Before As Long as there is Hope (JA) - Final post 28th Apr!

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  1. Jemmiah Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2000
    star 5
    Well, I wasn't going to repost this...I sort of felt it should maybe just lie in the classic board seeing as how this pre-saga board is mostly for new stories, but two people kindly asked me to repost it (thank you!) and so I changed my mind. So, here goes...

    Title: As Long as there is Hope
    Author(s): Jemmiah
    Timeframe: J/A, set when Obi-Wan is 14
    Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Original Characters.
    Genre: Action/drama
    Keywords:
    Summary: When one of the Chancellor's top envoys falls prey to a suspected pirate attack, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan must go undercover to try and discover her fate.
    Notes: ALATIH assumes that Qui-Gon was Yoda's padawan before he became Dooku's apprentice.


    *****



    "Well?"

    It may have been a simple question, one little word that on the face of it seemed straight forward enough but something about the manner in which it was uttered left little doubt that things had better be 'well' or there would be trouble. More than just a casual enquiry, it was little short of a well-dressed threat and when one was dealing with the man in question you learned to take threats VERY seriously.

    Two men in black, one short with scruffy hair and an unkempt look about him, and the other a solid wall of muscle and bone shifted their weight slightly from foot to foot, an indication of how ill at ease they were in the steely presence of Rufus Merdan. Their report was not going to go down at all well.

    "There was another one, by the look of it." Keleskladt, the scruffy looking man answered. "Had all the symptoms. Shaking, dramatic weight loss, eyes too bright. The usual sort of thing."

    "And?" Merdan looked up from the data pad he'd been studying.

    "We used the usual sort of remedy." Najwal joined in, his high and reedy voice distinctly at odds with his gigantic frame.

    Merdan said nothing for a long time, just staring at the two men in the hope of seeing them sweat. He was happy to note that they did.

    Just as well. If they feared him, so much the better. There was little in the way of natural loyalty on Nargotria but fear certainly kept them in line. And he didn't just mean the workers.

    Merdan hissed irritably.

    "How many's that now?"

    "Not quite a half." Keleskladt shoved his fingers in his pockets. "We're down to thirty four now. Thirty five if you count that mad cannoid of an envoy."

    "Tally's if you please."

    "Sorry?" Keleskladt blinked in confusion.
    "A inventory." Merdan turned glittering grey eyes. "A list of all accounted for."

    Najwal started to recite his list parrot fashion, his voice grating on Merdan's sensitive ears. The man was OK as a guard but as an orator he wouldn't last three minutes, not if he had anything to do with it.

    "Thirty five total. Two over fifty, eleven over forty, twelve over thirty, nine over twenty and the little insect." He finished with a grimace.

    "The who?" Merdan's gaze was unflinching.

    "The Corellian." Keleskladt put in. "I can't think why you keep her."

    "She works hard." Merdan replied. "As long as she works, she lives. Simple."

    "I suppose there's the novelty value." Keleskladt snickered. "Don't s'pose there's been much call for her since Levinstowe went..."

    Merdan's head shot up and Keleskladt let his words die on his breath.

    "I don't want Mr. Levinstowe's name mentioned round here, is that understood?" Rufus eyed the greasy little man with obvious contempt. "Our dealings with that person are over. If I do hear his name uttered in my presence you will not like the consequences, understood?"

    The two guards came smartly to attention and Merdan sat back in his seat, temporarily appeased.

    "What about the envoy woman? Has she decided to join our little business enterprise?" the words held a faint hint of amusement, and Keleskladt decided it was safe to relax for the time being.

    "Uncooperative." He snorted.

    "And have you explained the house rules?"

    "Yes, sir. She still won't listen to common sense. Or brute force either."

    A single raised eyebrow informed the two guards
  2. Calamity Jinn Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2000
    star 4
    How utterly wonderful to see this story again! :D It's definitely one of my favourite fan fictions of all time!

    You paint a very clear picture of how clinical and calculating Merdan is... brrrr!! And wonderful characterisations of the guards too.

