Star Wars Altered Universe
Episode III: Revenge of The Sith
Adapted from George Lucas' Star Wars Universe
Author's Note: Greetings, everyone! And welcome to the next adventure in my Star Wars Altered Universe series!
As you venture into the story, keep in mind that this one follows my own version of Episode II. As for the characters, you know most of them well – but you'll also find many new ones as you read along. Again, one thing to note – in my story, Ryoo and Pooja are brother and sister, not two girls as in the canon. Why? Well, it just fit better into my little world and, given that G.L. dropped it from the film completely, I decided it adapt it to my own world as I saw fit.
With that said and out of the way, I hope that you all enjoy this story – if it's your first time to read it, welcome, and if you've read it before, I hope you enjoy it just as much the second time around!
May the Force be with you all!
AU Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith
It has been almost four years since that morning at the Jedi Temple, in Mace Windu's audience chamber.
They had returned home to Naboo that same evening, amid much celebration by Padmé's family, and their new life together has been peaceful and content. Their love for each other, and the bond between them, has continued to grow, and the two of them have become inseparable, as the years and months have passed quickly by.
With the help of Ruwee Naberrie, Padmé's father, she and Anakin have built a thriving family business. The combination of Padmé's exceptional management skills, honed from her many years of public service, and Anakin's uncanny repair and construction skills have proven to be an amazing combination, and their family has enjoyed the contentment and prosperity that the fruits of their labors have provided.
Anakin has continued to grow more at one with the Force, and his skills have grown almost as quickly and powerfully as his love and devotion for Padmé. He has faithfully kept up with his training and saber practice, in no small part because of Padmé's continual encouragement, and, as his knowledge of the Force has grown, he has become an incredible swordsman over the past four years.
True to Master Windu's word, the Council, for the most part, has left them in peace, and, other than an occasional visit and hologram from Anakin's former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, they have grown happily accustomed to the relative seclusion that their family's home on Naboo has brought them. Indeed, except for several trips to Coruscant for Anakin to meet with the Council, and an occasional one to Tatooine to visit Cleige, Owen, and Beru, their cruiser has remained in the small hangar that Anakin, Ruwee, and Darred built for it shortly after their return home.
Their last trip had been a wonderful occasion indeed, as, just over six months ago, they had traveled to Anakin's old home to celebrate Owen and Beru's long awaited wedding. The celebration was twofold, however, as Anakin and Padmé broke the news to his extended family that Padmé was expecting.
As the weeks passed after they first received the joyous news that they would soon be parents, their joy was compounded again when, late one night, while she lay in the love and security of Anakin's arms, she had told him that she carried not one child, but two; twins, it seemed, would soon arrive to bless their lives with even more happiness.
In dark contrast to Anakin and Padmé's peaceful life on Naboo, across the quadrant, the Clone Wars have continued to rage on, sporadically, as the newly founded Republic Army continues to repel attack after attack by battalions of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Despite Count Dooku's apparent defeat on Geonosis almost four years ago, the Confederacy has remained intact, and disputes and conflicts have begun to rise in recent months.
After their losses on Geonosis at the start of the Clone Wars, the Jedi have found themselves spread thin across the galaxy, as they attempt to maintain peace and stem the powers and growing influence of the Dark Side. Count Dooku has not been seen or heard from since he left Geonosis on the day the battle had begun, and his whereabouts remain as much of a mystery as the identity of the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, now a member of the Jedi Council, has been given the daunting assignment of attempting to learn the identity and whereabouts of the elusive Sith Lord and his apprentice.
As we resume our story, we find Anakin at work in his family's repair shop. It is late afternoon, and Naboo's blue sky is beginning to turn a dark topaz, as the sun begins to slip low toward the horizon.
Anakin looked through the dark smoke goggles that he held up to his eyes as he sealed the last circuit on the small power coupling; the bright, white light of the fuser in his hand reflected off the wall near him as he worked. The seal complete, he lowered the goggles and admired his work for a moment; he laid the goggles and fuser down on the seat of the speeder bike that he worked on, and touched the frame of the power coupling gingerly; it wasn't too hot.
"How's it coming?" Ruwee asked, wiping his hands on the dirty rag that he kept in his pocket. He looked over Anakin's shoulder with a keenly interested expression, as he watched his son-in-law snap the power coupling back in place.
"Well," Anakin sighed, studying the coupling intently as he secured it and snapped the wiring harnesses back into place, "we're gonna find out in just a minute."
Ruwee watched as Anakin stood up and turned toward him, taking the dirty rag that his father-in-law offered him. " Would you like to do the honors?" Anakin grinned, wiping his hands.
Ruwee smiled at him, and, reaching over to the handlebars, he flipped the enabler switch, and pressed the starter.
The engine turned over several times, slowly, and then, with a burst of dust from the emitters under the bike, the engine sprang to life, as the bike rose several inches off the floor, hovering steadily.
"Ha,ha, I knew it!" Ruwee exclaimed, giddy as a schoolboy, as he turned to Anakin, patting him proudly on the back. "I told old Barrymore that you could fix it!"
Anakin laughed, wiping his hands as Ruwee pushed the throttle several times; the engine whined smoothly, just like new. "Good work, son," he said, looking back at Anakin proudly. "You never cease to amaze me."
"Thanks, Dad," Anakin chuckled, picking up his tools from the bike's seat.
"Tell you what," Ruwee said, as he flipped the switch and powered the speeder's engines back off, "don't even bother cleaning up the shop tonight. We'll get it in the morning."
