Disclaimer: George Lucas owns Star Wars.
Warnings: Rated M for strong sexual situations, language and violence. You have been
AN: I've left out the names of the original Jedi for a reason, guys. If you're interested in knowing more about them, feel free to let me know and I may include more about their backgrounds in later chapters! ;D However, I don't want anything to overshadow the Anakin/Padme storyline. - PH316
AN: 2: The full credit for this chapter goes to PyramidHead316. Enjoy! –Lilac Moon
Chapter 33: Devastation
Anakin and Serra burst into one of the lower levels of the Temple. The clone troopers were increasing in numbers, now that they knew there were intruders in the Temple. They were seeing increased resistance from the troopers, with dozens of clone troopers confronting them at the same time, in groups of multiple troopers. With sabers blazing, Anakin and Serra took down most of them, but they were quickly realizing they needed to get out of here or else find some way to quickly deal with these clone troopers without getting overwhelmed. They were slowly filtering in, rushing to fight the challengers who were fighting for the Temple. Two more Jedi dead would be another victory on their belts. Anakin and Serra weren't going to give them that chance.
The attacks continued to increase in numbers. Serra struck out viciously against the clone troopers, angrily striking them down as she cut through their armor. There was no ounce of control left in her, as she coordinated her moves to most efficiently eliminate the clone troopers. She was fighting to avenge Cin Drallig now, and that gave her extra motivation in addition to all the outraged feelings from before. She was losing herself in her rage, delving deep into that source of energy. Anakin was getting worried about her, but he didn't sense the dark side in her, so he would let her go for now. They could use the edge, and the clone troopers were getting frightened by it, he could tell. That would work in their favor. He parried more of their shots, downing a block of three clone troopers.
Serra angrily took down her enemies, angrily decapitating one of the clone troopers with her lightsaber. She sliced off the arms of another, leaving the man screaming in agony before she killed him. She plunged her saber into the groin of a clone trooper, and then cut him open from waist to chest. Anakin stared at her in concern, taken aback by the sheer brutality of her attacks.
"Serra," Anakin said in concern; there was a possible hint of warning in his voice, which did not go unnoticed.
"I'm all right," Serra answered, in a surprisingly calm voice. She continued to combat the clone troopers, with a bit more control this time.
Anakin was reassured by that, if only for the moment. He turned back to their enemies, not taking his attention off them for a second. They needed to finish this quickly, for all their sakes. The clone troopers were coming out in droves now, emerging from the lower levels. They were seeing clone troopers come at them in dozens, coming out in groups of several troopers at a time. That was a good thing in Anakin's eyes however. It meant the bulk of their attention was focused on them, and any Jedi remaining in the Temple could now take that opportunity to get away from the hunters pursuing them.
They blocked the shots of about five troopers, taking down all of the troopers. It was then that Serra noticed something critical lying on the belt of one of them. "A thermal detonator," she said, with some hint of excitement. She grabbed the detonator with the Force and threw it back at the troopers still pouring in through the entrance. The men barely had time to scream as the device exploded, taking out a significant part of the wall and blowing apart several of the clone troopers in the process.
Anakin looked at Serra, and there was a hint of surprised awe on his face. "Nice going," he smiled, grinning mischievously.
"Thanks," Serra smirked. Of course, it helped that they were safely away from the explosion; such was the benefit of being able to pick up things with the Force, and not having to get up close in person with the enemy.
Suddenly, they heard a commotion below. They rushed over to the edge of the bridge and peered over. There was a mass of clone troopers entering into the atrium. They were marching in formation, blasters at the ready, although the entrance was too narrow for them to storm in all at once.
Anakin and Serra looked at each other, and realized that this was the component of the army that had taken out most of the Jedi. They felt it; somehow, they just knew it in their bones. These were the men who had killed most of their comrades.
"We have to stop them from getting any further down into the Temple," Anakin said. Serra agreed, nodding in agreement with his assessment.
They had to stop them. If these men got to the rest of the Jedi, then that was it. They would massacre what was left of their comrades, however few they were. It was obvious by now that if there were any Jedi left alive, they would probably be in hiding in the lowest levels of the Temple, in the archives.
They had to stop them, and they had to figure out a way to do it quickly.
"I'll distract them. Get down there and take care of business," Anakin ordered her, looking over the massive army pouring in.
"Are you sure you can handle all that blaster fire that's going to head your way?" Serra replied, a little skeptical. She had faith in Anakin, but still – that was an awful lot of soldiers.
"Don't worry, I've got it. Just get down to that support pillar," Anakin said, leaping over to a vantage point where he could see over all of the clone troopers.
