Summary: When an older Jedi shows interest in an already confused sixteen-year-old Anakin, the last thing he needs is an unexpected visitor. And more than that, he doesn't need it to be Queen Amidala. But she shows up and he's stuck in a tug of war match between both women.
Disclaimer: Anybody reading this knows Star Wars isn't mine. This story was not written for profit, only entertainment.
Mission to Naboo (part 2)
He could tell she was reluctant to go back to Naboo, to duty. Despite the disaster that had happened with Siri, Couresant was a serious vacation from the madness of being a Queen. Obi-Wan had let them be the whole trip, the situation with Siri had led him to do some serious soul searching himself.
Anakin had actually enjoyed fulfilling his heart’s desire with Padme, Amidala. He still called her Padme in his head sometimes, it was the name he’d first known her by and she had allowed him to call her by either name. But he knew, even though both of them were on it, Naboo was going to be a place where they were forced to be distant.
Amidala took Anakin’s hand as they ship landed. “Kiss me good-bye,” she said.
Anakin smiled and kissed her, something that came so naturally to him now. Just seven years ago, the request would have never came. The only two people there to greet them were Captain Panaka and Jar-Jar Binks. Amidala exited the transport first.
“How are things?” Amidala asked them.
“Same,” Panaka replied. “We still haven’t been able to track the transmission back to Gunner and Lexar.”
“Who are Gunner and Lexar?” Obi-Wan inquired as he exited the transport with his Padawan in tow.
“Whoa, tha sun Ani,” Jar Jar said, completely off topic. “Ani bombad Jedi now.” Jar Jar’s eyes were bugging.
Anakin smiled despite himself. “Hello my friend.”
“I’ll brief you in my office,” Panaka said leading the group out of the hanger and down the stairway that lead to one of the conference rooms. Sabe and the rest of the handmaidens were there waiting.
“Welcome back my Queen,” they all said in turn.
“Hello, I hear things went well. You all remember Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Amidala said nodding toward them.
They all smiled and said hello. Each girl’s glance fell on the almost man they had seen running at the foot of the Queen’s gown just a few years before.
“Panaka, you may brief them while I go prepare,” she motioned to her handmaidens and they all left the room.
Anakin found himself bored as Panaka spent an hour explaining a data they had right in front of them on Gunner and Lexar. They had the data, what did they need the speech for? Gunner and Lexar, it seemed, were a Gungan-Human team who hired fighters for their game. The fighters wore mask and remained anonymous. People paid to for the broadcast and watched it in their home. But it was illegal and very underground. No one had been able to trace the signal directly to the island where it was centered. They had a volunteer member of the guard go undercover as a fighter and that’s how they’d found them. But in the end, the guard said had had a change of heart about the sport and disappeared in it.
Anakin really didn’t get what the problem was, fisting wasn’t the first battle sport in the galaxy and it looked harmless. The fighters were padded, there were rules. Podracing was ten times more dangerous than this and it didn’t even exist in the same realm as pit-racing. He had almost died in each sport and he had to have his senses tuned to it’s zenith just to participate. But this he could do on a bad day, never employing the force at all. What in the hell was Amidala so worried about? Obi-Wan was asking Panaka plenty of questions about the sport, but not the right one.
“Master, may I speak,” Anakin finally asked.
“What is it you wish to ask Padawan?”
“Panaka, How many people have actually died in this sport?”
“Well, when the Queen said it was a blood bath, I expected something at least resembling the dangers of podracing.”
“This is dangerous. Children in the 12 to 17 age range, your age range, have become obsessed with watching it.”
“So, they watch a what, weekly broadcast and it turns them into monsters. I saw a lot of horrible things---”
“Anakin!!!” Obi-Wan cut in. “That’s enough.”
“I’m sorry Master,” the Padawan replied. It had been a loooooooong time since he’d let his mind slip like that. He should never have spoke that way. He should have listened to the situation, evaluated it on his own terms and then--- “Kiss me good-bye Anakin”
He heard her voice as if she were sitting next to him. Was that his problem, his distraction?
“Padawan perhaps it would be best if you waited outside We’ll talk later.”
Anakin bowed to his master and left the room.
Two hours later, Yane came and lead him and Obi-Wan to their room. They would stay there for the night and then sail to Talok town. Obi-Wan filled him in on what little more Panaka had said about the “sport” and it’s proprietors. They were given awhile to get settled and then the Queen came with Sabe and Eriate to request Anakin Skywalker’s company for dinner. Obi-Wan wanted to say no, Anakin could sense it. Amidala could just read it in the older man’s eyes.
“Your invited too, of course,” she said.
“It’s fine, he can go,” Obi-Wan finally replied.
But they didn’t go directly to dinner. She took him outside the palace. Anakin followed Queen Amidala out to the streets. They didn’t hold hands or speak much, he just followed at a distance. The People of Theed stopped and waved at the Queen as she walked through the marketplace. She retained her air of authority even while she spoke back to him. He began to wonder if she ever blinked when she was “the Queen”.
“Anakin, I heard how you responded to Captain Panaka,” Amidala said as her company stopped short of a local school. The bell rang and children began running out. A little girl and a Gungan child were chatting. A group of boys, Gungan and human alike, ran to a nearby field throwing a ball from one to the other. Two sets of teachers, Gungan and human, came out of the building talking about there children’s personality.
“We use to be very divided and we still haven’t gotten everyone together, but we’re close, we’re on the verge of making Naboo whole. It’s two primary species are beginning to think of each other as neighbors. Fisting puts that very fragile bond in danger.”
“But the two men who run it are a Naboo and a Gungan, isn’t that what you want.”
“I want us living together in peace, not violence.”
“Sometimes, just sometimes, isn’t it okay to just let your frustrations out.”
“Like you and Siri?”
“Siri and I fought a thousand times without ever hurting each other. It was no different than a lightsaber training course.”
Amidala blinked, he could sense she was remembering there little session, how they had moved together with his lightsaber, how there minds had touched. They had never made love, but somehow she knew her mind touching his through the force was so much more powerful. She swallowed before she continued.
“They’re not training for anything Anakin,” Amidala replied. “They’re just hurting each other for sport.”
