|Intimacy Without Intricacy
Author: Daniella Harwood PM
After Geonosis, Count Dooku asks for a Peace conference to take place between the New Republic and the Jedi, bringing Senators and Masters together in more ways than one. Meanwhile Palpatine aims to unleash a scandal which could break the Republic forever. With references to the film Deception, and Karen Miller's Wild Space, this is a Obidala Clone Wars AU.Rated: Fiction M - English - Mystery/Suspense - Padmé Amidala & Obi-Wan K. - Chapters: 23 - Words: 85,264 - Reviews: 104 - Favs: 20 - Follows: 38 - Updated: 05-24-13 - Published: 01-01-13 - id: 8860496
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: Thank you for your reviews. This part is a first in a series of chapters which cover the same event but from the different perspectives of certain characters. The end and opening paragraphs shall be the same, but the story within them will not. Warning, these parts will all end on a cliffhanger which will not be resolved until part 15. Enjoy.
Part 11: A Visit From the Ghost of Padawans Past.
A canopy of voices, their dulcet tones the chorus of a symphony, rising to a crescendo. Responses flew back and forth, ascending in decibel, then descending, as if waves travelling through a canyon. Current varied within dialect and dialogue, point and counterpoint, argument and negotiation. Under the supervision of their hosts these beings continued to debate, striving to iron out their differences until nothing impaired their desire for peace. Resistance was futile, humiliating even, for they had gone beyond the point of honourable withdrawal. Pride demanded peace from them now, their egos would settle for nothing less, nor would their people.
Count Dooku of Serenno, formally Jedi Master Dooku, fell into silence for a moment as he listened to the response fielded to him by one of the Republican Senators, concerning a point which he had just offered up for debate. As another Separatist broke into the conversation, along with the voice of one of the Jedi Masters attempting to add a supportive and calming tone to the proceedings, he reflected over all that led him to this peace conference on Pais.
One evening on his native homeworld, he had received a visit from a man he had never expected to meet with ever again, at least until he became one with the Force. During his meditation, he had felt a sudden chill steal over him, which no amount of sensitivity in the ancient being whom he served, or alteration to the internal thermal regulator system could dissipate. Parting his eyelids, he began to blink as he took sight of the figure in front of him, who bore a striking resemblance to his former Padawan; Qui-Gon Jinn. The lately lamented Jedi Master bowed in greeting, before declaring that he had become bitterly disappointed with his former mentor.
Such an opinion had taken him completely by surprise, especially when expressed in so blunt a manner that was typical of his old Padawan's character, not to mention the form and figure of the sight before him, who had clearly been sent by the Force to buck up his ideas. Within minutes, Dooku was awakened into an epiphany concerning the wayward path he had been heading down ever since he left the Order.
Until that evening, he had never realised that his idle wish expressed to Master Kenobi in what had been nothing more than a tactic to get the Jedi to talk, was in fact a very real desire to have a conversation with Qui-Gon, from whom he really needed some advice. Evidently the spirit of his former apprentice was an eavesdropper upon that interrogation, able to detect what his fervent Padawan had not, the unconscious, unspoken wish lying beneath the tactically voiced words.
He had left the Order not as result of the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, but due to the culmination of various, long standing disagreements with the Council, over the way with which said Council governed, and their relationship with the Senate and the Republic. During the years he had spent within the Order, he had witnessed it becoming increasingly detached from the universe in which it existed and recruited members from, and rigid within the structure of life which it established in the wake of the Ruusan Wars. Not that he disagreed with the need for discipline within the Order, or with some of the restrictions which had been placed upon its members as a possible prevention from such conflicts repeating themselves, but unlike others he had not seen the need for isolation from the Republic, or the deprivation of attachment, save for certain exceptions.
Unfortunately, he had been in the minority, one which continued to decrease in size as the years passed by and the Order settled into the new system. For awhile he had followed the practice of his apprentice, calling the Council to account when he could, blatantly disregarding their commands when they gave him no other option. But he was becoming an old man, and he grew tired of continuous debates.
