Author: Mya Scarlet PM
Which is the greater sin? To tell a lie, and take advantage of a man’s vulnerability to convince him to do something he otherwise would not? Or to tell yourself a lie, and pretend the boy who is in love with you is the man you cannot have? Obi-Wan/PadmeRated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Romance - Padmé Amidala & Obi-Wan K. - Chapters: 2 - Words: 3,709 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 06-21-08 - Published: 06-16-08 - id: 4328140
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"There it is, Arfour, right where it should be. Our missing planet, Kamino."
The red droid beeps an acknowledgement and initiates the de-orbit procedure. As they begin to descend towards the surface of the planet, Obi-Wan glances instinctively over the left wing of his starfighter, ready, as he always is, to issue a word or two of caution to his errant Padawan. But the space usually occupied by Anakin is empty. For the first time in longer than he can accurately remember, Obi-Wan is on a mission alone.
He raises an eyebrow to himself, resolving that he should make the most of the opportunity to land this thing without the silent but still palpable disapproval at his apparent lack of, what would Anakin call it, style? Then Obi-Wan frowns as the entire ship begins to vibrate with the atmospheric friction. How getting a lump of metal to the ground can require style is beyond him. No, there is not a single aspect of flying he enjoys, and landing is by far the worst part.
Still, the absence of his Padawan leaves Obi-Wan feeling uneasy, and there is more to that unease than the lack of a comradeship he has grown to enjoy.
He tries not to think about what Anakin might be doing, right now. If Obi-Wan has learnt anything in the past few years, it is that his still very young apprentice needs to be allowed to make his own mistakes.
But he can't help thinking about it.
Because Anakin is on Naboo.
And although Obi-Wan reminds himself that whatever the Nabooian senator does is certainly none of his business, he finds that the knowledge of who Anakin might be making his latest mistake with troubles him far more than the mistake itself.
The starfighter sinks lower, and the nauseating vibrations finally fade out, the atmosphere thickening to an impenetrable grey fog. Obi-Wan is flying blind, literally. The archives have no record of this planet. His only intelligence consists of the brief details his old Besalik friend Dex could recall.
Kamino. The planet of the storms. Inhabited by cloners. Beings skilled in the art of reproduction. Any species you like, but most often human. A single genetic source, modified to remove undesirable characteristics, and a rapid, family-free childhood of clinical indoctrination and accelerated growth. It is instinctively distasteful, but for Obi-Wan, curiously fascinating, and right now, strangely apt.
Obi-Wan has no memory of his mother. It is unsurprising; he had been brought to the Temple as an infant, some time shortly before his second birthday. Sometimes he thinks he has a vague recollection of his home world, of a field of long, swaying grass reaching nearly to his eyes, and a tall boy with light brown hair and freckled skin. But that image has long since become a memory of a memory. If it had ever been real at all.
As a child, Obi-Wan had sometimes contemplated the question of who his parents were, and of what they might have been like. But they had been exactly that: in the past tense. The question had been merely an idle curiosity, the very concept of his mother an abstraction. He had never felt any emotion about it.
Until he met Padmé.
Obi-Wan's life had not been empty of women. On the contrary, there had been many. Friends. On occasion, lovers. Though never both. Invariably strong. Frequently beautiful. But, even during the closest acts of physical intimacy, entirely separate from him.
But Padmé… Padmé had been different. A long time ago, on board the Naboo royal starship, he had watched her tuck an orange blanket around the shoulders of a shivering, nine-year old Anakin Skywalker, and then reassure the boy completely with a few simple words. It was a skill Obi-Wan would take literally years to master. Then, spontaneously, the questions had arisen. Had his own mother been like this? Had she loved him? Was she still out there, somewhere, old and sad, longing to tuck a blanket around his shoulders?
The notion of his mother as a living, breathing woman, as flesh and blood, had quite simply never occurred to him. But suddenly, there was Padmé, and it seemed important. Then, as now, simply being around her instilled in Obi-Wan a feeling of longing that he didn't quite understand. And in truth, it disturbed him.
The lower atmosphere of Kamino is just as grey as the upper part, and Obi-Wan relies on the little droid's reassuring beeps, together the obvious increase in turbulence, to tell him the surface is near. Finally, they dip below the clouds and he can make out the expanse of a vast, grey ocean. As his starfighter is increasingly battered by wind and rain Obi-Wan is relieved to see a circular landing platform appear out of the fog ahead. The electricity of a lightening strike suddenly crackles arches towards it. Well, here looks as good as anywhere...
Obi-Wan is soaked the instant he steps out of the cockpit, and pulls on his hood more out of habit than necessity, heading towards what he assumes in an entrance. A building rises ahead of him, looming and metallic, but he can't make out much more because of the blasted rain.
At the end of the walkway doors slide open automatically and he steps into a small lobby. The walls are light and featureless, the air cold and smelling of nothing at all. The Force hums gently with a faint warning of danger. I know, he thinks. Something here is not quite right…
After a few moments, and from the curves passage to his left, a tall – translucent-skinned and dark-eyed alien appears, swaying gracefully towards him.
"Master Jedi. The Prime Minister is expecting you." The voice is light and apparently feminine.
"I'm expected?" Now why does that not surprise me…
Obi-Wan's escort leads him down bleached-bright corridors until they reach the circular chamber where another being rises to greet them. Obi-Wan finds the alien's glassy black eyes impenetrable, but it… his Force signature is tranquil and, once again, without threat.
The conversation that follows leaves Obi-Wan no better informed as to the assassin's association with Kamino. He probes gently, both with words, and the Force, but instead finds himself in the middle of a much larger mystery. The Kaminoans are adamant that a certain Jedi, or someone pretending to be that Jedi, once placed an order with them. Rather a large order. And they seem to be under the impression that he has come to inspect the goods.