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for posting this story here! I'm so looking forward to following and reading about Qui & Obi again! :D
  3. Healer_Leona Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2000
    star 9
    How delightful to see this again and the perfect thread to start for those unfamiliar with the JemmiahChronicles.

    Merdan is certainly the epitome of evil in this... without heart or conscience.

    I look forward to rereading this as well!!!
  4. Sara_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2000
    star 7
    Thanks for reposting this Jemmy. I'll be reading along with this one for sure. ;)
  5. Jemmiah Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2000
    star 5

    "Enter, you may."

    Yoda's voice sounded distinctly weary, Qui-Gon mused to himself as the door in the visitor's chamber swung back to admit him into the room. He was slightly late for this appointment, something no doubt his former master would not appreciate in the slightest but the fault did not lie with himself. Rather, Jinn reflected with a small amount of satisfaction, the blame belonged to the wizened old master who had at the last moment rescheduled the place of their meeting from his own residence to the comfortable guest suite on the nineteenth floor. Not that Qui-Gon minded. Just because he'd got used to the smell over the years didn't mean he wanted to have high tea in a room that smelled of a wet bog on Dagobah?

    "Master Yoda," Qui-Gon bowed, "I apologize for my lack of time keeping."

    The diminutive master stared at him for a moment, as if testing his sincerity.

    "Hmmm." Yoda shook his head a touch. "No apology do you need. Need a place to talk, we do. And our guest."

    Qui-Gon had already sensed the being that Yoda alluded to, and stepped up towards the familiar looking figure standing to greet him in return. He'd known this man for a good many years now and counted him as a friend of sorts, albeit one that had a nasty habit of reminding him of their friendship whenever he was in need of some kind of help. Steel grey hair and a distinguished face, topped off by the rigid, almost military stance would have identified Chancellor Valorum to most people anywhere in Coruscant.

    "It's good to see you again." Jinn offered Valorum his hand, which the politician shook curtly and officially.

    //Too used to dealing with tiresome bureaucrats// Jinn thought to himself. //He needs to brush up on the social graces.//

    "I am glad to see you also." Valorum smiled. "It's been too long. The last time, as I recall, was that rather awkward mission to Valtulas to persuade the local warlords to release those prisoners they captured. And over the years I think there's been some memorable moments...the unfortunate affair on Corellia, remember?"

    "Oh," Qui-Gon returned the smile. "It's not something I am likely to forget. Neither will Dex Berlingside."

    "Well, it's not every day you're tied to a stake and executed as a spy." Valorum nodded. "How did he get out of that one, anyway? You never did tell me."

    Qui-Gon caught sight of Yoda, clearly waiting for the pleasantries to die away so that they could discuss business. That worried Qui-Gon a great deal. Yoda was patient in the extreme -unless he was prodding unruly initiates with his stick - but right now he could feel how urgent the troll thought things were through their bond - a bond that had never died when their padawan/master ties were severed.

    It never would.

    "I'll have to leave that one for another day." Qui-Gon answered politely, indicating that Valorum should be seated. The man did so, but never for a moment did he lose the stiff-backed pose.

    //He IS worked up// Qui-Gon realized. //Both Valorum and Yoda. What could it be?//

    "Yes, yes!" Yoda tapped his wooden stick on the ground. "Discuss the matter in hand we shall. And an important matter it is. Chancellor Valorum, explain you will?"

    Valorum let his eyes wander from the eager master to the non-plussed Qui-Gon.

    "The trouble is, where do I start?" he sat forward, fingers interlaced. "We have had several?shall we say overtures?from fringe planets requesting permission to join the Republic. We get a few such requests every year. Two have already willingly seceded to our rule this quarter. What we usually do is send out small investigatory teams to check out these planets and see if it would be beneficial for both parties to proceed with the request to become fully fledged Republic members. Of course, the further away from Coruscant the harder it is to maintain a working relationship, but usually we can find some planetary representative to sit in the senate and look out for their own needs and such like." Valorum picked up the crystal water jug and began to pour himsel
  6. mouse2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 1999
    star 4
    I'm so happy to see this being reposted again! It's like visiting an old friend. :)

    Of course the little troll knows something Qui! He always knows something extra that he won't spill until after the fact.