"Sounds good to me," Anakin nodded, as he placed his tools back on his workbench; as he did, Ruwee took hold of the handlebars and pushed the bike slowly toward the front of the workshop. Anakin finished wiping the last of the carbon from his hands, and then tossed the rag back over onto his workbench.
They both heard the loud chirp from the comlink in Anakin's pocket, as it echoed through their small workshop. "That would be home now," Ruwee chuckled, as he turned and watched Anakin pull the small device from his pocket. He pressed the button on the small device, and he heard the chirp from the other end as the com channel opened.
"How's it coming over there, sweetheart?" a sweet, melodic voice called, inquisitively.
"Told ya," Ruwee said with a wink, looking back over his shoulder as he heard his daughter's voice over the comlink. Anakin grinned back at him, as he watched Ruwee push the bike through the door and into the front of the shop.
"Just fine," Anakin said. "We're just finishing up now."
"Good," he heard Padmé reply happily. "Hurry home. Dinner will be ready by the time you get here."
"Tell her we'll be there in a few minutes," he heard Ruwee call loudly from the front of their workshop. "And tell her we're starving!"
"Did you hear that?" Anakin asked, chuckling under his breath.
"I did," he heard Padmé laugh on the other end. "Hurry home, then. Love you."
"Love you, too," Anakin said, and then he tucked the comlink back into his pocket and, turning off the light over his workbench, he walked toward the front of the shop.
Their shop was centered in the middle of a bustling commercial district, only a short distance from their home, so it never took them more than a few moments to get home in the evening. In the almost four years since they had opened it, they had built a thriving business. Anakin's skills as a repairman for, well, pretty much anything, had become widely known in the small village in which they made their home. So much so, in fact, that it wasn't unusual for them to have items brought by courier droids from locations much farther away.
Anakin rode in the passenger's seat of their small speeder, enjoying the cool evening breeze as Ruwee piloted them out of the city proper and down the quiet, winding road that lead to their home. His hair was considerably longer now, and he ran his hand through it, sweeping it out of his eyes, as he leaned back in the seat and took a deep, contented breath.
Padmé liked it longer; after they had come home to Naboo and begun their new life together, he had let it grow out a bit. She had grown so fond of it, that she had encouraged him to keep letting it grow, and she kept it trimmed for him so that it now reached just to the top of his shoulders. Whatever pleased her suited him, and, though he had never cared for long hair before the two of them were married, he had come to like it, once he had gotten used to it.
He couldn't imagine being any happier. He and his father-in-law had grown very close over the time that he and Padmé had been married, and he thoroughly enjoyed these commutes with him back and forth to their workshop every day. Their morning rides to the shop were usually filled with conversation about what needed to be done during the day, and then, in the evenings, the topics usually shifted to home and family.
Family was always a favorite topic for them both. Especially lately.
"How's she feeling today?" Ruwee asked, as he turned his eyes from the road toward Anakin for a moment.
"She said she felt a little sick this morning," Anakin replied. "But I checked on her around midday today and she said she felt fine."
"Just like her mother," Ruwee sighed, looking back out toward the road as they zipped smoothly along. "She had the same problem with both of the girls," he said, and then laughed quietly. "But Padmé was worse."
"That's what Mom told me," Anakin laughed back at him.
"Well," Ruwee grinned, "I think it was just Padmé getting a head start on stirring things up."
"And she's been doing it ever since," Anakin laughed, as Ruwee turn the speeder off the main road and started down the long drive to their home.
"Yes, indeed," Ruwee said, as he turned the speeder up near the front of their large, brightly lit house. "I'm afraid you're going to have your hands full, my boy," he said with a broad smile.
Ruwee powered down the speeder, as they slowed to a stop. He turned and watched, as amazed and amused as ever, as Anakin, quite effortlessly, sprang from the seat, completely clearing the side of the speeder. "What's the hurry, boy?" he called, as usual, as he watched Anakin trot toward the house. "She'll be there when you get there."
Ruwee knew many things about Anakin Skywalker; some he understood, and some, such as his Jedi skills and mastery of the Force, he didn't. But the one that warmed his heart the most was knowing how much this bright, sandy haired young man truly loved his youngest daughter. Anakin's life revolved around her, and he could never have hoped for her to be loved more completely or more deeply than she was by Anakin.
"And, predictable as the tides," Ruwee laughed under his breath, watching Anakin turn the doorknob and enter the house, "the eternal honeymoon goes on."
"Do you think this casserole is ready, Mom?" Padmé asked, as she opened the oven door slightly, and looked in at the bubbling, simmering dish.
Jobal started to answer, and then she paused as she looked up from the sink where she worked toward the kitchen door, as she saw him standing there.
She had grown accustomed to this game that the two of them played from time to time. At first, Anakin had found it relatively easy to catch Padmé by surprise, and he took great delight in doing so. But, as the bond between her youngest daughter and Anakin had grown stronger over the years, he was finding it more and more of a challenge to do so, yet he still tried, from time to time.
Anakin stood quietly in the doorway to the kitchen; he raised his finger to his lips, as he looked across the kitchen to where Padmé stood, talking to her mother.
Jobal, nodded, quietly, as she turned and walked back to the counter where her daughter stood. "I think it should be, Padmé," she said, reaching into the cupboard beside her and retrieving a stack of plates. "Let's go ahead and take it out."
Anakin took a silent step into the kitchen, just as Padmé opened the oven door and carefully removed the casserole dish and placed it on top of the stove.
