It had been an hour and a half since sundown. The lands were dark and silent. The only thing that broke that silence was the hooting of owls and the common noises of a night covered forest. Even Ninde’s running feet didn’t make a hint of noise as she ran through the woods, weaving her way to the landing pad where her starship was. She had left the camp at sunset and was following a small handheld tracker she had in her hand. It was still working so she was sure that the ship had not been destroyed.
It was not much longer before Ninde came to the landing pad. She stuck to the darkness of the woods while she surveyed the scene. There were twelve guards stationed at various points around the starship. At first Ninde thought it would be next to impossible to get to the ship. But then she noticed something, they were all bored and almost sleeping. Unless she made some major mistake she could make it to her ship.
Quickly and silently she dashed across the pad. Her soft feet made no noise and the dark tunic she wore kept her hidden in the dark. She made it to the underside of the ship and climbed into it through a hatch on the belly. It was a tight fit even for her small body. She was slightly glad that she had not brought Obi-wan with because he wouldn’t have fit.
Once in the main part of the ship she ran to gaze momentarily out the view port. The guards outside were still bored looking and did not seem to have any idea of her being there. So far so good. She turned and ran to the back of the ship where the communication table was. She sat down in the chair and began to hit the switches to set up a direct link with the Jedi Temple.
It did not take long and soon a hologram appeared before her on the table. It was the Council Room. There were only three members there however. Mace Windu, Adi Gallia, and Plo Koon.
“Ninde, it’s about time. What happened?” Mace didn’t even save time for introductions or welcome. He must have known something serious was going down.
“Master Windu I am afraid to say that things were not as they seemed here. The call for peace for an election was a scam. An election was never to take place. I have yet to learn why but the government is after us.”
“Where is Master Qui-gon?”
“They took him captive. A man named Balank Colan led us into a well knit trap. Master Qui-gon was drugged and taken away. Obi-wan and myself were able to escape, put just barely.”
“How much time do you have?”
Ninde glanced over her shoulder then looked back to the hologram laid before her. “The guards did not see me sneak aboard the ship so I have a little time. Why?”
“I need you to advise us on the entire situation.”
Obi-wan had been pacing back and forth about the camp. He was worried about Ninde, she had been gone too long. She must have been captured. Unable to take anymore of it Obi-wan retrieved his lightsaber and began to run into the woods. If she had been taken he was sure he knew where they’d take her. If she had failed at her task then he knew darn well it would be impossible for him to carry out. But he could at least help her. He knew he was being impulsive but he had no patience left.
It did not take him long to reach his destination. It was a small camp just outside the large city which housed the Capitol. Ninde had said this was where Qui-gon was being held. And now that Obi-wan was here he agreed. The presence of his master was strong and could not be doubted.
Without even glancing about to determine the odds Obi-wan ran into the camp, activating his lightsaber as he went. It only took a second for the men there to notice the young Jedi and the blue lightsaber he held. They drew their blasters and the battle was on. Obi-wan spun his lightsaber three times to deflect the first ten shots. On the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth he swung his lightsaber and batted them back. Each deflected shot hit one of the people attempting to shoot him. Their injuries were not life threatening but they eliminated them from the battle.
As the next set of men ran forward to assault Obi-wan he began to charge, twirling his lightsaber once at his side as he went. When they started to fire he leapt into the air and used the force to flip over their heads. Typically he would try to let the men live… But right now he couldn’t afford to fight the same men twice. The odds were already greatly against him. He landed, spun, and slashed at their backs.
Thankfully for these men Obi-wan’s light saber did not go deep. In fact it just barely grazed their backs. They fell forward with painful cries and did not get back up.
A man then attacked Obi-wan from behind with a vibro-blade. Had Obi-wan not heard him he could have been stabbed in the back. But Obi-wan’s ears had caught the sound of him charging from behind and had been given enough time to spin out of the way. As the man ran past Obi-wan dropped to a knee and swung the lightsaber to the side. The lightsaber hit the back of the man’s knee and cut a forth of the way through. Had Obi-wan of wanted to he could have taken the lightsaber all the way through but he had elected not to.