Serra nodded a quick agreement, and set off to achieve her task. Anakin peered over the edge, making sure he caught the clone troopers' attention. Immediately the inevitable blaster fire began, but being so far away, it was all ineffective. Anakin deflected a few of the shots, sending them back at the regiment of clone troopers and taking down a few of them. The clone troopers scrambled to take cover, after seeing their comrades taken down and realizing that even at this range a Jedi was still deadly, using their weapons against them.
Serra landed on the ground floor of the Temple hall. Going right up to the pillar, she plunged her lightsaber into the pillar of the central atrium. The pillar was one of several in the atrium and absolutely massive in its tall size. She began to cut through the paved stone slowly, inch by painful inch as she dove further into the core, circling the pillar with her lightsaber. The troopers shot at her, but with her taking cover behind the stone pillar, they were unable to hit her. At last Serra sensed the structure was ready to be toppled. Standing tall before the structure, Serra began to gather all the Force energy that she could, gritting her teeth as she drew all the energy she could muster to her form. She strained to draw the necessary energy, pushing herself past the boundaries she had ever faced before in her career as a Jedi. Finally, Serra realized that she was ready to attempt this, as much as she could. Bracing herself for the push, she let loose with all the Force energy she had gathered in a massive Force push directed at the pillar. The pillar was not fully shattered in the center, but it didn't matter – the pillar began to fall. The pillar was not for support, only decorative, and so the Temple roof did not begin to fall down. But it was tall, and heavy. The men barely had time to scream, and scrambled around madly trying to get away, before the pillar fell on them, creating a huge impact. Several of the men were crushed under the stone masonry, and the door to the atrium was blocked off. The impact could be heard for meters around them, as the pillar sunk into the floor, and the structure behind the doorway crumbled into ruin.
Serra leapt to where Anakin was waiting, rejoining her comrade-in-arms.
Anakin and Serra looked at each other, smiling for the first time with a satisfied look. They looked down at the main level, where havoc had been wreaked on the Temple floor. "That ought to hold them," Anakin said, nodding confidently. Serra nodded in agreement.
Even if there were survivors, the men were now trapped behind the crumbled wall. They had no way to get out, and no way to get down into the lower levels where the other Jedi were presumably hiding. Anakin and Serra, however, knew the other passageways in the Temple area, and how to get down to the lower levels. All things entitled, they wouldn't have been being presumptuous if they congratulated themselves on a job well done.
Suddenly, a burst of noise started emanating from the comlink on Anakin's belt. Anakin and Serra looked at each other, surprised by the sudden interruption.
"…Can…any…hear…me…Sha…anyone…" the garbled static came from the comlink. It sounded like a woman's voice.
Anakin fiddled with the comlink, trying to break through the communication interference. Finally, the voice transmission came through clear through the comlink.
"Can anyone hear me? This is Jedi Master Shaak Ti," the woman's strong voice came from the comlink. Anakin smiled at his partner, and even Serra had to smile in excitement, as it seemed they were getting their first good break.
"This is Anakin. Master, are you all right?" Anakin spoke, grabbing the comlink immediately. They listened closely for the response, straining to ascertain whether there was anyone else there with her.
"Anakin, thank the Force! Yes, I'm all right. We're in the main center of the archive right now. Meet us there in five minutes," Shaak Ti said, signing off on her end. The transmission cut off. Anakin and Serra looked at the crushed rubble of troopers, and then at each other in stark realization.
Not a moment too soon, was the collective thought in their minds.
Padmé wove her way through the Senate chamber, making sure to avoid the clone trooper guards. She was wearing an orange handmaiden's outfit with the hood drawn up, to disguise her identity from anyone searching for her. She had a blaster tucked underneath the robes, just in case there was an emergency and she needed to use it. She maneuvered her way through the people expertly, having done this before. There were some clone troopers posted at some of the entrances to the pods, but they didn't appear to notice her presence. Still, she didn't look them too closely in the eyes, just in case they did recognize her face. Finally, she spotted the entrance to the Naboo delegation's hover pod. There were no guards posted outside, which was strange. It was unusual for the Naboo guards not to be outside guarding their senator from danger. Still, she wasn't going to miss taking advantage of this opportunity. Maybe they were outside doing perimeter checks or something.
She blatantly entered into the chamber. One of the good things about this setup was that it gave a modicum of privacy to the occupants, despite the pods being close to each other. And sitting there in the senatorial pod were her best friend Sabé, the new Senator of Naboo, Jar Jar, and Bail Organa himself, all settled into the pod together, observing the proceedings.
They noticed her enter the pod, and their reactions were full of visible surprise. "Padmé! What are you doing here?" Sabé asked, not bothering to hide her surprise.
