- "A toast ... To the courageous Jedi who recovered the Lost Stars of Nallastia, and who has proposed that they be returned to their hiding place. He is not only an adventurer, but a preservationist as well. Three cheers! ... Indeed, let no one deny that Obi-Wan Kenobi is the champion of ancient prophecy!"
"You give me too much credit. It's not as if I found the power gems on my own."
"Ah, and he is modest too ... In every way, he will make a perfect husband for the Skull Queen!"
"No, Mother. The Jedi is to marry me! ... By recovering the Lost Stars, Obi-Wan has proved he is the greatest warrior to ever walk on our world. His rightful place is by my side."
"He has already chosen me. He took my hand in the Cavern of Screaming Skulls. Before [him], the last man to hold my hand was my late husband."
"And look where that got him!"
- ―The Skull Queen, Quenelle, simultaneously toasts and proposes marriage to Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, as Princess Calvaria contests her mother's matrimonial claim
During a standard Nallastian night, the phenomenon known as planet light (reflected light from the planet Fondor, as it reflected its system's sun, rising over the jungle) bathed the satellite-mountain and the staggered rows of fortress battlements and ancient megaliths in a blueish glow.
Three massive megaliths, each of which were eight meters tall, stood in triangular formation in the midst of a field guarded by 50 Nallastian warriors clad in reptilian skins and animal-bone armor, bearing primitive energy-projectile launchers (although a few held contemporary blaster weapons): the plot of land between the stones was littered with bones, both human and alien. The stone triangulation—called the Trinity Stones—was the basis for the energy field (a lunar gravity vortex) that served as the inescapable deathbed for offenders of Nallastian law: they had to wait but 90 standard minutes to be crushed by the stones, which were magnetically drawn to one another. Once the megaliths met, they repelled back to their original positions.
It was on a high platform extending out toward the Trinity Stones from the fortress that Quenelle's daughter, Princess Calvaria, condemned the parents of Klay Firewell for trespassing with, what she mistakenly believed to be, an untoward (poaching) interest in Nallastia's sacred wildlife. Calvaria's quick and immature misjudgment was condemned by her mother, who thereafter worked with the Jedi to locate the Lost Stars of Nallastia, their only hope for breaking the Trinity Stones' inexorable and deadly union. Deactivation of the condensing force field could only happen, it was written, if the three ancient power gems were placed atop the Trinity Stones. Their auras were able to not only disrupt magnetic defense shields but also shatter force fields.
Though Anakin Skywalker piloted the Queen's V-wing shuttle from the fortress, transporting both her and his Master to the Cavern of Screaming Skulls to search for the Lost Stars, Skywalker was asked not to accompany them further but to return to the fortress with Jedi Knight Bultar Swan and Klay, who were rendered unconscious by the webs of a giant spider they encountered at the cavern entrance. The two needed medical attention, and Anakin—his Master could clearly see—needed rest.
- "Do you know where [Mom] is?"
"Why, I should expect she's at Watto's junkshop. I'm afraid he's had her doing quite a lot of work there, ever since you ran away."
"But I didn't run away. I left. To become a Jedi."
"Oh, of course you did, sir. I never meant to suggest that you abandoned any responsibilities you might have had here, when you were just a child. After all, we're so very proud of you and your achievements. Not that we actually know about what you've accomplished in the past nine years, since we've never received any messages from you, but I do get the distinct impression that your mother still cares very much about you. And she does have a vivid imagination, so she very easily assumed that you must be [extremely busy]—"
- ―Anakin Skywalker and C-3PO
Since the start of the mission, Anakin had been vexed by disturbing visions of darkness and distorted memories of his time as a slave. He'd wished that he could utterly wipe from his mind his experience as a slave. Moreover, he'd grown increasingly worried about the safety of his mother, Shmi. Kenobi, sensing, but also seeing the strain of the mission on his Padawan, began to worry. For although all human Jedi were trained to function over extended periods without sleep, they still required some sleep to remain healthy. Anakin's hands, Kenobi noticed, were shaky, he was clearly tired, but there was something else also. Obi-Wan contemplated the impact upon his apprentice of this particular mission, which, essentially, had evolved into a desperate effort to rescue a young boy's parents. Kenobi suspected that Klay Firewell's situation must have caused Anakin to think of his own mother on Tatooine. His Padawan did not talk about her as much as he used to, but Obi-Wan knew that it was still Anakin's hope to be reunited with Shmi one day and to free her from slavery. As a Jedi, of course, it was Kenobi's duty to be a guardian for freedom and justice throughout the galaxy. At the same time, it was very unlikely (and unfortunate) that a useless, remote world such as Tatooine would ever become a member-planet of the Galactic Republic, so the Jedi might never have jurisdiction there. Obi-Wan could understand Anakin's concern for his mother, but he could not let his Padawan allow his feelings to affect the outcome of any mission. The more he thought of it, the more Obi-Wan was convinced that Anakin had taken a personal stake in helping Klay Firewell: If Anakin couldn't save his own mother, he would do everything he could to save Klay's parents. But it was not the way of the Jedi to invest themselves personally in the outcome of their missions.