"I feel you back there," Padmé suddenly said, as she looked up from the dish that she had just taken out of the oven, her back still turned to him.
"You're losing your touch, Anakin," Jobal sighed, shaking her head as she picked up the plates and started toward the dining room with them.
"I don't know if I'm losing my touch," Anakin chuckled, as Jobal walked up to him and elbowed him gently, and then walked into the dining room, "or if hers is just getting better."
Anakin walked across the kitchen and wrapped his arms gently around Padmé from behind, and leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. "I'm just going to give up trying to sneak up on you," he said, as she turned her head and looked at him with a smile.
"You might as well," she beamed, as she looked over her shoulder at him. "I felt you when you turned off the main road toward the house."
"You wouldn't let him," Anakin heard Jobal call loudly from the dining room. "You enjoy that game too much, and so does he."
Padmé laughed, and then she closed her eyes as he leaned toward her and kissed her tenderly. "Hi," she said, opening her eyes and smiling warmly at him.
"Hi," Anakin beamed back at her, as Padmé turned and hugged him, tightly.
"Did you have a good day?" she asked, as she released him, but only partway, from her warm embrace.
"I did," Anakin nodded. "I got that speeder bike running that old man Barrymore brought in yesterday."
"Of course you did," Padmé nodded. "There was never any doubt that you would."
Padmé gazed at him fondly for a moment, and then she slipped her hands down from around his neck and, taking his hands gently in hers, she placed them softly on her round stomach. "They've been moving a lot today," she said, grinning up at him. "I felt them both kick just before you got home."
Anakin looked down, smiling as he moved his hands, very gently, on her stomach. "Just hold your hands still," Padmé said, as she placed her hands gently on his. "They'll move in a minute."
Padmé looked up at him, just as she felt the soft thump inside her womb, just beneath Anakin's hand. She laughed, softly, as she watched him smile, his face beaming with an almost childlike wonder, as he felt their unborn twins move inside her.
"I think they know their daddy's here," she chuckled, as Anakin looked up at her and their eyes met.
Padmé closed her eyes as Anakin leaned down and kissed her, softly. She felt that strong, soothing tremor again, the same one she felt whenever his heart spoke to hers.
"I love you, too," she said, softly, as she opened her eyes and gazed fondly up at him.
"Well, there you are," Sola said, as she walked into the kitchen from the dining room. "We were wondering if you and Dad were home yet," she said, as she looked at Anakin as he and Padmé stood near the kitchen counter, his hands still on her stomach.
"Have you felt them move yet today?" Sola asked, as she opened the drawer near the stove and placed a large spoon in the dish that Padmé had taken out of the oven a few moments before.
"Just now," he nodded, his face still beaming brightly.
Padmé turned to her sister as she answered him. "They've been jumping all over the place today," Sola sighed. "I'm surprised she can even sit still with all that moving around."
"By the way," Sola said, as she picked up the dish and turned toward him again. "Ryoo wanted to know earlier if his Uncle Ani would have time to help him with that droid you've got him building. Darred looked at it with him earlier, but he thought it might help if you gave him a hand."
"I'll be happy too," Anakin nodded. "Right after dinner."
"Speaking of droids," he said, glancing around the kitchen, "where's Threepio? I didn't see him when I came in."
"He's out back," Padmé said, nodding toward the garden at the rear of the house. "He's been out working all afternoon on that irrigation system that Mom's been wanting."
"Well, come on, you two," Sola said, looking over her shoulder at them as she headed toward the dining room. "Dinner's on the table."
Anakin placed his hand gently on Padmé's shoulder, and then they followed Sola out of the kitchen and into the dining room.
Jobal looked up from her end of the long dining room table; she sighed, quite contentedly, as her family sat gathered around it, talking happily as they passed plates and dishes back and forth.
She remembered when the table was shorter, before Anakin and Padmé had come home to stay. Ever since the girls where young, she and Ruwee had occupied the places at the end of the long rectangular table, and Padmé and Sola had both sat on either side. When Padmé had gone off to the service academy, and Sola married, Darred had taken her youngest daughter's place, and, when Ryoo and Pooja arrived, they had set them, one on either side, with their parents. And then, when Anakin and Padmé had arrived, they had rummaged through the house and, with considerable effort, tracked down the two extra leaves and added them, and, rearranging the seating order yet again, made room for the newest additions to the family.
She smiled, as she realized that, soon, they would be rearranging one more time. If the measure of a full life were to be gauged by the number of one's children and grandchildren who occupied the house, then, she thought to herself, her life was full indeed.
"So," she said, looking to Ruwee across the table. "I trust things went well at the shop today?"
"Very well, indeed," Ruwee nodded, looking up from his plate. "Anakin and I are caught up on almost everything that came in last week, which is good, considering the amount of work we've taken in this week."
"You're going to have to hire more help," Darred said, as he took the large plate of rolls that Jobal offered to him and, placing one on his plate, passed it on to Sola.
"We were talking about that today," Anakin said, looking up from his plate. "We're thinking about bringing Threepio in to the shop more so he can handle some of the routine stuff."
"That should work," Darred nodded, taking a bite of the roll he had placed on his plate. "He gets bored around her during the day anyway, from what I hear. Plus, it'll save on overhead."
"And, not to mention," Ruwee added, looking at Anakin with a grin, "that Anakin fixed that old speeder bike that old man Barrymore said couldn't be fixed."
"You're kidding," Darred laughed, looking across the table at Anakin. "Already?"