"Shh…" Padmé shushed her, trying to get her to quiet down. The last thing she wanted was for those around them to overhear blatantly that she was here. "I need to talk to you," Padmé said, hoping Sabé picked up on the urgency in her voice. She started to describe the situation, when Bail interrupted her explanation with his announcement.
"Wait, the speech is about to begin," Bail said, turning his attention up towards the central part of the chamber.
Padmé looked up and realized that the Senate session was about to begin. Still, this took precedence over whatever they had to say.
"Sabé, this is important. I need to talk to you," Padmé said, stressing the importance of the situation. She tried again, but to her surprise, once again her plea fell on deaf ears.
"Padmé, please. The session is about to start. Remember when you had to observe procedure here?" Sabé scolded her, turning her attention back to the center of the chamber. Padmé was shocked at the tone in her friend's voice. She knew she had been out of the loop for a while, but that was no reason to treat her like that and she remembered the decorum and procedures of the Senate, thank you very much.
Padmé sat back with her arms crossed across her chest. She was not going to be treated like a little child. They didn't know what they were dealing with, and they needed to be warned. But she had to pay attention to the meeting, just in case Palpatine said something that could help Anakin. She sat back patiently, waiting for the gathering to start.
And then Palpatine stepped up to the speaker in the dais. He was wearing a set of velvet robes, made of fine material with the hood drawn up. Padmé could see the troubling expression on his face all the way from here. And he wasn't alone. Standing next to him was a man wearing a dark uniform with his expression drawn to the ground. He stayed back from the forefront, not allowing them to get a good look at his face.
Mas Amedda stood along with them in the pod, guarding his place beside the Chancellor as always. The Chancellor began to speak, radiating a tone of sorrow in his voice.
"My friends, I bring some unfortunate news today. I regret to inform you that the Jedi have betrayed the Republic," Palpatine said sorrowfully, his face a mask of dismay. The Senate was in an uproar of protests, crying out in outrage and some denying that it was possible. The Chancellor assured them. "It is true. They have betrayed the trust of this Senate in a most grievous manner," Palpatine said, erasing their doubts almost immediately.
"The Jedi were attempting to take control of the Republic, using their Council members to orchestrate a conspiracy against the elected members of this Senate. They planned to assassinate the Chancellor and take direct control over the body of this Senate. But, their attempt has been thwarted," Palpatine said, assuring the delegates. The Senate was in an uproar, with the senators pouring out their outrage.
Bail and Sabé were stunned. Padmé shook her head in disbelief. Palpatine was feeding them nothing but a line of foolishness. The Jedi weren't traitors, Palpatine was the traitor! And the Jedi weren't trying to assassinate the Chancellor, they were trying to stop this lunatic and his apprentice from taking over the Republic! And they were buying it! Padmé shook her head in outrage at the stupidity of her fellow Senate delegations. For once she could see truly the stupidity of most of the Senate members, coming even from some of the most intelligent members, and it left her with a feeling of disgust. The wars had shown this man to be a two-faced piece of slime, and even if they didn't know he was a Sith Lord, he had already done so many things to show that he was not trustworthy. This man was getting away with a blatant bold-faced lie, and the Senate was buying it like a field of sheep with no minds of their own.
"I can't believe this is happening,"Bail remarked, with Sabé nodding in agreement. Padmé looked in annoyance, feeling the urge to snap back with some sarcasm, despite her better nature.
"That's what I was trying to tell you. Palpatine is a Sith Lord. He is not to be trusted," Padmé said, snapping back their attention to her. Bail and Sabé looked at her in shock, but Palpatine soon started up his speech again. They turned back to the dais, eyes focused centrally on the traitorous old man.
"But…not all of the Jedi betrayed the Republic," Palpatine said, holding up a hand to calm down the stirred up senators, and they quieted down in confusion. "There was only one Jedi who dared to oppose the Council members' plan to take down the Republic and went against the Order. He informed me of the plot and now stopped their plans to take over. That Jedi…is the Negotiator, Obi-Wan Kenobi," Palpatine paused for dramatic effect, announcing the name of his co-conspirator. Padmé gasped, along with the rest of the Senate, as they realized the true identity of the person standing in the pod beside Palpatine. The mysterious cloaked person pulled off their hood, revealing the reddish bearded façade of the famed Obi-Wan Kenobi, looking quite as solemn as Palpatine himself.
