Having spent her time as a Student at the JEDI ACADEMY on Yavin Four, JANE LANE has become the Padawan Learner to Jedi Master SWAYNE NABERRIE. Now in her seventh year with the Jedi Order, she has accompanied her Master to CORUSCANT in response to an attempt on the life of his younger brother, ADAMA . . .


The view from the apartment was, from an artist's point of view, amazing. The different styles of buildings and the sheer complexity of the city made her itch for an easel and paints. Even the buzzing as the occasional speeder passed close by the open balcony fed the urge.

From the point of view of a bodyguard, however, the view sucked. There were dozens, if not hundreds of buildings and at least a thousand places an assassin could strike from. Frowning, she wrapped the black robe more tightly about her as she looked out at the capital of the Republic.

Is it still the 'New Republic?' Jane Lane asked herself. I mean, it's a century old, for crying out loud. How can it still be new? Hmm, she smirked, I wonder if it ever had that 'new-republic' smell?

"Jedi Lane?"

Turning, Jane saw a man exit the apartment the balcony was attached to. He wasn't a tall man, barely topping Jane's height, but his thin build made him look taller. He was wearing Jane's favorite color combination, black slacks and a red top. The tunic was covered by a white robe with an elaborate vine pattern on the seams. His short hair was dark, as were his eyes. A smile that Jane had realized was genuine showed on his face as he approached.

"Senator Naberrie," Jane told him, "you should be inside where it's safer."

"You've been out here all afternoon," he pointed out. "I thought you might like some company." Holding out his hand, he offered Jane a cup. "It's juice. My brother told me you don't like alcohol."

"It slows me down." Taking the cup, she smiled and said, "Thank you." Turning back to the skyline, she let the robe fall open as she drank. The slight chill from the altitude was supposedly compensated by a slight force field and hidden heaters, but Jane still felt a draft. "You really should be inside, sir," she repeated. "A threat on your life isn't something to take lightly."

"Ah," the Senator followed Jane's gaze, staring out at the city, "you can't let the threats of others run your life." Jane saw him glance at her, but gave no sign.

Jane knew what she looked like. She had filled out slightly since her arrival in this universe, but still had her trim figure. Her boots were now black instead of gray, but they still had the same 'too dangerous to male genitals' aura of her old pair. Her black slacks were loose-fitting, but were blown against her legs by the nonexistent draft. A tan tunic was bloused out slightly at her waist, before extending almost a quarter of the way down her thighs. The black belt held a few small pouches, along with her lightsaber. A high-necked red under tunic completed the ensemble when she wasn't wearing the black robe.

She adjusted the robe, this time tying it closed with the sash. As she did, something tickled her ear. Reaching up, she brushed the long braided strand of hair back behind her ear. I hate this thing, she thought. I'll be so glad when I can cut this monster off and let my hair go back to normal. Having it like this makes it feel like I've got a lemur on my forehead. Where once she had kept her hair line shaved back to keep it from her forehead, she had let it grow out while training. Now, the part was at her natural hairline, and driving her crazy. Absently, Jane reached up and brushed the hair back from her forehead. At least I can keep it the right shape.

"So," the Senator's voice brought out of her thoughts, "what's it like?"

A hauler flew past, leaving it too loud for them to speak. Jane felt no danger, just mild annoyance at how out-of-bounds the pilot was.

"What's what like?"

"Working with my brother." He smiled, "He use to be a real pain when we were kids." The smile turned slightly vicious, "Of course, he was a lot older than me. Still is, in fact."

"He's been a good teacher," Jane told him. "He's smart, kind when he can be, tough when he needs to be, and a genuinely good person." Smirking, she added, "I've only met a few of those, and one of them slept all the time."

A bright red speeder pulled out of the line of traffic, heading for the top of a building. A few seconds later, it staggered back into line and continued.

"You ever wish you could go home?"

