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AN: Here's chapter 12! We apologize for the long delay, but we're back with a nice long update. So enjoy and let us know what you think!
Under the Setting Sun
A Collaboration by Lilac Moon and PyramidHead316
Chapter 12: Arrival on Geonosis
Obi-Wan hung suspended above the floor in a cavern, enveloped in an energy
field emanating from some kind of projector. The energy field bound his hands, preventing him from drawing his lightsaber and defending himself, had he had one. It also prevented him from drawing up his hands and using the Force to push himself out of the energy field. Obi-Wan wondered how he got himself into these types of situations, with nearly every mission ending in some kind of mishap. Perhaps there was more to this training thing than he thought. Actually, he had already known that for a long time, but as he said to himself before, it was difficult to muster up enthusiasm with Adi Gallia as his Master. This was something he would have to do for himself. No excuses were acceptable, anymore.
Then again, he might very well be dead thanks to Maul in a few hours.
The object of his hateful passions entered the room. Maul went right up to him. The tattooed freak was staring at him with some mixture of curiosity and confidence. Obi-Wan glared darkly at him, with a combination of hatred and vengeful anger, wishing he could strike the horned being dead with his mind. He was tempted, but resisted the temptation – the amount of dark energy necessary to do that would probably drive him permanently to the dark side, and none of his friends would be able to save him. Alas, he hung there impotently in the restraints, unable to do anything except glare righteously at the Sith Lord from his cage.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi. Are you enjoying yourself in there?" Maul grinned at him, raising his eyebrows as he bared his teeth at him in a hideous decayed grin.
Obi-Wan glared at him. "Ah yes, I've always found being suspended several inches above the air to be an exhilarating experience," he said sarcastically, the beard on his face shifting as his lips assumed a snarky expression. His signature wit was still intact, but as for how useful it would be in this situation, it was not looking good. He growled.
"The Geonosians have plans for you," Maul told him with a smirk, looking him over. "You should feel lucky. If it were up to the Separatists, you would be tortured for seven days straight and you would finally receive a violent, painful death. Luckily, we've decided to give you a relatively painless death, in the execution arena. Consider it an act of mercy, based off our good intentions," Maul said, grinning savagely at his helpless prisoner floating above the ground.
"Thank you," Obi-Wan said sarcastically, glaring with loathsome intent at his enemy. "You do realize if you murder me, an agent of the Republic, it will mean war, right?" This man's whole vile presence was repulsive to his Force senses in so many ways; if he only had one shot. He would give anything to punch that hideous grin right off his face.
"You act as if that is a surprise to me. War is exactly what we want," Maul said, one eyebrow raised in bemused satisfaction at Kenobi's obvious suggestion. Was there anything else that could result from this?
"Do you really believe that these merchants can defeat the Republic?" Obi-Wan asked with one arched eyebrow, staring pointedly at Maul. "They have no experience with combat, save for one botched invasion, and a programming that allows Jedi to defeat their battle droids one hundred-to-one."
"Of course. They'll be massacred by the end," Maul grinned, darkly satisfied. "But their presence will cause the Republic to tear itself apart from the inside. The people will cry out for protection from the insidious criminals rebelling against the Republic, while others will protest at the corruption inherent in the Republic and want to support the Separatists leaving. The Republic has been corrupt for hundreds of years, Kenobi," Maul grinned, with a satisfied gleam in his eye. "It has become ancient and outdated, and it is time to replace it with a new, better institution. By the time the war has caused trillions of credits in damage and cost hundreds of thousands of lives, the people will be crying out for a new organization to protect them from the disaster. They will accept any government that we give them, including bowing down to us, all in the name of protection," Maul grinned savagely, finishing laying out his master plan.
Kenobi raised an eyebrow. "And then you step in and take over. You really think this is going to work, don't you?" Obi-Wan scoffed, chuckling to himself as he listened to Maul's descriptive tirade. "Boy, what a vivid imagination you have, Sith Lord. You must have been a riot in the crèche, or whatever your Sith version of it is. The Republic has stood for thousands of years. It will not be toppled by a ragtag group of rebels that couldn't manage to tame a Nexu between them, never mind topple a galactic organization like this. What you are saying just isn't possible," Obi-Wan said resolutely, vehemently denying what Maul was asserting with his wild, laid out plan.