Could Master Sifa Dias really have commissioned an army of clones for the Republic before he died? Obi-Wan ponders the question as he follows the two aliens along yet more featureless corridors. In fact Obi-Wan remembers very little about the Jedi Master's death, occurring as it did, whilst Obi-Wan was still on Naboo. And, then, before he can stop it, the memory of that time inevitably leads him back to the person he is trying to forget.
Ten years. Obi-Wan feels so much older. But when they met again Padmé was exactly as he remembered. She had turned from the window as they entered the apartment, and he had bowed and shaken her hand. And there she was. Unchanged. The same softness, the same beauty. The same feminine grace. The same outer impression of confidence, wisdom and strength, tightly wrapped around something small, hidden and fragile.
The same gentle, sweet smile that transported him back to a sun-washed terrace and the shadow of a knot of emotions he had long since untangled and laid to rest. Or so he had thought. The grief, the resentment, and sense of abandonment at the loss of Qui-Gon had gone, certainly. But the icy stab of Padmé's deceit was suddenly fresh and raw. Sweet words, soft brown eyes and too-pink lips reassuring him that it was perfectly acceptable to find in her the comfort he suddenly realised he craved. Desperately. As soon as she offered it. And although fleeting, it had been more than just physical. It had been a connection. As if she knew him better than he knew himself.
But that comfort, had, apparently, been an act. Rationality tells him he should have forgiven her, or rather, that there is nothing to forgive. How old had she been? Seventeen? Eighteen? Barely a woman. Too young to know what she really wanted. And yet he had been persuaded with little more than a smile and a whisper to steal something from her that he had no right to take. And, worst of all, he hadn't even been able to stop, even when he'd realised what was happening. Maybe it had simply been a mistake. Or maybe it was inexcusable. It had been easier, on the whole, not to think about it.
Which was what he had quite successfully managed to do. Until now.
Just two days ago he had found himself, once again, entranced by her, just as his Padawan appeared to be. And as Anakin had mumbled his awkward complement Obi-Wan had found himself agreeing. She was, if anything, more attractive, and surprisingly, pleased to see them, or him… and suddenly he had wondered, of all things, if she was single. How could he have even allowed himself to think that?
Obi-Wan had been on edge for the rest of their short meeting. Anakin's insolence was not unusual but the way Obi-Wan allowed it to irritate him was. The young man's open admission of his attraction to the senator had certainly not helped.
You have made a commitment to the Jedi Order, a commitment not easily broken… Obi-Wan wasn't even sure if he had been lecturing his padawan or himself. And if he was quite honest, the prospect of hurling himself out of Padmé's window in pursuit of her would-be assassin had been entirely too attractive. In fact it had been a welcome escape.
Back in the present, Obi-Wan realises the two Kaminoans are looking at him, expectantly. He glances up to see that they have emerged into a glass tunnel, outside which a vast hall is visible, stretching seemingly to infinity in all directions. So this must be it. The clone production facility.
"Very impressive," Obi-Wan says automatically, assuming that is what they are waiting to hear.
"I'd hoped you would be pleased." The male Kaminoan smiles. "Clones can think creatively. You will find that they are immensely superior to droids."
Nearby, at the other side of the glass, Obi-Wan can see human foetuses bobbing gently inside individual clear pods. The pods are attached in rings around dial-like structures, each of which in turn is mounted on a thick vertical column. Each dial must hold about eighty pods. Each column contains at least twenty sets of six pods. And there are more columns than he can count. Obi-Wan's stomach turns over in revulsion. So much life...
The Kaminoan continues to regale him with all the benefits of an army made up of clones, and Obi-Wan nods and smiles politely. They continue along the corridor and pause to look out over another room, this one containing rows and rows of children, boys, all identical. They look to be around twelve years old, and they are all intently focused on the monitors in front of them, apparently some sort of learning programme.
"They are totally obedient," the Kamonian is saying, "taking any order without question."
Obi-Wan feels a smile ironic tug at his lips as the words lead his thoughts, once again, elsewhere. This time to Anakin. And later that same evening, two days ago, and their conversation on Padmé's balcony. The smile disappears.
Dreams pass, in time. It had been a meaningless statement, really. He'd had no idea what to say. The depth of Anakin's recurrent anxiety about the welfare of his mother is something that Obi-Wan can't comprehend. And suddenly, that saddens him.
He knows it is highly un-Jedi-like for him to be having these sort of self-centred thoughts but Obi-Wan cannot help wondering. What about his own mother? Had she said goodbye when they took him away, told him she would see him soon? Lied to him? Held him in her arms, knowing it would be for the last time? Cried for the loss of him? Or willingly abandoned him, secretly relieved to be free of a burden she did not understand?
Obi-Wan would like to hope that no Jedi was responsible for ordering the manufacture of living beings in this emotionless, clinical factory. But should he be surprised if that was the case? Was it barbaric of the Jedi to wrench babies from their families? Did it make them no better than the cloners? Reducing the younglings to little more than automata? Is that what he is?
In the peace of the Temple, in the heat of combat, and particularly when his conscious mind is short-circuited by the pure physicality of a light-saber duel, everything seems so simple. There is the Jedi, there is the Code, and there is his Duty.
But as the Kaminoans lead him out onto a balcony overlooking another vast hallway, this time containing neat ranks of a vast clone army, fully grown, operational and ready to fight, Obi-Wan realises that somehow, once again, Padmé has disrupted it all.
"Magnificant, aren't they?"
Obi-Wan nods silently, but does not reply.
Somehow, just by her presence, she has made him doubt everything he has ever believed in.