Title: Always a Bigger Fish Author: devilinthedetails Timeframe: Before the Saga Characters: Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Mace Windu, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Jocasta Nu, and Original Characters. Genre: General, Adventure, Politics, Friendship Summary: Assigned to oversee a planetary election recount, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan discover the arrogance of big fish in small ponds. The Summons Qui-Gon pivoted and buried his blazing green lightsaber in the control panel of a training droid, disabling it in a single smooth swing. Beside him, his Padawan’s weapon was a whirlwind, deflecting another training droid’s stun bolts back at it before dispatching it with a swift slash of his burning blue blade. As Qui-Gon lunged to destroy the second-to-last training droid, Obi-Wan raised a hand that sent the final droid clanging into the wall of the clanging dojo, where it broke upon impact. Silence save for his own heavy breathing and that of his apprentice suddenly filled the dojo. Surveying the wreckage he and his Padawan had wrought, Qui-Gon was grateful that repairing the damaged droids was not his responsibility but the tedious duty of the Temple mechanics. “Good job, Padawan.” Qui-Gon squeezed Obi-Wan’s ever-broadening shoulder, feeling the sweat that had soaked through the fabric, and abruptly aware of the pools that had accumulated on his own brow and the blades of his back. “Using the Force to incapacitate that final droid was particularly well-done.” “Thank you, Master.” Obi-Wan’s cheeks, flushed from the exertion of their training exercise, became even redder at Qui-Gon’s praise. To hide his embarrassment, he consulted his chrono. “Our time improved by a full minute.” “Excellent.” Qui-Gon gestured at a Roo-wood bench in the corner where they had left their water canteens and towels to dry their foreheads. “Shall we?” Obi-Wan nodded and trailed him to the bench. They were barely settled and beginning to gulp from their canteens when Qui-Gon’s comlink rang. “Qui-Gon Jinn speaking,” he answered tersely, displeased to be interrupted by a comlink call in the middle of recovering from a training exercise. “Master Qui-Gon.” Yoda’s gravelly voice greeted him through the comlink. “The presence of you and your apprentice requires the Council does. A mission for you we have. Briefed in it you must be.” “Yes, Master.” Qui-Gon allowed his respect for the Grand Master of the Jedi Order to seep into his words. “My Padawan and I will report to the Council Chamber at once.” “Freshen yourselves up first you can.” Yoda’s tone held a glimmer of humor, and Qui-Gon wondered how the ancient, esteemed Jedi had managed to sense that he and his apprentice were sweating buckets through a comlink. “Wait for you the Council will.” “Yes, Master. Thank you.” Qui-Gon expressed his gratitude for this courtesy and then offered the traditional Jedi farewell that was a tradition even he, the famed maverick, adhered to a majority of the time. “May the Force be with you.” “May the Force be with you.” Yoda echoed Qui-Gon’s words and then closed the comlink connection with a click. “The Council has a mission for us?” Obi-Wan asked, eyes as bright a blue as his lightsaber with eagerness at the prospect of embarking on another adventure. “Yes.” Qui-Gon returned his comlink to his belt. “We’re to make ourselves presentable before we report to the Council for a briefing.” Half an hour later, having washed themselves in sanistreams and donned clean, crisp robes, Qui-Gon and his apprentice stood before the Council after making their bows. “Dispatched you will be to the planet Arieli.” Yoda began the briefing with the mention of a planet Qui-Gon had never heard of once he and his Padawan had assumed their customary positions in the center mosaic of the Council Chamber. “Heard of it, have you, Qui-Gon?” “No, Master.” Qui-Gon couldn’t remember reading that planet’s name on a galactic map or stumbling across it on the holonews. “And you, Padawan?” Yoda’s keen green-gold eyes fixed on Obi-Wan. “If I recall correctly, Arieli is the largest of a four planet system orbiting one star in the Mid-Rim.” Obi-Wan had an exceptionally sharp memory so Qui-Gon doubted his Padawan’s recollection was anything less than accurate. “It’s a small planet in both galactic politics and the galactic economy, but it’s the most important planet politically and economically in its system by a significant margin.” “Remember correctly you do.” Yoda’s head dipped in approval of Obi-Wan’s recitation, and Qui-Gon could only conclude that his apprentice’s hobby of memorizing random tidbits of information from holobooks had once again paid dividends. “Ah.” Qui-Gon stroked at his chin, contemplating what he had just learned of Arieli and concluding that he could expect Arieli’s population to have an inflated perception of their role in the wider galaxy. “Then Arieli is a big fish in a small pond, and we can anticipate its people conducting themselves accordingly because they forget there is always a bigger fish.” “Anticipate nothing you can.” Yoda’s gaze pierced into him. “Oversee you will the recount of the election ballots for the planet’s Head of State in the city of Ariani.” “The situation on Arieli is volatile.” Grave as ever, Mace Windu steepled his fingers. “Arieli has long been the economic hub of its star system, attracting migrant workers from across the system, but the planet is experiencing an economic downturn. One candidate has embraced the migrant workers as a vital part of Arieli’s economy while the other has publicly accused migrant workers of stealing jobs from Arieli’s natives. This same candidate also blames the Galactic Senate for imposing onerous trade regulations that supposedly have crippled the planet’s once vibrant economy.” “Xenophobia and distrust of galactic government thrive on Arieli.” Ki-Adi-Mundi picked up on Mace Windu’s thoughts and completed them. “Yet the current Head of State and the two candidates for this position have requested Jedi oversee the recount of ballots in Ariani. They have faith the Jedi will be impartial in overseeing the recount while they fear officials on their own planet might be induced to act corruptly for political or financial considerations.” “My Padawan and I will oversee the recount on Arieli.” Qui-Gon inclined his head, somberly accepting the mission as he had a thousand before it. “We will ensure it is conducted fairly and without a hint of corruption.” “A more detailed briefing on the politics of Arieli you will receive from Jocasta Nu in the Archives.” Yoda waved his gimmer stick in dismissal. “Provide you further materials to study on your trip to Arieli she will.” “Yes, Master. We will report to her at once.” Qui-Gon bowed, Obi-Wan mirroring his movement, and they took their leaves, heading toward the turbolifts, where they could ride down to the Archives, where Jocasta Nu awaited them with a more comprehensive overview of the politics on Arieli.