Kenobi, having secured the Lost Stars and returned with the Skull Queen to her fortress, was wise in his assessment of his Padawan, for indeed Anakin had invested himself personally in the fate of Klay's parents. When Skywalker looked at the smile on Klay's mother's face when she and her husband had been freed from the Trinity Stones and were reunited with their son, Anakin could not help but think of his own mother and how much he missed her. But Shmi was, at that moment, so very far away from him. As a slaveboy, Anakin would climb to the roof of his hovel at night, lie back, and imagine that he was as far away from Tatooine as possible. Now, a standard decade later, an 18-year-old Skywalker found himself in the Fondor system, 40,000 light-years away from the hovel's roof, gazing up at the binary stars that he knew to be Tatoo I and Tatoo II—the twin suns of his home planet—and he again imagined the day when he would return to Tatooine and free his enslaved mother. As Anakin had shaken Klay's hand and said good-bye, and watched the Firewells leave on their starship back to their homeworld, he almost wished that he—like them—had the freedom to go where he chose. Unfortunately, Jedi did not have that freedom. Anakin had kept his eyes on the starship until it vanished into the starlit sky. He now felt empty and lost. Standing alone in the Skull Queen's courtyard, he looked up blankly at the stars. It had been more than nine years since he'd promised his mother that he would become a Jedi Knight and return to Tatooine to free her. He now had grown more determined than ever to keep that promise.
Having been shown to his guest chambers by the Queen herself, Anakin retired to his sleep couch, where he quickly fell into a deep slumber and began to dream. The dream began as it often did—at his hovel on Slave Quarters Row at the edge of Mos Espa on the sand planet of Tatooine. He lay on his old bed, looking at the cracks that snaked across the hovel ceiling, as the harsh light of the planet's twin suns streamed in. Across the room, the skeletal form of C-3PO stood with his parts exposed—a contemporary trait the droid deplored: "Good Morning, Master Anakin," the droid said. "I trust you slept well." Anakin answered in the affirmative, but was surprised at his deepened voice, that his legs felt heavy, and that his feet hit the floor sooner than expected—he had grown, overnight it seemed, from age 9 to 18, no longer a slaveboy, but a Jedi standing taller than the droid he fashioned. When he asked C-3PO where his mother was, the protocol droid told him that she was working for Watto at his junkshop, and so Anakin ran out into the strangely empty streets of Mos Espa, continuing on until he reached the junkshop. There he saw, huddling in a low cage with thick metal bars, a pathetic, filthy creature clothed in rags: his mother, Shmi Skywalker. Dropping to his knees before the cage, he told her he'd come to rescue her, then proceeded to search desperately for a tool to set her free, because he'd discovered that his Jedi lightsaber was no longer attached to his utility belt. How had it gone missing, and how had he arrived on Tatooine? He couldn't remember, and felt confused. The fusion-cutters and pry-bars he tried to grab from Watto's shelves seemed to be welded to their surfaces. In vain he frantically tried to tear them free, but finally collapsed again before his mother's cage. Sobbing, he promised Shmi he would get her out. She tried to console him, saying all was well, but, her voice sounding old and tired and seeing fear in her eyes, Anakin could tell that this clearly was not the case. Outraged, he condemned Watto for having left her in a cage. She responded, however, that Watto hadn't left her—Anakin had.