"Told you he would," Padmé said, looking up from her plate and smiling slyly at her brother-in-law.
"The best part is," Ruwee continued, "old Barrymore said that he was so sure it couldn't be fixed, that he'd pay us double what we normally charged if he did." He took a long swig from his glass, and then grinned widely. "It'll be worth twice that just to see the look on his face when he comes in tomorrow."
"That's fantastic," Sola exclaimed. "That should be enough to completely finish up the new nursery."
"That's what I was thinking," Ruwee said, looking at Anakin and Padmé across the table, seeing Padmé's face light up at the suggestion. "We'll put all those credits toward what we need, and we'll have it ready in a week or two."
"Well," Jobal said, "that's wonderful. Those babies will be here in a few more weeks, so that couldn't have worked out better."
"It may be sooner," Padmé said, sticking out her tongue playfully and rubbing her stomach. "As much as they've moved around today, I'll be surprised if they can wait that long."
"Get all the sleep you can now, Anakin," Darred sighed, shaking his head as he grinned back at his brother-in-law. "Once they get here, you won't get much for a while."
"Oh, don't be silly," Sola replied, shaking her head. "He'll hold up just fine."
"The sooner, the better," Anakin sighed, smiling warmly at Padmé as she looked up at him. "But not too soon. Whenever they're ready."
"I'm ready for them to get here, too," Pooja said, looking at her aunt with a grin from her seat next to her mother. She was twelve years old now, and the spitting image of her mother when she was her age. "Aunt Padmé said I'm old enough now to help out, and I'm going to."
"I've already got your job all picked out, Pooja," Padmé nodded. "You get the honor of handling the midnight feedings."
Pooja's mouth hung open for a minute, as she looked at her aunt in silence and swallowed, hard and slowly.
"I think your Aunt Padmé's playing with you, Pooja," Sola said to her daughter with a laugh, patting her reassuring on the arm. "I don't think you're quite equipped for that job, yet."
Anakin laughed at his niece as she looked back across the table at Padmé. "That wasn't funny," Pooja said, as Padmé laughed back at her.
"Babies are gross," Ryoo said, looking up from his plate and wrinkling up his ten year old nose, as he sat next to Anakin. "They smell funny."
"So do you," Anakin laughed, turning to his nephew, "but we still love you."
Padmé laughed as she watched her husband suddenly grimace in pain. "Ow," Anakin laughed, as Ryoo kicked him under the table. "Okay, buster," Anakin chuckled. "That's gonna cost you later."
"Yeah, that's what you always say," Ryoo said with a mischievous grin, as he went back to his dinner.
"Behave yourselves, boys," Padmé sighed, as they both turned and looked at her, sheepishly, "or we're going to send you both to bed early."
Anakin turned and looked at her and, raising his eyebrow and grinning mischievously, he turned and looked back at Ryoo. "Quick," he said, leaning down closer to his nephew. "Kick me again."
"Without me," Padmé leaned over and laughed softly in his ear, pinching his arm playfully.
Anakin sat quietly for a moment, and then leaned back over toward Ryoo, very slowly. "Never mind," he said out of the corner of his mouth, and then he sat back up slowly and picked up his fork again, grinning sheepishly back at her.
Ruwee shook his head, slowly. "Some things never change," he sighed, andhe went back to his dinner, as the plates and conversation continued to make their way around the table.
Padmé leaned quietly against the door frame of Ryoo's bedroom; she folded her arms across her chest, as she looked in and watched as Anakin sat in the floor next to him in the corner of her nephew's room.
The droid was a work in progress, and he looked much like Threepio had so many years ago when she had first met Anakin, yet he was no where near as complete. Ryoo had only been working on this one for a few months, and, with a little help and direction, and a steady supply of spare parts from his uncle's workshop, he was doing a fine job.
The floor was littered with parts, motors, and circuits of all kinds, and she watched quietly as Anakin handed the logic probe to his nephew, and pointed to the small, spinning motor that flashed near the center of the droid's unfinished chest.
"See, right there?" Anakin said, pointing to a small, shiny terminal near the smoothly revolving motor.
"Yep," Ryoo said, nodding his head, as he looked to the spot where his uncle pointed.
"That's the motor circuit," Anakin said. "That's the one that'll control his arms and legs so he can walk. If you've got him wired up right," Anakin said, looking back at his nephew, "when you touch that probe to that circuit, his arms should raise."
"So," Anakin sighed, as Ryoo looked back at him, a little unsure of himself. "Do you think you have him wired up right now?"
"I think so," Ryoo said, his face a little apprehensive.
"Well, then, go ahead," Anakin nodded. "Let's see what happens."
Ryoo reached out, a little shakily, and took a deep breath, as he touched the logic probe to the small, shiny terminal and pressed the button on the probe.
Anakin smiled as, slowly, the droids arms began to lift slowly from their position near the droid's unfinished sides into the air.
"I did it!" Ryoo exclaimed excitedly, turning to look at Anakin with a wide grin. "He works!"
"Of course he does," Anakin laughed back at him, patting him soundly on the back. He smiled as he watched Ryoo release, and then depress the button on the probe, again and again, as the droid's arms waved slowly, up and down.
"Very good, Ryoo," Padmé said brightly, as she clapped her hands and took a step into the room from the doorway where she had been watching them.
Anakin turned his eyes to her, as Ryoo looked up at her excitedly. "Look, Aunt Padmé," he said, his face beaming proudly. "He works!"
