Tarva: Thank you! :)
Lisa: In my opinion Palpatine gets what he deserves with Anakin. As far as the Original Trilogy goes, it's most likely going to be very, very EU. I'll just have to see what happens. Thanks for reviewing! :)
"I picture an icy river and a person of undefined guilt freezing and drowning in it with Ayn Rand on the bank telling the victim their predicament is their entire fault before she offers them a glass of water."
"Guilt is defined here, though, so that isn't an accurate metaphor."
"I'm referring to shades of gray. But maybe it didn't come out right. You know how fickle the human mind can be. But in this case, Anakin created the icy river he drowns in and despite the outside assistance, I agree with Ayn Rand."
"Are you comparing Harlene to Ayn Rand?"
"Not in general. And if I wanted to, credit me with enough brains to hold my tongue, as you would rip it out if I were serious."
"That was very clever, my little apprentice. Such blatant, yet subtle cruelty…you surpass my fondest hopes. Is something wrong?"
"…maybe it's just paranoia, but the interface screwed up in the only way it could for her plan to work. Don't you find that a little bit suspicious?"
"No. Whether it's karma or the hand of God, she got her revenge. I won't complain."
"My treasure hunt is nearly done. I'll have the results soon."
"I overheard a few conversations. They'll want some action in over a year."
"Will they reveal their plans?"
"It's a bit sooner than I prefer…but we need to be flexible."
"Maybe you should start Harlene and the others on those new training modules right now. If they got a head start—"
"No. I can't take the chance that word will get out. They'll get suspicious. It may not be fatal to you, but it'll stir unrest that we don't need. Try to cause as many delays as you can. Once they make their first move, I can tell the President what I know."
"Welcome to part III. So Obi-Wan follows the coordinates to the planet, and what do you know! He finds the planet there. He enters a building to find two fake-looking ostrich things that have apparently been expecting him. They explain that ten years ago a Jedi Master named Cipher-Dias placed an order for a clone army. Obi-Wan informs them that Cipher-Dias was killed almost ten years ago and asks who the army is for. The ostrich people then tell him that the army is for the Republic.
So then they have a long and slow exposition about who the original host was, who was a bounty hunter named Jango Fett. Obi-Wan then asks to speak with this bounty hunter.
Now there's another fan service(Boba Fett) written into this scene, but it's so meaningless and 'who cares' that I'm not even going to mention it in this review.
So Obi-Wan enters the room and he and Jango start playing the 'let's run out the clock with slow and meaningless dialogue' game. So after this meaningless bid for screen time, Obi-Wan then reports to the Jedi. He tells them that the cloners are using the bounty hunter to create a clone army and that the order was placed ten years ago by a fallen Jedi.
Windu tells Obi-Wan that the Jedi Council never authorized the creation of the Clone Army, so whoever did it did not have authorization. They order Obi-Wan to bring Jango to them so they can question him.
Okay. So. We've got a Jedi who ordered a clone army without authorization. We've got a Jedi who erased the cloner planet from the archives. We've got a bounty hunter who can be linked to Oobadooba's assassination attempt when Oobadooba was going to vote against the clone army, and after a chase through an asteroid field we can also link this bounty hunter to working for the Separatists as well who are led by a Jedi that turned to the dark side.
Okay. That's more than enough evidence to say that this unauthorized clone army should be destroyed as it is obviously part of the conspiracy that Yoda was apparently meditating on. So I'm sure the Jedi are real close to cracking this case wide open.
So Obi-Wan follows Jango to a planet where a huge droid army is being manufactured, and he overhears Count Dracula, a former Jedi leading the Separatists now, discussing their plans. They now have the largest army in the galaxy and Dracula comments that with this army the Jedi will be overwhelmed and the Republic will agree to any demands.
Oh, they have demands? Oh, okay, well then never mind, I guess they do want more than just to leave. Turns out they also want…what? What do they want!?
So Obi-Wan gets captured and then we have a scene of Count Dracula actually monologing the entire evil plot to him. He tells him everything, that the Senate is controlled by a Dark Lord of the Sith, whatever that is, and that the Jedi are powerless to sense his presence.
Meanwhile these morons learn that the Separatists have created a huge army and are about to attack for…some reason. They all agree that the Senate will never approve the use of clones so something must be done.
I want to repeat that: the Senate will never approve the use of clones before the Separatists attack, so obviously either they just flat out don't want them or they're still deliberating on it.
So then they all agree that this is a crisis and that the Senate must vote the Chancellor emergency powers so that he can approve the creation of the army. The Chancellor then asks, 'what senator would have the courage to propose such a radical amendment?', and they respond, 'tsk. Gee. If only Oobadooba were here. Her one vote always gets radical and asinine proposals ratified immediately. Well, I guess we're just going to have to have Jar-Jar do it then'.