"It matters not, whether you believe me or not," Maul said softly, walking away from him. "The Republic will fall, and there is nothing you can do about it. Enjoy your last few times as an agent of authority and power, Kenobi. It will soon be taken away from you. Your Order will soon fall from the position it has leeched itself to, and there is nothing you can do about it," Maul smiled darkly, with a fully confident tone in his voice.
"You are even more deluded than I realized, if you think your order of two can defeat our group of 10,000," Kenobi retorted. He peered with irritation at the Sith Lord, wishing more than ever he was armed with his lightsaber.
"Believe what you want, Kenobi. Although your end will come sooner than the Jedi's, won't it?" Maul smiled, raising a dark eyebrow beneath his hood. "Oh yes. Only in a few hours."
"How does it feel Kenobi, to know that you will die here? Was it worth it? To serve your Jedi Council like a mindless drone, fulfilling the whims of the Jedi subserviently? To have one last moment of glory among your Jedi, even knowing that you will die because of it? Or would you rather have stayed at the Temple, as a disgrace, but being alive for the next few years, until the end came? You realize that you will soon be forgotten about once the war starts," Maul taunted him, knowing just how to push his captive's buttons. Kenobi was a pawn. Nothing more.
"Dying in service to the Jedi Council is never a disgrace. And you are the only one who will die, when the Jedi Council comes to destroy this place," Obi-Wan said proudly, not letting the alien's words get to him too much. How dare this man imply that service to the Jedi was a disgrace. His service to the Jedi was an honor, even if he wasn't the most well respected Jedi among his peers. It burned at him to hear Maul denigrate his order. But Obi-Wan knew the truth. "They will arrest your cronies in the Separatist movement and destroy this little droid facility. And then, they will kill you, as they should," Obi-Wan said darkly, glaring with full loathing at the Sith. There was no doubt about it in his mind that if Mace was leading the attack headed here, this man before him here would die. The Jedi would not allow the Sith to escape, after all the chaos they caused ten years ago on Naboo during the blockade, and the carnage they caused a thousand years before that in the Great Sith Wars. He restrained himself, despite wanting to lash out. He knew Maul was just playing mind games with him. If he provided him with such a response, he would just be giving him the satisfaction. Therefore, he remained calm, no matter how difficult it was, wanting so badly to break the man's face where he stood, just as he deserved.
"Believe what you want, Kenobi. As I said, the Jedi Order will fall," Darth Maul said, turning his back on his opponent and beginning to exit the cave, "and there is nothing you can do about it." He left the dark holding cell without a word.
Obi-Wan swore to himself. What Maul was saying just wasn't possible, it just wasn't. Whether it was possible or not, there was currently a more urgent matter. He had to get out of here.
He didn't have much time left.
The Nubian spacecraft cruised through the air of the barren desert planet, searching for any signs of a man-made structure. The terrain was an orange plateau of rocky, jagged structures and craggy hills dotted over the area. This place was barren and desolate, a perfect place for the Separatists to build their base of operations; a fact which did not go unnoticed by the occupants of the ship.
Anakin guided the ship down closer to the planet expertly. Siri and Padmé hovered nearby, waiting anxiously with anticipation. So far they had encountered no enemy sentries, but that didn't mean they weren't present. "There," Padmé said, pointing at an opening on the side of the rock between two giant steam vents, where there was a small landing pad sticking out. They flew the ship down onto the landing pad, shutting down the engines to the ship.
Anakin and the Jedi Master prepared themselves. There was no telling what they might encounter out there. "Senator, stay with the ship. Anakin and I will handle this. If you receive an emergency signal from either Anakin or myself, be prepared to depart this planet immediately," Siri stated, getting right down to the matter. This was a matter of life or death.
"Excuse me, but I am not going to let Anakin and you go out there by yourselves with absolutely no backup. I'm coming with you," Padmé objected fiercely.
"Damn it, will you listen to orders just once, Senator?" Siri snapped without thinking, before she took a calming breath. While she was generally fond of Padmé's resistance to authority, this was not the situation in which she could afford to have Padmé not listen to her authority. Still… "Fine. You can come with us. But stay behind Anakin and me. We cover you at all times. Am I clear?" Siri ordered sternly.