Suddenly, Anakin felt himself engulfed again in darkness. It wrapped round him like a cold, black shroud: and he heard the steady rise and fall of his own belabored breathing, which sounded eerie and mechanical, as if done through some kind of respirator. But the breathing couldn't be his own. Was he truly alone? Holding his breath, he listened to the void. When he did, the sound of the mechanized breathing stopped also. The darkness, like his throat, then suddenly constricted: it would, if it could, consume his lungs, veins, muscles and bones. No sound sprang from his mouth, now formed in a cry of fear and despair. And his vision ended as it always did: he awoke in a fevered sweat, his heart pounding. Someone had knocked on his door. "Enter," he said.
Jedi marriage proposalsEdit
- "Princess Calvaria has challenged the Skull Queen to a duel. It seems they intend to fight for my hand in marriage."
"The challenge was made while you were resting. Obviously, I did nothing to encourage the queen or princess. I regret I have been so far unable to persuade them to call off the duel."
"If you were to marry, would that make you the Skull King?"
"I'm not getting married, Anakin."
"Of course not, Master."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker
It was within the Skull Queen's fortress banquet hall, in a celebratory feast that was attended by two dozen Nallastian warriors, that both Quenelle and Calvaria declared their intentions to marry Obi-Wan Kenobi. Anakin had been excused from the affair in order to get some much-needed rest. Having decided that it was best for all concerned, based on Kenobi's recommendation, that the Lost Stars were returned to their hiding places in the cavern, the Queen declared the worthiness of Kenobi to be her husband. Whereupon, Calvaria declared the self-same nuptial intention—Kenobi was to marry her! She believed it was her destiny, she said. But her mother reminded her that she was already betrothed in an arranged marriage to Prince Alto of the Raptor Clan (in order to maintain peace among the Skull and Raptor Clans), and that her wedding was scheduled to take place the very next day. For Kenobi's part, the hapless Jedi Knight was quite beside himself, and he forbade a recovered Bultar from laughing at the bizarre situation. Obi-Wan could only apologize for having done anything to mislead mother or daughter, as he was unfamiliar with their customs of courtship and matrimony, but he assured them that, as a loyal member of the Jedi Order, he was unavailable for that particular long-term commitment.
Moreover, the Jedi needed to turn their minds to more serious matters, for something was afoot on Fondor—and, to the keen senses of both Jedi Knights, it smelled rotten. It was because of this mutual sense of dread, their precognitive promptings that danger yet threatened the Fondor system and that Senator Rodd was somehow involved, that Kenobi had earlier called for backup support from the Jedi Order. Consequently, in the midst of the celebratory banquet, a Nallastian guard entered to announce the arrival of a Republic cruiser at the fortress landing field. Kenobi felt the announcement was his salvation, and he exhaled a sigh of relief. Barring his immediate responsibilities, he couldn't leave the Skull Queen's fortress, or Nallastia for that matter, fast enough.
- "Does darkness ever intrude [in your dreams]?"
"Sometimes I see what appear to be dark clouds, but they never last for long. I can control them. I imagine winds to drive back the clouds, or to transform them into gentle rains. I find such thoughts to have a calming effect."
"I see ... Can you also control your nightmares?"
"Jedi don't have nightmares."
- ―Anakin Skywalker and Bultar Swan, on the darkness of dreams
Having been asked by Kenobi to awaken his Padawan and bring him to the landing field, Bultar Swan arrived at the door of Skywalker's chambers and knocked. A voice bade her enter. She immediately noticed small beads of sweat on Anakin's forehead. Swan announced that a Republic cruiser had landed with reinforcements and that they were requested by Kenobi at the landing field. Aware now of the moisture on his face, Anakin wiped it away with his sleeve, but then took a moment to ask Swan if her sleep was ever interrupted by dreams or visions, and if so, what they were about. But Bultar felt such a conversation to be an inappropriate one and suggested to Anakin that he discuss the matter with his own Master, if he was having difficulty sleeping. But Kenobi's instruction to meditate before sleep had always been of little benefit to Anakin, who confessed to Swan that he had long suffered from disturbing visions. He only asked for her insight because he did not wish to fail his Master. Finally acquiescing, she told Skywalker that she induced both her sleep and meditation by visualizing wide, open spaces and fields of color. When Anakin asked her if darkness ever intruded, she told him that when dark clouds sometimes appeared in her dreams, she willed the winds to drive them back or transform them into gentle rains. But when Skywalker pressed her to disclose to him if she'd ever been able to control her own nightmares, she stated simply that Jedi didn't have nightmares. Considering her response, as they prepared to depart for the fortress landing platform, Anakin muttered, "Of course." But in his mind, he only wished it were true.