“How do you know?”
“You don’t really know why they’re doing it.”
“Well that’s why your here,” Amidala replied trying best she could to hold in her anger.
Why did she make his tongue lash out the way it did? On Couresant, at the temple, they had been so tender with each other. Now they were at odds, bumping heads on this issue like two bulls in a pen.
“I am sorry for speaking the way I have been your highness, I just don’t agree.”
“And Obi-Wan? Does he share your opinion?” Amidala asked.
“Obi-Wan keeps an open mind,” Anakin replied. In fact, he had felt that Obi-Wan wasn’t entirely sure the situation was what the Queen was making it out to be either.
“I understand your worry my Queen,” Anakin said with a special emphasis on “my”.
Anakin and Amidala turned
and headed back to the palace her handmaidens in tow.
That evening, Obi-Wan and Panaka also dinned with the Queen. After dinner with the Queen and Panaka, Anakin headed to the courtyard to meditate. He needed to practice his calming exercises now. After spending so much time close to his Queen, it was hard experiencing this distance and conflict. He wanted to feel her close to him again, he wanted to wipe that white make-up from her face. He wanted to tackle her in a kiss and never let her go.
Then he felt her enter his space, her space actually, it was her courtyard but his meditation. He slowly allowed himself to slip back into her world. She said nothing, just walked up to him and touched his face.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“Me too,” he said pulling her into his arms and planting a firm kiss on her lips, so hard he surprised himself.
“ Can we do it again?” she asked.
“What we did before,” she smiled deeply.
He finally understood. “Of course,” he said with a smile.
He pulled his lightsaber from his belt, and she nestled in front of him, gripping the lightsaber over his hands and activating it. She closed her eyes and inhaled, opened her mind to him the best she knew how. In a way, opening her mind to him almost seemed natural, too natural. She couldn’t fight her heart with all the common sense she had been taught and that was a horrible and wonderful thought all at once. He would always know her heart, but he could also know everything else.
“Feel me, my mind, my soul, my heartbeat,” Anakin whispered into her ear. “and I’ll feel yours.”
All she could hear was the hum of the lightsaber as they moved together slowly, slashing at nothing, but becoming one with the weapon. The music was back, the seductive dance. She could feel the life around her, the flowers, the people, and most of all Anakin. They were one body all of a sudden. They were making love, but in a deeper place than the physical body could ever go. How could they split up tomorrow? Perhaps they hoped if they disagreed enough , they could stay around each other longer.
Their dance stopped when he felt Obi-Wan enter the courtyard. Anakin powered down his lightsaber and Amidala was released from her connection to the force.
“That lightsaber isn’t a toy,” Obi-Wan said.
“I know Master. I wasn’t playing with it,” Anakin replied.
“Just with her.”
“I would never play with her.”
“On the contrary young Padawan, your playing with each other. You are on the verge of womanhood my Queen and you are suddenly realizing that being Queen, as important as it was and still is to you, has taken away some of your life. And your trying to reclaim it through Anakin. And Anakin, she‘s much easier to deal with than your responsibilities.”
Anakin finally had had enough. What did Obi-Wan know of love? He hadn’t even seen into Siri’s heart, seen that the whole incident with Anakin was to get to him.
“I love her with every bone in my body Obi-Wan, I would kill for her.”
Amidala didn’t seemed to pleased with this violent declaration, no matter how powerful.
“I don’t doubt you love her, you are not the first person to fall in love Anakin. But at this point in your training.”
“He even left the Jedi once....” he suddenly remembered Siri saying it. “There was a girl....I don’t know what their relationship was.”
“Melida/ Daan?” Anakin
Questioned. Obi-Wan didn’t need to answer, he could feel the ripples in
the force that came with the question. Obi-Wan sighed and Amidala quietly
left knowing that Anakin and Obi-Wan needed this time alone.
“It wasn’t a girl Anakin, it was a whole cause. Melida/Daan, it made me earn my life as a Jedi. I made a judgment call that even the council didn’t completely disagree with, but what they did completely disagreed with was breaking the bond Qui-Gon and myself began to develop. That relationship, that love between a Padawan and his master, it’s just as important as anything, perhaps more.”
“And the girl, how does she factor in.”
“She was a part of the young. The young had risen against the elders. They were in a civil war, life was death and death was the only thing they honored. Qui-gon and I were unwanted guest in a civil war and it was Cerasi who led us to the young. She had this beautiful copper hair and these amazing crystal green eyes. Her friend was Neild.”
“Just a friend?”
“We were all just friends Anakin, there was never anymore. We were fighting a war, we didn’t have time to go out and have dinner.”
“Would you have?”
“At the time, my heart was in conflict about the whole ordeal. Trust my feelings or Qui-gon’s, what do you do when you and the person you love disagree on a issue so serious. All I knew is the young seemed right. And they were right in their intentions, we just weren’t ready for the responsibility. Kids, young people, they’re just not ready for certain emotional responsibilities. We won and the adults united, united against us. I began being called an outsider, after I’d renounced Qui-Gon and my Jedi training to join them. Only Cerasi was on my side. And the group of young began breaking up, conflicting on issues. It became less about what was right for the group and more about what one person wanted. It was only when both sides and myself lost someone we loved that we realized what had happened to us. See, Cerasi’s father was one of the adult leaders and he lost his daughter. Neild he was the leader of the Young, he lost his best friend. And I lost her too. At first, everyone just wanted to blame the other person and kill each other. I had to call Qui-Gon in to save us all, make them see what truly had caused Cerasi’s death. The temple shields you from it, the pain so you won’t grow up with it. But when your thirteen and you feel and see death for the first time in someone close, it still kills a part of you.”
“I’m sorry you lost her.”
“Maybe it wasn’t romantic love, maybe it was. But I never wanted to feel that strong kind of love again.”
“And you haven’t”
“Of course I have. I lost Qui-Gon, but it was different. Qui-Gon, he was like a father, but he gave me something before I left, you.”
“Me,” Anakin questioned. “You didn’t even like me then.”