    I had forgotten about Valorum knowing about the happenings on Nargotia! Dirty old man! ;)
  7. Calamity Jinn Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2000
    star 4
    So we find out more about what's happening... and that the Chancellor isn't letting on he knows more than he does. Typical politician! :p

    Hmmm, "Dangerous this mission will be," he said finally in a low and quiet voice, "for you and your padawan. And for others?" Can't wait to find out what "others"! :D And also Obi's reaction to going on this mission.

  8. Jemmiah Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2000
    star 5
    "Wash the floors, scrub the boots, make the breakfast?"

    The young girl picked up the ragged looking cloth and threw it down with a disgusted splash into the bucket of soapy water as she inched along the tiled floor in the kitchen on skinny, reddened little knees. Her routine rarely changed from day to day. If she wasn't cleaning she was invariably cooking or mending. Still, it wasn't too bad. As long as it kept THEM away from her.

    The disgust turned into a grimace that twisted her pale lips, contorting the face into a mask of loathing. She'd never got any peace from them since she'd turned seven. Her tenth birthday had been just four days ago, not that she'd celebrated it particularly. It was just another date like any other in this place. Birthdays on Corellia had been big, festive occasions with cakes and presents and games. Mostly she couldn't remember her old life but there were certain things she could recall without feeling any sadness.

    The cloth was fished out of the bucket and splattered down onto the ground. Hands furiously polished at the floor, intent on removing every last piece of grime and dirt. It vaguely reminded her of that fairy tale she'd once heard her mother tell her when she'd been sick; the one about the kitchen girl who'd been cruelly treated by her step mother and sisters, until her handsome prince had come to steal her away?

    A deep cough from just behind her caused her to jump.

    "Hello, little insect." The nasal voice hailed her as she turned round to stare up at the man, his dirty black uniform marking him out as one of the guards. "I see you're at home there on the ground. Just where you should be."

    The girl said nothing. It was safer to bite her tongue.

    "You've made a good job of cleaning the floor, haven't you?" he grinned, kicking over the bucket with the toe of his boot. "Whoops! You'll have to mop that up, won't you? You should be more careful?wouldn't want you to slip in that puddle and break your little neck, would you?"

    "No sir." The girl lowered her eyes.

    "One mistimed step and snap! That's all it would take."

    "Yes sir."

    He walked to within three steps of her and stood towering above, boots covered in mud and filth.

    "Guess where I've been." He laughed raspingly. "Burial party. It can get mighty dirty out in the back of beyond?oh, dear." He frowned, tutting as he looked down at the trail of muck he'd spread across the once gleaming floor. "Look what I've gone and done."

    "But I've just cleaned that!" the child gasped.

    "Then you'll just have to clean it again, won't you? And while you're at it you can clean my boots. He stooped down and pulled them off one by one, enjoying the dismayed expression on the Corellian girl's face as she examined the floor, now awash with water and earth.

    "Unhappy are you, insect?" he leered. "Know what happens to insects?"

    "No sir." The eyes remained downcast.

    "They get stamped on." He replied before flinging both of the heavy boots at her, which she partly managed to dodge. "I want those boots cleaned by tonight. You can bring 'em to my room." He winked at her.

    "Yes sir." The girl growled at him.

    She watched him turn and go, thanking the gods that she was now left alone once again to get on with her work. The mud had mixed with the water and created a small slick of brown across the tiles. It tried her patience to the limit but she knew that one thing you never showed was defiance. If you did you soon got it knocked out of you. Emotions were only weaknesses after all.

    "Scrubbing floors." She hissed. "I hate scrubbing floors!"

    Scooping up the pail in her right hand, Jemmiah went to fetch another bucket of water.

    "So much for fairytales." Jemmy rubbed at her sore knees. "There's no handsome prince coming to rescue me?"