Heroic arrivals and departuresEdit
- "I regret you do not understand, Your Highness. I am no longer urging you and your daughter to reconsider the duel. I am telling you there will not be a duel."
"You're saying you won't allow it?"
"Yes. A Jedi is a living being, not a prize to be won."
- ―Jedi Master Mace Windu and the Skull Queen, Quenelle
Descending the cruiser's landing ramp were Masters Kit Fisto and Mace Windu of the Jedi High Council. Fisto, an amphibious Nautolan from Glee Anselm, said that they were attending the dedication of a memorial to High Council member Yarael Poof on Quermia when they intercepted Kenobi's request for reinforcements. Poof's untimely death four years earlier was a loss deeply felt among all Jedi. Obi-Wan briefed the Jedi Masters about all that had transpired thus far, after which Windu confirmed that he and Fisto had also sensed danger upon their arrival in the Fondor system.
Noticing an awkward interchange of expression between Swan and Kenobi, Master Windu asked Obi-Wan if there was something he'd not yet told them. Kenobi reluctantly told the Masters about the marriage proposals of Quenelle and Calvaria and that the Princess and the Queen intended to fight for the Jedi's hand in marriage via a duel that was to take place within the hour. As his Padawan had been asleep during the dramatic confrontation, Anakin was both surprised and amused at this new development, to the naked chagrin of his Master. Not to worry, was the word of Windu, for he personally would resolve the matter at once, asking that they lead him to the Skull Queen in her fortress.
Ignoring their chosen Jedi mate's assertions that he would not be marrying anyone, the royal mother and daughter had earlier declared their intentions to fight for their prize in a scheduled duel; and Quenelle had made it very clear that after she had defeated Calvaria, her daughter was to prepare for her wedding to Prince Alto. When Master Windu confronted Quenelle about the duel, as the Queen's servants were fitting her in animal-bone armor, she said that, while she appreciated Mace's concerns, she could not call off the duel, for their tribal customs dictated that only the instigator could withdraw the challenge. Unless Calvaria did so, Quenelle was bound by Nallastian tradition to fight her. Begging the Queen's pardon, Windu assured her that she did not yet understand, for he was no longer urging her to reconsider the duel, but simply stating that it would not take place, for a Jedi was a living being and not a prize to be won. The Queen looked to Kenobi and asked him whether Obi-Wan believed himself worth fighting for. Obi-Wan responded that he had dedicated his life to helping those in need, and that if she and Calvaria had one need, it was to learn to communicate without fighting. If they continued with the duel, they would only be hurting each other and doing Kenobi a great disservice. After Quenelle had considered Obi-Wan's words, confessing she'd never intended to insult him nor harm her daughter, but had simply desired happiness again, she bade one of her servants to bring Calvaria to her at once, for she had decided to cancel the duel. But, returning shortly to the Skull Queen's dressing room, the servant announced that the princess had gone and that she had left behind only a small, disk-shaped hologram projector.
The Queen activated the device, from which a flickering three-dimensional image of Calvaria materialized. Her message was directed to her "dearest Mother" and was essentially a confession: she had no interest in the Jedi, nor any intention of dueling with the Skull Queen. Calvaria had said those things to distract her mother so that she could escape the marriage to Prince Alto. She was, in fact, in love with a mechanic from Fondor and had gone to be with him. By the time the Queen heard her message, Calvaria would, she said, be leaving for another star system. She concluded by saying that she wished that they could have resolved their differences, and to please not hate her, for she loved her mother. Considering the holographic message, the Queen was alarmed that the spurning of Prince Alto would insult the Raptor Clan and result in a declaration of war. Suddenly, another Nallastian gaurd entered and advised the Skull Queen that one of their shuttles had been stolen from the landing field. Calvaria had taken it, the Queen was convinced, to be with her true love. The shuttle was equipped with a tracker, however, and its signal, the guard revealed, was coming from Fondor Spaceport.