As Obi-wan came back to his feet to continue but felt a sudden sharp pain in his neck. He reached up and pulled something out. When he gazed at it he knew immediately he was not in a good situation. It was a dart with a small container in the interior to hold liquid. The container was almost empty but still held some of the blue liquid that had been init. The blue liquid that was now coursing through his body…
Obi-wan’s vision began to blur and he fell to his knees. His light saber dropped from his and deactivated. The world about him began to spin. As his eyes began to close and his body went limp he was able to send out a message with the force.
`Ninde…they have me…I’m sorry…’
Ninde suddenly stopped speaking as her head shot to the side. She was looking in the direction in which the cry had come from. “Obi-wan…”
“Ninde what’s wrong?” Adi’s voice was nearly lost in Ninde’s mind as worry began to overcome her.
“What has happened to him?” Plo Koon was quick to ask before any other could.
“They’ve captured him…” Ninde turned back to the holograms before her. “I must go help him.”
“But Master Win-“
“Stop Ninde. Remember they want all of you.”
“That may be so but I can’t let Qui-gon and Obi-wan stay trapped in the net these people have made for us.”
“Don’t run for the spider web or you’ll get stuck too. Listen Ninde you can’t do this on your own. Give us time to think on what to do.”
“That’ll take too long! They need my help now!”
“Patience!” Mace paused for a moment after he spoke, hoping the word would sink in. After receiving a nod from Ninde he continued. “This decisions we make are sometimes difficult but necessary. If they capture you now then they will put you all to death before help has a chance to arrive. If you wait for the help then there is a chance you can save them without being caught yourself. Do you understand this Ninde?”
Ninde nodded lightly, “yes Master Windu… I just don’t like the fact that I’ll have to wait for a while.”
“It is the only thing you can do for them right now.”
“I know Master Windu…”
After Ninde had to turn off the comm Mace sat in silence in the Council Chambers. It was Adi who spoke up first. “What are we going to do? This is a valuable team, we cannot lose them.”
“I know that Adi. This is a delicate situation though. We have no idea why they are being attacked like this and we don’t know the numbers of our enemies.”
“That should hardly matter right now. We must help them.”
“What do you suggest we do? Even Ninde doesn’t know the numbers or reasons.”
“We send in another team to retrieve them. That is the only thing we can do.”
“And put another team in danger?”
“Do you have another idea Mace?” Adi asked, her voice hinting that her patience with him was wearing thin.
“Fine, but who are we going to send? Who is qualified enough for such a task that can currently go on the mission?”
“I know of a team that just returned to the Temple from a mission in the Outer Rim. Oria Montul and her apprentice Arianne Degonna. Oria is a formal pupil of mine and has extensive experience in this sort of stuff. I suggest we send that team.” Plo Koon spoke up, trying to sooth out the current atmosphere within the chamber.
Mace looked to Plo Koon and nodded. “Get a hold of them and tell them to meet me in the hall outside the Archives.”
Balank grinned as he looked into the cell holding the two Jedi. “Oh the smell of a dish of revenge being served cold is the best one I have yet to smell. It won’t be long now until my revenge is complete. As soon as we catch the female we can carry out their ending.”
“How can we be sure that she’ll even come my Lord?”
“Because we have her master and best friend. Why do you even need to ask such a dumb question? She loves these two with her whole heart. She’ll come for them soon enough. Fear of us harming them will bring her. Do you doubt that?”
“No my Lord, I was just asking because he attacked the camp completely on his own. The other one was not with him.
“Do not concern yourself with that. He must have left while she was off doing something. Trust me when I say she will come for them. Now I want these two moved to the Max-Security prison laced under the Capitol.”
“Why might I ask?”
“Because of all the padawans the female is the strongest. When she comes for them she will not stop fighting just as easily as her companion did. We were lucky when we got our hands on their master but she is the one we should worry about. I’ve heard stories of her breaking out of well guarded prisons and performing things that would be impossible for normal Jedi to survive through. I don’t want any mistakes made. If one is made the one responsible will be forced to give his life.”
“Yes my Lord.” The man bowed to Balank and walked off to transfer the orders to the other men.