"It is true. The Jedi have turned against the Republic," Obi-Wan spoke, sounding as high cultured and sagely as Padmé remembered. "But, I have defeated my brothers in the Order and laid waste to their plot. Don't worry, your safety has been assured. The threat has been neutralized, before it was even beginning," Obi-Wan said, assuring the senators that they were not at risk of an attack any longer. The Senate was furiously demanding answers, but they were now looking visibly more relieved. Padme couldn't believe this. Obi-Wan was being held up as a hero, a savior of the Republic. He was a fugitive, a rapist, a Force-damned monster: he had murdered his fellow Jedi, abused her beloved in the most terrible way possible, and murdered a little girl – and he was being hailed as a hero! The surrealism of the situation, the injustice of it all, was too disgusting for her to take.
Padmé felt a burning rage as she beheld Obi-Wan's façade. And suddenly despite all the senatorial training she had received and all the pacifistic views she had ever been taught, she felt a vengeful impulse. She had a blaster. Obi-Wan wasn't expecting her. She could do it. All it would take would be one shot. She could aim up at the dais and fire at that SOB, and avenge her husband once and for all. Obi-Wan wasn't expecting her, and even if he blocked the shot, the force of it would probably be enough to send him back over the railing. But then they would apprehend her immediately. They would notice her and she would be arrested, and that would be it for her and her babies. There would be nothing Anakin could do to get to her and spring her, in that case.
Padmé slowly lowered her blaster. No, she couldn't sink to that level. She needed herself to stay safe for Anakin and her babies. So she stayed quiet in her seat. She could only watch as Palpatine and Obi-Wan destroyed the Republic she had loved so much.
"The Separatist Council members have been destroyed. Obi-Wan hunted them down earlier this week and they refused to let themselves be apprehended peacefully. He had no choice but to destroy them. The war is over," Palpatine said, further shocking the senate representatives.
Padmé drew in a sharp gasp. No, that could not be. This was out of control. Not only was Obi-Wan tormenting her husband and the Jedi now, he was lashing out at everyone around him, including the Separatists. She doubted he had given them a chance to surrender. Most likely he had gone in there and murdered them on the spot. Much as she detested the Separatists herself, they deserved better than to be cut down in cold blood by this madman and they deserved the chance to surrender.
Nothing preceding this, though, could have prepared her for what happened next.
Palpatine began to speak again."Unfortunately, in light of recent events I am left with little choice. In order to secure the ongoing safety of this establishment, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire!" Palpatine announced, reverberating in a thunderous voice, "for a safe and secure society…" he finished. The senators started shouting furiously, overcome by shock and astounded awe at Palpatine's announcement. The roar reverberated all throughout the chamber.
The Senate was in an uproar. Padmé shook her head in horror. This was a nightmare. She couldn't believe this was happening. She wanted to just wake up and imagine that this was all a bad dream, but she knew that wasn't going to happen. This was real. Palpatine was dismantling the Republic right before her eyes, and there was nothing she could do to stop it.
Bail and Sabé were absolutely stunned. Padmé felt extreme sympathy for them, because she knew exactly what they were feeling. The look on Sabé's face was particularly devastating. Sabé took her job as a senator seriously, and to see Palpatine trampling all over the Republic was burning at her heart in so many ways. Bail looked equally devastated.
"He can't do this," Bail whispered. He was white as a sheet, looking like he'd seen a ghost. Padmé could understand. He was seeing the Republic dissolve before his very eyes. Palpatine hadn't said anything about the Senate, but those like Bail and Padmé knew what this meant. It was over. The Senate would be dispensed with soon after this.
"No…" Sabé said, sounding on the verge of tears. It was a familiar tone, like she didn't want to believe it. Padmé felt some small pity for her. She had warned them. She had warned them over and over that this was what Palpatine wanted all along, and they didn't listen.
The senators roared in response."The remaining Jedi who oppose us will be hunted down and defeated!" Palpatine declared. The senators roared in approval this time, eagerly agreeing with Palpatine's declaration. "This establishment will be made secure, my friends…"
The horror that went through Padmé was a shocked one. She knew that meant Anakin. But it was the reaction of the senators that was baffling Padmé. The senators were cheering for Palpatine, save for a few doubtful representatives around the room like Mon Mothma, Fang Zar, and the like. Padmé sensed something peculiar, and realized that Palpatine was using the Force on the assembled senators! She wasn't strong in the Force, but Anakin had taught her a few tricks to recognize some things, and she recognized exactly what was happening here. This was a nightmare! Palpatine was brainwashing the senators right before her very eyes, coercing them into following him using the Force, and there was nothing she could do about it. She silently encouraged Anakin to hurry with whatever he was doing, because this was rapidly getting out of control.