As he began to revaluate his position within the Order, several events occurred which set him on his wayward path. Firstly, his relations had contacted him with the news that his elder sibling had died, leaving him the next incumbent of the ennoblement which had been accorded his family on Serenno for over a millennia. Just as he was debating on whether to accept the title, or allow it to be passed on to the next heir after him, news reached the Order of the blockade by the Trade Federation.
Due to the Council deciding that Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice would answer the request of the Chancellor to mediate over the tax dispute, Dooku had kept an interest on the events which followed. His astonishment over the Council rejecting a nine year old boy unusually strong within the Force was profound, but it was nothing next to his reaction concerning his apprentice's decision to put Padawan Kenobi before the Trials and take the nine year old boy as his new apprentice.
Barely had he time to fully comprehend these events before everything was thrown into confusion with the announcement of an election for a new Chancellor, and return of Qui-Gon and Kenobi to Naboo, to assist the young sovereign in her attempt to free her planet from the clutches of the Trade Federation.
No one expected what happened next, nor were they likely to forget it. Vividly did he recall the state of the Grand Master as he delivered the news, Yoda seeming to age another decade before his tear stricken gaze. The old troll held a profound respect for Qui-Gon, despite, or indeed perhaps because of their frequent disagreements, and was choked by the news of his passing at the hands of the Sith.
Dooku remembered preparing to declare himself ready to take on the young nine year old that his Padawan had so impetuously taken into his care, only to learn from Master Yoda that Kenobi had requested for the boy to become his apprentice, his defeat of the Sith considered enough by the Council to make him a Knight.
Yoda revealed that it had been Qui-Gon's last request to his apprentice that Kenobi take the boy as his apprentice, an act which surprised Dooku, for it seemed unlike his former Padawan to burden a man who had just become a Knight under difficult circumstances. That Kenobi was determined to follow through with the obligation did him credit, but the agreement of the Council, against Yoda's opinion, troubled him deeply. Abruptly he saw what the Grand Master had not, that a dark force was seeking to control future events, not just within the Order, but the Republic as well.
He resigned from the Jedi, soon after Qui-Gon's funeral had taken place, intent on discovering the identity of the Sith behind this dark force. His investigations led him to Kamino, where he discovered the cloning operation, along with the record that a mysterious being, claiming to be Jedi Master Syfo-Dias had requested the army be engineered.
Not wishing for the Order to interfere with his discoveries, for they would likely make the information available to the Republic, causing it to come to the attention of the dark force which he was investigating, Dooku had returned to the Temple and eliminated the location of Kamino from the archives, grateful that his old access codes still worked within the wake of his recent resignation.
Upon arrival in Serenno, he had been contacted by the Viceroy of the Trade Federation, who gave him the ability to get in touch with the dark force, the being having expressed a desire to meet with the recently resigned Jedi and former Master of the lately departed Qui-Gon Jinn. At first the being had hidden his true identity from him, causing Dooku to make himself appear receptive to the dark force's schemes, in the hope that, given time, he would learn all he needed to know.
But he had no idea of the danger into which such openness had thrust him. So subtle was the being's machinations, that he was seduced by layer upon layer of seemingly enlightened beliefs until he no longer knew how to untangle himself from the web he was meshed within. Only when the spirit of his former apprentice visited him, did he begin to see the glow of a candle in the darkness, pointing the way out.
Which led to him declaring a desire for peace, using his position as leader of the Separatists to couch the petition in formal terms, as something he could put before the Senate rather than the Supreme Chancellor, who unwittingly revealed himself as the being behind the dark force when the Military Creation Act was put forward. It was the only option which could perhaps rescue the Republic and the Jedi from the clutches of the dark being.