So then Jar-Jar goes to the Senate and pleads his case that the Separatists are a huge threat and proposes they grant the Chancellor emergency powers…and the Senate all agree.
So let me get this straight. The Senate wasn't willing to approve the use of clones, but they approved giving the Chancellor emergency powers so he can approve the use of clones.
The Senate actually agreed to a proposal to circumvent themselves. If Jar-Jar's case was so convincing that they were willing to extend the Chancellor emergency powers to approve the clone army, why didn't they just approve the clone army themselves!?
So the clone army is approved and both the Jedi and Anakin get the message about the droid army and that Obi-Wan has been captured. Windu decides to take a bunch of Jedi with him to try and rescue Obi-Wan while Yoda goes to Kamino to see the clones for himself.
Meanwhile Anakin decides he will not go to the droid planet to rescue Obi-Wan because he has been given strict orders to stay here and guard Oobadooba.
And as we all know, Anakin will follow orders when the plot needs him to.
Oobadooba then says that she's going to rescue Obi-Wan and if Anakin wants to continue to guard her, he's just going to have to come along.
So the two go to the droid planet and then get dumped into a long video game that the audience can't play. After meandering through this scene they eventually get captured and are scheduled to be executed along with Obi-Wan. So the three of them fend off big monsters for a while before being surrounded by droids. They're all just about to be executed when finally the Jedi arrive and intervene.
So they all have a big fight that takes forever to wrap itself up. A long story short, the Jedi lose and get surrounded. Count Dracula is just about to give the order to kill them when all a sudden the clone army comes out of nowhere and starts blowing up the droids. We then see that the army is being led by Yoda himself.
You know what? FUCK THIS MOVIE!
So the Jedi actually collected more than enough evidence to conclude that the Clone Army was created by traitors, in secret without their knowledge or authorization, and they can link this directly to the Separatist movement, so their solution to this obvious conspiracy is to play right into its hands!? What the hell could Yoda have possibly said when he got to Kamino!?
'Mmmm. Order these clones we did not. Unauthorized this was. Conspiracy we know there is. What this is this probably is. So…destroy them we should, but…here they are, so…use them I guess we will'.
They were investigating a conspiracy. And now they're just going along with that conspiracy as if the investigation never happened! Remember this army was created by the Jedi. Not the Senate. The Jedi. It's theirs to destroy. As soon as they learned that the army was created in secret, ten years ago without authorization and that someone went through the trouble to hide it from them, they should have immediately destroyed them all and told the Republic to make its own damn army if they want it.
How retarded—do you have to be—to have actually uncovered a conspiracy—actually have someone explain the whole conspiracy in detail--and then turn around and go along with it when the investigation is over!?
If the Emperor hadn't taken these people over, they likely would have collapsed under the weight of their own stupidity anyway!
So the droid and clone army start shooting at one another because of…ya know. Reasons.
So they both catch up to Count Dracula and Anakin acts like the moron that he is and tries to take him on himself. So Dracula shoots lightening at him, turns to Obi-Wan and says '(deep voice)as you can see my Jedi powers are far beyond yours. Because I can…shoot lightening I guess. So…stand down'.
Then they get into a lightsaber fight until Obi-Wan gets cut a little and lies there like a dumbass. So then Anakin gets into a fight with him but he gets his arm cut off and then lies there like a dumbass. Finally Yoda enters the room. Count Dracula tells him that he has interfered with his affairs for the last time. Even though technically he has interfered with his affairs for the first time.
So Dracula throws some shit at him but that doesn't work. So then he shoots lightening at him but that doesn't work. So then he says '(deep voice)it is obvious that this contest will not be decided by our knowledge of the Force…but by our skills with a lightsaber'.
So if throwing shit didn't work and lightening didn't work, what the hell makes you think sword-fighting is gonna work? Like I said in another video, this scene is so gratuitous, it could have kept on going even after this. When they were done sword-fighting, Dracula could have easily said, 'okay. Now it's obvious this contest will not be decided by our skills with a lightsaber but by having a dance-off'. And by the way, who's stupid idea was it to give Yoda a lightsaber!? That's like giving Superman and airplane! And did he do any better than Obi-Wan and Anakin did? Again, they were all doing exactly the same stuff! This was supposed to be the scene that demonstrates what a great warrior Yoda was, and all I saw was the same jumping around crap. Except in the theater I was in this scene provoked laughter rather than applause.
So finally Count Dracula knocks a thing over to crush Obi-Wan and Anakin and Yoda saves them but lets Dracula escape. Which makes you wonder why he didn't just do that in the first place.
So Anakin and Oobadooba go back to Naboo, and Oobadooba actually marries him. Even despite the fact that he's got that funky robot arm now.