"Together, we will build an Empire that will last for 10,000 years, and bring order to the entire galaxy,"Palpatine exclaimed, strongly appealing to the heavens with his pale arms. The senators were now chanting Palpatine's name. The noise was now a crescendo in the Senate chamber. It was all theatrical, expertly choreographed, and meant to draw in the senators through their emotions. And the senators were buying it. 100%. This was a madhouse, and Padmé couldn't believe she was sitting here."And the Jedi, along with those allies who have helped them in their plot, will be punished for their crimes against this glorious establishment. And together, we will birth a great Empire that will finally bring peace and order to the galaxy," Palpatine railed against their 'enemies', further encouraging the senators' anger. The cheers in the Senate were thunderous.
Bail and Sabé looked like they had been kicked in the stomach by a great beast, and were stunned. Padmé could sympathize with them. They had been nailed with news they could have never expected to hear in all their years of service to the Republic. She had come here expecting to hear possibly a speech from Palpatine on the Jedi 'incident',but nothing else, and instead she was hearing the worst news that had been heard in this chamber in the past one thousand years.
"And we will find the traitors in our own assembly," Palpatine said, his voice taking on a sinister tone, "who have made this possible…" Obi-Wan whispered something in his ear, and though she couldn't hear what was being said, something seemed to change in the Chancellor's stance. Padmé perked up, leaning forward. Palpatine seemed to be scanning the assembly chamber, surveying the area until his eyes settled on one point in particular. "…Starting with the delegation from Naboo!" he pointed at them, shouting in his toughest voice across the chamber.
Padmé jumped in her seat, as the Senate was surprised at this latest revelation. The gasps and boos began around them, drowning out the previous cheers.
"Former Senator Amidala is in the Senate pod. Her husband, The Hero With No Fear Anakin Skywalker, is even now working to extricate the Jedi Knights from the Temple, after the troopers we have sent there have found them guilty of trying to take over the Republic. She is working with them!" Palpatine said, pure venomous resentment laced in his voice. "She left the Republic, and now she has come back to destroy it!" The boos in the Senate suddenly turned into an uproar of hatred and accusations.
Padmé covered her mouth with her hand, backing away from the limelight. Bail and Sabé looked at her in shock, and the horror of what was going on was evident on their faces, and Padmé didn't know what to say. Amidst the fog in her mind, she realized that there was only one explanation for what was happening. Obi-Wan had sensed her presence. That was the only way Palpatine could have spotted her so quickly. Suddenly clone troopers burst into the Senate pod. Bail and Sabé were taken aback as the troopers stormed into the pod. Everything fell into chaos after that. Padmé yelped as she was manhandled by the clone troopers, and quickly pulled into a rough grasp. Bail tried to go for his comlink, but the troopers immediately grabbed him and Sabé was also taken into custody. They were unable to offer any resistance as they were apprehended, and they heard the crowd cheering in response.
"The Alderaanian delegation and the Naboo senator have been complicit in a conspiracy to destroy the principles of the Republic, and they have now been apprehended. These traitorous senators'actions will not be tolerated, in any shape in this new empire," Palpatine declared, sounding like there was complete authority over the Senate on his part. The crowd was eating it up, cheering eagerly for her apprehension. Padmé looked around and saw in disbelief that the same politicians who she had called her fellow delegates, comrades, and even friends, were now calling for her arrest, looking at her in disgust, and calling her and Anakin the same type of scum as Separatists and criminals. Some were even saying that she should be killed, that she and Bail should have their lives ended for their treachery, and some were even saying that her entire family should be killed. Padmé shuddered at the hatred in the delegates' voices, being spurred on by Palpatine. They stopped short of calling for an attack on her home world, knowing that their Chancellor was also from the same planet. The fervent accusations continued on, but they were completely distracted now by their ordeal and no longer paid them any attention. Bail and Sabé were slowly led out in handcuffs, with the troopers roughly manhandling them. Padmé couldn't help the worrying that was taking hold, now that her worst case scenario had come true. Oh Anakin, hurry. I need you, she thought, hoping that he could hear her, somehow, and knowing that Palpatine probably had something far worse planned for her beloved and his comrades, and the rest of the galaxy as well.
The Senate continued to be consumed in a dazed uproar, proudly proclaiming their new leader without a trace of remorse.