The Sith had stirred the conflicts into existence in the first place, knowing that the potential of a civil war would place the Republic under his control, granting him the power to dictate events, build up armaments, in all amass himself an empire. It was why Dooku had assumed leadership of the Separatists, in order to assure that this conflict came about.
By petitioning for peace, he could sabotage the Sith's schemes. Providing said peace was established, that is. Splitting the Republic had awakened ancient disagreements, many unresolved, causing the road to peace to become strewn with potential obstacles that might interfere or even prevent the treaty they were attempting to bring into being.
The Count broke from his internal introspection for a moment to glance across at the other people who had braved old disagreements to help him in this endeavour. Like his Padawan's Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who had grown into a fine Jedi Master, much as he protested against such an opinion back on Geonosis.
He remembered being surprised when Qui-Gon told him that he had taken on a new Padawan, one previously assigned to the Agri-Corps, despite being a favourite of the Grand Master. After all the grief Xanatos had caused his apprentice, Dooku doubted Qui-Gon would ever surrender to Master Yoda's constant hinting about the young man that the Force adored.
But once he had, the surrender was incredible. Bit by bit, Dooku witnessed his old apprentice revert to the man he had once been before Xanatos destroyed him, all due to the training of the Master who sat across from him now.
In the scant three conversations he had taken with him, Dooku could see why. There was something about Kenobi which drew you to him. Aside from how the Force regarded the man, from crechling to master, there was something else, an indefinable charisma, subtle yet disarming. A natural negotiator in appearance, drawing in confidences, inspiring confidence.
He spoke now, offering up a compromise, his fluent Coruscanti accent gently cutting across the room, overriding dissenters, persuading them to agree by the mere strength of his words. Qui-Gon had trained him well, yet he could recognise nothing of Jinn in him. But that was how it should be. No knight became a master without adapting the teachings of their training to their own style and character. Once they made themselves unique through negotiation, physical combat, then they earned the right to be called Knights or Masters.
Kenobi's first promotion was unusual, at least it was considered as such. Ordeal by Sith was an old trial for a more pre-russan age. That it was accomplished at the price of a master, and the acquisition of a Padawan was even more unorthodox. Dooku recalled being surprised that the Council had acquiesced to his Padawan's dying request that Obi-Wan trained the reputed Chosen One. Inwardly he grimaced as he thought of Qui-Gon's last stray. It had been a shock to sense the boy at his Padawan's funeral, the sheer power within him almost overwhelming him.
At first he had not noticed the fear lying underneath, slumbering, waiting to be stoked into an immutable fire. Only later, when he left the Order, when he discovered that the being behind the dark force wanted that fire, wanted that boy, craving him as a hunter would his prey. Coveting such power was the way of the Sith, he knew, but the sheer strength of that desire had terrified him when he first learned about it.
Even now, it still possessed the ability to discompose him, particularly since he had crossed lightsabers with the boy. Because he had seen the unconscious- or perhaps it was conscious, he was no longer sure of the difference - desire to acquire power, in the vain hope that it would satiate the flame of fear within him.
He wondered if Kenobi knew, recalling that moment an evening ago when he had warned him that Sidious coveted his apprentice, the fleeting expression which played across Obi-Wan's face. No surprise, only anticipated terror, almost as if he had confirmed a previous suspicion. Once more, he experienced a certain admiration for the pupil of his apprentice, for he had let the emotion show only for a second, before responding with his usual inscrutable serenity.
If anyone was Qui-Gon's enduring legacy, it was he and not the supposed Chosen One. Yes, his apprentice had disappointed him by placing a tremendous burden upon a young man barely into knighthood, but it was to Obi-Wan's credit that he had not shied away from assuming that burden, rising to the challenge of it, even if he perhaps doubted himself capable of accomplishing the task.
