Star Wars: Episode I – Chapter I

by E.V. Jacob on July 5, 2012

Ten years later…

Another spike of power rippled through the Force, then dwindled down and disappeared into the steady energy that made up the ties that bound the universe together.

Yoda had been tracking these subtle changes in the Force for weeks now. He referenced his calendar, making note of significant dates. The surges were getting more and more frequent. The pattern was easy to read.

He sat in his usual spot, meditating on that pinpoint of light – the well-concealed yet untrained power that held such tremendous influence over the Force. He knew that there was a very good chance that the child might not even be aware of its own abilities; being the Chosen One, interaction with the Force would come so naturally that it might not be noticed at all.

It had been nearly ten years since he had felt that first massive surge, when the council had decided to send out search parties. Since then, the matter had been handled in careful secrecy. The council had entrusted this mission to only a few hand-picked Jedi – they did not want undue attention falling on the child until they had everything under control.

And in recent years, Yoda had noticed another, darker presence that was now becoming powerful. He recognized the feeling – the way the Force warped and twisted around this kind of power. The Dark Side was alive with activity, and it too was searching for the child.

The situation was not ideal: Time was passing and the child was growing. He almost too old now to begin studying the ways of the Jedi. But Yoda, and the other council members, were determined.

At least, most were. Some had long since decided that this was a fool’s mission – a silly notion with no grounding in reality. Many of the search parties had retired, requesting assignments with more merit.

But as of today, none of that mattered, for today, he had found the child’s location.

* * *
Obi-Wan paced the navigation deck as his master, Qui-Gon, stood before the displays, studying star maps and listening to the subtle changes of the Force that would indicate any trouble.

They were the only ones awake aboard the Naboo starship, a tense little collection that included the two Jedi, Naboo’s queen, her handmaidens, and a very small crew.

Tired as he was, Obi-Wan could not help but feel excited. What had started as a peaceful mission – the two visiting Naboo as ambassadors to Queen Adriane – had quickly turned into a rescue mission. They were now rushing away from Naboo, hoping to outrun the Trade Federation that planned to kidnap the Queen.

It was far more exhilarating than negotiating terms in a board room, that was certain.

Qui-Gon’s communicator sounded in the silent room, causing Obi-Wan to sit forward, curious. Qui-Gon switched it on and the blue hologram of Yoda appeared before him.

“Master Yoda,” Qui-Gon said, sounding as though he expected the call.

“Hello Master Qui-Gon, doing well you are?” Yoda asked.

“As well as you can be with the Trade Federation hunting you down,” Qui-Gon answered with a grin.

“Have Queen Adriane aboard you do,” Yoda stated.

“Yes. We’re making our way towards Coruscant.”

“Change course I must ask you to,” Yoda said, “An important task you have been charged with. Trust the Queen you can – take her along, you shall.”

Obi-Wan was puzzled, but Qui-Gon’s face lit up immediately.

“You’ve found the child?” he asked.

“Indeed,” Yoda said, “Closest to Tatoo system you are. Go to Tatooine you must. Send you the coordinates I will.”

Qui-Gon pulled Tatooine up on the view screen and Obi-Wan joined him at the display. It was a small planet contained in a distant and desolate system. Far beyond the Federation’s reach and controlled by the Hutts. The others on board would not be excited about this change of plans.

“I see. I will discuss this with the Queen and alter our course – I’ll report back when we land,” Qui-Gon answered.

“Waiting I will be,” Yoda said, “Take care, you must.”

“We will.”

The transmission ended and Qui-Gon entered the exact coordinates into the computer.

“Master, is it safe to bring the Queen along on this mission?” Obi-Wan asked.

“It’s not ideal, but if we don’t act immediately, someone else might retrieve the child. At the very least, we know the Trade Federation won’t ever see this detour coming.”

Obi-Wan scanned the screen and noted that it was a desert planet. The area they were headed for consisted primarily of moisture farms. There were other small businesses in the settlement, but there was very little information beyond that regarding the nature of the culture or the people that lived there. Knowing it was run by the Hutts, though, Obi-Wan could imagine all too well what was in store for him.