Anakin and Serra entered into the arched, lighted, wide open chamber that was already in disarray. They had made their way down to the archives in a little more than fifteen minutes, and now they were in the central research chamber of the Jedi Archives. They had encountered no resistance on their way down here, which told them they had done a reasonably good job of dealing with the 501st for now. This room was where heavy research in the Jedi Archives was conducted, when they needed to find something obscure in the archives, which contained countless quadrillions of zettabytes of information. Anakin looked around the wide room and checked to see which Jedi he recognized with them. He saw Aayla Secura in the room, along with Shaak Ti. Master Yoda was in the room as well. He saw Roan Shryne in the room. There was a brownish blond haired male Jedi that he didn't recognize, which alarmed him a bit, but he hadn't been back to the Temple in a long time, and he didn't know all the latest apprentices. There was also a dark skinned woman to his left, with a somewhat motherly quality to her, but with the mark of a fierce warrior despite her young age. In her hands was a youngling, and Anakin watched as she took him to another room in the side of the chamber and locked the door securely, after calming him with some reassuring words.
Anakin sighed. So the eight of them were all that was left of the Jedi Order. The once great Order had been whittled down to almost nothing. "So that's it. We're all that's left of the Jedi," he stated aloud, failing to contain the trace of bitterness in his voice. It was a sobering thought, and one that placed a greater burden on them. Eight, out of 259 Jedi who were present in the Temple at the time. The situation was absolute carnage, and the loss of life was unimaginable.
"I have about 30 younglings that survived the attack. Aayla was helping me find them, and we were able to rescue them from the crèche. I have them stashed in the room next door," Shaak Ti reported, making them aware of the situation.
Anakin sighed. That was a bit of good news. At least some of the Order had survived. He reached out and realized that he could now sense the presences of the children over there, worried but all right. The lock on the adjacent chamber could only be accessed by another Jedi, and they couldn't sense any clone troopers nearby, so there was no chance of the clones getting to them.
Yoda nodded somberly in serious thought. Anakin knew that Yoda was close to the children. To have so few of the dozens who were in the Temple survive must have been horrendous to the Jedi Master. "Keep them secure, we must," he asserted to them.
The assembled Jedi nodded. Anakin looked at where the Jedi younglings were being held secure in a research chamber. The future of the Jedi was in that room, if only they could get them out of here. It was of critical importance that they get the children out of here as soon as possible, before the clone troopers found them.
"What's our next move?" Aayla Secura questioned, grasping her saber threateningly from where she was standing. She looked ready for a fight, and Anakin couldn't blame her. He was starting to hate those clone troops himself.
"We should find out who's responsible for this," Roan Shryne said, from his place at the console. He looked unsure of himself, more than Anakin remembered him, shaken from his experiences with the troopers in the Temple and the carnage they had caused.
"I'll tell you exactly who's responsible for this. That bastard Obi-Wan's turned against us. I can't believe he betrayed us to that slimy Force monster, and his decrepit Sith ways. When I find him, I'm going to personally execute him for the treason he's committed against the Republic," the dark skinned young woman said. It was obvious she had been affected by what Obi-Wan had done to the children, in particular from the circumstances.
"Enough. Go down the same path of hatred and anger, we must not. That is the same mistake Obi-Wan is making,"Yoda said, sounding a bit harsh in his assessment. For good reason, Anakin thought. The last thing they needed was to run around half-cocked acting on rage and become just like him.
The dark skinned female Jedi looked chastened. "Sorry, Master," she apologized, obviously embarrassed by her outburst.
"We should disable the homing beacon for the Temple. They could turn that security measure against our Order and we have to make sure they can't use that as a trap to lure any Jedi here," Anakin said, remembering one of the major concerns that they had to deal with. The other Jedi nodded, addressing the correct nature of his assessment.
For his part, Master Yoda and some of the others seemed a little surprise at his quick thinking, and Anakin had to admit he was proud that they had recognized his strategic thinking. It was obvious some of the Jedi were still getting caught up on the situation, notably Roan Shryne and that other Jedi. Most likely they had made their way down to the research chamber relatively recently, at the same time he and Serra were making their way through the halls down to the Archives.
"We should check out what the situation is in the other sections of the Temple," Aayla said. They needed to see whether the clone troopers were trying to find alternate ways down into the Archives, and whether they suspected that the Jedi were down here.
The Jedi scattered about the room, trying to access whatever information was possible from the Temple's security network. The places above had obviously been bombed, and some of the damage had filtered its way down to the Archives. They accessed whatever consoles they could, trying to gleam any bits of information they could about how many intruders remained in the Temple, and how much of the Temple had been destroyed; anything that could help them out with their current situation.
Anakin felt a little lost, wondering if he should inform them that Padmé could possibly get them transport out of here, if she acted fast enough. He was unsure whether Shaak Ti had shared that particular bit of information with them. It seemed like an obvious choice, but there was the possibility the Jedi other than Shaak Ti might not want her help, and they might not want to involve the former Senator of Naboo in what would be open defiance against the Chancellor. Meanwhile Serra was sorting through the security files, searching for anything that might be of significance. She came across one that instantly caught her attention. A Mon Calamari Jedi struggled to defend herself and the Padawans under her care. She didn't notice the way Anakin's eyes fixed upon the hologram.