“No, I didn’t like that Qui-Gon liked you. It was like an only child having to take a back seat the new little baby brother.” Obi-Wan smiled and patted him on the shoulder. “And then, you became like my son. I wanted to train you not because Qui-Gon wanted me to, but because you were important to me.”
Anakin could do nothing but smile. “And what about Amidala?”
“I know when your young, it’s magical and everything is about the moment. But we are force sensitive. Our feelings can turn on us very quickly when we allow ourselves to walk blindly into intense emotion. The dark side of the force can wait for just that moment, the moment your heart is filled with passion to turn it to something evil. If you don’t control your emotions and aren’t able to achieve that inner peace.”
“Passions rage out of control,” Anakin finished.
“I know you love her Anakin, who doesn’t know? But your time will come and that time is not now. With patience you can one day have a wonderful life with her. No one will stop you from pursuing her, but I don‘t agree with it, not at this moment in your training.”
Obi-Wan patted him on
the shoulder and left him alone. Anakin wanted to trust his masters feelings
on the issue, but he might not become a full fledged Knight for another
ten years. Anything could happen by then. Death should have taught Obi-Wan
waiting is never good. Anakin got up and headed back for his room.
When Anakin opened his door, he couldn’t speak. She stood before him, face devoid of make-up, and grabbed him into the room.
“Amidala?” he questioned. “Padme?” he asked when he got a breath.
“Ever since we were together, in the mind, I could do nothing but think of you. “
Could touching her through the force involuntarily opened some part of her controlled part of her brain? HE had to stop this.
“Padme,” he said grabbing her hands and holding her at arms length before she tried to kiss him again. “This isn’t you, it’s some weird effect of what we did.” He had opened her mind to something more pure, her desire.
Inhale he said and pulled her close. “Now feel me, then feel yourself, all of yourself. Not only the part that wants----” He didn’t want to finish, it sounded conceited. “The part that wants me. Just like I have to control the part that wants---.”
He didn’t finish, he looked down at her lips and kissed them softly. They walked over to the bed kissing and fell on it doing so. Neither of them understood in any verbal rational part of their brain what was going on, but they finally got the strength to stop.
“This is wrong right now, isn’t it,” Anakin said looking at the ceiling.
“Yes, but its feels right,” she crawled into his arms and he kissed her head.
They curled up together and went to sleep. When Anakin awoke in the morning, she was gone.
It was Jar Jar Binks who saw them off. It was no great celebration. They got up in the morning, had a quick breakfast and went to meet their boat. Anakin wondered why Amidala hadn’t come to meet them, he would have loved to talk to her with a clear head. But there was a mission to finish.
Anakin’s long journey to the island that housed Talok town was uneventful. Anakin and his master spent most of the journey in meditation and study, it was the first calm time they’d had in days. However, both were confident the peace they got on the boat, would not last once they arrived in town.
As they approached the seaport, Anakin saw the town that made up the island was basically a heap of old buildings. except for the shiny arena that rose high at it’s center. The marketplace surrounding the arena seemed pretty new also. A few of the buildings looked to be under renovation. Having spent most of his time on Naboo in Theed the first time he was here, he was more than a little shocked to see a town in such disrepair.
Nester was the governor of Talok town. Like the rest of Naboo’s officials, he was elected to his position. The governor was waiting at the seaport with two of his assistants and a bodyguard. When they docked, the governor greeted them with the usual pleasantries.
“My sources tell me the Jedi do not agree with the Queens assessment of our game,” the governor said.
Anakin was a little thrown off by this comment, what sources? The calm of the trip and long meditation had given Anakin a clearer head. He felt no need to make the same outburst he had in front of Panaka.
“We have not decided,” Obi-Wan said. “We do not serve the Queen. We serve the best interest of the people. The Jedi are merely peacemakers.”
“May I speak openly,” asked the Governor.
“:I only ask because I have heard the Jedi can sense deception and I want to remain as honest as possible. Our sport is harmless and the proceeds are being used to rebuild the town. Even before the arrival of the trade federation this place was hard to manage. The Queen sitting in her high castle in Theed has no idea what it’s like for my citizens. And I may also mention, Naboo's more glorious cities have had little to no luck uniting Naboo’s humans and Gungans. They had to fight both groups to get them in school together. Because Talok is basically an island, we are very close to our Gungan population. You can walk through our small marketplace any day and see them working side by side. The game, Fisting, isn’t for the soul profit of it’s creators, everyone has benefited. And our dome.” The governor pointed to the arena. “Is a product of combined technologies. “
“You can’t deny the sport promotes violence,” Obi-Wan entered.
“These aren’t grudge matches. We don’t purposely put people together to kill each other. Many of the fighters have trained together, have kids who play together, they go out for drinks after their matches.”
“But it’s illegal,” Obi-Wan said.
“Not everything put into law is right. When you go back to Theed, ask the Queen about little Toric and his cousin. They were twelve and made their own little business. A newsletter for kids. For one article on Fisting, they were locked up overnight. Two brilliant entrepreneurial children.”
“Were the arrested in
Theed?“ Anakin asked. It was the first time he’d entered anything into
the conversation. It was obvious to Anakin this guy didn’t like the Queen,
but now he was going to far. Implying she would lock up children. To hear
him talk, you’d see Amidala as a cruel tyrant and that she wasn’t.
“No, a city north of Theed,” the governor replied. “The Queen actually released them and apologized to their families. But she used the incident as a platform on the evils of fisting. I sometimes think she only let the kids go so she could use the incident.”
“Pad--the Queen would never use a child’s misfortunes like that. If she spoke upon it, it was because she honestly considers fisting a social issue.”
The governor smiled. “So young Jedi, the Queen has charmed you.”
Anakin definatly did not like this governor.
“Boy, the only reason the Queen hasn’t gotten rid of me is because she knows how Talok citizens would react. I was just like her at first, tried to end fisting early on,” The governor continued. “Then I saw Lexar and Gunner were only trying to help. I saw the things they did for the community with their profits. So I accepted it for the good of Talok. I invite you, unofficially of course to see tonight's fight. And, unofficially, tour the gym and meat some of our fighter.”
“We accept,” Obi-Wan said to him.
“Audi will show you to your rooms,” the governor said pointing to his assistant.
