An Unexpected Invasion
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....
It is a time of peace for the Galactic Republic.
After countless wars that spanned thousands of years,
the Sith Order has been wiped out,
and for the first time in the thousand-generation history of the Republic
stability and order are commonplace.
The Jedi Knights have risen to become the undisputed
guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy.
Traveling throughout various systems they settle disputes
and ensure that the Republic faces no threats to its existence.
Two Jedi have been dispatched to the lush planet of Alderaan
to meet with the Royal House and conduct a routine check of the system.
Unbeknownst to them however, there is nothing routine about their mission...
A small ship glides through the emptiness of space approaching the dark blue planet of Alderaan. Its hull is long and the exterior is a mix of bronze and silver coloring. The markings on the side distinguish it as something more than a normal Republican vessel. It has the familiar icon of the Jedi Order displayed prominently on its sides. Two men dressed in robes stared out of ship's portholes as they began their approach toward the mighty blue planet.
"Doesn't it remind you of something Qui-Gon?" The younger one spoke up.
"It reminds me of Dantooine." Spoke the older one, adjusting his robes. The older Jedi Knight had shaved most of his hair off save for a long thick stretch in the middle which formed a short but intimidating mohawk. His eyes were a deep brown, and he sported a dark brown bear with some gray hairs beginning to intrude on his otherwise youthful countenance. His robes were a dark brown hue, and he sported a black leather belt around his waist. The older knight carried himself with an air of patience tempered by years of experience. It was a profound contrast to the excitement he sensed from the young Jedi standing next to him. The younger man's eyes glistened at the thought of the bravery displayed by previous generations of Jedi Knights.
"That was a big battle…It must have been exhilarating to fight the Dark Lords in those days." Qui-Gon Jinn scratched his beard as he walked up next to his young apprentice. He sized him up with a glance. The younger man had a full head of light brown hair. One long thick piece of hair had been intricately braided and hung down to the right side of the younger man's shoulder. This was the mark of a padawan—a Jedi apprentice who had not yet attained the rank of knighthood. Unlike his master, he was clean shaven and sported light blue eyes. His robes were of a lighter brown than those of his master and his tunic was light gray.
"We almost lost that day. You were too young to remember how terrifying the Sith could be."
"I wish I had been there. It sure beats visiting system after system doing routine check-ups. At least your generation knew what it was like to bleed and die for freedom." Qui-Gon Jinn looked away.
"You think too much of us. Only a reckless boy would want to charge into battle with the Sith Lords. I assure you, you do not want that kind of excitement Obi-Wan." Obi-Wan Kenobi noticed the chance of mood in his master.
"You lost someone there, someone you cared about." He paused.
"Yes." Sensing his feelings, Obi-Wan reached out and dared to ask the question that had been on his mind for several years.
"Who was she?" Qui-Gon didn't miss a beat. He knew where this was going.
"Shaak Ti. She taught me everything she knew about the Force…"
"She wasn't just your master."
"No." He paused. "She had spoken with the Council. They had given us their blessing. When the battle was over, we were going to marry."
"Who killed her?"
"Darth Plagueis." Obi-Wan loved listening to his master's stories of former glory, but he could sense the personal toll this particular account was taking on Qui-Gon.
"I never knew you had a run-in with him." The older Jedi let out a sigh as he turned to face Obi-Wan Kenobi.
"We had received reports that Plagueis had resurfaced and was massing a large force on Dantooine. We couldn't risk letting him plan more attacks. He had been destructive enough as it was."
"The slaughter at Yavin?"
"Yes…and his raids into Tatooine…he was decimating the Outer Rim. He struck fear into the Hutts themselves and they fear no one." He paused again grabbing hold of his lightsaber for a moment. "Shaak Ti and I were sent with Republican forces to Dantooine….she ran ahead of me…told me to stay behind with the troops…that she would deal with Plagueis herself. I didn't think twice about it."
"What happened then?"
"We beat his forces badly…then I felt a tremor. I rushed past the troops who were mopping-up the remains of Plagueis' army…I saw him standing over her body. She was barely clinging to life when he struck the last blow. He held her facing me and plunged her own lightsaber through her back. After that I lost it. I closed my eyes and rushed at him."
"You were the one who struck him down?"
"Yes…she was still breathing when I came back to her. She managed to say that she loved me before she died." It was Obi-Wan's turn to look away. He had been to rash to praise the bravery of the Jedi without contemplating the consequences of such battles.
"I am sorry. I was out of line. I shouldn't have asked you about this..."