Bant, Obi-Wan's old friend and comrade, laid pleading for her life and those of her students, begging her old friend to show them some mercy.
Obi-Wan showed her none.
He raised his sword overhead, and in one downward sweep, ruthlessly cut down his former ally. Bant's scream echoed from the security holo.
"That's enough," Anakin replied tersely, from where he was standing beside Serra.
Serra didn't hear him; she was too absorbed in the scene playing out in the hologram. It was a morbid sight, and yet, she couldn't help but watch as Kenobi slaughtered the very Jedi he was sworn to protect. The dying screams of the Padawans blared over the recording, the terror evident in their voices as they were struck down by a man they had once worshiped as a hero of the Jedi Order. Each one was a knife in the hearts of the assembled Jedi, until at last Anakin could stand no further.
"That's enough!" he snapped, starting Serra out of her trance. She looked at Anakin and was shocked by the raw pain on his face. She almost swore there were tears in his eyes.
"Jedi Keto, seen enough we have," Yoda admonished her lightly. Serra shut off the security holo, shaken by what they had just witnessed.
"Obi-Wan,"Anakin murmured, managing to put a world of grief into that single word.
"Pertains to him, that name no longer does. The man who trained you is gone, consumed by Lord Vader," Yoda told him. Anakin bowed his head, and while he tried to hide it, every Jedi present in the room felt his pain.
"Sorry I am for your loss, Anakin,"Yoda said.
The sorrow was written plainly on the little Master's face. Obi-Wan had been one of his favorite students, to the point where Anakin was always jealous of the attention that was showered on Master Kenobi. And now he realized how foolish he had been. Clearly Obi-Wan had not confided in the Council as much he thought. He wished in vain that he had. If only Obi-Wan had trusted in the Council; if he had felt compelled to talk to someone, anyone, about what he was going through, perhaps none of this would have happened. Perhaps they would have been able to stop what was happening to him before it got this far. And now he was gone forever, replaced by the monstrosity that was Darth Vader.
It should have been him, Anakin thought. He was the one who should have suffered after giving his Master such a hard time, not Obi-Wan. And that was when the revelation struck him.
It was meant for him.
He was the one who was supposed to have turned, Anakin realized. He was the one who Sidious had worked on all those years, manipulating him like a puppet, twisting him against the Jedi, slowly but surely – all in preparation for the day when he would be crowned Lord Vader, right hand man of Darth Sidious. He had been headed down the dark path, spurred on by the words of a man he had grown to trust, until fate had thrown this unexpected twist into their paths.
Obi-Wan had taken the fall meant for him.
It was a sobering idea, and one that sparked a blaze of sorrow inside Anakin's soul. While he would never forgive his Master for the things he'd done to him, he wished more than ever now that there had been a way to save Kenobi from the horrible fate that had befallen him.
He had almost lost everything, and he would have, had it not been for the horrifying series of events that had brought him so much misery. Obi-Wan had saved from a terrible fate, albeit in the most ghastly set of circumstances. How could the Force be so cruel, he wondered, to save him from becoming a monster by turning his Master into one? Dimly he wondered whether this was the Force's way of punishing them for the arrogance and complacency. They had been right in front of the Sith Lord for years, the enemy of the Force, and they had never once seen what he was…until now. Perhaps this was the Force's way of retribution for their failure.
It should have been me, Anakin thought once more. He felt Serra awkwardly place a hand on his shoulder, trying in vain to offer some comfort.
"Into hiding we must go," Yoda said. Anakin looked at him.
"I won't leave without Padme," he said adamantly.
The other Jedi expected Yoda to chastise him for putting his attachment first, before the safety of the Order. To their surprise, the ancient Master nodded his understanding.
"Nor would I expect you to. Your life mate, she is. Your responsibility, she is now," Yoda said.
"You'd better do it fast then," Aayla interjected from where she was sitting at a comstation. "There's been word from the Senate. It says that former senator Amidala and her entourage have been arrested for treason, along with senators Organa and Keilani."
"No,"Anakin murmured, images of terrible scenarios beginning to form in his mind. His beloved Padme, in the hands of that monster Palpatine…
"It says Emperor Palpatine himself gave the order," Aayla reported, reading the information displayed on the screen from a news source reporting on the latest and unbelievably shocking occurrences at the Senate. Her face was grim as she read what was going on.
"Wait,'Emperor' Palpatine?!" Serra burst out, raising an eyebrow from where she was standing at the security console.