"I see that," she nodded, as she took a step closer to Anakin as he stood up, slowly, from his spot on the floor next to Ryoo. "You keep working on him like that," Padmé said, as she took Anakin's hand in hers, "and Threepio and Artoo will have a new friend to help them out in no time."
"Can we see if we can get his speech system to work tomorrow, Uncle Ani?" Ryoo asked, excitedly, as Anakin smiled down at him.
"Sure," Anakin nodded, as Padmé gazed at Anakin fondly, rubbing his back as she stood next to him.
"Cool!" Ryoo said, as he slowly removed the logic probe from the terminal, and watched with a sense of pride as his droid's arms slowly lowered back to its sides.
"Your mother said to tell you it's time for you to get ready for bed, Ryoo," Padmé said. "She'll be in to check on you in a little while. You'd better get your things put away."
"Okay," Ryoo said obediently, as he reached for his small toolbox and started to put away the parts and tools that lay strewn over the floor.
"It's time for Uncle Ani to come to bed, too," Padmé said, squeezing Anakin's arm tightly. "He's had a busy day."
"Okay," Ryoo said again, as he looked up at them with a smile. "G'night, Uncle Ani."
"Goodnight, Ryoo," Anakin replied, as he and Padmé turned and started toward the door.
"Goodnight, Ryoo," Padmé called over her shoulder to her nephew, as he looked up and smiled at her.
"G'night, Aunt Padmé," Ryoo said, and then went back to putting away the last of his tools.
Anakin leaned back against the soft pillows of their bed, watching her quietly as she sat at her dressing table, brushing her long, brown hair. It was longer now, as she had let it grow out along with his, and it hung almost down to her waist. It was curlier than it used to be, something that Padmé attributed to her current condition, but she liked it, and she wore it down more, letting it hang in loose, thick waves around her shoulders.
"That was very sweet of you to help Ryoo tonight," Padmé said, as she pulled her brush slowly through her hair. "He really likes it when you help him."
"I like helping him," Anakin replied, as he rolled over on his side and propped his head up on his elbow, facing her. "It reminds me of when I built Threepio all those years ago."
"I've noticed that," Padmé grinned, looking back at him in the mirror. "Sometimes, I can't tell which one of you is having more fun," she said, as she laid her brush down on her mirror. "You or him."
"That's easy," Anakin chuckled, as she turned around and looked at him fondly. "I am."
"That's what I thought," she laughed, as she stood up from her chair and walked to the side of the bed. She slipped her robe off of her shoulders and hung it over the chair next to their bed, and then looked at him fondly, as she placed her hands gently on her full, round stomach.
"My nightgown doesn't fit me quite the way it used to," she sighed, seeing the soft, white silk gown stretched across her belly.
She smiled as Anakin leaned toward her and kissed her gently on her little round belly. "I think it fits you better than ever," he said, looking up at her fondly.
"You're sweet," Padmé smiled back at him, as Anakin pulled back the covers and helped her into bed beside him.
Padmé snuggled closely beside him as he pulled the bedclothes up over her, and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck as he settled himself down close beside her, wrapping his strong arms around her.
She looked down, as she felt her stomach touch his body long before the rest of her. "Funny," she laughed, looking back up at him, "I don't remember this being a problem a few months ago."
"What problem?" Anakin laughed softly, as he snuggled closer to her, lifting the covers and looking down at her distended little belly. "I don't see any problems," he said, as he lowered the covers and laid his head back on the pillow beside hers and gazed lovingly at her. He kissed her gently, and then reached down and placed his hand gently on her stomach. He closed his eyes for a moment, and, instinctively, she did the same.
The feeling was magical; they had grown accustomed to each other's familiar, soothing tremor over the years, the ones that they felt in their hearts whenever they were together and, indeed, even when they were apart. Yet now, as Anakin touched the living Force that flowed through her, they felt not only each other's presence, but that of their unborn children as well; four lives, four hearts, beating together in perfect harmony.
They opened their eyes and gazed at each other for a long, quite moment, and then Anakin leaned down and kissed her, long and passionately.
Their lips parted, and Padmé turned and watched as, effortlessly, Anakin raised his hand, and reaching into the Force, turned off the light.
Obi-Wan fumbled sleepily in the darkness of his bed chamber for the comlink that lay on the table near his bed, chirping loudly.
"Why do they make these things so blasted loud?" he grumbled to himself, as he groped for the device in the darkness. The shrill, high pitch tone wasn't one of the most pleasant ways to be pulled from a peaceful night's sleep.
He found it, finally, and, flopping limply onto his back in his bed, he pressed the small button on the device and opened the com channel.
"Yes," he said, somewhat grumpily, as he lifted the small device to his face.
"Obi-Wan?" he heard the familiar voice say, small and tinny through the comlink's speaker. "This is Mace Windu. Did I wake you?"
"No, it's all right, Master," Obi-Wan said, lifting himself up and turning on the small lamp that sat on the table next to his bed. The venerable Jedi Master never called him at this hour, unless there was some serious matter that needed his attention. Obi-Wan blinked his eyes in the soft light, and then rubbed them with his free hand, as he tried to wake himself.
"I'm sorry to wake you, Obi-Wan," Mace said, "but this is urgent. Can you be at the platform in fifteen minutes?"
"Of course, Master," Obi-Wan said, as he sat up straighter in his bed, his expression becoming more serious. "Is something wrong?"
There was a long pause on the other end of the comlink. "It's happened again," Mace said finally, his voice somber and resolute. "I'll explain on the way. We'll see you shortly."