* * *
“Your Majesty, I must ask a favor of you,” Qui-Gon said to the regal lady seated on the makeshift throne.

“What would that be, Master Qui-Gon?” she asked patiently. Two handmaidens stood on either side of her, all wearing the identical dresses and hairstyles.

“We have an emergency stop that we must make. Under normal circumstances I would never ask you to accompany us on Jedi business, but it is absolutely imperative that Obi-Wan Kenobi and I stop on Tatooine for a short time. I ensure you, milady, that this stop will be no danger to you, and the Trade Federation will never think to look for you on Tatooine.”

“What on Tatooine is so important?” the Queen asked.

“There is a serious matter of the Jedi Order that I must attend to,” Qui-Gon answered illusively.

Captain Panaka stepped forward then, unable to contain himself. “Your Highness, this is preposterous. You have your own troubles and we should not be running errands for the Jedi. Besides, this is a Hutt-run planet – this is the last place in the quadrant we’d want to land. Trade Federation or not, Tatooine is no place for the Queen of Naboo.”

“Majesty, might I speak with you alone?” Qui-Gon requested.

The Queen looked at her captain, then at her handmaidens.

“You understand I must have at least one handmaiden in my presence at all times,” she stated. There would be no arguing this condition.

“As you wish,” Qui-Gon said.

He waited as three handmaidens, the service drones, and Captain Panaka, very reluctantly, left the conference room. The space seemed strangely empty with only the four of them there.

“Now, Qui-Gon, please explain why this situation is so dire.”

Master Yoda had expressed a confident belief that they could trust the queen, but Qui-Gon was still clearly wary about revealing secrets even most Jedi were unaware of. He took a deep breath and glanced at his padawan. Obi-Wan smiled in return, excited in spite of his attempts to be serious.

“Ten years ago, Master Yoda, our oldest and wisest Jedi master, sensed an extreme alteration in the Force. There have been many prophecies made over the years, but one of them – regarding an individual who is to be ‘the one who will bring peace to the Force’ seems to have merit now. We thought it was as irrelevant as the others, but the surge he felt – and the surges we have been feeling ever since – indicate that a child has been born who is carrying a tremendous amount of power. We think this child may be the Chosen One.”

“And you have searched for the child all these years?” the Queen asked.

He nodded. “Master Yoda is almost certain he has now found the child. We must go to a small settlement on Tatooine and, if he is the one, bring him back with us.”

“Or her,” the Queen said with a little smile.

The Jedi nodded and exchanged a glance. They didn’t notice the Queen and her handmaiden doing the same.

“I will agree to this detour,” the Queen finally said. “I understand the urgency and I assume that, if this child is truly the Chosen One, then this would benefit more than just the Jedi Order.”

“It would, yes. Thank you, Majesty.”

Another silent exchange took place between queen and handmaiden.

“Have Mr. Olié set a course for this Tatooine,” the Queen instructed, “I will, however, only agree to a short period of hiding for myself – I cannot forget the needs of my people in this troubled time.”

The Jedi bowed and made their way out of the conference room. It was official – they were going to Tatooine. What kind of child, Obi-Wan wondered, would they find there?

* * *
Anakin sat at his window, tinkering with a broken ship component by the light of the moons. It was late, and in the silence, he could almost imagine that he was the only person on the planet. Even thought it was immersing work, he wasn’t really thinking of the repairs he was making; his hands were simply going through the motions as his mind wandered.

A restless mind was unusual for him, especially when it came to his work, but lately Anakin had been distracted by something…else. A presence that had always been there, but now tugged at his mind. Strange dreams, and even stranger visions.

Other children had always spoken excitedly of their desires to grow up and leave this place. They dreamed of being rescued by brave heroes, or of marrying a rich visitor and flying away. They dreamed of receiving work and living in riches, returning to Tatooine to free their friends and family.