Attempting to catch the Princess before she could leave the planet, Quenelle used her private comm console to tune in to various frequencies, when suddenly a young woman's voice, clearly distressed, squawked from the comm. It was Calvaria, sending out a distress call that the Fondor Spaceport had been taken over by droids, who called themselves the Droid Control Army. The droids were rounding up all 'organics', the Princess said from her shuttle's long-range comm, and any life form that attempted to leave the station would be vaporized. An interruptive transmission cut her short, announcing loudly that all docking ports to the Spaceport were shielded, and forbidding any ship to land. The non-human voice declared that they would issue their demands to Fondor's Senator within one hour. The message then repeated itself. Windu wondered if the hour was really needed, or if it was but additional time bought to prepare for even greater chaos. Kenobi and Skywalker wondered if the droids were similar to those on the fake Sun Runner, and if they were simply picking up where the other droids left off, intending to use the Spaceport as a weapon. Kit Fisto cautioned them, however, that it might be a trap, designed to lure them away from Nallastia. Seizing her Skull-helmet, the Queen was determined to go after Calvaria and invited those who would, to come along. Answering Kenobi's concern that Alto and his clan might come looking for Calvaria, Windu said that they'd deal with the Raptor Clan after they found the princess. He told Kenobi and Skywalker to stay behind to protect the jungle-moon from hostile intruders (but partly also to protect Obi-Wan from the Queen's unwanted romantic attentions) while he, Fisto, and Swan accompanied the Skull Queen to Fondor. They couldn't waste any more time.
But as Windu and his companions headed for the landing field and the unarmed diplomatic cruiser, the Skull Queen halted them, advising that they should carry with them the Stars of Nallastia, the energy field-dissipating power gems, as the jewels could knock out the spaceport's activated deflector shields. Acknowledging the wisdom of that precaution, Mace and Quenelle retrieved the Stars from atop the Trinity Stones as the others raced to prepare the cruiser for liftoff. Windu used the Force to remove the powerful gems as the Queen ordered her Nallastian warriors who stood gaurd to prevent anyone from coming near the colossal megaliths until she returned with the Stars, for the removal of the jewels had re-activated the megalithic force field.
Boarding the Republic cruiser, Windu told the ship's captain, Nico Medina, that they would be attending Nico and his copilots near the bridge, as they were now armed with the power to break the spaceport's defensive shields. But as the cruiser lifted off, Mace and the Skull Queen, who had strapped themselves into seats in the small lounge behind the cockpit, suddenly felt the ship lurch to one side. A venrap had slithered aboard and attacked the crew in the cockpit, coiling itself around the seated captain and his two copilots. Rushing forward, Windu had to seize control of the ship again as its nose had dropped, forcing the cruiser into a steep dive to the moon's surface. Having drawn his lightsaber, he was about to deal necessary death to the snake, when Quenelle's well-placed throw of her vibroblade killed the creature by striking it between the eyes. The three pilots slumped forward unconscious, but unharmed. Regaining command of the ship, Mace entered a series of coordinates into the navi-computer, setting it to auto-pilot, then re-checked the stabilized condition of the crew. They would be at Fondor Spaceport in minutes.
The free and unfreeEdit
- "Lord Tyranus. What news from Fondor?"
"Groodo the Hutt, a starship manufacturer from Esseles, attempted to ruin the starship yards of Fondor. I must surmise his motive was to gain Fondor's lost business. Groodo's scheme was foiled by the Jedi, but he has so far managed to elude their suspicion. The Jedi do not know of his involvement."
"Had the Hutt's scheme succeeded, it would have been a most inconvenient setback to our future plans for Fondor. Did he have accomplices?"
