The Cronos Stone 2
"Earth, did you say?" Master Yoda asked the young man rudely standing on Palpatine's desk.
Autolycus leaped down and landed on the scarlet carpet. "I did. What's it to you, Shorty? You got a problem with that?"
"Forbidden Planet, Earth is! Decided long ago, Jedi Council has. Dangerous, it is!" Yoda peered up at the human standing before him. "Get off Earth, how did you?"
"Huh?" Wrinkles appeared on Autolycus' forehead as he narrowed his eyes on Yoda. 'You listen here you little green twerp, you better start talking normal so I can understand whatever it was you just said!"
"How did you get off Earth?" Obi-Wan repeated Yoda's question so Autolycus could understand it.
"With my Cronos Stone." Autolycus replied. The doors to the Chancellor's Office swooshed open and the two droids came in. The thief's eyes opened wider at the sight of C-3PO and R2-D2. "Hey, now that's more like it! A solid gold walking statue, bet I could get a lot of dough for that baby."
"You stay away from my droid!" Anakin insisted as he realized the thief was now after C-3PO.
"You watch it, Braid-Boy. You're dealing with a professional here." Autolycus warned the Padawan as he tried to get past the three Jedi to inspect the fascinating droids. He couldn't even imagine what price the thing would sell at. Hmm, best to hold an auction and sell it to the highest bidder. Of course, it would be invitation only with the filthy rich collectors he knew attending.
"Hey!" Han Solo butted in, forcefully squeezing his way between Obi-Wan and Anakin. "Somebody better take these colors off of me! And I want my ship back!"
Yoda turned his attention to Han Solo. "How get these colors on you?"
"My ship crashed on this planet and before I knew it this guy called Strife came along and he wanted my ship for a temple. So I told him no. He of course didn't understand that so I was forced to take him to the second Death Star where he killed the Emperor…"
Palpatine started coughing and quickly gulped down a glass of water.
"…So we got these colors on us and this guy here," Han pointed a finger at Autolycus. "Brought us to the wrong time period!"
"Landed on Earth, did you?" Yoda asked Solo.
"I guess. How the heck do I know what planet it was?" Solo complained. He had hoped the Jedi Master would know how to fix the mess, but it was becoming clear he would most likely be stuck with the annoying colors for who-knew-how-long.
"Broke quarantine, you did." Yoda replied as he shook his head sadly. "Enough problems we have, not need others we do."
"Master Yoda, why is Earth quarantine?" Luke asked as he stepped forward.
"Super beings, live there. Think they are gods, they do. Dangerous, their powers are. Wild and out of control, their behavior is. For long time forgotten, rest of the galaxy they have. But awaken by one ship of fools, they have! Dark times for all, it is!" Yoda pointed his gimmer stick at Han. "Bring this about, you did! Buoy we had planted in orbit, we did. Warned all ship away, it did! Why you no listen?"
"Because I was crashing!" Han retorted angrily. "I was getting shot at by a stupid Star Destroyer! What the heck do you expect me to do?"
"Decide what we're going to do with newcomers, we must." Yoda sighed. "Suspect it's more confusing, I do."
"I have a bad feeling about this." Luke whispered to Leia and Darth Vader. "Should Han be blurting out all that stuff about future events? Won't he screw up history or something?"
"I honestly don't know." Princess Leia admitted as she watched Han talk to the little green alien. "The only thing I do know for certain is that every time he does something it all gets worse!"
"Father? Do you have an opinion?" Luke asked as he looked up at his father's black breath mask.
"How can I be in two places at the same time? It's a very unsettling feeling." Darth Vader continued to stare at his younger self. To be that young and carefree again! Of course at the time he hadn't felt carefree at all but stuck under Obi-Wan's thumb. But seeing himself brought back so many memories! To be free of the breath-mask and black body armor, to be free of the painful burns from that fateful day, to be able to breath on his own without constant life support! And to have Padme!
Luke followed his father's gaze to the young man standing next to Han Solo. "Is that really you, Father?"