Oh and that he bitched her out in front of the Queen, made descending remarks against democracy, advocated for a dictatorship, expressed his disdain for all of his peers especially his Master, and he committed mass murder.
I want to make that clear: Oobadooba knows damn well that her boyfriend killed innocent women and children, and she married him anyway. She does not care.
So then the Jedi all go back to Coruscant. They completely forget that there ever was an investigation in the first place, and never have anything to say about the sleeper agents they just led into their organization knowingly.
Now we see that evil will always triumph…
…because good is dumb."
"Well, there's really not much to say about that," Jacob sighed, bending his back until it creaked. "It pretty much speaks for itself."
"I think Harlene knows," Roan said. "I think she knew all along. Subconsciously at least. She just wants to give the Jedi a fair chance because of the Originals."
"Well, that won't last long," Jacob said. "Shits really gonna hit the fan when she finds out about Revenge of the Sith. Even those Knights of the Old Republic games could tell her that the Jedi Order went down the drain long before that little green bastard was born."
"I think we should pity the Jedi Council at the very least," Roan smirked.
"Not me." Jacob grinned. "They deserve plenty of hell-raising. Or in Harlene's case, Armageddon raising."
Rebecca stretched her muscles upon disconnecting from the interface. The CAA recruits had at long last built up enough stamina for her to get a borderline okay workout from training them. Such tasks were usually carried out by her underlings, but she had to be directly involved from time to time. It was the pretense she had her creed had to keep up.
Stripping off the sensory suit she exited the room and locked herself in her office. She could put off a shower for a few more hours. There was still plenty of work to be done.
She was less than half-way through today's project when she sensed someone behind her. Ignoring them, she continued to type.
Large hands settled on her shoulders and began a slow firm kneading. She tried to fight it, but her resolved melted in seconds.
"Hmmm," she sighed letting her fingers hover limply over the keys. "That's cruel."
"It's delicious too," Shawn murmured in her ear.
She moaned again. There wasn't any point in asking how he had broken into her office without making a sound. It would be a waste of time.
"You deserve to be thrown out," he hit a particularly sensitive area and she exhaled sharply. "Distracting me like this…when there's so much to be done."
"All work and no play," he said. "That's not you and you know it." After a long pause his hands stilled. "This again?"
Rebecca opened her eyes and saw he was staring hard at the screen. "We're taking enough chances as it is. They'll be a threat in the future. We need to get information when it's still easy to do so."
"You've been hacking at this?"
"Not me. Iron Hand sent me this. I'm just sifting through it."
Shawn's brow shot up. "How'd you get away with that? Iron Hand hates it more than you do when distractions scurry around her."
"I like encouraging her."
He bent down and kissed her neck. "I know."
After promising Shawn a night all to themselves, Rebecca disengaged herself from the computer and took a lift down to the bottom levels. She stopped outside a plain gray door and activated the intercom next to it.
"Are you in there?"
A voice answered, "yes."
"May I enter?"
The door hissed open. Rebecca stepped in and didn't frown when Iron Hand didn't look up from her computer.
"The information you gathered is very useful."
"If we play our cards right it will serve more than just blackmail material."
"I give you more leeway than you deserve," Rebecca said coldly. "Maybe you could grace me with your voice or am I undeserving of that much?"
"You have what you want from me. You don't need any more."
"Have you been taking the words of that little shit, Eva seriously?" Rebecca moved closer. "Geniuses usually suffer misunderstood, lonely existences, Iron Hand. But that's not always the case. You know we wouldn't be able to carry out our plan without you. I'll publicly acknowledge it if you want."
Iron Hand turned a hard gaze to her. "I'd rather you not."
"What do you want then?"
Iron Hand held her eyes before returning to her computer.
Rebecca came up to her and put a hand on her shoulder. "The realities don't belong with the Error Correctors. They could do so much more for the world if they were in our hands. Right now they collect dust in underground dwellings and secretly run things. That is a poor waste."
"Are you trying to convince me of something?"
Rebecca's hand clamped around her throat. Iron Hand's hands grabbed her arm, but Rebecca's finger was pressed in her neck. With a single twitch she could snap the bone in half.
"Bluntness suits you, Iron Hand. Not coyness."
A growl of anger rumbled in the back of Iron Hand's throat. Rebecca ignored it.
"To be honest I don't know why I have doubts about you. I rescued you. Your brains would have been sucked out by Senator Marshall's lackeys if not for me. In exchange for your services, I offered you a golden opportunity for vengeance and there is absolutely no reason why you would pass it up. Unless you're under the same delusions that keep the Error Correctors from opening their eyes." Her thumb pressed deeper. "Is that why you've been working on your cure?"
Iron Hand's breathing had grown harsh and ragged. Rebecca sighed.
"I believe in individuals having their own mind so long as they don't interfere with our common goal. We're not the CAA after all. So long as you don't hinder our progress or I should say, betray us, feel free to think whatever you wish."
