking the mind of all three Jedi. “Why do you believe the people will riot? They looked happy and content to me when we were speeding through the town.”
“Yes, that is what it appears to be anyway. But underneath their masks of kindness they hold a very deep conflict. There are many out there causing havoc, and we are overwhelmed to the point that we cannot stop it. The people feel we have lost our ability to govern, and they are willing to revolt against us at any wrong turn of events. That’s why we asked you to venture here.”
“I hate to say this, but three Jedi against a mob of revolting people may not do much good.” Ninde stated in a light voice.
“Can you not use your powers to control them? Use your Jedi Mind Tricks to keep the peoples minds under?”
“We’ll do what we can, but we will not use our powers to push the people about. We are keepers of the peace, not dictators.” Qui-gon stated in a stern tone.
“Well, of course. I’m not asking you to become dictators. I just wanted to know what powers were available to us. So what can you do to help prevent rioting from happening?”
“I am sure our presence alone will be enough to keep such things from happening.”
“Are you so certain, Master Qui-gon?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Alright, then we shouldn’t have much to worry about.” Balank led them into the Capitol, and the three Jedi stopped to take in the sight. The ceiling was high, and the walls were white. There were planters all over the place, filled with flowers, possibly taken directly from the wild. It was beautiful, and Ninde would admit that. “My servants will show you to your quarters.” Balank stated, as he turned to walk away. Three servants stepped forward, and led the Jedi to a turbo lift, which they all stepped inside. Immediately, the lift took them up to one of the higher floors.
The servants were the first to step off, and then the team followed. One of them turned to the group. “Master Qui-gon, your quarters are down this hall. I will show them to you. Your padawans will be staying at another location, on the other side of the floor. Will you be alright with that.”
Qui-gon looked over at Ninde and Obi-wan. After receiving light nods from the both of them, he looked back to the servant, and nodded. “Lead the way.” Three servants then began to lead Qui-gon in one direction. The other five servants that remained then began to lead Obi-wan and Ninde down another corridor. They walked for about five minutes, and soon came to two doors. “These are your quarters.”
Ninde nodded, and started to walk to the one she was motioned to. “Thank you.” She stepped around the servant in front of her and was about to open the door when she suddenly got a really bad feeling. She suddenly spun and drove the heel of her palm up into the nose of the servant she had just stepped around. He dropped to the floor, his nose bleeding, and his eyes watering. In his hand was a needle with a bluish liquid in it. That’s when it hit Ninde. These people had called them here not to uphold peace, but rather to capture them. That bluish liquid was a drug that would have rendered her unable to defend herself.
Obi-wan, who had witnessed the whole thing, stepped forward to meet the servants about to assault them. And Ninde was quick to step up beside him to help out. How clever had they been. They had separated them from their master to be sure they could take all three of them. The only problem was they did not count on the fact that the padawans were already uneasy about the situation in the first place. Typically, they would have drawn their lightsabers, but they didn’t want to harm these people. Mainly due to the fact that, aside from needles with the bluish drug in it, they were unarmed. So the two resorted to plain hand-to-hand combat. Obi-wan had to dodge a few swings, and drop down into a squatting position. From there, he kicked hard at the back of the attacker’s knee, and made him fall down. Obi-wan was quick to spin to his feet, and kick the man in the head, sending him face first into the hard walls. This, in turn, caused the attacker to get knocked out. He then moved onto the next one.
Ninde was doing just as well. She had been catching all the attacks the two servants fighting her were throwing at her. And she had even gone as far as to provoke them by stepping in, slapping them lightly, and then stepping away again. Soon, she knew she had the advantage needed, and just took hold of both their heads, and smacked them together. The two fell down.
Obi-wan, who had just finished knocking out the last of the servants, using the man’s own needle against him, ran over to Ninde. “You alright?”
Ninde nodded, and then started to run down the hall. “Come on, we have to help Master Qui-gon. Hopefully they haven’t gotten him yet with that drug.”
Obi-wan nodded and quickly sprinted to catch up with her. “I don’t get it, why would they attack us? I thought this journey was to help the government. Does this mean that the people are good, and want to overthrow their government because it is corrupt.”
Ninde stopped, and pulled him to a window. “This city is not as it appears, look.” Obi-wan looked out the window, and was nearly taken aback. The city did not look the way it had when they had first arrived. It was a crumbling pile of wreckage. It was like a wasteland, right up until the tree line.
Obi-wan looked to Ninde. “But we just were going through the city. It was a beautiful place…What happened?”
“That city was nothing more than a mere image brought about by holographic generators. That city was not the real one. This one is. Come on.” She took hold of Obi-wan’s hand, and began to run again. “The only thing about this entire place is the river, the forest, and the Capitol. Everything else was just an illusion.”
They soon came to the hallway that contained the turbo lift, and Ninde stopped the both of them before they ran into it. There was a group of people moving into the turbo lift. They were armed with blasters. And, to the dismay of the two padawans, they were dragging a drugged Qui-gon in with them. Suddenly, one of the people in the group noticed the two, and shouted out orders to some of the men boarding the turbo lift. About five people leapt off, leveling their blasters. Obi-wan was the first to retrieve his lightsaber from his belt to deflect the storm of laser bolts that followed.
The two padawans were about to move forward to meet the enemy, and rescue their master when they saw reinforcements come running out of another corridor. Ninde took hold of Obi-wan’s tunic, and tugged him back some. “Come, there is nothing more we can do to help Qui-gon.” They began to retreat, the entire time deflecting laser bolts. Soon, they ran out of room to run, and there was a large window in front of them
Obi-wan looked to Ninde. “What are we going to do?”
Ninde looked over her shoulder, and saw the men armed with blasters were gaining, and leveling their blasters yet again. She deactivated her lightsaber, and put it back on her belt. “We have no choice, we have to jump.”
“What? Are you out of your mind? We`ll fall to our death!”
“It’s either that or die here.” Ninde held out her hand and waited.
Obi-wan watched as the men got closer and nodded. He deactivated his lightsaber, and put it onto his belt. He then took Ninde’s hand. “Well, now or never.” They both then ran forward and jumped. Their bodies smashed through the window, and they began to fall.
Elbereth had been walking through the gardens of Valimar with her beloved, Manwe, when she suddenly stopped and gasped for air. Her hand went to her chest and hovered over her heart. Manwe stopped and looked at her. He touched her shoulder gently. “What’s the matter?”
“It’s Ninde…she’s in trouble.”
(Author’s note: It’s been nearly a year since the last chapter and I really wasn’t going to write anymore. But I got an e-mail from one of my fans who really enjoyed this story and wanted me to finish it. I can’t say I’ll be able to but I suppose I will try. The next chapter is on it’s way. I will post the links to the other Chapters if people request them.)