The Jedi left with Audi.
A few hours later, Audi escorted the Jedi to the gym. The gym, unlike the arena, was one of the older building. The fisting fighters had been using it since the beginning. Anakin was impressed most by the Gungan fighters. The only Gungan Anakin had ever known personally was Jar Jar Binks and he could barely make two steps without tripping over them. But the well trained Gungan fighters made good use of their rubbery flexible bodies. To Anakin’s surprise, a well trained Gungan had excellent maneuverability. And the punches these guys could throw could leave one knocked out for months. Jar Jar probably would have given his left arm to have some of their skills when he got attacked by Sebulba. The humans weren’t to shabby themselves. With a few more aliens added into the mix, this game could get quite interesting.
Obi-Wan didn’t looked as impressed. His expression remained completely neutral.
“New fighters,” a large, muscled man questioned as he approached the Jedi and Audi.
“No, they’re the Jedi the Queen requested,” Audi replied.
“Well then I guess the best thing for you to do is meet Gunner and Lexar,” the fighter said. “My names Hersham by the way.”
“Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker,” Obi-Wan replied introducing them both.
Hersham led them through the gym to an office in the back. Gunner and Lexar were wearing a set of gloves, no pads, punching at each other. Lexar (the Gungan) had just landed a hard blow to Gunner’s chin when they turned and noticed they had company. Gunner laughed and put an arm around his friend’s shoulder.
“You still throw a mean left,” Gunner said to his friend.
“Thee sun guys musen be the Jedi,” Lexar added. “Messa Lexar and thisun mesa buddy Gunner.”
“You guys were just fighting,” Anakin replied.
“Wesun fightin’ all the time, don’t be meanin’ nothin’ to us.”
Anakin smiled, impressed by this. Obi-Wan didn’t look so thrilled.
“Well,” said Gunner. “You’ve seen our gym. Now you need to come see the “dome”.”
“The dome?” Anakin questioned.
“Our arena where the fights are held,” Gunner replied.
“Mesun goin’ gettin’ yousa speeder,” Lexar said.
“Meet you out front,” Gunner replied.
Lexar left the room toweling himself off.
“Lexar and I use to come to this building all the time and just hang out,” Gunner replied. “Now all our fighters practice here.”
“How long have you known Lexar,” Obi-Wan questioned.
“We met when we were kids. Being an island instead of a big city on the mainland, Gungan’s are often seen and communicated with, but they weren’t known for becoming friends with humans. So people weren’t to keen on it, even when we were kids. One day Lexar got so mad about being teased for having a human friend he wanted to beat in a wall. I was experiencing the same thing, so we decided to fight one day, just let it all out. I had a broken jaw and Lexar had a swollen eye, but we both felt good. We laughed when it was over. We never went home with those kind of injures again, but it was easier to deal with the world after a fight. We found this building. Wasn’t even being used, and started fighting. A couple friends found out what we were doing and started peaking in on us. One day I told them the next time they came, they had to fight. Parents were horrified, they boarded up the building hoping to stop us. But it was fun, half the time we didn’t even hurt each other. But every once in a while someone went home with a black eye or something.”
Gunner began leading them out the building to the waiting speeder. He continued his story as they got in and drove off. “Police did everything to stop us, but we always found a place. There were only about eight of us then. Two Gungans besides Lexar and four humans besides me. We were considered the bad group. And a bad influence. Kids started betting on our fights. It was a problem, I won’t deny that. Finally, my father said ‘If you want to fight, fine, but I‘m going to put you in a controlled environment. So he bought the building, built a ring and talked our parents into letting us hang out there after school. Time restrictions were put on things, you could be banned for fighting elsewhere and he added the pads, which made the parents happy. We were teenagers by then, about that boys age.“ Gunner pointed to Anakin. “More kids started showing up, both to fight and watch. We had competitions and as the crowds got bigger, I decided to start charging for it. My father thought it would turn people away, it didn‘t. The governor was against it. So Lexar and I donated the proceeds from the fight to the School. Then half the money from the next fight to rebuilding one of the older buildings. Pretty soon the governor saw the benefits of the sport, but decided to make certain legal safety precautions. We had a few pockets here and there that paid for the broadcast. Then the Trade Federation came in. After the Queen won the planet back, people seemed to want fisting more. It was those funds that allowed us to build the dome. But then the Queen got wind of the sport and ---”
“She think it nutsen’, Wan it goin’ away,” Lexar added. “Wesen tryin’ to comply.”
“Then a building collapsed,” Gunner said. “And we had to raise money to rebuild it. We don‘t live in the most lavish city in the world, but we have a tight community and heavy regulations for fisting, even if they are now unofficial.”
“It’s a nice story,” Obi-Wan said. “But have you ever thought about what might happen if children decide to imitate fisting without the safety precautions.”
“It never hurt us,” Gunner said. “In my opinion, kids need a black eye here and there. I know the Jedi will never agree with that.”
“Fightun’ not about anger. Sometime fightun’ easier than talkin’ and get yousen to da same place,” Lexar said.
“Sort of like me and Siri,” Anakin added happily. “We fought all the time just to get things off our chest.”
“Yes, and look how quickly that turned on you,” Obi-Wan added.
“That was different,” Anakin said.
“Was it? Because you saw fighting as the answer to your problems, violence was the first thing you turned to when you had a problem with each other.”
“What’s the difference between my sessions with Siri and lightsaber practice,” the Padawan argued.
“The difference is we’re training you to use this weapon.” He held up his own saber. “As a last resort. You and Siri spoke with violence, so it was the only way you know how to speak.”
“Good intentions are fine. But good intentions don’t always lead to positive results. Good intentions have caused some of the greatest tragedies of the galaxy.”
“So your against Fisting,” Gunner asked.
“Fisting seems harmless in the here and now, causing more benefits than harm. But I can’t see it causing any good in the future, in fact in may cause much trouble,” Obi-Wan began. “Let’s say this sport gets big enough on Naboo to attract other species. Someone takes it off Naboo and ups the violence for profit. In other words, Anakin, it could become just as dangerous as podracing.”