"Yes, when I was young and before the … accident. It was the accident that forced me to forever where this mask so I can breath. It almost killed me…" Darth Vader explained to his son. "You also see a younger Obi-Wan and the one snoozing on the floor is Jedi Master Mace Windu."
But Leia was staring at someone else, a cold dark light in her eyes. "Is that Palpatine?"
"Yes," Vader admitted. "I had trusted him, although Obi-Wan told me he was corrupt. But Palpatine praised me and kept telling me I'd be the most powerful Jedi ever. I liked hearing what he said, so I didn't want to believe Obi-Wan."
"If we kill him now, we could prevent so many needless deaths later, prevent the Empire from rising…." Leia whispered, almost afraid to say the words.
"I don't know, Leia. It sounds like assassination." Luke whispered back, but the idea was in his head, too, now that Leia had voiced it. It sounded so easy and it would probably be of the Dark Side. "We would have to prove him guilty and I bet he covered his tracks very well. If we sink to his level we'd be just as guilty as he is."
Leia shook her head sadly. "That's the trouble with being on the good side, you have to follow all the rules while the bad guys can do whatever they please. They run out ahead while you're mired down in law books and by your own conscious."
But Leia talking about Palpatine had given Luke another idea. What if they really could alter events? Could they save their father from that accident somehow? Or if they did, would things in their own time period grow worse somehow? The truth is they had no real idea how changing any event would affect their own reality. Perhaps they had already changed things by being here. But what choice did they have? They hadn't meant to come to this time period.
Anakin couldn't help staring at the newcomers. For some odd reason, he felt he should know them. The young man and woman reminded him of someone, even if they did have all those odd colors on themselves. But who did they remind him of? He wasn't sure. He was confident he would be able to figure it out in time, but he had to keep most of his mind focused on Autolycus. If he didn't, he'd be robbed blind!
Hearing Yoda talk of some forbidden planet with god-like beings was fascinating! He probably wasn't even cleared to have the information, but luckily he had been in the right place at the right time. No doubt it was reserved for only boring Council members.
And the man Autolycus himself was fascinating, too. Reaching out with the Force, Anakin examined him. As far as he could tell, the man didn't have the Force so how had he done that amazing feat of running up the wall like that? And wasn't it supposed to be impossible to pickpocket a Jedi? Yet he had done it so easily!
Mace stirred on the floor and his eyes opened. Sitting up, he rubbed at his sore head. Twisting around, he quickly spotted Autolycus and begun to climb to his feet. "You! You're in big trouble!"
Autolycus raised one eyebrow. "Hey, it's not my fault if you can't catch a shiny stick. Baldy."
"My name is not 'Baldy'. It's Jedi Master Mace Windu." Mace shook a finger at him. "And that so-called 'shiny stick' is a Jedi's weapon, his lightsaber. Only Jedi are supposed to have them. A lightsaber is very dangerous and takes years and years of practice to master. It's not a toy! You're not supposed to go stealing them!"
"It's worthless if you ask me." Autolycus leaned back against Palpatine's desk, his forearms resting on the smooth wooden surface. "If you want a weapon, you should get yourself a nice solid sword. And unless you plan on throwing those metal sticks at people's heads, you're not going to get far in battles. And if you don't mind me pointing out, you don't look much like a warrior."
"We're keepers of the peace, not warriors." Mace explained. "And these 'shiny sticks' are swords. They're energy swords."
Autolycus laughed. "Where I come from, the best peace-keepers are the ones that go around bashing heads in. And from what I'm seeing, Buddy, you're not up to the job."
Before another argument could start, Padme stepped forward. "Perhaps we should be glad that no one was seriously injured. It's obvious that our visitor here is a stranger and doesn't know our ways or what things are. Our customs are no doubt strange to him. We should put the incident behind us and work towards a common peace."
"My Lady, you enlighten us commoners with your words." Autolycus bowed to Padme and handed her a red tulip he had plucked out of his sleeve.
"Thank you." Padme accepted the flower; less it cause another diplomatic incident.
Anakin stared daggers at the thief but dare say nothing. The last thing he wanted was for anyone to find out about his secret marriage to the beautiful Senator.