Jane thought for a moment as her eyes looked out at the city. "I did for a while," she admitted. "But, despite missing my brother, I've gotten to like it here. My best friend is here, and I've got the coolest job in the universe. No," she shook her head, "this is home, now."

He turned and looked right at her, causing her to look at him as well. "I, for one, am happy that you are here, Jedi Lane."

She opened her mouth to correct his use of 'Jedi' instead of 'Padawan,' but instead smiled and said, "Thank you, Senator Naberrie."

A flicker in the Force pulled her vision around to see a yellow speeder pull around the far side of a building. It was a small, sporty version Jane had seen on the advertisements the entertainment broadcasts showed, with fins and wings on sides, top and bottom. The slight bulge of pods barely visible at the distance.

"I think you better get back inside, Senator," she told him, her smile gone.

"You see something?" Instead of moving, he began to look out at the city.

"Sir," she gave him a slight nudge, "I can't protect you if you don't do what I ask."

Looking at her, he shrugged, "Sorry. You're right. I should go in."

"Yes, sir. You should -- move!" Jane tackled him just as a blaster bolt passed through where he had been standing. Rolling to her feet, her lightsaber was in her hand as she let her robe fall to the ground. Two more bolts were already on their way, but were deflected by the scarlet blade of her lightsaber. Looking into the distance, she could barely make out a figure on the building where the speeder had gone. The dark figure vanished as they moved away from the edge.

Putting her weapon back on her belt, Jane glanced over to see that her charge had made it inside. Already, she could hear her master berating his brother for making himself too easy a target.

I want this guy, Jane thought as she stepped onto the low wall at the edge of the balcony. But how do I . . . perfect. Without hesitation, Jane leaped twenty feet out and three stories down.

The automated flatbed hauler barely felt the 'thump' as a slim figure landed on it. The built-in alarms went off, however, causing a camera to begin recording. The image of Jane climbing aboard the modified speeder bike was clear, as was her using her lightsaber to sever the cables holding the speeder to the hauler. A few seconds later, the bike rose slightly as it was powered, then Jane was away.

The yellow speeder had a sizeable lead, and was as fast as the ads had said. But the bike was more maneuverable and the assassin-wannabe didn't know they were being chased. Jane had cut the lead by two-thirds when the speeder ahead suddenly shot to the right. Crap, he's spotted me. Gunning the motor, she increased the pace of her pursuit. Next time. I wear a helmet, she thought as the breeze began to chill her nose.

The speeder dove in and out of traffic, causing Jane to follow, or in some cases, dodge the mess left behind by near-misses or collisions. Her Jedi reflexes were all that kept her from certain death more than once. From over a thousand feet in the air, her adversary dove to almost street level, causing Jane's ears to pop once on the way down, then again on the way back up.

A large tunnel appeared ahead, and the speeder aimed for it. The sign that said 'no speeder bikes' was ignored by Jane. For a moment, it looked like the pilot of the speeder had decided to not take the tunnel, but at the last second they did a banking turn into it. Jane followed suit, nearly coming off of the speeder in the process. "Show off," she called into the wind.

People traveling in their vehicles saw a yellow speeder shoot past, followed by a raven-haired woman on a speeder bike. At the speeds they traveled, what seemed to Jane to be a long distance was only a matter of seconds. First there was the hum of the speeder's engine, followed closely by the more throaty growl of the bike. Most adults cringed, while many of the children stared in awe at the shrinking figures ahead as they shot out of the far end of the tunnel.

Jane could tell she was closing the gap, but it was slow going. For every five feet she gained, she'd lose four as the pilot would make a wild turn or dive through a crowded lane of traffic. With a growl, she decided to change tactics. Pulling back on the controls, she increased her altitude until she was looking down on the speeder. Then, she slowed slightly, letting them get ahead of her. Finally, it paid off.

The speeder slowed and changed course. Jane watched as the pilot reversed course and made his way back toward the tunnel. Jane was worried that she was going to have to try to follow them back through the tunnel without being seen, but the vehicle changed course before reaching it. The pilot headed into a parking facility, causing Jane to frown.