"Yeah. It says the Republic has been overturned, and is now called the Galactic Empire," Aayla said, looking visibly disturbed by what she was reading.
The other Jedi wore grim expressions. They knew what this meant. They could no longer count on the Republic for help, if they ever had a chance of them going against the Chancellor. Palpatine wasn't just out to take down the Jedi. Palpatine was trying to destroy the Republic itself, one step at a time. And any who stood in his way were going to be crushed, in a decisive manner.
Anakin was starting to get worried. If Palpatine was completely in charge now, then the Senate would no longer be safe for Padmé, if she went there to seek aid from them. That must have been why she was apprehended in the first place, and why she was unable to contact him about it. Anakin cursed silently his situation. Damn it, I told her not to go anywhere! He swore to himself, cursing his wife's impetuousness. This time it might just get her killed.
"What are we going to do?" Serra asked, with the worry subtly lacing her voice.
Yoda was grim, seriously determined and composed. "Go to the Senate, I will. Confront the Sith Lord, I will," he said.
Anakin swallowed heavily. The look on Yoda's face was dead serious. This wasn't going to be a war of words and thinly-veiled threats. Yoda wasn't going to apprehend the Chancellor. He was going to kill him. Hundreds of his students lay dead inside the Temple. Thousands more were dying across the galaxy, shot down by the clones to which they had entrusted their very lives.
This was not about revenge. It was about justice for the Republic and for the lives of all the Jedi who had fallen in this terrible war.
He nodded mutely as Yoda gave his orders to the other Jedi.
"Master Ti, Jedi Keto, see to the safety of the Younglings, you will. Aayla, accompany us, you will. Your responsibility it will be, to lead the senators to safety," Yoda said.
"Young Skywalker, come with me. Confront the Sith, we will," Yoda said.
Anakin nodded. "Yes, Master," he said. This was it, the battle he'd been waiting for. He knew he had to destroy Obi-Wan's dark self now, before he caused any more damage to the galaxy and to his loved ones. It was not a confrontation he'd been looking forward to, but it was one he knew would come.
Though the serious situation was evident, the Master's request was still surprising. Anakin had to hide his surprise at being asked by Yoda so easily to accompany him. But he knew they were all with their backs to the wall. They had to either stand as one, or fall to Palpatine's maniacal designs and his dark malevolent apprentice.
Put simply, he was the only one Yoda could trust to last long enough against Palpatine, because of his power levels. The others were determined, but they just didn't have it in them to last long against that monster and his servant. They had to trust each other. Regardless of whatever disputes they had had, those were all in the past.
"What about the rest of us?" one of the other Jedi questioned, the blond haired male who's name Anakin still couldn't identify.
"Hide from the clone troopers. Seek refuge from the clone troopers chasing us you must, until you have the opportunity to escape. Contact Senator Bail Organa's staff, at the Alderaanian embassy. They will aid you in leaving the planet, by transporting you to safe haven," Yoda said, laying out the plan for them.
It was left unsaid that Yoda would have rescued Bail Organa by then, along with the others. They did not intend to fail in rescuing Padmé and Senator Sabé, and the others.
"Master, what about the Archives? We can't leave all this information here for the Sith to find," Roan Shryne asked, protesting at the mere idea of leaving all this valuable information here for Palpatine's Sith Lords to find.
Yoda looked straight at him. "Download it from space, you will. Do so aboard the Alderaanians' spaceship, and take a datacube to store the information on. Take only what you need; do not concern yourself with what is not valuable. Return here, we will," Yoda said. It was a vow to the assembled Jedi here, that they would not be driven out of their home by this Sith Lord conqueror. Yoda turned to look at them as he left. "And recalibrate the homing beacon before you leave. Afford to have it in the enemy's hands serving against the Jedi, we cannot," Yoda said, giving his final orders. Yoda turned to leave.
Anakin followed him. It was time for the final battle against the Sith and their tide of destruction. They had to stop the Sith here, or else their power would grow too widespread to control. The other Jedi set off to complete their tasks, all of them wearing equally determined expressions. The burden of the future was on their shoulders, and that of his own burden as well. He had to claim justice for himself, as Padmé had suggested so long ago, and come to grips with what had happened. It was time to face his fears about how this might turn out, and end this with Obi-Wan once and for all. Not just for his sake, but for that of his children, and Padmé, Bail, Scout, Sabé, even the Jedi, and all of the innocent people who had suffered at the hands of this man, or would suffer if he was allowed to roam loose as a Sith Lord.
The Jedi were determined to stop Palpatine's rise at any costs. They could only hope that between their collective effort, it would be enough. Anakin hoped it would be enough. The Republic could not afford to have them fail. The alternative was unimaginable.