"Where is he getting all that stuff from?" Obi-Wan whispered to his Padawan, their heads close together.
Palpatine slumped in his chair grumpily, sour that this upstart had stolen everyone's attention from him. Worse, he couldn't get the thought that someone had killed him in the future out of his head. Something would have to be done and quickly. If these visitors told the Council and Senate what he was planning on doing … had done … that could ruin everything! All his years of patiently waiting and scheming would be for nothing! But what was this about a Forbidden Planet? He had never run across that particular tidbit in the Jedi Library. Perhaps it was another threat. But the immediate threat was the visitors, they and all their odd colors, so he'd have to take care of them first.
"Alas, you remind me of my dear Cupcake." Autolycus said to Padme. "She was a real beauty and I loved her with all my heart. But she deserved better than the life I could give her so she married the Prince."
"Excuse me," Mace broke in. "But we need to make a decision here on what we're going to do with you people. It's obvious some of you are from the future and you, Autolycus, are from…?"
"The Forbidden Planet, he is." Yoda told Mace what he had missed while laying unconscious on the floor.
Mace frowned. "We'll assign you guest quarters for now and try to straighten this mess out later. The Council needs to meet and discuss this. Each one of you will have the opportunity to speak to the Council to say what you want to, but for now please be patient. Obi-Wan, I want you and your Padawan to keep an eye on Autolycus here so he won't get into any more trouble. And please make sure he doesn't get his hands on any more lightsabers!"
"Yes, Master." Obi-Wan bowed to Master Windu.
"But what about Padme?" Anakin asked. "She still needs protecting!"
"You'll just have to do both." Mace told him.
"I don't like this, Master." Anakin complained to Obi-Wan as they left the Supreme Chancellor's office. "Why should we have to watch him for? He stole my lightsaber; made of fool of Master Windu, insulted Master Yoda and I think he wants to steal my droid. Worse, he flirted with Padme!"
"It's not our place to question our orders, my very young apprentice." Obi-Wan walked down the corridor; one gray eye making sure Autolycus was following them. "A Jedi does not choose certain assignments but accepts what is given him. Our duty is to serve the Council. Perhaps he is important because he's from that Forbidden Planet."
"Well, I am curious about that." Anakin admitted. "But how can we watch him and keep Padme safe at the same time? The last time that changeling bounty hunter almost killed her! I'd much rather protect her than him."
"Mind your manners, Anakin! He's our guest." Obi-Wan reprimanded him with a stern look.
"I'm sorry, Master. It's just that …"
"You're feeling jealous." Obi-Wan finished for him. He could feel his padawan's warring emotions through their training bond. "I don't have to tell you such emotions are of the Dark Side. You must learn to control yourself, Anakin. Besides, I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it at all. He probably flatters all pretty woman so he can steal their jewelry when they're not looking."
Obi-Wan paused in the hallway, glancing behind them. Autolycus was nowhere to be seen. "Where did he go?"
"I don't know, Master." Anakin admitted. "He was right behind us a moment ago."
"Well, be better start looking for him. The Jedi Temple is large and who knows what sort of trouble he could get into."
Sighing, Anakin started backtracking their path. At this rate, he'd never get to spend any quality time with his wife!
A short time later they found the King of Thieves admiring a large golden statue next to a spiraling staircase. The statue showed a Jedi in long robes levitating a large round ball above one hand.
"Thinking of stealing it?" Obi-Wan asked, amusement in his eyes. "Well, don't. It's too big for even you to steal I'm sure."
"Ha! That shows how well you know me." Autolycus laughed. "I was just thinking of the good old days back on Earth. One of my competitors stole a statue three times the size of this one and I returned it to its rightful place in the public square. Not a single sole saw me return it, either. Everyone thought it was a miracle. And that, my friend, is why I'm the King of Thieves."
"Because you returned it?" Anakin asked.
"No! Because I did the impossible!" Autolycus replied. He glanced one last time at the statue, and then started down the hallway. "Come on, let's get going."