It was almost twenty floors tall, with the speeder pulling into the top one. The next opening was three floors down. Still not wanting to panic the assassin, Jane dove down to the lower opening.

As she touched down, she hit the shutdown switches and came off of the bike in a run, not noticing the bike collapse behind her. Jane stopped as she looked around. Turning to the stunned attendant droid, she asked, "How do you get to the next level?"

"Well," the droid was still confused, but answered, "you can take the lift," he pointed, "or the stairs," he gestured to the far side of the building. "The lift takes you down to the lobby."

"A direct ride?"

"Oh, yes."

"What about up?" she asked next.

"Why would you need to do that?"

"Stairs, then." Jane hit the door at a run, then stopped. Like the lift, the stairs had been designed to focus people to go down. Every level had a door that would not permit people without the right pass to go higher than their own vehicle. Reaching out with the Force, Jane caused the door to open as if someone was coming from the other side. She opened the door to the next level and peered out.

No one but another droid.

Charging up to the next level, Jane again looked out onto an almost unoccupied chamber. She ignored this droid's inquiries as she had the last one, turning instead to the stairs once again. Reaching the final level, she took her lightsaber in hand as she opened the door and stepped out.

The droid was sitting quietly next to the landing platform. Jane guessed it had been shut off by one of the two figures talking at the end of the room. Why is it always the far end of the room? Jane asked herself as she slipped behind a speeder. It's never right by the door where you can get them before they can try to escape.

" . . . But you said it would be ready when I got here," one, a tall figure with green skin and pointed ears whined. "I am here, pay me."

The other, a Sullust, replied in a language Jane was unfamiliar with. His tone, however, wasn't pleasant.

"But I did what you asked. You wanted him dead, I killed him." Putting his hands on his hips, he smugly added, "I even lost that tail they sent after me."

A questioning tone was all that was identifiable in the next comment.

"What do you mean, am I sure? Of course I'm sure." The man looked insulted, "I can lose anybody."

Jane was almost to them when the Sullust suddenly turned. I don't need to know what he's saying when they go for a blaster like that, she thought. Jane moved from behind the speeders to where they could see her.

"You are both under arrest. Lay down your weapons and you won't be harmed."

That never works, Jane reminded herself as she began deflecting blaster fire from both figures. Maybe if I use puppets next time . . . For a few seconds, she deflected the shots into the building or the speeders around them. Then, she sent one into the Sullust's leg. A second hit him in the shoulder of his gun-arm. With a cry, he went down.

The other, the pilot it seemed, kept firing as he backed toward the yellow speeder. It was sitting between him and the landing pad. Jane began to close the distance, but knew he was going to get in the speeder before she could reach him.

Some days it just don't pay to get out of bed.

The pilot let loose with a final flurry of shots before diving behind the controls of the speeder. Jane raced toward him and almost reached the vehicle before it began to move beyond the pad and out of the building. "I've got a bad feeling about this," Jane said as she leaped out into space after her quarry.

For a second, Jane was sure she'd missed. Then, she felt herself slam onto the top of the speeder. Reaching out, she grabbed the control fin on the top rear. Looking up, she could see the pilot looking back at her. "Oh, it's gonna get fun, now."

Wrapping her arms around the fin, Jane held on for dear life as the speeder bucked and spun. Her legs were hanging off in space, causing her body to twist in uncomfortable ways. When their course leveled off, Jane looked ahead to see that they were heading for a walkway that had been built for pedestrians passing from one high-rise to another. "Oh, no," she muttered, "he's not going to try to scrape me off, is he?" As they got closer, she frowned and nodded, "He is."

The speeder dove under the bridge, knocking the pod from the top fin. The speeder spun a few times as the impact caused the pilot to lose control. Then, righting itself, the speeder turned back to see what had become of the passenger.