"You have nothing to be sorry about. It's only natural to crave adventure when you have none. You're still a young padawan…all you know is peace. Be conscious of your feelings Obi-Wan. You crave excitement, yet you have no idea how reckless that desire is…We should be grateful that the Sith are gone." Qui-Gon paused. They could hear a beeping noise from the front of the ship's cockpit. "We better get ready to land." The two Jedi exchanged a smile as they strapped themselves in.
They landed in a clearing near the mighty blue-colored city of Theed. They could see the city's namesake, Theed Palace, the home of the Royal House of Organa which ruled over the planetary system. Alderaan was one of the most pristine planets in the entire Republic. It had a storied history as one of the original member systems of the Galactic Republic. While the beating heart of the Galactic Republic was undoubtedly Coruscant, it stood above the rest of the systems as the political and economic center of the entire galaxy, the cultural capital was Alderaan. It was always considered a beacon of hope in the darkest days of the Republic. All Jedi were Required to study the history of the Galactic Republic. No lesson was more crucial to a Jedi's formation than the understanding of the role played by Alderaan in the various conflicts with the Sith Lords.
The Sith had always made it their goal to decimate and lay waste to Alderaan. The Alderaani for their part were a peaceful cultured people more concerned with politics and diplomacy than with weapons. Nevertheless, some of the greatest mistakes made by the Sith High Command nearly a thousand years before had played out on the soil of Alderaan. Indeed, Darth Malgus and his iteration of the Sith Empire was dealt a decisive blow when they attempted to occupy the planet. Therefore, Alderaan was, for all intents and purposes, the crown jewel of the Galactic Republic. What transpired on Alderaan then had massive reverberations on galatic affairs and politics.
The current rulers of this democratic monarchy were members of the Organa Family. Though the monarch no longer wielded significant power, they did play a large role in the democractic regime that their planet was responsible for fostering. Generally, one member of the family would rule over the planet while another would represent the planetary system in the Galactic Senate on Coruscant. The current senator representing Alderaan was Prince Bail Organa. He was a slightly tanned man, barely thirty years old, whose father had served alongside Qui-Gon Jinn and Shaak Ti in the Battle of Dantooine against the Sith Lord Darth Plagueis. Organa was the older brother of the reigning queen of Alderaan, Padmé Amidala. Amidala had just turned twenty-two and had served as queen for the past five years. During her service, she had signed up (over the objections of her brother) with the Republican Army and had seen combat against pirates in the Outer Rim Territories. She was considered a just and kind monarch who had an unyielding tough-as-nails attitude.
Alderaan was the first stop for the two Jedi Knights on their mission to check on the status and affairs of some of the Core Worlds before they returned to make their report to the Jedi High Council on Coruscant. Indeed, so routine was this mission, that Qui-Gon and his apprentice had already accepted an invitation to a state dinner to be held in their honor at the royal palace. They did not expect anything out of the ordinary upon their arrival to the planet.
Nevertheless, as they stepped down the ramp, both men instantly felt suspicious. There was no one to greet them at the docking bay. Their suspicions were heightened as they observed that there was no one on the streets nor did they say any citizens in the usually bustling marketplace across from the palace walls.
"Where is everyone?" Asked Obi-Wan.
"I don't know." Suddenly, several explosions rocked the area around them. Before either of them could react, their ship had been destroyed by incoming enemy fire. They took cover near some older warehouses as a large fleet of ships began to descend on their position. They were making precise attacks against the small defense system of the capital city.
"Master, can you see the markings on the ships?"
"Yes. They are Trade Federation vessels."
"That doesn't make any sense. They've never done something like this before."
"It is an odd move for them." Suddenly they heard the clamor of a large army approaching.
"Droids!" There were tens of thousands of droids armed with blaster rifles approaching the city walls.
"It's an invasion…we have to make it to the palace." They saw several Alderaani running away from the firing line of the ships. Obi-Wan spoke up quickly.
"Hey! What's going on?"
"Haven't you heard?" One of them said." The Federation has been launching a full-scale assault on the planet for the past three day. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon exchanged worried glances. Qui-Gon wanted to know more about the invasion, but he needed to ensure the safety of the royal family first.
"Is the Queen safe?"
"For now. They haven't reached the palace yet, but it's only a matter of time."
"Can you take us there?" The Alderaani nodded their heads and urged them to follow their lead.
Meanwhile, on the flagship of the Federation fleet, Nute Gunray stood overlooking the progress of the invasion. The Trade Federation had been in existence for almost a hundred years. Never before had they taken the unprecedented step of launching an invasion. Truthfully, this course of action made Gunray feel uncomfortable. But his newfound friend promised that they would be handsomely reward for their unconventional gamble. The allure of greater profits and more control over senatorial affairs was too much of a temptation for the Neimoidian to pass up. His hands rested on the seat as he saw more of his ships descending to the planet's surface. An aid move closer to him. He turned around and motioned for him to speak.