"Thank you," Padmé said stiffly, moving past her to get her blaster.
Anakin shook his head. Women. There was no arguing with them.
They walked out onto a long bridge leading to the cavern. Giant clouds of steam circled all around them. The heat and humidity from the vents was palpable.
The droids followed after them at some distance, though they didn't notice.
Anakin looked at the harsh environment around them, grimacing. They would have left Padmé in the ship, but they knew she would have just got out and gone after them eventually. There was no stopping her when her mind was made up. It was better that they were there to guard her safety, positioning her between himself and Siri so that they could deflect any attacks aimed at 'neutralizing' the senator from Naboo.
They entered a dark corridor, rocky and tight-knit. Anakin looked around, but there was no sign of the Geonosians around. "Where are they?" he asked, wondering where they had all gone to. It was odd that a hallway in such an important facility would be completely deserted.
"Stretch out with your senses. Can't you feel them all around us?" Siri stated, surveying the area above them, with one hand kept on her lightsaber and reaching out with her senses. The Trade Federation forces were up there, mobilizing to declare war on the Republic, along with who knows how many Geonosians; she could only hope they didn't find their way down here, en masse – it was imperative that they rescue Kenobi as soon as possible, and get the hell out of here. A few battle droids they could handle, easily, but a thousand battle droids was a different story.
"I can feel them. They're…they're in the walls," Anakin stated, sensing the creatures' life forces all around them in the corridor. "Why are they hiding?" He would have thought the Geonosians would be eager to fight them, if they were aware of their presences. Unless they were in some state of hibernation, or something.
Siri moved along with senses on extreme alert. "The Geonosians are intimidated by us. Or else, they're planning something else that we don't know about," she said. She was getting a bad feeling about this. There were thousands of Trade Federation troops in the caves above them, and if the Geonosians alerted them to them being down here and called them down here, they would be finished. They had to find Kenobi as soon as possible, and then get the hell out of here, before they were all killed.
Padmé walked along behind Anakin, staying close to her Jedi lover. She was heeding the advice given to her earlier, letting Siri and Anakin take the lead as they looked for signs of danger.
Suddenly, Anakin felt something stirring in the Force. He turned around to slash a Geonosian coming out of the wall. Padmé screamed briefly as the dark insect-like guard fell before Anakin's blade.
Another one popped out of the wall, armed with a blaster rifle that looked a little unusual. Anakin drew his saber in an attempt to block the oncoming blaster bolt, and he was able to strike him down before he even fired. Padmé gasped loudly as the creature appeared suddenly, before she got her bearings and readied her blaster in order to fire on someone if she had to.
"Padmé, run!" Anakin shouted, motioning for Padmé to get behind him. He would have preferred for her to return to the ship, but the door was locked behind them, and had been tripped by the Geonosians. There was nowhere to go but inside.
The opening was there, but they stopped while they were waiting for the other member of their party to follow them.
"Don't wait for me! Go! Find Obi-Wan," Siri told them, using her lightsaber to deflect some of the energy blasts from the Geonosians.
They ran up to the entrance leading further into the cavern, only to realize it was the entrance to a foundry. They stopped short right before the ledge, but Padmé fell down onto the conveyor belt below.
"Padmé!" Anakin cried, worrying about her safety. He didn't have to worry, though; she was unharmed. Anakin followed her down from the ledge.
Siri headed back to the entrance into the foundry. She needed to keep an eye on her Padawan, not because she didn't trust him, but because this was a series of droid factories and chaotic, with distractions and unpredictable things everywhere. She trusted him and Padmé to rescue Kenobi, but she also wanted to help keep these attackers away from them so they would have a better chance. As long as she maintained a reasonable distance between them, she could warn him of any incoming dangers. She positioned herself in the doorway and blocked it with her body; she was going to have to keep these creatures away from them for as long as possible, until they were in the clear.
Navigating the factory was a challenge. There were all sorts of obstacles that they could get ensnared by, and they had to move quickly. Anakin guided Padmé through the facility, keeping a careful eye on her. They avoided the various obstacles and machinery, moving through them quickly. At one point Padmé got caught in a vat of some sort, but Anakin quickly pulled her out with the Force before she could come to harm.
Several Geonosians came out of a corner, rounding apiece of machinery. Anakin blocked their shots with his lightsaber and shot them down.