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

    "You made it, then?" Mace flashed a rare and genuine grin as the tall, broad frame of his friend loitered uncertainly in the doorway. Even from half way across the room Mace easily picked up on the unease and edginess that Qui-Gon's body l
  9. mouse2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 1999
    star 4
    "And stay out of trouble!"

    Mace, my shiny headed friend, I think you're wasting your breath on that one! ;)

    Stay strong Jemmy! You've got two handsome princes on their way to you! :)
  10. Calamity Jinn Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2000
    star 4


    Grrrr... poor Jemmy having to put up with all that. :( I know where I'd like to stick his boots, and it wouldn't be on his feet!

    :p

    So others will also be helping in the search for the missing envoy. This is shaping up well. Again. :p
  11. Jemmiah Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2000
    star 5
    Jemmiah finished her chores for the day and decided that she deserved a rest. Beralina and Rusa would be in soon to help with the cooking, so she could afford a few moments to relax before she had to start all over again. She didn't mind the routine and she wasn't afraid of the hard work. The women were all friendly to her and tried to keep her as far away from the guards and 'guests' as much as they could, and she was eternally grateful for their support and help. But she felt increasingly lonely.

    Since her mother had died there had been nobody to speak to about anything other than their life of drudgery and hardship. There had been nobody who would encourage her to go on and battle her demons, nobody to give her a hug. Not the sort that she wanted, anyway. Rusa was kind though. So were Nadine and Beralina. The latter was probably her best friend of all the women who worked in Merdan's camp and they would chatter and laugh as best they could whilst they worked in the kitchens.

    //I hope she hurry's up// Jemmy sighed, sitting down on the bench in the kitchen. //I'm so tired that I could sleep for a week. C'mon, Beralina!//

    She'd been feeling more and more fatigued in the last few weeks, or so it seemed to her. Her energy would suddenly flag and cut out without any reason at all that she could tell. Beralina used to tell her that it was because she was working so hard for such a small person, but Jemmiah didn't think that was right. She wasn't doing any more than she'd been doing before. She'd wondered briefly if she were sickening like some of the women in the camp had done recently.

    Well, that was one way of escaping this place, she thought grimly.

    Permanently.

    A slight noise alerted Jemmiah to the presence of another in the entrance to the kitchens, and the familiar figure of the dark haired, voluptuous Rusa appeared by the door.

    "You've to fetch the wine from the cellar." She said bluntly, not looking the girl in the face. "I'll see to the food. Merdan's orders."

    "But why??" Jemmy began, confused.

    "You know better than to ask why." Rusa said in her Tildarian accent. "Best do it and do it quick."

    "Beralina usually does the errands?" Jemmy protested.

    Rusa closed her eyes and counted to five, her mouth dry.

    "Beralina won't be doing the errands any more." She said finally, feeling the shock of her words sink in on the Corellian girl's face.

    "Best fetch the wine and say no more about it."

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

    Qui-Gon woke to the sound of gentle footsteps outside his door. The culprit paused momentarily as if trying to see if he'd been detected, before continuing past into the living area and beyond. From the back of his mind Qui-Gon wondered why intruders never called at a more convenient time of day. It was now three in the morning standard time and the sky was dark and filled with little stars?at least he assumed it would be if he could be bothered to look out from behind his bedroom curtain.

    Well, at least the identity of this particular intruder didn't take much guessing, especially as he could just about make out the distant creak of the refrigerator door being slid back.

    "Padawan." He groaned, rubbing his eyes. "If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times about late night snacking."

    The master threw back the covers, annoyance spreading at having to get out of his comfortable bed to see to a constantly munching apprentice. Where did he put it all? He was as thin as a twig and yet he always seemed to have room for a continual supply of food. Had he been as bad as that at Obi-Wan's age?

    He had, hadn't he?

    "He's still going to get a talking to." Qui-Gon mumbled, trying to locate his padawan with the force and to his surprise found him no longer in the kitchen area but out on the balcony. Jinn frowned.

    "Welcome to insomniacs anonymous." He sighed deeply, making his way from his room and gathering his dressing gown on the way from the back of his door.

