Chapter 15: "If only Senator Amidala were here…"
Anakin Skywalker fell to his knees, under the scorching twin suns of his home planet. He had failed, he had promised his mother that he would return when he was a Jedi to free her and all the slaves, but he had failed. He was a Jedi, at least he felt like he was a Jedi but he was confined to rules and frustrating regulations and because of it his mother had paid the ultimate price.
He took a handful of sand, letting it slip through his fingers. "I wasn't strong enough to save you mom, but I promise I won't fail again."
Padme listened to his words; the chilling conversation in the garage still haunted her. She wanted nothing more then to take him into her arms and tell him everything was going to be alright, but she even had her doubts. Something screamed at her, telling her nothing would ever be the same again.
"I miss you so much…" Anakin finished saying goodbye to the woman who had raised him, the woman who had held him when he was afraid. He rose to his feet and looked at his step father, how could this man let something happen to the woman he claimed to love? Anakin couldn't imagine just sitting back and assuming she was dead, he'd fight for his love to the very end. His gaze fell on Padme and his heart yearned for her.
The memorial was disturbed when the frantic beeping of an astro droid reached them, the funeral party all turned to look at him and Padme was puzzled why he had disobeyed her orders to stay with the ship.
"Artoo, what are you doing here?"
C-3PO, the protocol droid that Anakin had left his mother turned to them, interpreting Artoo's message. "He says that there is an urgent message from a Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Master Ani does that name mean anything to you?"
Siri Tachi tucked her hands inside the sleeves of her cloak as she walked side by side with Luminara Unduli down the halls of the Senate building. A Jedi committee had been called to the Chancellor's office to discuss the prospect of an army for the Republic, it was something the Jedi were against and the Council feared what the Chancellor and the Senate would decide. All the Jedi were silent as they walked, all knowing that there was a very heated discussion waiting for them, and the outcome would possibly affect the future of not only the Jedi but the galaxy.
She glanced at her friend and offered a reassuring smile, but her trail of vision caught a glimpse of a figure in the distance. Luminara noticed the strange look that had overcome her companion's features, she turned her head and saw the man dressed in a black uniform, she looked back at Siri after a moment.
"I thought he went with Qui-Gon,"
Siri didn't respond with words, but instead changed her direction from the Chancellor's office. Luminara tried to stop her.
"We have a meeting, Siri leave him be…"
Siri shook her head and looked at her friend. "I can't Lum; I have to find out what happened." With that she left the Jedi committee and walked towards her distraction.
Ben knew she'd find him, although he didn't make it too difficult for her to do so, he waited for her to break off from the other Jedi, waited for the chance to be alone with her. He forced a smile when she worked her way towards him, he held out his hand for her to take it, she refused.
"What happened, why are you here?" She asked, cutting right to the chase.
"Marry me Siri," the familiar words spilled out of his mouth.
"Stop avoiding the question, what happened?"
He pulled her towards a large window that over looked the streets of Courascant; in the distance the Jedi Temple could be seen. "I couldn't do it,"
She folded her arms across her chest, waiting for him to elaborate. She then noticed the haunted look on his face, she softened her tone. "Tell me,"
"I've seen anger and betrayal before, but never such pain associated with it as I saw in Jango's eyes." He sat down in the windowsill. "He thinks that I became a Jedi, that I have forgotten everything I've ever known…that I am a traitor."
Siri felt her heart sink when she heard the sorrow etched on his voice. She sat down next to him and took his hands in hers. She would let him finish the story before she would speak; she knew he needed to vent his frustrations.
"I quit Siri, I told Qui-Gon that I quit…"
She looked into his eyes, holding his attention. "But what about Qui-Gon, what if something happens?"
Ben rose to his feet and began to pace. "He is a Jedi; he should be able to handle it. Why is it my responsibility to protect him? I can't go against Jango, he's like my brother."
"And Qui-Gon is like your father," She also rose to her feet to make her point seem more important. "No one is asking you to protect anyone; I just thought that maybe you could find a way to come between the two of them so that they don't destroy each other."
"Marry me Siri,"
She rolled her eyes. "Ben, you have to deal with reality at some point, stop this."
He looked at her with a piercing gaze. "And when will you deal with reality Siri? Neither one of us is happy unless we are with each other, and then that only lasts for a brief moment until you return to your Jedi senses."
She looked away, her attention drawn to the view outside. "We've gone over this before Ben,"
"Yet here we are again, let's run away together."
At these words Siri looked at him, there was seriousness in his tone that demanded her attention. "Ben, it's not that simple…"
He stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, placing a small kiss at the nape of her neck. "No I think it is that simple, but we're trying to complicate it because it scares us." He lifted one hand and his fingers gently stroked her golden hair. "It's been ten years love, and my feelings haven't changed for you…that must count for something." He inhaled deeply, smelling her wonderful scent; she could feel his warm breath on her neck. "Have your feelings changed for me?"
She closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling of being in his arms. "Ben, I…"
He walked in front of her, putting both hands on either shoulder, and looked into her eyes. "Marry me Siri,"
Siri opened her eyes and slowly leaned in to him, ready to place a kiss on his lips. Their moment was broken however by one of the Chancellor's protocol droids rushing towards them.
"Captain Kenobi, Captain Kenobi. Urgent news," The droid was frantically waving his arms around.
Ben groaned as Siri moved out of his arms, he was ready to take out his anger on the robot. "This better be important."
"There is an urgent transmission coming in for the Chancellor." The droid didn't even notice the tone in Ben's voice.