They looked around at the heavy equipment working, marveling in awe and intimidation at the gear-based maze that lay before them. How were they going to get past all this to get up to the top, where they had to rescue Kenobi?
Searching for a way out from the chaos, they continued their march into the facility.
Threepio wandered on the conveyor belt he found himself on. He had followed his master and his friend out of the ship, thanks to his short counterpart's suggestion. And now his senses were overwhelmed by the enormity of what was going on. Suddenly, a machine decapitated the rusted protocol droid out of nowhere, sending his head flying across the factory. Before he knew it, his head was on another conveyor belt behind a line of Neimoidian battle droid heads.
He realized his body was still where he'd left it, in the prior assembly line. "Oh no," Threepio said miserably, moaning in despair. Why did these things always happen to him?
He would kill Artoo when he next saw him, if his programming would allow him to.
Rushing through the bedlam of sound and fire, Anakin and Padmé realized there was no end to this facility. It probably stretched for miles underground, and unless they figured out some way to pinpoint Obi-Wan's location, they were never going to find Kenobi.
More Geonosians came around the machinery, armed with blaster rifles. Anakin called on the Force and directed several droid parts their way. The torsos slammed against the Geonosians, knocking them from the air. Anakin realized he had to put an end to this.
"Can you sense Kenobi?" Padmé shouted over the bedlam of machinery and chaos in the foundry.
Anakin stretched out with his senses, to see if he could pinpoint the presence that was Obi-Wan's life force amid the thousands of beings in the caverns and among all the other chaos and distractions that were going on. Finally, he found it. There it was, a bright presence in the Force amid the dull life forces of all the other beings in the installation underground.
"There!" Anakin pointed at a corner of the cavern that lurked stories above their current location, nestled in a section of the massive cavern that was all rock save for a ledge and an opening to another cavern nearby.
"Think you can make it?" Padmé asked cheekily, grinning at her beloved. This was dangerous, but she had to admit, she could develop a taste for it. It was adventurous, it was dangerous, and she was liking it.
"We're about to find out," Anakin said, wrapping his arm around Padmé's waist and getting ready to make the jump. He pulled out the cable for his grappling hook from his utility belt. If he didn't make it, they could just rappel the rest of the way.
Several yards behind them, Siri was already on the move. She had had enough of blocking the doorway, and there were no more threats coming from that direction.
He was about to jump, when Jango Fett showed up in front of them several yards away. Anakin Force pushed the bounty hunter, sending him crashing back into an assembly line before he could draw his weapon. Anakin was about to throw his lightsaber in an enhanced sweep so he could kill the man, when several Geonosian soldiers showed up, armed with blaster rifles.
"Hands up, Jedi!" one of them ordered him, as several battle droids came to their back-up.
Siri had caught up to them by now, and Anakin stared at her as he regarded the armed droids warily. "Do you think we can take them?" he asked her tersely, keeping one hand on his lightsaber.
Siri responded negatively. "No, it'll be too much trouble with Jango Fett around, trying to rein him in. If it were just them, we would have no trouble, but he's too much of a problem," Siri said, shaking her head. "And we don't want Padmé to get injured while we're fighting him. Besides, there's another factor we hadn't planned for coming into play," Siri said, nodding her chin at the assembled enemy troops.
Anakin looked at where she was nodding. Jango Fett had gotten back up and was recovering his bearings, pointing his blaster at them. "Don't move, Jedi," he shouted, settling in line with the battle droids. Next to them, a figure stepped into the area that they had not anticipated, clad in black and wearing the dark robes of a Sith. "Indeed," Darth Maul said, brandishing his red double-bladed lightsaber.
Anakin looked at all of the weapons pointed at him. "Son-of-a-Hutt," he cursed, shaking his head down in frustration.
"Give us your lightsabers, please," one of the battle droids said. Anakin and Siri were annoyed, but they knew they were outnumbered. Dealing with a bounty hunter, battle droids, and now a Sith Lord, together, was beyond their scope, especially without putting Padmé in danger. They released their lightsabers as asked, holding up their hands grudgingly in deference.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Anakin whispered, as he fell into line from prompting from the battle droids. Padmé surrendered her blaster as well, and she fell into step side-by-side with them. Anakin kept her close to him, just in case they were tempted to pry her away from him.