Anakin had never had time for dreams. He believed in what he knew, and in a strange way, he knew that he would not live out the rest of his life on Tatooine. He did not know how or why, only that the time drew nearer.

He wasn’t hoping, he was waiting.

* * *
Darth Sidious gazed at the flickering hologram of Darth Maul. The connection was bad, so perhaps he had heard wrong. He decided to ask for clarification.

“Explain,” he commanded.

The blue hologram shifted in and out of focus. “They have found the child,” Darth Maul said. “It lives beyond the Republic and the Federation alike. I haven’t yet deciphered the exact coordinates, but I know that they believe this is the Chosen One.”

“Locate the child and bring it to me. The Jedi cannot be allowed to possess the child if it is really the Chosen One. Do not reveal yourself – we have on our side the element of surprise. They are unaware of our knowledge.”

“Yes, my Lord,” Darth Maul said with a bow. The connection was broken and the hologram went out.

Darth Sidious, who had been troubled by all manner of problems as of late, found himself grinning. At last, the child would be his.

* * *
The planet looked like one large and never-ending sand dune. Obi-Wan stood on the bridge, watching as the expansive desert scape spread out before their view screens. As they drew nearer to the planet’s surface, Qui-Gon directed Ric Olié to land them on the outskirts, away from sight of the settlement.

They were so close to the source of the disturbance – the Chosen One – that Obi-Wan could feel the ripples of power radiating out from the child.

“We are just going in for observation today,” Qui-Gon said to Obi-Wan.

“I sense…such strange things from this area…” Obi-Wan said, distracted by the changes in the Force that he was feeling.

Qui-Gon nodded, “The child is immensely powerful. It should be easy to get an exact location, seeing as the signal is now so strong.”

“Why is there suddenly such a spike? For the last ten years we’ve had minimal activity – now this?”

“From everything we know, the child should be almost ten years old now. It is around this time that young children with a strong tie to the Force experience an increase in their powers. This child doesn’t even realize what is happening, most likely, but the Force is reacting nonetheless.”

As they lowered the hatch, Captain Panaka approached, accompanied by one of the Queen’s handmaidens. She bore such a remarkable resemblance to the Queen that Obi-Wan had to look twice to be certain it wasn’t her – that, of course, was the whole point. When he got a better look at her, Obi-Wan realized she was the same handmaiden that had stayed with her Queen while the Jedi explained the prophecy.

“The Queen has commanded that you take one of her handmaidens along with you,” Captain Panaka said, clearly still irritated by their detour.

Qui-Gon looked at the woman. She was tall and thin, with dark, grey-streaked hair and intelligent eyes. She had all the poise and ease of royalty – a trait they trained the handmaidens to have.

“I don’t believe that is a good idea,” Qui-Gon said flatly. “This is a secret Jedi mission and while it’s unlikely we’ll encounter trouble, there’s always a risk.”

“The Queen insists. She is curious about this planet and wishes to have a first-hand report from one of her own.”

Qui-Gon seemed to debate this for a moment, but he did not argue. “As long as you can keep out of trouble,” he said to the woman.

She nodded, “Of course, sir.”

“What’s your name?” Obi-Wan asked, hoping to soften the harshness of his Master’s concern. He agreed with Qui-Gon, of course, but he couldn’t forsake good manners.

“I am Cordelia,” the handmaiden said, following them out of the ship.

They arrived in the settlement after a long walk through the vast and endless desert. There was a large outdoor marketplace, and Obi-Wan had to force himself to keep pace with his master, rather than looking around at all the different foods and items available. They moved silently through the crowd, listening to snippets of conversation and getting a feel for the local culture.

Podracing seemed to be a popular sport in this area; many large advertisements for the upcoming Boonta Classic race hung around the marketplace. There seemed to be a taste for gambling among those who resided here, as well, and the slave trade was, from what he could see, alive and well.

Obi-Wan had been following Qui-Gon, but now he began to focus on locating the child. He found, however, that he was still somewhat clouded – as Yoda had suspected, the child was unknowingly shielding himself.