"Alert Security to have a camera watching the statue and all others like it." Obi-Wan told his apprentice.
"Yes, Master." Anakin grinned as he went to a comlink on the wall. It was good to know that his Master didn't trust Autolycus, either. At least they agreed on something.
As they continued down the hallway, Obi-Wan had a problem to deal with, mainly what to do with Autolycus. They could take him to a guest room and lock him in, but for some reason Obi-Wan felt that wouldn't work in Autolycus' case. Technically, it should hold him just fine as the man knew nothing of modern technology but he wasn't going to underestimate him, either. Something told him the man was as slippery as some of the fried food Dex served at his diner. So either they could take him to their own quarters or to the Senator's apartment. Since it was best to keep a thief away from temptation, their sparsely decorated quarters would be best. The Council would probably reach a verdict soon and then Autolycus would be out of their hair. He might even leave on his own with that stone he had, going back wherever he had come from. Coming from such a primitive planet into their modern society must be a real shock to him. Oddly enough, he didn't look shocked at all. Surely seeing aliens like Yoda should be scary. True, the Jedi Master wasn't very frightening looking, but there were other aliens around. A part of Obi-Wan's mind couldn't help wondering what the Forbidden Planet must be like that Autolycus showed no culture shock at all. It must really be some place! Obi-Wan stopped in front of the door to the rooms he shared with his Padawan.
"No, Master! Don't tell me he's going to share our quarters!" Anakin protested, a sour look on his face. "Why can't we put him in a guest room?"
"Because he won't stay there. Besides, we have nothing for him to steal." Obi-Wan replied as he unlocked the door and entered the main common room. "I'm sure it'll be only for a day or two. The Council should come to a decision quickly regarding this matter. And if he's to stay longer, we can give him his own quarters than."
Anakin sighed, realizing his Master was right. They owned very little the thief would want. Besides, it would be late soon and then he could sneak off to see Padme! Most likely both Obi-Wan and Autolycus would fall asleep. Anyway, he hoped they would. How miserable it was being married to Padme and being forced to sneak around just to see his own wife! It was so unfair! But then, he knew it would be this way when they got married. Still, it was hard living this way, worrying all the time they would get caught.
"Now, I want you to wear this." Obi-Wan was saying to their guest. "It's a tracking device that will allow me to find you in case you get lost. Coruscant is very large and very dangerous, especially the lower levels of the city. Trust me, you wouldn't want to go down there, ever. There are aliens that will kill you for a single boot and creatures that would eat you. Do you understand?"
"Yep." Autolycus said in a bored voice as he pinned the little doodad onto his leather vest. "Sounds just like home, seven headed hydras and all."
"Good." Obi-Wan smiled as he went to get them some supper. He was planning on having a long chat with their guest after they had eaten. He wanted to hear all about these hydras and what ever else they had on this Forbidden Planet. "Now I want you to promise me you won't leave this room if either me or Anakin isn't with you."
"All right." Autolycus agreed, one hand hidden behind his back with the fingers crossed. The thief figured it was best to humor the guy.
It was much later when Anakin opened his bedroom door and peeked out into the common room of his and Obi-Wan's apartment. His Master had fallen asleep on one of the sofas while talking to his guest. It seemed he had been waiting forever for that to happen. His Master lay with his head leaning backward on the sofa's back, his mouth open, snoring. His Master's neck was really going to hurt in the morning from sleeping like that, but he dare not wake him.
Anakin checked on their guest and saw him curled up on the other little sofa. They had apparently talked themselves to sleep. With a grin, Anakin creep to the door and slunk out into the deserted hallway. At this hour, the entire temple would be asleep and it would be a simple matter to sneak off to see Padme. The door shut silently behind him and he headed out to see his wife.
As soon as the door closed, one of Autolycus' eyes popped open. He silently sat up and threw the blanket off. Slipping off the sofa without making a single sound, he snuck off into the hallway after Anakin. If he wasn't mistaken, Braid Boy was up to something and he was determined to find out what it was!
To be continued….
Hope this chapter was OK. It was a little hard writing about so many characters all at once!