"Now, Padawan, how can you be sure things won't turnout all right?" Siri asked with a smile, staring confidently at her Padawan. Anakin looked down at his hands; it was true they could still use the Force to defend themselves, if Maul tried to kill them prematurely. But Siri still seemed too calm for the circumstances, given that they were almost certainly being led to their deaths.
"What, you've had a vision of the future or something?" Anakin scoffed, imagining what she had to be positive about. He was feeling sullen, he admitted, because they had failed to complete their mission, and now they were being captured.
Siri said nothing. Anakin was left to ponder what his Master had planned, as they walked towards wherever the Separatists were leading them. Siri knew something, that much was clear, but he just wished he knew what it was. She could be secretive at times, and this was not one of those times where he wanted to let her be. He had to trust his Master, but he just wished she would trust him with whatever it was she had planned.
The droids marched their 'visitors' further into the factory, presumably to where their fate awaited them. Nobody noticed how one of the items on Jango Fett's belt floated away from it, disappearing soon after it began moving amidst the chaos of the factory.
Jedi Master Yan Dooku exited from hyperspace in his starfighter above a swirling orange planet. The records at the spaceport on Felucia had indicated that a ship had been ambushed several years ago, attacked by what looked to be pirates. The descriptions of the ship matched the ship that Sifo-Dyas had been using. The ship had been taken aboard, and the pirate ship had disappeared shortly afterwards into hyperspace. Analysis of the projected trajectory indicated that its intended destination was probably Dantooine. Because the officials staffed there were tied to the spaceport and had little authority outside their sector, they were unable to pursue. The spaceport at Felucia was small, and it was pretty much the only spaceport on the planet, so there was very little information available. The information had led Dooku to Dantooine, where he poured through every one of the records in every single one of their spaceports dating from that era. After examining every record, following every lead, and generally gleaming every bit of information that he could, Dooku found the trail had finally led him here: Geonosis. A planet in the Outer Rim.
The trail ended here. There was no other evidence of Sifo-Dyas beyond this. Sifo-Dyas had been murdered and his body had been brought here, but for what purpose, Dooku didn't know. There was no doubt about it in his mind. Geonosis was a barren desert planet in the Outer Rim. Why would there be anything of interest here? Dooku had heard of nothing significant happening on the planet in the past several months. Dooku didn't know what was waiting for him down there, but he had to be prepared for anything. A little thrill of anticipation went through him. He was excited about the prospect of what was lurking down there. This was a mystery, and he loved a good mystery. It had been too long since he was challenged. He was in the field more than any other Jedi to help the people, but there were rarely any challenges in his missions anymore. He was a thrill seeker by nature, and there was nothing more exciting than the prospect of confronting the unknown. He brought the ship down into the atmosphere of the planet. He just hoped this adventure wasn't one that backfired on him. Dooku had no thoughts of finding his friend alive, only of solving the greater mystery that was at work here. The thoughts were on his mind as he descended down to the planet, determined to seek his answers. Hopefully the Force was with him.
The throngs of the Senate erupted in applause and celebration from the resolution that was recently passed. Chancellor Palpatine backed away from the center podium, humbled with gratitude and acceptance of the measure that would allow him to save the Republic and restore order to the galaxy. The Senate roared in celebration, confident that they had just averted certain death for themselves with their newly passed resolution. The Separatists were going to pay for their treason, and the security of the Republic would be assured by its newly minted troops. That was what Palpatine promised them, and few in the chamber had reason to not believe him.
The two Jedi Masters surveyed the going-ons in the Senate with a grim acceptance.
"It is done," Mace Windu said. For better or worse, their fates were sealed: the creation of a Grand Army of the Republic was now a reality.
"I will take what Jedi we have and go to Geonosis and help Siri and Obi-Wan. We will not allow the Sith to start a war that will devastate the worlds in this galaxy," Mace said seriously, sharing that same look with Yoda. They both understood what was at stake here. Yoda nodded in response.
"To Kamino, I will go, and see this army they have created for the Republic, for myself," Yoda said. Mace nodded his assent, and the two Jedi Masters sauntered off to carry out their tasks. Their plan was made, and now they just had to put it into effect.
Time was against them.