They allowed the Force to guide them, following their senses until they found themselves standing before a second-hand store tucked between a few taller buildings.

Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon stopped before the shop, examining it. Cordelia drifted along a few paces behind them, mindful not to get in the way of their “Jedi business” while still staying within a safe distance.

“This feels like the place,” Obi-Wan said at last.

Qui-Gon nodded, “It could be one of the surrounding buildings, but…I’m getting a strong feeling from this store. We’ll observe for now – I’d like to wait until I have more knowledge of the situation to approach the child.”

The three made their way to a bar that was open to the street. It had a clear view of the shop where the highest readings were coming from. They sat down and watched, waiting for something to happen.

At first, there was nothing notable going on. A few people passed by, and an old droid sat quietly at the counter, waiting to be of use.

Then, after a few minutes, they saw a Toydarian, who flitted around on his leathery wings, come out of the shop. He shouted some orders in Huttese, which were answered by the small boy who followed him out into the blazing sun.

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan felt it in the same instant. The second they laid eyes on the boy, they knew.

He was smallish with dark hair and tattered clothes. His face was unusually serious, his eyes alert, and he followed the orders without complaint. He did not, however, carry himself like a slave. This boy did not have the hunched shoulders or sullen face of the other slave children they had seen; he had the patient look of someone who was preoccupied with other, bigger thoughts.

“It’s him,” Obi-Wan whispered.

“Oh yes, there is no doubt about that,” Qui-Gon said in the same slightly awestruck tone.

“Are we going to approach him?” Obi-Wan asked his master.

Qui-Gon watched the child quietly for a moment before answering. “I think I’d like to observe for a bit longer. I need to know more about his family…about him…we don’t want to go blindly into this.”

So they waited and observed. Time passed, and it became necessary for them to order food, lest they lose their table to the pushy bar owner.

“What is this?” Cordelia said, trying to keep her nose from wrinkling in disgust.

Obi-Wan poked at something that he was certain he had seen moving across his plate, “I’m not entirely sure. Most likely some native animal and…some form of…plant…?” He said, stabbing experimentally with the two-pronged tines he’d been given.

“You really must become more accustomed to different cultures, my young padawan,” Qui-Gon said.

They ate and continued to inconspicuously observe. Nothing much happened with the boy, though Obi-Wan did notice that he had a remarkable gift with machinery. All through the day, he worked, and never once did he seem stumped by a problem that was presented to him. When he interacted with others, he seemed far off, disinterested, but once he set to work on a mechanical component, his face lit up, his eyes became bright, and he moved with the ease of someone who was completely in his element.

At one point, a woman came over to the boy with a bundle of food. He stopped working and they sat together and ate. The woman, who turned out to be his mother, was the only thing apart from the machines that seemed to evoke any emotional reaction from him.

After eating, the woman returned to a building down the road with a tattered sign, on which Obi-Wan could just make out the name “Watto’s Inn”.

When they had finished their meal, Qui-Gon, still watching the boy, said, “I believe we should go back to the ship for now – in the morning, we’ll return with R2-D2. I have an idea.”

“I hesitate to ask, but…what kind of idea, Master?” Obi-Wan asked as they rose from their seats and made their way out of the bar. The wind was picking up, and it was clear that a storm would be blowing through very soon.

Qui-Gon shielded himself against the oncoming sand storm. “The kind that I don’t think R2 will be too thrilled about…”

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***DISCLAIMER: Obviously, these characters aren’t ours, because none of us are named George Lucas, and none of us are crazy-rich off the Star Wars franchise. We have omitted some characters, added some people, and altered a few basic plot points, but the Star Wars stories still don’t belong to us. Everything belongs to George Lucas – we’re doing this purely for the fun of it.***

  • Mark

    Great chapter! Best part? R2 shout out. Loving this series so far! More!

    • Elena Victoria Elizabeth Jacob

      Thanks! Glad you like it :D

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