Jane waited until the speeder was at the right angle, then jumped from the bridge. Landing with a 'thump,' she used the second that the pilot was confused by the noise to slide around and into the speeder's cockpit feet-first.

"Don't think about it," she advised as she raised her lightsaber. "By the time you can get your hand on your blaster I can have you in five easy to serve pieces. Got that?" There was a nervous nod. "Good. Now, why don't you take us back to the Senator's quarters. I'm sure there are some nice security personnel who want to talk to you."

The main room of the apartment was empty of all but Jane, Senator Adama Naberrie, a law enforcement official, and Jedi Master Swayne Naberrie. All but the Senator were standing, the Jedi in their robes.

"Now," the 'cop,' as Jane couldn't help but call him, asked, "how did you survive that bridge again?"

Shrugging, Jane explained, "I jumped before the speeder hit. There's a force field around them to keep ships from hitting dead-on, so I used it to shed momentum. Otherwise," she smirked, "I'd have been chunky salsa. If he hadn't been so determined, he would have been deflected away from the bridge entirely."

"Chunky what?"

"Never mind," the Jedi Master waved a hand. Then, turning back to his Padawan, he asked, "So you then waited for him to come back? What made you think he would?"

"He needed to know I wasn't under the ship," she replied. "Speeders aren't normally equipped with a camera on the underside, so he couldn't see under there. He needed to see me squished or falling the few hundred feet to the ground."

"Good thinking," her master said, smirking. Turning to the official, he asked, "Do you have any other questions?"

"No, sir," the man said. "I'll just go file this report."

"Were they able to get any information on him?" Jane asked.

"He's a member of a group that is against anyone who had anything to do with the Empire being involved in the Republic," was the answer. Glancing at the electronic pad in his hands, the man continued, "Their membership has been shrinking as the older ones die off. I guess they're trying to stir up trouble for recruiting purposes." He looked up and smiled, "The guy you wounded is one of their top leaders. We'll be watching them closely from now on."

"Hopefully," the elder Jedi said, "close enough to keep them from trying this again."

"I agree with that wholeheartedly, brother," the Senator spoke up. Standing, he shook hands with the officer, "Thank you so much for your prompt response."

"I wish I could have seen that chase," the man looked at Jane in awe. Shaking his head, he sighed, "Anyway, if we learn anything else, we'll let you know."

"Thank you, officer." The Senator led him to the door and closed it behind him. Then, he seemed to relax and sigh.

"You've had a busy day," the Senator's brother said to his Padawan.

"Just doing my job, Master," she replied.

"And having entirely too much fun at it, I'm certain," he told her with a gleam in his eye. "You realize the Jedi Council is going to have a field day over this one." He counted on his fingers, "Theft of a speeder bike, reckless driving, leaving the scene of multiple accidents . . ." he stopped and shook his head. "Jane, Jane, Jane, what ever are we going to do with you?"

Feed me pizza? She thought to herself. What she said aloud was, "I'm sure I have no idea."

"It's a good thing you're due for trials in a week," he said, sounding tired. "I don't think I could keep up with you any more."

"Master, I'm sure you can . . . what?" Jane blinked.

"I said I don't think I can keep up with you any more."

"No," she shook her head, "you said something about 'trials.'"

"Oh," he nodded, "you will be undergoing trials next week. If you pass, you will be a Jedi Knight in your own right."

"You mean I can cut this thing off?" Jane lifted the braid.

Chuckling once, the Jedi Master replied, "Yes, and do all the things you keep swearing you're going to do when you can. But," he held up his index finger, "that depends on your passing. Although, after what you just did, I don't think that's going to be a problem."

"I see." Jane clamped down on her emotions. "Is there anything else, Master?"

"No," he waved a hand, "you go get some rest. We'll be heading back to Yavin in the morning."

"Yes, sir." Turning, Jane left. A few seconds later, the brothers grinned when they heard "Woo-hoo!" come from the next room.


"DARIA/STAR WARS: CHAPTER ONE; PADAWAN LANE " was written by Ranger Thorne