“You can’t hold them accountable for----”
“If one lights a match and hands it to a person with explosives, who’s more responsible for the explosion?”
Anakin sighed and was silent.
They entered the “Dome”
and Gunner and Lexar alternately explained the rules to them. Before and
After each fight, fighters shook hands. Fisting fighters wore head guards
and padded gloves. the chest guards were too restricting and they were
removed. They had two types of matches, the second added recently. They
started with the new event, endurance. An event mostly for the new fighters.
There were five fighters and hundreds of floating blubber balls. Points
were gained by capturing as many blubber balls as possible in five minutes,
but you had to dodge them so often, it was difficult to do. And if you
got hit by one in motion, it could knock you out. If it hit you hard enough,
you could be left knocked out for hours---which mean you couldn’t collect
the balls. So dodging and deflecting them was just about as important as
capturing them. And if you were crafty enough to deflect one at a competitor,
you showed real skill. Once that game was over, the real match began, the
fight. A one on one match against opponents. In the original rules you
were only allowed to hit you opponent with you fist, but they had come
to allow kicking. Any hits below the waist or head butts got you disqualified.
They had at least three rounds that lasted for four minutes. If someone
was knocked out, the match was over.
The entire arena was known as the “Fisting Dome”. But there was an actual dome. The match was fought on a platform that generated a dome during the fight. The dome was similar to the one the Gungans used for the shields in their army. It had been tinkered with somewhat to make it tougher. The dome came up at the beginning of the fight and didn’t come down until either someone was seriously hurt or time was up. After hundreds of fights, the only seriously listed injuries were two guys with broken legs, a broken arm, and one guy with some cracked ribs. There was a Doctor on staff and a treatment room inside the arena.
Anakin wanted to compete, even if it was just in an endurance match. The scale of it amazed him. Sometimes when he was in the Jedi temple, he felt choked by his role. He wanted to use his gift in the force to better the world, but some days the pressures of his training got to be to much and he just wanted to run. This is when fighting with Siri came in handy, and he didn’t even have that to go back to now. Why did he have to kiss her and ruin their friendship? The blubber balls probably weren’t much harder to capture than the seeker droids were to destroy. But there were so many of them, it would still be a challenge.
Obi-Wan followed Lexar to the treatment room as one of the technician came out to check the dome. He had a droid with him. Gunnar stepped up beside Anakin.
“Anakin right?” Gunner asked.
“Yes,” Anakin replied. “How fast do the blubber balls move?”
“You want to see?” Gunner asked.
Anakin smiled a mischievous smile. “Can I try it?”
“A boy after my own heart,” Gunner said signaling the technician over to him.
“Hey, I’m going to let this kid in the dome for the demonstration,” Gunner told him.
“I’ve never seen him before,” the Tech said.
“He’s not a fighter,” Gunner replied.
“But I thought we only allowed guys with 20 hours gym time inside.”
“He’s a Jedi,” Gunner said patting the boy across the back. “He’s had plenty of training.”
“What about Obi-Wan?” Anakin asked.
“He’s busy seeing the rest of our facilities, I’m sure that’s more than enough time for us to have a little fun. Go on up”
Anakin unhitched his
lightsaber and gave it to Gunner. “Unfair advantage, he said running up
to the platform.
Anakin heard the hum of the dome generating. Then small holes opened up on the floor below him and small balls that could fit in the palm of his hand rose out of them. The holes closed and in a flash the balls began to bounce off the walls. Anakin just ducked a ball coming at his chest and rolled across the floor. He reached up for a ball and another ball hit him in the back of his head. Caught unprepared, he fell to the floor of the platform. For a few seconds, everything went black.
“Kid, you alright,” he heard someone yell.
“Fine,” he said so low no one could hear him. He inhaled, exhaled and rose to his feet with renewed energy. He became fire and lightning. Being hit with the ball had somehow brought him back to life. He anticipated a ball bouncing toward him, spun around and deflected it into another ball that swung right into his hands. He grabbed the ball, spun around to deflect another one and grabbed a second ball. He dropped those two, they were harmless now. He ducked a ball flying towards his head and deflected another with a punch.
Gunner was amazed at his speed. Anakin had suddenly become a three times quicker than any fighter he knew. The kid was ducking, dodging, deflecting, and capturing balls like a pro. He was really shocked when the kid swung through the air and landed on the other side of the platform. The Tech was shocked too. The bell rung when the time was up. Anakin had stopped all but a few balls. The dome cam down and Anakin rose the balls in his hand in victory.
“How’d I do?” he asked.
“Better than anyone I’ve seen kid,” Gunner replied slapping him on the back and handing him the lightsaber. It was then he noticed the smile drop from the teenagers face. Gunner turned and saw Obi-Wan standing there with Lexar and Gunner.
“Let’s go Anakin,” Obi-Wan said.
“Anakin!” Obi-Wan said more sharply than he intended.
Anakin jumped from the platform and followed his master out of the arena.
Gunner joined Lexar. Lexar looked at him curiously.
“Yousa gotten dat look. What yousa tinkin’ ‘bout,” Lexar asked.
“That kid, he would make an awesome fighter.”
“But hessa Jedi”
“He wants it, he needs it Lexar, I saw it in his eyes.”
“Sumptin’ tellin’ me, gettin’ dat Jedi involved be bombad.”
“Plus,” Audi added, “He seems pretty protective of the queen. We Governor Nester and I met them at the dock, kid didn’t react till the governor talked bad about the Queen.”
“Don’t you see, this is perfect. He has a soft spot for the Queen, but he’s in favor of fisting.”
“And he’s a Naboo hero.”
“What?” Gunner replied shocked.
“After Anakin got defensive, I wondered how the Queen knew these Jedi. It was obvious this wasn‘t a random request for their help by the boys reaction,” Audi explained. “Remember that kid who saved us from the Trade federation by blowing up the droid control ship?”
“Yeah” Gunner and Lexar replied together.
“Kid,” Audi said pointing. “Seven years later.”
“Yousa kiddin” Lexar said shocked.
“No true story. And the
way the story goes he was pretty good pals with the queen. He pulled out
a small holloprojector and up came an image of a boy with the older Jedi
who had just left them---a few years younger. “That’s him.”