Obi-Wan looked at the comlink as it beeped again, and then fell silent. He leaned back on his elbows, thoughtfully, for a long moment and then, tossing the bedclothes to the side, he bolted up and out of his bed.
The evening sky was heavily overcast, obscuring the light of Coruscant's two larger moons, as they shone hazily through the charcoal colored skies. The wind gusted, somewhat strongly at times, causing the light mist that fell from the angry skies to swirl wildly across the platform, reflected in the bright lights of the buildings around them.
Obi-Wan stood under the awning near the door to the landing platform of his residential complex, and he pulled the hood of his cloak up farther over his head, as he felt another gust of cool, damp wind on his face. He watched as the small transport swung around the side of the building into view and descended quickly toward the platform, the lights of the building reflecting brightly off of its wet, silver hull.
He stepped out from under the awning, and pulling his cloak tight around him, he started quickly across the platform toward the ship as it settled onto the dark surface, its breaking thrusters casting huge swirls of moisture into the air around it.
The door slid open, quickly, as Obi-Wan approached the transport, and, taking hold of the handle just inside the door, he pulled himself quickly up and into the cabin.
Mace Windu nodded to the young pilot at the controls; reaching over and pressing a button on the console beside him, he pulled back on the controls, smoothly. As the pilot guided the ship back up into the dark, misty skies, the door slid closed quickly, and Mace Windu turned his attention to Obi-Wan.
"I'm sorry to have to call you out in such inhospitable weather, Obi-Wan," Mace said, as he and Jedi Master Ki-Ati Mundi watched Obi-Wan toss the hood of his cloak back onto his shoulders, and take the seat in front of them.
"It's quite all right, Master," Obi-Wan said, as he shook his arms, trying to shed at least some of the water from his dark brown cloak, and then turned his attention to the two Jedi Masters who sat before him. "I'm just sorry that you've had to."
"As are we," Ki-Ati Mundi said, solemnly.
Obi-Wan lifted his hand to his face, and wiped the water from his thick beard slowly and thoughtfully; he was ready for some answers.
"You said it's happened again, Master," he said, turning his attention to Mace Windu. "Are you certain?"
"Yes," Mace said, casting his eyes down toward the floor of the transport for a moment, and then looking back up at Obi-Wan. "They were found just a few hours ago."
Obi-Wan closed his eyes, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees. He took a long, deep breath, and then looked back at Mace Windu, a sad, pained expression on his face. "Who?" he said, solemnly.
"Saesee Tin," Master Mundi said quietly, nodding his long, white bearded head slowly, "and his apprentice."
Obi-Wan nodded his head, slowly, and then turned his eye's downward again. They all sat in silence, as their transport began to descend slowly toward the city below them.
Obi-Wan stood quietly in the lift as they ascended slowly into the large building, his mind rolling the events of recent weeks over and over, trying to make some sense of what was happening.
This was the third such incident in as many weeks; the first was thought to be an ambush, the work of bounty hunters or some other criminals. But now, it had happened three times. Each case was almost identical; a Jedi and his apprentice, slain in their own quarters, in the same manner.
For years, the Jedi Masters had lived in the Temple dormitories; not until two years ago had they changed that tradition. The Clone Wars had lasted far longer than any of those on the Council had anticipated; that, coupled with their losses on Geonosis almost four years ago, and the increasing presence of the Dark Side, had led the Council to decide that it would be best to disperse throughout the general population, thereby making it more difficult to target the Jedi in large groups. It was a change that had serve them well.
The lift doors opened, and Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, and Ki-Ati Mundi stepped through the door and made their way down the long, ornate hallway. Midway down the hall, a young Jedi, his padawan braid evident by his right ear, stood watch near the door to one of the living quarters.
Mace Windu nodded to the young padawan who stood near the doorway of the quarters as they reached the door and, bowing reverently to the three Jedi Masters who approached him, he pressed the control panel on the side of the door and, as it slid slowly open, he stepped to the side, allowing them to enter the room.
Obi-Wan tossed his hood back onto his shoulders as he, Mace, and Ki-Ati Mundi entered the quarters.
"The best we can tell," Mace Windu said, as he turned around and looked at Obi-Wan, his expression deeply thoughtful, "is that they were attacked approximately three hours ago."
Obi-Wan looked carefully around the large, spacious living quarters. There had obviously been a struggle; furniture and other objects lay strewn around the room haphazardly, and several of the walls bore the deep, telltale burns where a the blade of a light saber had struck them.
"Attacked by whom?" Obi-Wan asked, thoughtfully, as he turned his eyes back to his fellow Jedi Masters.
"That," Ki-Ati Mundi said, lifting his large eyebrows thoughtfully, "is the great mystery."
"Just as in the other two attacks," Mace said, as he turned and walked slowly toward the back of the large living quarters, "they were found in the back room of their quarters."
Obi-Wan and Ki-Ati Mundi followed him, and, as Mace reached the door, he stepped to the side, and motioned for him to enter.
Obi-Wan felt his heart twinge as his eyes took in the site before him as he entered the dimly lit room. Again, the room was in shambles; the walls and draperies were burned and charred from numerous saber slashes, and the smell of charred material filled the once neat and sparsely decorated room.
There, sprawled across one of the beds, lay the body of Saesee Tin, and, near the wall not far from him, that of his apprentice, Zan Jalar.