"The Chancellor is in a meeting with the Jedi committee, he cannot be disturbed." Ben turned away from the droid and moved towards Siri.
"Yes I am quite aware of that Captain Kenobi, however the transmission comes from Jedi Anakin Skywalker, and he says it's very important that he speaks to the Chancellor and the Jedi Council." The droid finished his report and waited for his orders.
Ben sighed, "You know the Chancellor insists that anything from Anakin Skywalker is to be sent straight through to him."
"Yes of course sir,"
As the droid shuffled down the hall, Ben looked at Siri. "I guess duty calls once again."
She nodded, "I should probably get back to the meeting."
He grabbed her arm as she walked past him. "I wasn't kidding you know,"
She looked into his loving blue/grey eyes. "I know."
The large, blue hologram of Qui-Gon Jinn stood in the center of the room, retelling the story of what had happened since Ben had left him. "I have tracked the Bounty Hunter Jango Fett to the droid foundries on Geonosis."
At the mention of Jango's name Siri stole a glance across the room to Ben who was paying intense attention to Qui-Gon's story. He finally sensed her looking at him and he locked eyes with her, she then gave him a sympathetic smile.
"It appears that the Corporate Alliance is in league with Count Dooku and is amassing a droid army…"
At the mention of Dooku's name Siri returned her attention to the hologram of Qui-Gon; he had been a gifted Jedi whom all the younger generations looked up to, a man who done so many great things for the order. He had left suddenly without warning, never explaining his reasons. There was never a hint or a whisper in the Jedi Temple that he would ever betray them, let alone the Republic. This was terrible news for all the Jedi in the room, but she knew it had to be even worse for Qui-Gon who was Dooku's former apprentice. She was pulled away from her thoughts when the sound of a destroyer droid was heard and Qui-Gon's voice quickly changed tones.
They all sat helplessly and watched as Qui-Gon fell and a hologram of a destroyer droid appeared. Siri looked at Ben whose eyes were wide and scared. Everyone was quiet, unsure what to say. Yoda turned and looked up at Mace Windu, his yellow eyes meeting brown ones.
"More happening on Geonosis I feel then has been revealed." He leaned on his Gimmar stick as he spoke.
"I agree," Mace then turned to the hologram of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala. "Anakin stay where you are, we'll deal with Count Dooku. The most important thing is to stay where you are, protect the Senator at all cost."
"Understood Master," Anakin stated and then his hologram disappeared.
Siri could feel the tension in the room, she half heartedly listened as the Senators argued with themselves and the Chancellor about bringing in the Army to help them. She tried to find Ben, but he had left the room. Her focus returned to the conversation at hand just in time to hear Palpatine and his aid discuss the Chancellor's right to have emergency total power, something that worried anyone who loved Democracy.
"But what Senator would be bold enough to propose such a radical amendment?" Palpatine asked.
"If only Senator Amidala were here…"
Qui-Gon Jinn awoke to find himself trapped inside an energy field, his hands and legs were bound with electric chains and he was floating inside his cage, rotating in a circle. He was disoriented for only a second just in time for a familiar figure to appear in the door. He felt a sense of anger and betrayal flood through him as he watched the older dignified man enter the room.
"Traitor," he spat out, regretting the emotion behind the words.
"No, no my friend this is a terrible mistake, they've gone too far this is madness." The white haired man put up his hands as if in defense of the other man's tone.
"I thought you were the leader here Dooku,"
"This had nothing to do with me I can assure you, I will petition immediately to have you set free." The older man looked at the younger man with a heavy sigh. "It is a great pity our paths have not crossed before, under better circumstances…but I am glad that you are here, I could use your help right now."
His eyes narrowed. "What leads you to believe that I'd ever join you?"
"You forget that you were once my apprentice, has it been so many years?" Dooku asked his voice soft and welcoming. "I know your frustrations with the Council my old friend, but what if I told you this goes far beyond them…" he began to circle Qui-Gon's entrapment. "What if I told you that the Senate is under the influence of a Sith Lord?"
The words felt like needles in his heart. "That's impossible, the Jedi would be aware of it."
Dooku sighed. "The Dark Side of the Force has clouded their vision, right now hundreds of Senators are under the influence of a Sith by the name of Darth Sidious." He stopped and waited for Qui-Gon to make the full rotation so he could look him in the eyes. "The Viceroy of the Trade Federation was in league with him, but was betrayed 10 years ago by the dark lord. He came to me for help, told me everything." He stopped and waited for Qui-Gon to make the full circle again. "I know you would not be able to go along with the Republic now that you know the truth, you are a true student of the Force."
Qui-Gon hated to admit but deep down he believed his former master's words. There had been so much corruption within the Senate that it would make sense for a Sith to be the reason for it. But how could the Master of the Sith be right under the Council's nose, it didn't make sense. He looked over his shoulder and noticed a wicked smile cross his old mentor's lips, a strange darkness had overcome him, and this wasn't the same man who had raised him as a Jedi…that man would never turn his back on the Republic.
"You must join me Qui-Gon, and together we will destroy the Sith!" Dooku tried to convince his former student to help him, the wicked smile never leaving his face.
The Jedi Master looked at the old man; he began to feel pity for him. "I'll never join you Dooku."
Dooku shrugged his shoulders and walked towards the exit of the room. "It will be difficult to secure your release." He turned and left his former apprentice bound within the energy field.
TBC: Sooner this time, I promise!