Their rooms were in the Governor's house. They had two connected guest rooms. Anakin sat downstairs on a couch alone. Obi-Wan had left him there, determined not to come at him in anger. Anakin didn’t know what to do with himself. Should he stay put until Obi-Wan spoke to him or get up and read or something? Should he meditate on what had happened? But all he’d done is play with some balls. He hadn’t fought anyone, he hadn’t hurt anyone, he hadn’t broken anything, there was no great tragedy-------he had played with some balls----and he hadn‘t even been competing-----it was just him.
He wished Amidala was there. If he closed his eyes and concentrated, he swore he could feel her energy, her life force flowing through him and almost felt as if he could send this same feeling to her. Sharing that connection, feeling her mind through the force, allowing her to feel his, had really been an exhilarating, unbelievable high. To touch her, to know her, to feel her, made him whole. And once he left Naboo, he didn’t know if he would feel her as strongly. He felt Obi-Wan enter. His attention turned to him right away.
“Yes master,” the Padawan replied.
“Do you understand what you did wrong?”
“No, I didn’t fight anyone.”
“As Jedi, we step into a situation neutrally and evaluate it. You broke that.” Obi-Wan sighed and sat beside him. “We aren’t here to take sides. Make decisions, but not take sides. And, in addition, we should look like we are on the same side.”
“So we can’t disagree.”
“We are different people Anakin, very different. There will always come a time when we disagree, but we should keep those disagreements between us. When I saw you today, I saw myself on Melinda/Daan. I don‘t want you to make my mistake, leaving the Jedi was nearly the mistake that destroyed my life.”
Ah, that was it. Now Anakin understood. Though he didn’t see how his playing with some balls was related to being a leader in a planet’s revolution, he kind of understood how Obi-Wan might see it that way. But he had given up to much to be a Jedi to suddenly leave it all behind.
“We’re not going to the match tonight.”
“I understand,” Anakin replied
Obi-Wan gave the boy a fatherly hug and there was peace between them again. Then they heard the door open and went to see who was entering. Anakin’s eyes nearly dropped from their sockets in surprise. Coming in the door was the Governor, Audi, and the Queen with a small party. Amidala looked straight at him, he saw her blush under her make-up. He hoped he wasn’t blushing himself---he was.
Neither one of them paid much attention to Audi, who was studying them both.
“Queen Amidala, quite surprising to see you here,” Obi-Wan replied.
Amidala turned to the governor. “May I speak to the Jedi alone?”
“Of course my queen,” the governor said stepping back and opening the door to his study.
The Jedi and the Queen slipped inside the room. She looked straight at Anakin “I heard you, your distress.”
“You heard him?” Obi-Wan questioned.
“Yes, I think it has something to do with that thing we did.” Amidala said as innocently as a little girl.
“I’ve never heard of this happening before.”
“Doesn’t matter, what was the problem.”
“Nothing serious, I was in the dome and got into a little trouble with Obi-Wan.”
“The Dome!!,” The Queen exclaimed. “You are out here to stop that blood bath.”
“It’s not a blood bath, it’s a sport. There are millions of sports out in the galaxy. and some of them could rightfully be called bloodbaths, this one cannot. It‘s nothing like podracing, their are rules.”
Obi-Wan slipped out of the room, this was quickly turning into a lover’s quarrel and anything he added would be quickly dismissed. He’d let his Padawan work through it. And he was now pondering something, Anakin had done something no one had ever done before, or at least something he’d never heard of before. Touched someone’s mind so deeply through the force that they could sense him. It was quite unusual and he needed to contact Yoda.
“I don’t care if it’s less harsh than podracing. People have been hurt, Anakin Skywalker. And is it sport for which people to pay to see others hurt.”
His whole name, did that mean she was really angry with him? He didn‘t want to upset her, but he believed he was right. “How often do people actually get seriously injured while fisting. Have you seen their injury list? This isn’t about people or Gungans getting hurt. It’s about your people doing something you don’t like. If you didn’t like cheese, would you outlaw it? If you didn’t like me, would you outlaw me.”
Amidala smiled slightly and laughed to herself. The thought of outlawing Anakin, the boy who had saved her planet, we ridiculous. “I guess the Queen has again been taught a lesson by young Anakin. Perhaps, I have been a little misguided in my campaign against the sport.”
“Why didn’t you say good-bye to me?”
“A little embarrassed I suppose. I feel naked around you now.”
His eyebrow rose with the word naked.
“Not literally of course,” Amidala added. “It’s disturbing and wonderful and scary and---”
“I know it’s scary. I feel it too, but--”
“Anakin, I‘m a Queen, I‘m an example for a people. I can‘t act like some foolish lovesick teenager. I did that once and it nearly cost me my position.”
“There was a boy. A year after you left for the temple.”
Anakin was in shock.
“He was eighteen, he has this lovely brown skin, beautiful eyes----I’m sorry,” she said feeling a sudden jolt run through her. “You don’t want to hear this.”
“I’m okay,” he said through a cracked voice.
“Your a liar, I can feel it,” Amidala replied.
“I want to here it,” he replied.
“Oh, little Ani,” Amidala replied touching his face. “I never expected. How could I have ever thought I loved him? If I had known”
He reached up and grazed her cheek with his hand and leaned toward her. She met his move with her own and their lips touched softly, testing. Their was no doubt in any of their minds how strong the bond had become between them, for they could feel it from one another. And with this knowledge, Anakin deepened the kiss.
Little did they know Audi sat in an adjoining room. He had slipped in the room just as the kiss began and heard none of the conversation before it. The Queen and Anakin had never noticed the recording device hidden in the room. The governor and Gunner had come in with Audi.
“Well well well,” said the governor. Seems our Queen has a Jedi lover. “Even if he is a hero, this will turn more than a few heads in the press.”
“How old is this kid?” Gunner asked.
“Sixteen standard years I think,” replied Audi. “Questionable age?”
“Possibly, enough of an age difference for their to be an added interest.”
“But we don’t wish to anger the Queen,” the governor replied.
“No, but now we have leverage,” Gunner replied. “After what happened when she was 15, she won’t want this spilled to the public. You think the other Jedi knows?”