And he had succeeded, as much as anyone could succeed in training a boy who possessed such a sizeable amount of power. True Anakin was reckless, impetuous, arrogant and unsure of himself, but he was also a competent warrior, capable of formidable strength when solely focused on his opponent. When he fought them on Geonosis, Dooku remembered admiring the boy's achievements inspite of himself. The skill with which he handled his lightsaber, and for a brief time his master's, the strength in his character for not quailing in the face of a superior and more experienced opponent. Kenobi had accomplished more in ten years with the boy that any other master might have.
Someone else broke into the debate taking place before him now; a lighter voice, yet still possessing the same strength of character and eloquence as the previous speakers; Padmé Amidala, Senator from Naboo. She too he had first encountered on Geonosis as she pleaded for Kenobi's freedom, arguing the cause for peace. Young she might be, but formidable, he could not help but admire her as well.
He had yet to have a peaceful conversation with her, but he had observed her throughout this conference, her interaction with Master Kenobi, Master Muln and Senator Organa. Despite her youthfulness in both age and appearance, she had a way about which made you believe she was older than she truly was, as though she possessed experience and wisdom the length of several lifetimes, not twenty-four years. Many looked upon with admiration, not just for her intellect, but for her beauty, which she seemed unconscious of, though perhaps a part of her made use of it.
Politicians needed many strings to their bows if they were to be successful in their terms within the Senate, especially in times of darkness and intrigue, such as this. Despite all her charms, all her wisdom, all her youth, all her passionate desire for peace, she was a natural politician, commanding the same ability as Master Kenobi, to draw people in with her eloquent words, her ceaseless belief in the notion of peace. For all his cynicism Dooku admired that strength within her, that she was able to keep faith when all those around her had lost it long ago. Perhaps it was a factor of her youth, for he vaguely recalled being that fired with the beliefs of the Order before age and circumstance interfered.
When the being behind the dark forces ordered him to kill her, Dooku recalled feeling incredulous at the idea of such a young woman becoming a threat to the Sith. True she had foiled the being's plans once before, as a girl of fourteen, uniting the two disparate races on her world to defeat the blockade set up by the Trade Federation, but surely she could not further upset their schemes?
In the end he had been proved right, despite her surviving three attempts to kill her, she had not been able to prevent the acquisition of the clone army, or the Separatist's declaration for war. Yet she had succeeded as well, for here they sat, arguing for the very peace she had fought for so desperately.
He could see why Master Kenobi admired and respected her, why Master Yoda held the same opinion. Why she had risen to the post of Leader of the Opposition, held membership in the Loyalist and Security Committees. She posed a formidable threat to the schemes of the dark lord of the Sith. After all, she was native of the same planet, overseen his rise from governor to senator to chancellor. She had proved instrumental in paving the way for him to acquire the post. Yet he had also sensed the emotion the Chosen One held for her, a passion which held no bounds.
Anakin believed it was love, he could tell that much from the boy as he had stood beside her, the silent bodyguard while she argued for his master's freedom, but Dooku doubted it was. She loved him, or at least believed she did, though he suspected that it more out of a need to prove that it was possible for a Jedi to love rather than the man the boy she knew had become.
He wondered if the Order knew, Yoda certainly, not much escaped his former master, Obi-Wan perhaps, after all he had trained the boy long enough not to be insensible of the full nature of his character or attachments. Certainly Sidious knew, for he nurtured the emotion within the boy, manipulated him, all the while scheming to do away with the woman in the belief that it would prove the catalyst to the boy's fall to the dark side.
Dooku doubted Sidious' wisdom in turning such power, such a reckless young man to the nature of the dark. Anakin had not the ability to handle the negativity, the overwhelming anger against everything one had ever known, the desire to acquire knowledge and power, to rule over the universe. If Anakin proved his master's expectations, along with those of the Order, those of the Republic even, he could easily defeat Sidious, reason enough for the Sith to desire to turn him.
Yet even if he was turned, there would come a time when he craved more than Sidious could give him, and would seek to end his life, it was the way of the Sith. Ultimately, unless he could develop the ability to accumulate the boy's power within the Force into himself, in the end Sidious would regret turning him.