"Evidently, there were two. The first was a droid-engineer named Hurlo Holowan. The second was ... Senator Rodd of Fondor."
"Rodd. No doubt motivated by the Hutt's money."
"Indubitably. I must say, they all did an excellent job of avoiding detection. Like Groodo, the Senator and droid-engineer are not even suspects in the Fondor incident."
"Despite their failure to carry out their scheme, their stealth is admirable. However, we cannot allow them to interfere with our plans again. The Hutt and his cohorts must be dealt with accordingly. Contact the bounty hunter."
"As you wish, my Master."
- ―Darth Sidious and Darth Tyranus, on disturbances in the Fondor system
After Windu's strike team had liberated the spaceport, they returned with Princess Calvaria and her mother to the Skull Queen's fortress, where they rested from their successful mission—all except Anakin Skywalker, that is. He'd remained behind, of course, along with his Master, to literally 'hold down the fort.' But, feeling restless, he'd emerged from his chambers now to gaze at the vast Nallastian nighttime sky. As a child on Tatooine, he'd preferred a star-filled sky to daylight—and not just because it was cooler in the evening. The stars had filled him with hope that he'd one day leave the slave planet and travel to faroff worlds. And now, that childhood dream had come true. But instead of feeling powerful and free, Anakin felt alone. Knowing that Tatooine, where his mother resided, and Naboo, where Padmé Amidala had ruled for nearly a decade, were but mere hours away by hyperspace, he remained frustrated that he couldn't go to either planet unless he were sent there on a mission. At times, Anakin felt as enslaved by the Jedi Order as he had once been by Watto, the junk dealer. He too often felt, of late, that the Order and his Master were restraining him, holding him back, and he'd begun to deeply resent the ironic injustice of his situation.
But it was time now to return to Coruscant. Masters Windu and Fisto were preparing the diplomatic cruiser for departure as Anakin's Master said farewell to the Skull Queen, the Margravine Quenelle. She thanked Kenobi for his great service, and expressed her commitment to making all "outlanders" henceforth feel welcome on Nallastian soil. She stated also her plans to shut down the force field between the Trinity Stones and return the Stars of Nallastia to the Cavern of Screaming Skulls. Obi-Wan expressed his hope, too, that perhaps Princess Calvaria's marriage to Prince Alto would help strengthen the ties between the Nallastian clans. As the Jedi were needed elsewhere, they of course could not stay for the royal wedding. But the Margravine of Nallastia refused to turn back toward her fortress until she had given Obi-Wan Kenobi an unexpected farewell kiss. He then boarded the Republic cruiser, which lifted from the landing field and blasted off into the sky.
Three days later, on the night side of the planet Coruscant, its skyscrapers shimmered in the darkness amidst Galactic City's seemingly endless lanes of air traffic. Darth Sidious, standing on the balcony of a derelict tower, looked out toward the city as his apprentice, Darth Tyranus, delivered to him his report of rumored disturbances in the Fondor system. Only hours before, the powerful Sith overlord had tasked Tyranus with investigating reports of renegade droids and exploding starships on and around Fondor. Tall and dignified with perfectly trimmed silver hair, and wearing a tailored uniform to which a silver chain fastened a black flowing cape, the former Jedi Master known as Dooku, though supremely talented and confident, no longer directed his own destiny. His commanding and elegant baritone voice was yet subservient to another who conspired to enslave the galaxy.
Behind the scenesEdit
Jedi Knight Bultar Swan's comment to 18-year-old Padawan Anakin Skywalker at the Skull Queen's fortress that "Jedi don't have nightmares" serves as a precursor reference to Anakin's identical line of dialogue with Padmé Amidala as he stands on the east balcony of the Naberrie family's Varykino lodge (in both Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones novel and screenplay) that appears to directly quote Swan from Skywalker's memory of their discussion about 'Jedi dreams' during their mission to Fondor some months earlier.
- Star Wars Adventures 2: The Cavern of Screaming Skulls (First appearance)
- Star Wars Adventures 3: The Hostage Princess
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Star Wars Adventures 2: The Cavern of Screaming Skulls
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 Star Wars Adventures 3: The Hostage Princess
- ↑ Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones novelization
- ↑ Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones