The Empty Grave
Part 3:- The Mausoleum
Well this one has been on hold for a while now... there are a few reasons for this but one stands above all others. Where I'm going with this basically cuts it off from the original trilogy. I love the original Star Wars, from the battered and over watched VHS I recorded from Christmas T.V. to the so called limited edition DVD's with both the special and original versions.
I just couldn't retcon those films out of continuity, even in harmless fan fiction. There was only one option left. The only thing worse than endless arguments about who shot first... Yes, I re-watched The Phantom Menace.
So now I'm ready and even a little tempted to let Jar-Jar have a nasty accident with a food blender, fifteen tons of napalm, a cheese-grater and three foot long barbed spikes... (I know I should feel sorry for him but we had enough helpful, supposedly cute, characters with the Ewoks but I dont. So there.)
Bail Organa smiled, it wasn't a natural smile or one he wanted to give but he always had been a good actor. 'I'd be honoured to present my findings to the Senate. I am afraid it is not good news.' he let his face slide. 'We have lost a great many friends.'
'But now that the war is over senator we will lose no more. I am assured that the High Chancellor will welcome any report you can give.' The screen faded and Bail found it hard not to put his fist through the screen, he was not a man of violence but this was a special occasion.
'Bode well, this does not.' Master Yoda announced. 'Uncomfortable am I with the speed of the High Chancellor.'
'He's backed me into a corner. With the Jedi Order in the shape it is, his power is not only absolute but unassailable.' Bail growled. News of the Jedi's all but destruction would only fuel his supporters and destroy the spirit of Palpatine's detractors. That moment Master Kenobi came in; 'How is Padme?'
'Her condition disturbs me.' The Jedi Master said gravely. 'Master Yoda, have you ever heard of a person accessing the Force through their unborn children?'
'Believe that to be what has happened? Hum. Agree with you I do. Possible it is, yet heard of it before I have not.' The small Jedi Master frowned. 'Powerful Skywalker is. Perhaps his children, his equal?'
Master Kenobi shook his head. 'Anakin knows the punishment for this. I can't understand why he would throw his life away.'
'He loves her, and she him.' Bail said, the Jedi didn't seem to grasp this for some reason. 'That's all the reason they need. Padme's career as a senator is over when it comes out she secretly married a Jedi. I'm sure they both knew the risks otherwise they would not have hidden it.'
'Very few Jedi in over a thousand years has ever had children. Those that did had long since left the order. They knew that to do so opened them to the threat of the Dark Side. This is why a Jedi can have no connections outside the order.'
'Something I've never understood. How can you leave the Jedi Order.' Bail asked, genuinely curious.
Yoda looked up at him and then back down with his eyes closed.' Depends, it does. If banished Jedi is, as one council must act. To bind the powers of Jedi all master's are needed.'
Master Kenobi continued 'If they leave voluntarily, with honour, a Jedi can chose to have their powers removed or not. Dooku left with honour and kept his powers, so that's something we might have to change.'
'Powerful Jedi Skywalker is. If fight us he does, powerful he may be. Too powerful should he not wish us to bind him...'
'I won't let you hurt him.' It was Padme who interrupted as she pulled herself into the cramped command cabin. She was as white as winter and looked very tired but you couldn't tell that from the tone in her voice.
'Are you alright senator?' Master Kenobi asked, concerned.
'I'm fine, but what happened to me?' She asked.
'We don't know.' He admitted gravely. 'You were not acting as yourself. What do you remember?'
'Just feelings. Contempt, distaste, disappointment, fear and there was something very painful. It felt like my heart was braking.'
'Influenced you were. Determined Anakin has become, twisted by the Dark side. Great my disappointment of him is.'
'It was I who failed him Master. Perhaps he has not gone too far.' Master Kenobi stroked his beard
'But one step is to cross that line. Your hope, a weakness he may exploit.'
'No.' The senator said, the steel in her voice hardening even further. 'I refuse to believe that.'
'Senator... Padme. You have to understand by falling in love with you he opened a door. Love can lead to bitter arguments and deep emotional pain. A natural reaction to that s to get angry. If a Jedi loses control of their emotions for an instant it can lead to great suffering.'
'I've been given this speech before Obi-Wan. I did try to understand it then but I still can't. Besides, most of what I felt came from me. The fear and the anger were mine. The disappointment was Anakin's, only I can't understand why or who with.'
Padme looked out of the window for a moment, out over the city and landing platforms that were rapidly approaching. 'Senator Organa, please convey my apologies to the senate. I am afraid that with no Jedi survivors found I have decided to continue our investigations at the Temple proper.'
He caught on. 'Are you sure that is a good idea? Lying to the senate...' It was political suicide and she knew it.
'You're not lying that there are survivors, only about finding them. The Jedi made it back without you.'
'Well, I see no other choice. Palpatine's got so much support I don't even think he needs my help to shoot myself in the foot.' Bail set his face, 'But If I'm going to do it I might as well go out in style. I still have a few friends, senators who think for themselves. We'll kick up enough fuss to delay the High Chancellor. Even if it costs us everything he'll know we went out with a fight.'
'Good for you senator,' Master Kenobi nodded. 'While you do that the three of us will get back to the temple. Find out what's going on back there, if it was Palpatine that moved against us we need to know why.'
Padme crept up the staircase, cradling a blaster rifle she had picked up from the Tantive IV. The two Jedi had "requisitioned" a personal flyer and the three of them had come in low, only a hand full of levels up from bedrock. Obi-Wan joked that he hated flying but had learned a few tricks from Anakin over the years. One of those seemed to be how to reprogram an access code to a flyer.
Very rarely the Jedi-Master would make a joke like that, Master Yoda did not look pleased about it but like most Jedi the ancient, green, Master had long since abandoned humour.
They had landed on a disused pad that was really nothing more than a gap between cables and climbed up to the Temple proper. Very few people lived down here. Even the down and outs that usually lived at bedrock level kept away from the Jedi Temple. Padme could guess why; dark, abandoned and right under the noses of the Jedi. It was the dark underbelly of the great city where the forgotten and the secrets lay buried under shining towers of plexisteel and other construction materials.
There was something else, it was like a great wound reaching down, deeper than even the lowest building. Pulsing and throbbing. 'Do you feel it?' she asked the Jedi.
'It is hard not to.' Admitted Obi-Wan. 'I've never felt anything like it. It's like someone has uncorked a fountain in the Force.'
Master Yoda held a three clawed hand up. 'Reaction it is. Above great power has come. Whether for good or bad I know not.'
'You think its the very planet reacting against what is happening above our heads?' She asked remembering the legends of Naboo. Stories of world sprits and vast webs of energy that cradled whole planets.
Instead of a nod she just earned a flinty look from the Jedi Master. 'Believe that I do not.' He said simply and they climbed on. 'The Force is life, yes. Rock, a world is made of. Alive, rocks are not.'
Something didn't quite sit right with her about that, but she couldn't say what it was. Still she didn't have time to think or wonder about it, they were there. Obi-Wan held a hand up for them to stop and pointed to the top of a stairway. It looked like it had been locked and sealed for years, centuries even. With a look of intense concentration the two Jedi Masters reached out.
Padme, through her pregnancy, could sense the Force. She knew the dangers, as much as she could before. Now, with one of the wonders of the universe just out of reach, she knew how little that meant. With a tortured shriek the metal tore from the doorway and flicked out onto the plaza. Quickly Obi-Wan flipped up and out, followed by the green cannon ball like Yoda. Padme realised just how pointless that was when she poked her head up, aiming the blaster rifle.
The plaza looked like a nightmare, something had torn through a battalion of clone troopers. Obi-Wan was knelt over one of them. 'Lightsabre, looks like the temple fought back.'
'Done by Jedi this was not, lightning burns I believe.' Yoda was inspecting another corpse by a landing craft. The large white transports were scattered around like a battlefield, many with clouds of black smoke rising from them.
'That's a Sith power, you don't think...'
'No, he doesn't' Padme interrupted. 'And neither do you. Come on.' She lead the way to the Jedi Temple. As she got closer she noticed feather light cracks in the stone and the great rosary window high above the entrance hall was missing.
Beneath her heart one of the children squirmed, she felt it too. Uneasy, like someone was watching them. Obi-Wan held up his hand to stop. As soon as he did white armoured Clone Troopers came from all directions. Two lightsabres ignited with a snap hiss and Padme had her rifle up.