    To his credit, Obi-Wan didn't even flinch guiltily when he sensed his master s
  12. Sabe126 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2002
    star 4
    Have book marked this to read, will comment soon.
  13. Healer_Leona Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2000
    star 9
    :( Already getting behind and little time this morning to say mych more than still loving this story and your writing!! :) :)
  14. Sabe126 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2002
    star 4
    Always a bigger fish." - LOL! :) Excellent exchanges between Mace and Qui-Gon.

    Me thinks that this mission is going to be very interesting indeed! Jemmy I think that your prince might be on his way :)
  15. Jemmiah Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2000
    star 5
    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. :)

    ********

    Obi-Wan awoke the following morning, prompted more by the rumblings of his stomach rather than the subtle reminders that his master would normally subject him to. He had overslept by a full two hours and as a result he was not only hungry but also extremely lazy. Never one to deny the fact that he enjoyed sleeping in when given the chance (which was non-existent since Qui-Gon had taken him as his padawan learner) the boy shuffled out of bed with his eyes still stuck together and his sleep shirt crumpled, wishing that he could just stay asleep all day. It would be a foolish thing to do though, he admitted ruefully as he stuffed his sock clad feet into the slippers by his bed, because he would only feel over-tired as a result?not that he thought he could feel worse than he did right now. He tried to use the force to see where his master was but he couldn't sense his presence at all. That couldn't be right?

    Blearily he reached the door, sill trying to persuade his stubborn upper and lower eyelids to release their grasp of one another. Through the small slits he managed to see the morning light flooding into the balcony. There seemed to be no sign of Qui-Gon.

    "Master?" Obi-Wan croaked.

    No answer.

    "Are you there, master?" he rubbed at his eyes.

    Still no answer.

    Obi-Wan sighed and decided to trust the force and save his voice in future. He felt his stomach urging him to find something edible to placate it's wrath and so he grudgingly made the effort of walking the few extra steps it took to get to the kitchen and the refrigeration unit.

    //Citrus juice// he thought fondly. //That will do for a start. Then maybe if there's any of that Nerf's cheese left I can make some toast and?//

    Just as his hand fell upon the fridge door he noticed a flimsy note stuck to the surface. The writing was small and neat - too small for Obi-Wan's sleep crusted eyes to make out at first - and unmistakably that of his master. Snatching the flimsyplast away and holding it merely inches from his nose, the padawan squinted at the series of aurabesh strokes and squiggles until they deigned to fall into a pattern that made sense.

    "Padawan," Obi-Wan managed to make out as he poured out a glass of citrus with the other hand; "I have gone out on official council business. I hope to return by the afternoon."

    Obi-Wan yawned. "At least that means I don't have that assignment to work on."

    "Please make sure you finish your assignment and see that your room is left in a tidy state. We will be leaving on our mission later this evening...Qui-Gon Jinn."

    Obi-Wan looked at the glass of citrus in his hand, and then back to the flimsy letter. The word that continued to jump out him was 'assignment'. He had the utmost respect and devotion for his master but there were times like now when the man seemed to read him just too well for his liking.

    "Sithspit." Obi-Wan sighed.

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

    Qui-Gon strode determinedly along the permacrete paving.

    If he were honest with himself this was a part of the city that he would rather not frequent unless he couldn't at all help it. Coruscant was built upon layers and layers of permacrete, which in turn were stacked upon what were now sub-layers of seedy and grimy, darkened stonework and dank buildings, some long forgotten. And below the sub-layers were the sewerage and fresh water systems. He remembered a good many years ago some unstable individual had decided to poison a fair amount of the West Side of Coruscant's population by trying to get the former diverted into the latter. It was rumored that there were even subterranean species living amongst the tunnels and pipes?

    Fortunately he had never had to go down to those levels before. On this occasion he was searching amongst the lower buildings around the streets themselves hoping to find the 'gentleman' that Mace had hinted he should search for. Qui-Gon strode amongst the other pedestrians, aware that he was hardly blending in. A jedi wandering round the streets usua
  16. Frostfyre Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 3
    So wonderful to see your work again, Jemmy! I love the sense of humor you weave into an excellently written story. If only it were more present in the films! :D
  17. Healer_Leona Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2000
    star 9
    Can't help but feel a bit of irritation that that Elcron would even think a Jedi would want to 'play' at a place like Nargotria. Superb post Jem!! :) :)
  18. Jemmiah Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2000
    star 5
    "I don't like him." Jemmy eyed the weasel-faced guard as he strutted around in the courtyard.