Mace slowly walked through the Jedi Halls with the team Plo Koon had picked out for this particular assignment. A Master-Padawan team that had been together for about ten years. Both of them were strong and wise. Both were human and female. The Master was Master Oria Montul. A woman reaching her late thirties with dark hair and green eyes. She was born in the low life levels of Corusant and given to the Temple for a better life. Her padawan, Arianne Degonna, was in her early twenties and was soon ready to undergo the trails to pass from Apprentice to Knight. Arianne was taken from the Outer Rim as a child. The planet she had been born on was engulfed in a horrific Civil War in which her parents had not wanted her to be raised in. A Jedi Knight had been sent there to attempt to make out peace treaties between the warring parties. The negotiations failed and the Knight had to leave the planet or die. Arianne’s parents begged the Jedi Knight to take her away. Sensing the child was force-sensitive the Jedi had agreed. Arianne’s parents later died in a war after being gathered in a military draft.
Mace and Oria walked side by side while talking about the matters at hand. Arianne kept one step behind her master like all padawans were suppose to do. Mace had informed Oria of the whole situation and now the woman was debating on the matter. “I know it is a dangerous mission but we must retrieve this team. Qui-gon is one of our best Masters and we have high hopes for the two padawans.”
“I know Mace. Master Qui-gon is a good friend of mine and the two padawans use to eat with my own padawan in the mess hall during our stays at the temple. I love them all, especially the padawans, but we don’t even know what we’re going up against. You don’t have estimated odds or anything of the sort. It could very well be a death trap for any Jedi that ventures to the planet.”
“Considering that the contacts from the planet requested this team in particular I don’t believe they’ll care to kill any other. We haven’t determined why they are after this team but there must be a reason.”
“Balank Colan was one name mentioned. Ninde said he was the one that led them to the Capitol where the trap way waiting. We currently have a team of investigators looking into the matter. We’re hoping to have the information to you before you land on the planet to assist Ninde. I believe he has had a lot to do with the situation the team is in.”
“You’re correct to believe so master Master Windu.” Adrianne’s quiet voice sound from behind the Masters. Both turned to look at the young woman as she continued. “The last few times I ventured down to the bottom levels of Corusant for late night meals I’ve heard things. The name Balank Colan started coming up in street talk about a month ago. He is a tyrant of a terrible sort. He has connections to the Hutts, big time spice smugglers, has enslaved all the people of his planet, and much more. They believe he will become the largest Crime Lord in the galaxy in just the short time span of three years.”
“What does any of this have to do with Qui-gon and his padawans.”
“I was just about to reach that point Master Windu. Do you remember when you sent that particular team to take out Larcan Lucil?”
“Yes I remember.”
“Larcan Lucil was originally born Larcan Colan. Balank Colan is Larcan Colan’s older brother. The two padawans put Larcan to death when he put them into a death trap. Qui-gon could not get to them and the padawans were forced to get out of the death trap themselves. Once they had escaped Larcan challenged them. They also killed Darren Colan, Balank’s cousin.”
“So this is a call for revenge?”
Arianne nodded lightly. “And he is going to stop at nothing to get his hands on them. Ninde is in the most danger of them all because she is the one who fought and killed Larcan while Obi-wan was dealing with Darren.”
Mace looked to Oria, “all the more reason for haste. I need you two to do this Oria. Will you take the assignment?” He had left it open for her to decide upon because this would probably turn out to be an extremely dangerous mission. They had no idea of numbers or odds.
Oria slowly nodded and met his gaze. “When do we leave?”
Elbereth sat in her chambers with closed eyes. Manwe was pacing back and forth watching her. They were both worried but so far Ninde still seemed to be alive. Her life force had yet to come to the Halls of Mandos but she had yet to answer Elbereth’s call. Elbereth opened her eyes and shook her head. “Still no answer.”
“What could be keeping her from responding to our call? She can’t be dead or she would be back here. Is she ignoring you call?”
“Well she can’t be unconscious. What’s the problem then?”
“I believe that she is so tied up with the situation she is in that she cannot hear me.”
“Can you feel any of her emotions?”
“Some of them. There is mostly confusion and worry but there is also some anger in her right now.”
“Can you tell if she’s out of danger?”
“If she’s feeling that then she is definitely not out of danger yet.”
Manwe nodded and stopped pacing. “I say we bring her back right now. At least here she will be safe and will no longer be in danger.”
Elbereth slowly stood and shook her head. “No I do not believe that will solve anything at this moment Manwe. I believe that the people she travels with are in danger…and she wishes to help them. We cannot interfere until we know for sure.”
“Then what do you propose we do?”
“We sit and wait.”
“And if she dies?”
“…We’ll just have to pray that does not happen.”