'Don't move!' Shouted one trooper. He had yellow shoulder pads and a stripe running down his front.
'Commander Cody, I assume that's you.' Obi-Wan acknowledged
'That is correct General Kenobi. Special order sixty-six orders me to execute any and all Jedi. Please surrender your weapons.' Padme had no idea how Obi-Wan recognised the clone but suspected it was a Jedi thing.
'And the Senator?' Obi-Wan asked
Cody looked to her and then back to his former General. 'All Jedi sympathisers are to be arrested, detained and then executed while trying to escape.'
'I'm a republic senator.' she gasped, 'How, who gave this order?'
Cody's helm flicked to her and then back. 'You are to surrender General for execution.'
'She's pregnant Cody.' Obi-Wan said simply. Padme was surprised he'd tell a clone that. She'd met a few and once an order was given they would follow it to the ends of the galaxy and back. There was no point in arguing with them. She looked down at Yoda, the Jedi master looked calm but she could tell he was unsure what was going to happen. 'Do me one favour, tell me something. When you were given the order to shoot me. Did you care that you were betraying me?'
The clone didn't say anything, but for a moment Padme could have sworn the blaster lowered. Then, at last, he said; 'I would have preferred it if you had fallen in battle. Either way order sixty-six would have been fulfilled. Now, for the last time, please surrender.'
Before anyone could say anything more Cody was picked up and thrown backwards through his ranks by an invisible fist. Then all hell broke lose. Both Yoda and Obi-Wan covered her, bouncing blaster bolts back into the Clones. She, in a single fluid motion just started firing. Any Clone her aim settled on fell and then she moved on, never stopping for more than half a second.
And there was something else. Amongst the Clones two black on black shadows moved like avenging angels. Occasional flashes of red and blue. Padme saw one trooper she was about to shoot aim their own gun at her. In the blink of an eye their arm was gone then their head. So fast the body hadn't fallen. Automatically her finger twitched. Finally, from the shot and nothing else, he fell.
As quickly as it stared the skirmish was over. At least twenty Clones were dead, another dozen wounded and groaning. Looking over the bodies Padme saw them. Two darkly dressed figures. One encased in an all black life support suit, He wore an angular mask and sharply domed helmet. Little flashing red lights on his chest plate showed it was working. In his hand a blood red Sith lightsabre. The other was Anakin; 'Ani,' she whispered to him. Taking an unconscious step forward, only to have Yoda hold her back.
'The Dark Side I sense in them. Both, sith they are.'
Anakin extinguished his blade. A broad smile on his face, 'No. It's true I almost fell to the Dark Side but he caught me.'
'He was too late.' Obi-Wan said sadly. 'I can feel it too Anakin. Once you start down the dark path, you can't turn back. It's not that easy.'
Anakin shook his head sadly. 'An absolute. Nothing in life is easy. If it was we wouldn't struggle, wouldn't have to fight. I wouldn't have to say this.' he looked at her.
Padme could tell he was afraid, no he was terrified. 'It's okay Ani, what's wrong?'
'The Jedi code. It's got it wrong Padme, that's what's wrong.' He said. 'I love you, more than life... more than the force itself I love you. Every part of you. Your courage, your smile, your laugh is my whole existence and for years I've felt guilty.' Padme frowned. She had no idea where this was going but didn't like it.
I was guilty for braking the Jedi code, frightened of being found out. Frightened so much I began to hate that I felt this way, but I couldn't stop loving you. All this time we did everything we could to hide. That's not the life I want for you, not the life I want for our child. If it means my leaving the order then I leave. If the Jedi are so closed minded they can't except my love for you then to hell with them.'
'And become a Sith.' Obi-Wan stepped between them as Yoda held her back. 'Anakin, can't you see. That man has corrupted you, turned you away from the Light Side of the Force. Fear, anger these are the weapons of the Dark Side.'
Padme shook her head. 'That's not what he meant.'
'Deception and trickery, of the Dark Side they are. Trust Anakin we cannot.' Yoda agreed and then he too stepped in front of her. 'Sith Lord his new Master is. Defeat him we must.'
End chapter 3