    He'd been hovering about now for some time, swaggering across the cobbled surface backwards and forwards as if he owned the place.

    //He wouldn't dare do that in front of Merdan// thought Jemmiah tersely. //Then again nobody would//

    "Nobody likes him." Nadine replied as her eyes followed the object of their loathing with every stride he took. "He's a jumped up little kriffer, pardon my bad Corellian mouth, and he's heading for a very sorry end."

    "I wish he'd head there right now." Jemmy gritted her teeth. "You know there are more people arriving today?"

    "I had heard, yes." Nadine nodded, tidying a strand of shiny brown hair. "Wonderful. I am so thrilled. Bad enough the one's we have, let alone adding more to our little holiday resort. You just keep your head down, you hear me?" Nadine insisted. "You have an advantage that myself and none of the others have. You're small and easily overlooked. No offense intended." She gave the girl a pat on the shoulder. "Half the time they probably forget you're even here."

    "He doesn't." Jemmy scowled at Keleskladt who continued to pace up and down as if he might wear a trench into the cobbles. "And neither does Merdan. He never forgets anything."

    "Has he tried anything again?" Nadine growled suspiciously at Keleskladt... "If he has, just say the word and we'll sort the kriffer out somehow, pardon my foul Corellian mouth again."

    Jemmy shook her head. "No. Keeps staring at me though. Gives me the creeps. Follows me around a lot. He's always trying to get me angry or cause trouble for me. He upended a bucket of dirty water over my nice clean floor, the miserable piece of fleg."

    "I'll have none of that language from you, missy." Warned Nadine. "I didn't bring you up to speak like that. But you just say the word, and if he so much as looks at you in a bad way me and the girls will poison his kriffing tea!"

    "Pardon my Corellian mouth?" Jemmy hazarded.

    "Why, what have you done?" Nadine asked innocently. "Come on, we'd better go back to peeling those gourals."

    Jemmy dragged her feet reluctantly after the tall figure of Nadine. "But I seem to spend my life peeling gourals." She complained. "Can't we stay out for just a bit longer. I like the sunshine. I'm stuck indoors most of the time."

    "I'm afraid we dance to Merdan's tune, kid." Nadine placed a hand on her shoulder and steered her away from the courtyard. "We've had our allotted time to stretch our legs and now it's back to work."

    "S'pose." Jemmy pulled a face that under most circumstances would have caused Nadine to react with her typical harsh laughter? but at the back of her mind something about the kid was beginning to bother her.

    "Tell me something," Nadine said airily, trying not to alarm the girl, "you feeling okay?"

    "Why? What do you mean?" Jemmy asked, swallowing. "Why do you ask?"

    "It's just that when you said you wanted to stay out in the sunlight it kinda got me thinking?" Nadine chewed at her lip for a while. "You don't look your usual bright and bubbly self. And you do know that the sickness that was going about last year seems to be back."

    "I did work out what happened to Beralina, yes." Jemmy nodded, eyes to the ground. "She did nothing but complain about how dull and dark everything was. Always wanted to be outside in the sun."

    Jemmy looked up at Nadine. "Do you think I'm sick too, is that it?"

    //How do I answer that?// Nadine wondered. //How do I tell the kid that it might be her head next on the block? She might not be ill, it might be a coincidence?but if she is and I've noticed it you can bet that Merdan will notice too.//

    "I don't know kid, I was just wondering." She smiled at the girl. "Still, keep out of the way of the others, huh? Just to be safe. It's probably nothing. Don't give the likes of Gundark face over there a chance to hurt you in any way. I'm just waiting my chance to get at that kriffer, pardon my overworked Corellian mouth."