"It would appear," Mace Windu said, as he watched Obi-Wan walk slowly across the room and look forlornly at Tin's body, "that they were attempting to retreat farther into their quarters from their attacker when they were killed."
Obi-Wan gathered his cloak in his hand, as he sat down slowly on the bed next to Saesee Tin's body. "Master Tin was a powerful swordsman," he said, turning and looking over his shoulder at his two companions. "It would have taken a strong foe to defeat him, much less cause him to retreat."
"Agreed," Ki-Ati Mundi said, nodding his head slowly.
Obi-Wan looked back at Tin's body; very gently, he reached over and lifted the edge of his cloak, pulling it back so that he could see the fallen Jedi's tunic. He took a deep breath, as he saw the dark, charred material on his tunic; just as in the other four deaths, he and his apprentice had been killed by a single, clean saber thrust through the chest.
"Their weapons?" Obi-Wan said, turning back and looking at his companions.
"Taken," Master Mundi said with a nod. "Just as before."
Obi-Wan nodded, and then stood up, slowly, as he looked at the two fallen Jedi before him one more time, and then followed his two companions back out into the main living area.
The three of them walked over and gathered near the window, drops of moisture glinting in the darkness as they rolled slowly down its translucent surface. They stood quietly, looking out over the dark, foggy city for a long time.
Finally, Mace Windu spoke. "Three Jedi," he said, his eyes looking out thoughtfully over the city, "and their three apprentices, all killed in the same manner."
He turned and looked back at Obi-Wan and Ki-Ati Mundi. "One thing is certain," he said, a deeply somber expression on his dark skinned face. "This is no coincidence."
"Whoever or whatever is behind these attacks," Ki-Ati Mundi said, looking at Obi-Wan intently, "is extremely skilled in the Jedi arts."
"Since no Jedi would consider committing such an atrocity," he continued, turning his eyes toward Mace Windu, his deeply logical, binary brain at work, "it is a forgone conclusion that this must be the work of the Dark Lord of the Sith, or his apprentice."
They all nodded in agreement, as they stood there, quietly. "Obi-Wan," Mace said, looking at his friend with keen interest, "has your investigation into the identity of the Sith Lord turned up any leads?"
"Nothing of significance, Master," Obi-Wan said, shaking his head slowly. "Surely nothing that would help us make any sense of these slayings."
"What of Count Dooku's whereabouts?" Ki-Ati Mundi asked, turning his face to regard Obi-Wan.
"Nothing as well, Master," Obi-Wan said, somewhat dejectedly. "He hasn't been seen or heard from in nearly four years."
"Unless we are able to determine who is behind these attacks," Mace said after a long pause, turning his eyes back out over the city, "more Jedi will be killed."
They stood quietly for a long time; finally, Mace Windu turned and started to make his way toward the door, as his companions followed closely behind him. Obi-Wan turned and looked back into the room one last time and, taking a deep breath, he turned and followed the two Jedi Masters back out into the hallway and back to their transport that waited on the platform above.
Mace Windu sat quietly, deep in thought, as he watched the massive city passed beneath them, as they made their way back to Obi-Wan's residential complex. The three Jedi Masters had sat in complete silence since they had boarded their transport, as the grim reality of what was happening began to sink in.
"Obi-Wan," Mace said finally, turning his eyes from the window next to his seat on the transport, and looking at him with a serious expression, "long ago, you told me that Anakin confided in you that, as he left for Naboo, he sensed something that troubled him."
Obi-Wan looked up, as he sat quietly across from the two Jedi Masters, his elbows resting on his knees. "Yes, Master," he said, as Ki-Ati Mundi turned and regarded him, intently. "He did. It was when I first visited him and Padmé at their home."
"Was he able to tell you what it was that he sensed?" Ki-Ati asked, looking at Obi-Wan with a keen sense of interest.
"No, Master," Obi-Wan replied, thoughtfully, folding his hands in his lap. "Only that it was something dark, something deeply troubling. He said he sensed it, just for a moment, as he was leaving the Senate Republic building, preparing to return home."
Mace turned and looked quietly out of the window for a long moment. "The Force was extremely strong with Anakin then," Mace said finally, as he turned and regarded his companions. "It is possible that he was able to sense something that we could not."
"Master Yoda has told us that the Force has been guiding his thoughts more and more to Anakin in recent weeks," Ki-Ati Mundi said, looking intently at Mace Windu. "If the prophecy is true, Obi-Wan's former apprentice may be able to help us."
"How so, Master?" Obi-Wan asked, regarding Ki-Ati Mundi curiously.
"You say his powers have continued to increase?" Ki-Ati continued, regarding Obi-Wan with keen interest.
"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan replied with a nod. "They have, very much so. The last time I was with him, I had the opportunity to spar with him." He looked down and smiled, and then looked back up at his companions. "Anakin defeated me, easily."
Ki-Ati Mundi and Mace Windu looked at each other quietly, for a long moment, as the pilot began to bring the transport down toward the landing platform near Obi-Wan's place of residence.
"We are under attack, and time is against us," Mace Windu finally said, quietly, as he turned and looked thoughtfully at his companions. "We must learn the identity, and the plans, of the Sith Lord quickly, or more Jedi will suffer the same fate."
Mace took a deep, thoughtful breath, and turned and looked out the window beside him as the landing thrusters began to kick up huge plumes of moisture as their transport settled gently on to the platform.
"Obi-Wan," Mace said, turning his eyes back toward him, "go to Naboo and speak with Anakin. See if he has sensed anything unusual in recent weeks."