“Why do you think he gave them a moment alone?” the governor replied. “As stiff as that Queen seems sometimes, I never would have guessed it.”
“You think the disagreement was just for our benefit?” Audi questioned. “That the kid is really here to get inside the game. Find the evidence the Queen needs.”
“I don’t know,” Gunner replied. “But she’s not taking fisting away from us. And this is what‘s going to stop her. ”
Anakin had to stop himself, he was breathless .from the kiss, his mind racing. So was she. They sat down beside each other and she laid against him. Amidala found herself able to speak more easily after that kiss, after showing him how deep her feelings ran for him, so much different than that guy, the one that--
“I think your ready to hear about him now,“ Amidala began. “He was a bright young man. A prodigy of sorts. I didn’t even know he was interested in politics, he had been studying marine biology at the university for three years. The first unification project between the Gungans and the humans was a student exchange. He was one of those students.”
“Does he have a name?” Anakin asked.
“Yes, but I’d rather not say it, hurts to much to say it. I was foolish, I let him romance me, I believed his lies. I trusted my feelings and they were wrong. He wanted to be king Anakin. He purposely leaked a compromising moment to the press. I almost made a serious mistake Anakin, I nearly gave myself to him.”
He could feel her shame, and much like when he fought Siri -- he wanted to destroy the person who made her feel this way. But the feelings subsided. he could sense She needed his warmth and understanding. Not anger, not aggression.
“Is this guy still on Naboo?”
“No,” Amidala replied. “He lied about how I seduced him. How I used my position to take advantage of him. And then.”
“Tried to take my throne. If it wasn’t for my handmaidens, especially Sabe, I might be back on my parents farm right now.”
Anakin pulled her closer and kissed her forehead.
“I want to see this fisting match. I may not like it, but if it’s as harmless as you claim I will make sure to see that we make it legal. Of course, I’ll want to have to set up some strict regulations.”
Anakin smiled. Amidala pulled out a comlink and called in her handmaidens. She looked a little rough and ruffled after her encounter with Anakin. She was certainly in no condition to speak to the mayor.
“I’ll see you later,” Anakin asked as he prepared to depart.
“You and your master will be escorting me to the fight tonight?”
“Of course we will,”
Anakin replied with a bow, leaving as the handmaidens entered.
Sometime later, soon after the Queen had been led to her room, there was a knock at her door. The governor requested her presence downstairs. She came with two of her handmaidens. She was surprised to find the governor with the elusive Gunner and Lexar and that strange assistant of his, Audi.
“My Queen,” the governor said bowing. He seemed to have this smirk as he said it and his manner seemed as slimy as a Nemodian. “I think you’ve met Gunner, this is his Gungan partner, Lexar.”
“Hello Queenie Ma’m, Wesa hopin’ maybe yousa giben us a break on dis fistin’.”
“We’ve acquired information that may sway your opinion.”
Gunner turned on the recording they had made, Lexar looked a little bit puzzled as he did it. displayed in front of them was a small holo image of the kiss she shared with Anakin. The queen felt her world crashing in again. Everything was swirling through her head at once and then she heard the door open. Anakin came in and looked puzzled, then he saw what they had all been viewing.
“The suitor to the queen ,” the Governor announced. “You know, it’s kind of romantic. The queen falling in love with the sweet little boy that saved her planet. But at the same time, you have to wonder if your people will see it that way. Especially after your “previous encounters”. They might just wonder about the ‘real’ reason you called for the Jedi‘s help, the ‘real‘ reason the Jedi are here. Why, they‘d question Jedi morals themselves. All hail the queen, seductress of young Jedi in training. A boy barely sixteen years old.”
“Who did this!” Anakin yelled.
“Isen liken’ be knowin’ too.” the Gungan interupted. “Mesa sorry. Yousa should know, no matter how much we’sa wanna keep the game, Lexar no doin’ dis.”
“Lex, it’s the only way,” Gunner yelled at him. “Look what we’ve done for Talok, rebuild schools, apartments, provided for our town. Now she wants to take it all away.”
While he was talking to Lexar, Anakin swung the holoprojector across the room and it smashed into a wall. Shattering the recording inside.
“That was only a copy boy,” the Governor chuckled.
“What do I have to do to get the original?”
“There’s nothing you can do, it was the only way to get her to back off. It was the only way to save my city.”
“You don’t know anything!” Anakin yelled. “She was going to back off! She was going to give the game a chance, but you wouldn’t give her a chance.”
“Your lying, trying to protect your precious Queen again.”
“Your Queen!” Anakin yelled. “Or have you forgotten?”
“Anakin stop,” Amidala yelled. “He‘s lost his position as far as I‘m concerned. The people trust me, they will support me in removing this scum from office.”
“I‘ll fight.” Anakin said.
“You can’t,” Amidala said.
“Do you really think you have the skill to take on one of our fighters,” the governor asked.
“Don’t slight the kid,” Gunner interceded. “He’s got skills. You forget he‘s a Jedi.”
“Jedi in training,” the governor corrected.
Anakin rose his hand and the governor felt an invisible grip on his throat. It took Amidala only a second to recognize what was happening.
“Anakin, let him go,” Amidala yelled. “It’s not worth it. You’re not going to fight.”
Anakin released the governor.
“What I’m not going to do is let them hurt you all over again?”
‘I’d kill for her.’ Amidala heard the words in her head as clearly as if he’d said them just now. “Anakin, you know what? I don’t care who knows. This isn’t like him, like Cain Markell.”
The governor saw himself losing his leverage, he couldn’t let this turn into a sap fest.
“Okay, you fight, your get the original and all the copies. We all keep our mouths shut about your little affair.”
“It’s not an affair!” Anakin yelled.
“He’s not fighting,” Amidala insisted.
“I have too”
The Queen couldn’t fight
him anymore. At least the game was a controlled arena. Unlike what happened
with Siri. He and the mayor shook on it. And the deal was done.