    "
  19. Jemmiah Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2000
    star 5
    "Sleep, padawan."

    "I'll try, master. I'm just not very tired that's all." Obi-Wan sighed, and dejectedly shuffled towards the cot where he had thrown his blanket.

    It was a lie of course. He WAS tired. It was just that there was too much buzzing round and round in his head. The journey was under way at last, and the small craft they had chartered would take them as far as the rendezvous ship in the Jantau system. Normally he would be looking forward to escaping the temple environs but this time he was finding it difficult to become at all excited at the prospect.

    //A jedi should not look for excitement!// he almost heard Yoda chastise him.

    Obi-Wan got so far along before stopping by the wall, shoulders slumping dejectedly.

    "Master?"

    "Obi-Wan?"

    "Are we in any?danger on this trip?" he hazarded. "You've not said much about the mission. I just wondered if that was because it was better I know as little as possible."

    //Smart thinking, padawan// Qui-Gon smiled inwardly at the logic Obi-Wan had misapplied to his reticence. //But it's not because I think you should know as little as possible. I think you should know as much as possible?but how do I tell you?//

    "No, Obi-Wan. It's not that at all. As for danger, there is that to be found in every mission we are sent on. You can be certain that there will be times that our duty as ambassadors will prove every bit as treacherous as any espionage we have to carry out."

    "Is that what we are doing then, master?" Obi-Wan stared at the dignified and controlled face. "Are we spying?"

    Qui-Gon considered what exactly to say. Keeping Obi-Wan in the dark was more likely to cause harm in the long term. He knew the boy would play his part as well as could be expected, but under the circumstances of where they were heading for, it was still going to be unpleasant for him to learn the truth. For the first time since he had insisted to Valorum that his padawan come with him on the mission, he found himself regretting his decision.

    "In a manner of speaking." He nodded slowly. "This isn't going to be a pleasant experience at all for either of us. We have to search for a friend of the chancellor's who has disappeared in?unusual circumstances."

    "That doesn't sound too bad so far, master." Obi-Wan replied carefully.

    "Yes, well." Qui-Gon mumbled. "There is a possibility that this person has fallen into the hands of some unscrupulous persons as yet unknown to us. To make matters worse we are searching an area that is known pirate territory. Our own safety has been insured only because of the substantial amount of money that was paid in advance via equally unscrupulous sources. We should be safe on the way there."

    "What about the way back?" Obi-Wan dared to ask.

    "It depends on whether or not they like our faces." Qui-Gon managed to jest.

    Obi-Wan looked the tall man up and down.

    "In that case I think we could be in trouble." He quipped.

    "What's the matter with my face?" Qui-Gon's eyes narrowed slowly like a carnivorous plant round a fly.

    "There's nothing actually wrong with it." Obi-Wan dared to voice his opinion.

    "I'm glad to hear it."

    "It's just not a conventional type of face if you'll forgive me for saying." Obi-Wan looked embarrassed. "Maybe if the beard was to come off?"

    "Absolutely under no circumstances will this beard ever come off." Qui-Gon pointed at his face. "I grew this beard for a very good reason."

    "To scare Master Falmar away?" the padawan wondered outloud.

    "I beg your pardon?" Qui-Gon let his back stiffen to indicate that the boy was on very shaky ground.

    Obi-Wan realized his error and tried to cover up.

    "N-no, master. It's just that Master Berlingside said you grew the beard to keep Master Falmar away from you because she didn't like the idea of getting her face all scratched and red?" he let his words die a natural and painless death.

    "Master Berlingside WOULD say something like that." Qui-Gon nodded. "But I am entirely satisfied with the way I look. And as I tell myself daily,
  20. Sara_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2000
    star 7
    "It's a bit girlie."



    I loved that part. Great posting Jemmy. Keep them coming. 8-}
  21. mouse2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 1999
    star 4
    See! This is what happens when my hubby has two days off, it cuts into my 'puter time! Look at all that I've missed!

    But I will admit that it's nice to be able to read several posts at a time then just one! ;)

    Still loving this story Jem! :D
  22. Jemmiah Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2000
    star 5
    Merdan sat back on his chair, resting his head full tilt against the wall, his booted feet crossed over each other upon his desk.