"Sir, we have an incoming message from Lord Sidious."
"Patch him into the bridge immediately."
"Yes sir." Suddenly, the image of an imposing Sith Lord stood before him hidden behind a dark cloak that all but covered his face. Neimoidians did not speak Basic. They spoke a variant of Huttese that was intelligible to most other sentient groups.
"My Lord, it is a pleasure to hear from you."
"How is the invasion proceeding Viceroy?"
"It is going exactly as planned. Neither the Republic nor the Jedi Council are aware that anything is out of the ordinary on Alderaan."
"Good." Sidious paused. "It is crucial that your forces capture Queen Amidala and her brother. They have been a thorn in our side in the Senate for too long. If we are to make our move they must be eliminated."
"Yes my Lord. My forces are already besieging Theed Palace." Sidious smiled upon hearing the news.
"Very well Viceroy. Keep me posted on your progress." The Neimoidian bowed as the hologram of Sidious disappeared.
The Alderaani managed to get the Jedi into the palace and make their escape. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan quickly found their way to the throne room where they quickly surrounded by Royal Guards armed with blasters.
"We are Jedi Knights sent here by the Republic on a routine check of the system. My name is Qui-Gon Jinn, and this is my apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi." The guards breathed a sigh of relief at the news. They needed all the reinforcements they could get. Captain Panaka approached them.
"Unfortunately, there is nothing routine going on here at all."
"We need to see the Queen."
"I will take you to her, but we must be quick, the Federation will be at our gates in no time." The group made their way to the throne room where they were greeted by Queen Padmé Amidala and her brother, Senator Bail Organa.
"Master Jedi, we welcome your presence here." Bail Organa was a stout man. He dressed simply with a black tunic and matching armbands with dark boots. His hair was closely cropped. Bail looked like a dapper politician, but behind that exterior the Jedi sensed a sincere committed leader who was not enamored with glitz and glitter of the political scene on Coruscant.
"Senator, I wish we could be meeting under better circumstances. This started three days ago?"
"Does the Republic know what's going on here?"
"They jammed our transmissions." Obi-Wan piped up.
"How is it possible that this invasion escaped the notice of the Council and the Senate?"
"We are at peace Obi-Wan, no one expected the Federation to launch an invasion on a Republican system." Queen Amidala spoke up clearly as she rose from her throne. Obi-Wan Kenobi was taken aback as he saw the image of the Queen. She wore on her head a silver tiara and a deep blue dress with a lighter blue cloak trailing behind her. Though young, she had an air of decisiveness about her. It was an impressive sight to behold.
"Regardless of who knows of this invasion, it is important that we find a way to escape." Qui-Gon nodded his head in agreement.
"She's right." His eyes closed sensing a disturbance in the Force. "I believe that the Federation does not intend to occupy the planet. This is a ruse to get at the royal family." Senator Organa chirped up now.
"But why would they do that?"
"I don't know, but something doesn't feel right. They are traders. Neimoidians are known to be more concerned with money than with war. This goes against everything the Federation believes in." No sooner had he finished speaking than explosions began to rock the palace.
"Padmé, you have to get out of here. They can't do anything with me. But if they take you, they'll be able to run the planet and we can't allow that to happen." Amidala turned away from her brother.
"Agreed." She paused for a moment. "Captain Panaka, take my handmaidens and half of the guards. We have to get to the ships."
"Yes my Lady."
The Jedi along with Queen Amidala's entourage made it down to Theed Palace's docking bay when suddenly a legion of battle droids stood in their way.
"Blast them!" The lead droid exclaimed. Bail fired two precise shots at the droid shattering him into pieces as the Jedi ignited their lightsabers and plowed into the fray. The remaining guards took their positions as the firefight commenced. Bail shouted out to his sister,
"Head for the Destiny she'll get you out of here in no time. Do it! Run!" Obi-Wan slashed through a few more droids as Bail and some of the guards laid down more cover fire. He heard the voice of Qui-Gon resonating through his mind.
"We need only give the Queen time to board her shuttle. Senator Organa can deal with the rest."
"Yes my Master." They slashed through a few more droids as the last of the Queen's guard and Panaka made it into the bay. Qui-Gon ran up to Bail Organa.
"Are you certain you don't want to come with us?"
"Someone has to fight against the Federation while you make contact with the Republic."
"Senator we don't know how long it will take the Republic to respond to this…"
"That's a risk I have to take. Just promise you'll protect my sister."