Obi-Wan had been quite disappointed in his Padawan when he found out about the deal the boy had made. He told him he wasn’t going to fight in the fisting match, but his words hit a brick wall. So Obi-Wan had simply said, “Tonight, you make a decision. I’m leaving for the temple, I’ve already arranged transport back to the main land. I’ve told you this before Padawan and I’ll say it again. You invite chaos and it’s what scares me the most about you.”
For more than a minute, he’d thought about leaving with Obi-wan, but in the end he stayed to fight. Anakin entered the Dome arena with Lexar, who had apologized numerous times for his partners behavior. Anakin had told him it was okay and Lexar had volunteered to get him ready.
The governor had wasted no time in letting word get around about the Jedi being in the match. It said nothing about his opponent, only that he was undefeated. Anakin wasn’t really worried. He was in good shape, he didn’t even have to use the force.
As the endurance match went on, Lexar prepped him for the match, re explaining the rules. He would be fighting a Gungan. He was experienced and strong. Lexar pointed him out, Anakin had never seen a Gungan with Muscles and he had rarely seen anyone with so many. If it wasn’t for the Queen sitting in the audience, supporting him, he might have backed out. But his closest thoughts fell on another, Siri. This is where the intensely competitive fighting they’d done in the past would serve him.
The endurance match was over. The music began. Bo was the name of the Gungan champ. People cheered as he entered the ring. Anakin had to block the Queen’s fear from his own mind as he viewed this muscle bound fighter. Anakin ascended onto the dome platform with confidence. Size didn’t matter. Yoda was the most well respected Jedi master of them all and he was the smallest. He would defeat Bo because he had to. Anakin heard the buzz of the dome as it generated. This was it, the moment of truth.
Bo circled him. He was huge and strong, that much was obvious, but he was slow. He threw the first punch and Anakin ducked it. He threw another and Anakin again dodged it. He smiled to himself, this was going to be simpler than he thought. But his cockiness came to soon. He mistepped and Bo’s fist slammed into his face. It didn’t knock him out or knock him down, but he was so dazed from the punch that he never saw the second one coming or the third or the fourth. And the fifth knocked him to the floor of the platform. He hit the ground hard.
In the Audience, Queen Amidala sat with her heart in her throat, watch blood spill from Anakin’s mouth with that last push. Her heart dropped as the crowd cheered. She wanted to turn away, to run into a corner and cry for him, or demand that the fight end and pull him to safety, but somehow she held on to the Amidala facade and dealt with the scene before her.
As the count began, Anakin lifted from the ground. Renewed by the same force he had been renewed by when he missed the ball that had knocked him to the very same floor. He saw his blood on the floor beneath him. It only made him more determined. And he felt her pain. He was here for her.
He raised to his feet
and faced Bo, a frightening grin on his face as the count stopped. Bo came
toward him, fist swinging. Anakin blocked it, flipped out the way, moved
so quickly Bo didn’t know if he was going or coming half of the time. On
his first opening, Anakin hit his left side then his right, Bo became so
dazed, Anakin got off hit after hit. His opponent didn’t back down and
landed quite a few hits on Anakin, but only one or two that actually made
their mark. When the round ended, Bo came back with renewed strength, but
Anakin came back stronger then he had in the first round. Part of the crowd
was booing him, the other half cheering him on. But none of it mattered,
Anakin couldn’t hear it, all he heard was Amidala's need for it to end.
So he ended it. With strength pulled from some unknown place, he knocked
out Bo. When the count was over and he was declared winner, his world went
Anakin awoke on what he figured out was a boat. He was on his way back to Theed. Amidala was sitting over him dabbing his face with a cloth.
“I didn’t know queens handled this type of job,” Anakin said attempting a smile, but his face hurt. In fact, his whole body was on fire. He tried to filter it out through the force, but he couldn’t concentrate.
“What happened?” he struggled to ask.
“I don’t know. It seemed like you were knocked out, but then you got up. It was like you were on fire, I could hardly stand to watch. You threw yourself into the fight, throwing hit after hit. He hit you quite a few times too, but it never seemed to phase you until Bo was knocked out. Then you fell.
Amidala handed Anakin a mirror. He sat up and looked at his face. His cheek was swollen and so was his eye. He looked like he had been beat in the face. It was nothing detrimental. Then he remembered why he had fought.
“The recording?” he asked.
“I have it. And I’ve reached an agreement with the governor, though after what happened to you I didn’t want too. He’s agreed to the abiding by my regulations and we will make sure the proceeds continue to go to urban renewal. I wasn‘t really in the mood to deal with him, but I wanted it to be over. I‘m sorry I involved you Anakin.”
“I’m not,” Anakin said hoarsely.
“Anakin,” Amidala said softly holding his hand. “You once said you would kill for me. I’m glad to know you love me that much, but you must make me a promise.”
“That you never will kill for me.”
“You said that to quickly,” Amidala replied, gripping his hand harder. “As afraid as I was when I saw you might be hurt, I was even more afraid of the rage with which you fought. I don’t admire it Anakin, even if it was for my honor. Promise me.”
“If it’s what you want, that promise is yours. I love you Padme.”
“I love you Ani.“
When they arrived in Theed, Anakin was given immediate medical attention. While he sat in the recovery room, he thought about Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan had left him, much like Qui-Gon had left Obi-Wan on Melida/Daan. He, like Obi-Wan, had sacrificed the relationship with his Master. Yoda actually liked Obi-Wan, even after he messed up. But Yoda had never liked him, Yoda was looking for an excuse to make sure the Padawan didn’t succeed as a Jedi.
“I guess I’m not as brave as Qui-Gon,” a familiar voice said.
“Obi-Wan?” Anakin asked.
“Yes Padawan,” Obi-Wan replied. “You understand you will have to be punished.”
“Yeah,” he said with a smile, relief washing over him.
“And you will have to let Amidala be for sometime.”
This time, there was little relief in this reply, “I understand. I‘m glad you didn‘t give up on me.”
“How can I, your the
chosen one,” Obi-wan replied, placing a gentle hand on his Padawan’s back.
Later that night, Amidala came to see him. They shared a final good-bye, and a final kiss. In the morning there was a more formal good-bye and before he knew it he was back at the temple, a little more lonely. That night he dreamed of Amidala, of removing all her make-up instead of half and taking her into his arms.