    More people arriving. More money arriving. More satisfied customers who would no doubt be happy to return.

    Piracy was a very lucrative business when combined with honest to goodness entrepreneurial skills. Stealing goods off people was one thing. Stealing the people as well was quite another?

    Rufus had no qualms about slaving, selling people or using them to make a profit be it in the long term or the short term. In the short term he was happy enough with his personal business venture but if there was the slightest way of expanding his schemes without jeopardizing what he already had then so much the better.

    Levinstowe had been gone for a while now, and with him the money he had brought to the partnership. He didn't miss Levinstowe but he did miss the money. Nargotria was in no danger of running short of funds as there was a steady stream of visitors -approved visitors- who were only too keen to throw their hard earned credits away on a few weeks or months of unadulterated passion. His list of clients were checked, vetted, verified and checked again before being approved and in any case it always paid to have some background information on the people who were setting foot on his property, not to mention using his property too.

    New visitors were required to keep his organization running prosperously and with every new person who passed the inspection the risk of getting found out by others increased tenfold. Not that Coruscant would ever be bothered to stir itself on Nargotria's account. A backwater little planet, not part of the Republic? External matters had never bothered them before and it hadn't seemed likely that would change even if they were discovered?

    Until now.

    Nargotria's resident, if sparse population had cheerfully ignored Merdan's operations as long as they themselves were left alone. That had suited Merdan just fine. But when he had heard that the planet had been put up for inclusion in the Republic, Merdan couldn't help but feel that time was possibly running out for him. And if he were forced to move, what then? Take his stock with him? Abandon them on the planet to their fate? Throw them off the cliffs?

    The latter two options did not make financial sense and first and foremost Merdan was a businessman, if a highly immoral one, but shipping his work force out at a moments notice was going to be a risky thing to do. If he needed to escape quickly, he would maybe have to do it alone. Leaving behind witnesses was not a good idea either.

    Oh, he'd considered it over and over again, imagining every scenario possible. Rule number one was survival: HIS survival. He could get new whores. They were ten a credit, and there were always slavers who would be willing to sell stock on the cheap. Some of his present workers had volunteered to work for him, seeing no better life for themselves elsewhere. Then of course, if he couldn't beg or borrow he could always steal?

    The envoy woman was dead and so was her crew. Let them tell any tales now, if they could. With their disappearance Rufus hoped to persuade the Republic that Nargotria was not the best candidate for joining their ranks. Pirates were known to swarm all over the area. It was a hotbed of criminal activity. With the Calton woman gone they would just assume that some unknown hostile source had run into her with dire consequences. And there were people enough on the Chancellor's staff who knew intimately the pleasures that the planet secretly harbored. Merdan smiled, suddenly feeling more secure. He was sure they could all be relied upon to suggest tactfully that Nargotria remained outside the capital's jurisdiction.

    Grey eyes glittering with a mixture of avarice and a small amount of satisfaction at the way he had arranged things, Merdan reached for the decanter of Sullustan red wine and poured himself a large glass. He had a fondness for the Sullustan stuff. Levinstowe had never shown any
  23. Healer_Leona Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2000
    star 9
    Hmmm. I'm curisous as to how Obi-Wan knows Windy.. er, Master Windu has small feet?? ;)
    And of course Qui-Gon will be eating those words of the beard never coming off... course that's down the road a good number of years. [face_laugh] [face_laugh]

    :( Poor Jemmiah... I know I wouldn't want to that kind of work either.
  24. Sara_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2000
    star 7
    I don't care for that Merdan too much. [face_devil]

    But I feel for Jemmiah though. :(



  25. Sabe126 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2002
    star 4
    Have just caught up! LOL at Qui-Gon?s reminder to Obi-Wan about his assignment and Elcron?s reaction to Obi-Wan?s age! Also at Obi?s new hairstyle and Windu's nickname!

    I'm glad that Merdan's life is going to be interrupted by the arrival of the Jedi!
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