"We will." They were about to say more but another group of battle droids approached them.
"Master!" Obi-Wan shouted from the ship. "We have to leave now!" Qui-Gon nodded to Bail and the two parted as Bail and his forces continued firing at the droids. The ship began taking off as Qui-Gon entered it. Shortly after that, they leapt into the air. Panaka was piloting the craft as Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Amidala looked on anxiously. Obi-Wan noticed several large Federation cruisers moving to intercept them as they broke through the planet's atmosphere into open space. He asked Panaka,
"How long before we make the jump into light speed?"
"Two, three minutes at most."
"That's not enough time for us to outrun those cruisers." Qui-Gon spoke up.
"Patience, Obi-Wan. We have the advantage of being smaller than they are. We may yet be able to outrun them." He turned his attention to Panaka. "Captain?"
"Concentrate all power to the sublight engines and the deflector shields."
"That'll make it dangerous to jump into hyperspace, it's too unstable."
"Perhaps, but that's the only way we'll be able to outrun them." Obi-Wan realized what his master was aiming to do. The two looked at each other and moved to back where the blaster turrets were located. Each Jedi put on their helmets and prepared to confront the Federation ships. As theDestiny blasted through space, Panaka saw numerous smaller craft pouring out of them.
"Master Jinn, fighters coming in fast."
"We see them. Focus on getting us past the cruisers. We'll worry about the fighters." The first wave began pummeling the Destiny with blaster-fire, but they were no match for Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon's shooting.
"Master they are coming in too fast, there's too many. We can't hold them off forever!" Shouted Obi-Wan as two more waves approached them grazing the ship with blaster-fire.
"Obi-Wan, concentrate on the lead fighters, if we can knock them out it might disorient the rest." Obi-Wan nodded his head as he fired at a few more ships. He caught sight of one lead fighter and clutched the controls tightly as he fired another volley. An explosion rocked the side of the Destiny as the starfighter blew up. Panaka came over the comm.
"Strap yourselves in…we're making the jump now!" Suddenly they felt a powerful lurch and the stars began to bleed off into white lights as the ship plunged into hyperspace leaving behind it a trail of debris from Federation starfighters.
"I am not pleased with these developments Gunray! Where is the Queen?" Gunray swallowed down hard as fear and panic began to set in.
"But my Lord we have control of Alderaan…"
"Without the Queen and Senator Organa that control is meaningless. How could you fools let them get away?"
"Reports from the droids on the ground indicate that they ran into two Jedi Knights…"
"The Jedi were on Alderaan?"
"I am afraid so my Lord." Sidious paused as he contemplated this fact.
"Viceroy…you are sure that the fighter than blasted through your cruisers was carrying the Queen?"
"Yes my Lord, it is the royal shuttle…the Destiny…only the House of Organa uses that craft."
"Then I will have to send my apprentice to find her and the Jedi before they make it to Coruscant."
"What of the resistance among the Alderaani?"
"Bail Organa knows that without Republican reinforcements, he will not be able to fend off your invasion. He's playing for time."
"My Lord, we do have their last known trajectory."
"Good. Where were they heading?"
"Toward the Outer Rim."
As the Destiny made its way through hyperspace, Qui-Gon, Kenobi, and Queen Amidala were gathered around a small table. Panaka just entered to give them an update.
"We made it without too much damage…" Obi-Wan spoke up.
"But the hyperdrive engine couldn't handle the strain of the maneuvers we were doing. That plus some of the hits we took on our backside mean that we cannot make it all the way to Coruscant. We have to stop for repairs." The Queen was unmoved, but Obi-Wan put his head in his hands in frustration. Qui-Gon stood up and stared out into space.
"They know we're heading toward the Outer Rim. I sense that there is more at work here than just a move by the Federation to occupy your world. Someone else is guiding their movements."
"What do you mean?"
"Nute Gunray doesn't have the mind to come up with an invasion like this otherwise he would have never risked letting a small craft like ours escape. Someone else is pulling the strings."
"I felt it too Master, there was a strong disturbance in the Force."
"Perhaps the Sith have returned…" Panaka's eyes widened.
"It's not possible Qui-Gon. The Jedi and the Republic wiped them out almost thirty years ago on Dantooine."
"Yes, but we never determined if Darth Plagueis had trained a successor." Obi-Wan's eyes lit up with a mix of excitement and trepidation.
"You honestly think that the Sith are behind this?"
"They are the only ones with the ability to pull off an invasion without alerting the Republic or the Jedi Council. Only the Dark Side of the Force could cloud up our vision and manipulate events like this. What I am not sure about is what they are looking to gain with all of this."