"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan said, nodding thoughtfully, as the door to the transport began to open, slowly. "I will."
"Go quickly, then," Mace said, "And in secret. If the Sith Lord is watching us, we do not want to draw any attention to Anakin or his family."
"Understood, Master," Obi-Wan said, standing up and tossing his hood back over his long, golden hair. "I'll leave at once."
"Go carefully," Ki-Ati Mundi said, as Obi-Wan bowed slightly to them both. "And may the Force be with you."
"May the Force be with all of us, Master," Obi-Wan said, and then he stepped quickly out of the transport, and made his way back toward the building. He stopped, midway there, and turned and watched as the transport's door closed and, firing its thrusters, it lifted into the air and then turned and disappeared off into the darkness.
Obi-Wan stood quietly, for a long moment, as the mist turned into a slow, cold rain, and then he turned and walked back toward the building's entrance.
It had been four long years since he had come to this place, and, except for the few times when his Master had summoned him back, he had remained here, faithfully overseeing the task which he had been assigned. His presence had been necessary, for this task had proven difficult; indeed, more so than any he had undertaken in recent memory.
His boots echoed loudly on the hard, metal floor as he made his way through the long connecting corridor to his quarters, far from the main facility. As he approached the heavy, metal door, he stopped, quickly; as he did so, his long, dark cloak swirled around his boots as he reached up with his hand and pressed the control switch.
The door opened slowly, with a loud hiss, and he stepped quickly into the dimly lit room and, turning back toward the door through which he had come, he pressed the control switch again, closing the door behind him.
He walked quickly to the small, round table near the center of the room. As he reached underneath his dark black cloak, the shining, silver hilt of his light saber could be seen, swaying gently, as he produced the small signal encrypter from its place in his belt.
He took a deep breath, his bearded face deeply thoughtful; he seemed almost nervous as he placed the encrypter in the slot near the holographic transmitter and then, pausing just a moment, he pressed the button on the control panel and engaged the transmitter. As the transmitter hummed to life, the flickering, green hued image began to take shape above the holographic emitter in the center of the small table.
Count Dooku bowed, reverently, as the hooded image of Darth Sidious appeared steadily on the holographic projector in front of him. "Master Sidous," he said, casting his eyes downward and then, after a pause, looking up slowly.
"The appointed time approaches, Lord Tyrannus," Sidious replied, his face shrouded in darkness under his dark hood. "What progress do you have to report?"
"Everything is proceeding on schedule, my Lord," Dooku replied. "We should be ready within the week."
"Excellent," Sidious replied, a sinister smile spreading over his face. "I will keep the Jedi busy here on Coruscant. Report to me, directly, as soon as you are ready."
"Understood, my Lord," Count Dooku replied, nodding his head affirmatively. "I believe, "he added, "that you will be quite pleased with the results."
"I hope so, Lord Tyrannus," the Dark Lord responded. "I shall await your arrival in a few days, then."
"Yes, my Lord," Dooku replied, nodding reverently, as the Dark Lord's image slowly faded from the projector.
Count Dooku took a long, deep breath and, removing the signal encrypter and placing it back in his belt, he turned and walked to the long control console near the wall. He pressed a button near the display and, after a moment, the image of a Kaminoan scientist appeared on the display.
"Yes, Count?" the tall, thin Kaminoan asked, quietly.
"Increase the level of difficulty in the training program," Dooku replied, flatly. "We must be ready within the week."
"Understood, Count," the Kaminoan replied with a nod, and the display went dark as Dooku pressed the switch once again.
He looked up, thoughtfully, and stood in silence for a long moment. Then, turning back toward the door, Dooku made his way back out of the room and started back down the hallway from which he had come.
Obi-Wan turned around and tossed the tunic and robe into his travel case, and then slowly closed the lid and fastened it shut.
He stood quietly for a moment, fingering the latch on the case's lid thoughtfully, and then, slowly, he sat down on the bed beside it, folding his hands in his lap, as he took a deep, thoughtful breath.
He didn't like this. This situation was growing exceptionally dangerous; whoever or whatever was responsible for these attacks had killed three seasoned Jedi Masters, and their padawans, in three weeks, silently and efficiently.
He was deeply concerned and troubled, of that much he was certain. Even if the Council had not requested it, he thought to himself, he would have, quite likely, elected to travel to Naboo and visit Anakin anyway.
Obi-Wan sighed, deeply; Anakin was so different now, so unlike the anxious, angry young padawan he had known four years ago. His oneness with the Force, and the peace and contentment that flowed through him, had made him an extremely powerful Jedi Knight, and he found his visits with Anakin and Padmé to be even more calming and refreshing as those he enjoyed with Yoda.
He was long overdue for a visit with them, anyway. Indeed, he hadn't been back to visit since he had received word from Anakin that he and Padmé were expecting. He had intended to visit sooner, as soon as the situation would allow, but his recent appointment to the Council had kept him busy. Anakin needed to be apprised of this dangerous situation, anyway; he was a Jedi Knight, after all.
Obi-Wan stood up and reached for the comlink in his belt. He turned the dial and, pressing the button, waited for Arfour to respond.
He heard the beep, and the series of telltale whistles on the other end of the comlink. "Arfour," Obi-Wan said, as he picked up his case from the bed, "get the ship ready. We're going to Naboo."
Arfour whistled in reply, and Obi-Wan turned and walked toward the door. He reached over and pressed the switch, turning off the lights, and then closed the door behind him, making his way up to the landing platform above.