Senator Organa offered up his voice to the floor now, causing Dooku to consider him. He was the other person whom Obi-Wan chose to trust, a man who despite his ardent support for the chancellor, neither he nor Dooku had trusted to use as an ally for the Separatists. While Organa supported peace, he also believed that the Republic should have the means to protect itself, in the form of a commissioned army rather than constantly relying on the Jedi.
Like Amidala he ruled a world which practised non-violence, banned weapons, valued intelligence and wisdom over age. He was a the member of the Loyalist and Security committees, as well as various other branches of the Senate, a long serving, well loved and respected representative of Alderaan.
Palpatine respected the man's ability, his intelligence, experience, his eloquence, but felt threatened by his natural leadership qualities, the alliances he had discreetly accumulated in such formidable colleagues as Valorum, Mothma, Bel Ibis and Amidala. It was only to be expected that the Jedi would soon seek him out, realising only now that they needed allies within the Senate to protect them against the sithly stoked fires of the negative propaganda campaign that the chancellor's lackeys engineered. If someone ever possessed the daring to propose a vote of no confidence, any one of those, including Amidala and Organa himself could succeed to the post of chancellor.
Dooku pondered for a moment what would happen if Palpatine lost his seat of power, lost the chance for a war, his schemes ultimately all floundered by this conference. He doubted it would be the end of the Sith, or the end of the being's schemes. But he hoped it would give the universe a breathing space, a chance to arm itself against the next rise. That unlike Naboo, Geonosis would become a warning to all, of the peril of relaxing on one's laurels, turning a blind eye to the injustice carried out day after day in the limits of their universe.
He did not want to be here in another ten years time, fighting for a Republic which had become a shadow of its former greatness, for a Jedi Order struggling to reform itself after too many years of rigidity and isolation, for a motley band of systems and Federations, loosely grouped together, laughingly calling themselves a confederacy, when in reality the one thing they possessed in common was self serving desire for profit and power.
He caught something out of the corner of his eye just then. A flash of red hair, fleeting across his gaze, disappearing before his vision could properly make sense of the significance of such a colour. Someone called out his name and he turned away from his introspection back to the conference, respectfully asking for them to repeat the question, so he could answer in a competent manner.
The canopy of voices, their dulcet tones the chorus of a symphony, rising to crescendo, had no idea what was to come. Their responses, flying back and forth, ascending in decibel, then descending, as if waves travelling through a canyon, would never anticipate such an event, believing it to be impossible. Current varied within dialect and dialogue, point and counterpoint, argument and negotiation, but never in the least suspicion of what was to come their way.
Under the supervision of their hosts these beings continued to debate, striving to iron out their differences until nothing impaired their desire for peace, believing that they would remain protected as they had always been, by Pais' enduring ability to guard the lives of the beings who sought their neutral planet and hospitality.
Resistance was futile, humiliating even, for they had gone beyond the point of honourable withdrawal, only deliberate sabotage could threaten their continued participation. Pride demanded peace from them now, their egos would settle for nothing less, nor would their people, but in view of what was to come, perhaps pride would be mollified by a dignified retreat, in the face of insurmountable odds.
Explosions rocked the conference room.
Light came first, a cascade of red, orange, yellow, punctuated by harsh streaks of black, followed by the shock waves which served to shatter the transparisteel viewscreens, the glasses beside each being's position. Last to arrive was the sound, echoing throughout the cavernous room, rebounding off walls, doors, tables, chairs.
And suddenly the idyllic world of Pais was covered in debris, metal, wood, glass, and most terrible of all, bodies of unconscious beings, who had risked so much to come here in the aim of forming a treaty, and now had risked their lives as well.
To be continued...
Author's Note: This part is a first in a series of chapters which cover the same event but from the different perspectives of certain characters. The end and opening paragraphs shall be the same, but the story within them will not. Warning, these parts will all end on a cliffhanger which will not be resolved until part 15.