"I think I can answer that." Amidala's voice pierced through the gentle hum of the ship. All three men turned to her with rapt attention. "My brother…Bail…he's been very hard on the Federation, the Commerce Guilds…especially the Techno Union. He doesn't like how they abuse their power in the Senate, how they feed corruption among the political class, and he despises their toleration of slavery especially in the Outer Rim where Republican control is minimal to say the least."
"Go on," said Qui-Gon.
"Bail is on the short-list of candidates to succeed Chancellor Valorum."
"That would not sit well with the Federation."
"Precisely. This may explain why they have pursued desperate measures." Obi-Wan was not convinced by this. He spoke up almost cutting off the Queen before she had finished speaking.
"My Lady, with all due respect, I think that this is a smokescreen." Qui-Gon turned to face his apprentice.
"The Federation may not approve of Senator Organa's policies, but they wouldn't risk so much of their credibility over an invasion." Amidala pondered this for a moment then asked,
"Why else would this be happening?"
"If the Sith are behind this, than the invasion of Alderaan is just a pretext for something bigger." Kenobi closed his eyes for a moment. They shot open quickly.
"I felt it too."
"What is it?"
"We need to get out of hyperspace immediately..." Panaka didn't understand. "Please Captain, trust me on this one." Panaka nodded his head as he ran back into the cockpit.
The view of space outside returned to normal as they found themselves approaching the desert planet of Tatooine. Suddenly, a group of twenty Federation starships appeared on the opposite side of the planet.
"We've got company!" Panaka's voice squawked over the comm system.
"Captain Panaka get us down on the ground as fast as possible."
"It won't do us any good if they follow us down there." Panaka thought for a moment, then realized what had to be done. "There is a smaller ship beneath the Destiny's hull. It can fit most of us. Four of us will have to stay here and divert their attention." Amidala let out a shudder.
"I can't let you do that Panaka."
"My Lady, we are sworn to protect you. Your survival is our priority." Obi-Wan gently grabbed the Queen's arm.
"He's right…we have no choice."
"Very well then…" She paused for a moment as the hatch below her opened. Then she turned back to Panaka and said, "May the Force be with you." With that the rest of the crew prepared to disembark onto the smaller shuttle as Panaka prepared to engage the cruisers in front of him.
As they looked above, they saw the Destiny getting hit repeatedly by incoming fire. Panaka gritted his teeth as he launched the ship right in between the fighters. Laser fire was hitting him left and right, but the diversion was working. The Federation starships believed that the Queen was still aboard.
Padmé and Obi-Wan stared above them at the battle as they descended quickly down to the surface of Tatooine. As they entered the atmosphere they saw the Destiny start to shatter into pieces. Panaka was gone.
"It's okay, we will be okay…I promise." Obi-Wan said to the Queen.
"Easy for you to say…" Qui-Gon opened his eyes speaking up.
"There's still the problem of the hypedrive, our ship doesn't have a hyperdrive engine."
"But at least we're safe Master." They said nothing else as the ship landed off the outskirts of Mos Espa.
Padmé Amidala stepped out of the ship dressed normally, her royal attire long since discarded. Qui-Gon stepped forward.
"Your majesty, I suggest you stay here aboard the ship while we enter the city. The desert is no place for a queen."
"Besides," Obi-Wan added, "this place may get a bit rough. Let us handle it." Amidala adjusted the blaster on her belt and walked out between both of them.
"I can handle myself quite well Master Jedi." She paused and then looked back at Obi-Wan. "I do think you need to worry about your apprentice, he may not be up to the task." Obi-Wan was not known for his patience. He quickly took the bait Padmé had just laid out for him. "Excuse me? I just helped save your life back on Alderaan and this is the thanks I get?"
"So much for that great Jedi patience I've heard so much about." She paused and looked away toward several large sand dunes. "I may be young, and I may have been queen for only five years, but I know how to take care of myself. My father showed me how to use a blaster and to fight well. I've led soldiers into battle before and even served a stint in the Republican Army…so forgive me for not bowing down to the whims of a Jedi Knight…an apprentice no less…who thinks that I am not up for the task of handling the roughness of this backwater." Obi-Wan was about to say more but Qui-Gon motioned for him to keep quiet.
"Very well then. You can come with us. But while it is clear that my padawan needs to learn patience, you need to learn some humility. So, the two of you are going to have to stick together and follow my lead. Fair enough?" Obi-Wan nodded his head as Padmé smiled to herself with some satisfaction.
The three of them moved forward leaving the rest of the guards and handmaidens with the ship as they made their way into the harsh deserts of Tatooine.