Rebecca released her. Iron Hand sagged halfway in her chair, steel-gray eyes staring at nothing. Rebecca made for the exit but stopped at the door.
"They're nothing more than illusions, Iron Hand. Their artificial intelligence is the illusion. Don't waste what little conscience you have left on them."
Harlene walked for an unknown amount of time before stopping and staring at her surroundings. She had reflexively teleported to one of her peaceful deserted worlds. A soft breeze made the trees sway, their gentle creaking keeping the silence from becoming suffocating. Harlene settled herself on a branch and stretched.
Goddamn, that had been satisfying.
The feeling was as fresh and open as a knife wound.
"That was…ingenious to say the least, my little apprentice," her mentor said when she was done explaining.
Harlene basked in the praise but said. "The interface helped a great deal."
"Ironic that it would mess up just when you need it to," Claire said.
"Well as Beatrix Kiddo from Kill Bill would say, when fortune smiles on something as violent and ugly as revenge, it seems proof like no other that not only does God exist but you're doing his will."
"What will you do now?"
"Vader doesn't know what my true motivations are for rescuing him and Obi-Wan. If I feed the notion they were what he thinks…it'll make my plans for him in Revenge of the Sith all the more satisfying," she smiled. "In actuality, I should be thanking him."
"So you'll be keeping up your pretence for now?"
Harlene frowned at the way Claire had said 'pretence' but decided to let it go. "Yes, I'll be keeping up my pretence for now. I'll also be coming home in a little while, too."
"See you soon then."
She holstered her comm and stared grimly at the beauty before her. She loved Anakin. It would be pointless to deny it. Several times she had allowed that love to blind her to fact that he was not the good man Obi-Wan had told Luke about in Return of the Jedi. But now she had the strength to fully use that love against him. It was inevitable that tyrants create their own worst enemies.
Just a while longer she thought. During the Clone Wars, I'll make sure I have more of your heart than anyone has. More than Palpatine or Padme.
Harlene clenched her fist, vividly remembering a loud squelching sound along with blood-red liquid running through her fingers, falling at her feet.
Obi-Wan sat with his head bowed in the carrier's med-bay feeling nearly as ancient and drained as he had in the aftermath of Qui-Gon's death. The burns on his arm and leg throbbed even with bacta patches working their magic on them.
"Obi-Wan, you look exhausted. Please rest. I can watch over Anakin."
He looked up to meet Senator Amidala's concerned brown eyes and smiled wryly.
"Forgive me, Senator, but I could say more for you. Your injuries are worse than mine, yet you refuse to lie down."
"I'm fine," she insisted stubbornly. "And even if I wasn't, Anakin guarded me. He protected me. I was the one who pushed him into going to Geonosis."
"Padme, it wasn't your fault—"
"Don't say that," she snapped. "Don't say it if it's true."
Her gaze dropped to Anakin's sleeping face. Or Obi-Wan should say, unconscious.
He still remembered his young student's desperate shouting at the Observer after she miraculously recovered from the fatal wound Dooku had dealt her. Obi-Wan had been stunned when the girl had walked away and teleported as if Anakin hadn't even been there.
They had had a fall-out of some kind, and both apparently believed Anakin responsible. After Dooku escaped his duel with Master Yoda, Padme had arrived with aide. Anakin had begun babbling and begging deliriously that he was so sorry, he hadn't meant to, Harlene come back, don't leave me, don't disappear, please, please…
Such stress coupled with his severe injury could have done permanent damage or worse, killed him so Anakin had been drugged to the gills when they boarded the carrier. Obi-Wan had received minor treatments while Padme had refused treatment at all, determined to stay by Anakin's side.
She loved Anakin. It was blindingly obvious. And her feelings of course were more than reciprocated.
He would have to talk with Master Yoda. Dooku's betrayal and the already begun war with the Separatists had left his nerves frayed, but this new predicament was serious as well. Anakin was still the Chosen One, prophesized to bring balance to the Force. Much as he wanted his young friend to be happy, he could not afford to have his destiny disrupted by love of all things.
This relationship had to be put to an end.
Facing the entire Jedi Council for a purpose completely different than being debriefed for an assignment was not like exercise. That is, it never got easier the second or fifth time around.
But Anakin would do anything for those he loved.
"I hereby request permission to travel to Tatooine and free my mother from slavery."
Obi-Wan was incredulous along with the other Council members. Clearly they hadn't been expecting that.
Mace Windu recovered first and spoke. "Padawan Skywalker, you by your own free will agreed to the conditions in becoming a full-fledged member of the Jedi Order. If you recall, one of which was to sever all ties to your past. That includes friends and family."
Anakin gave a slow nod. "Yes, Master. But I ask, what is the difference?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Master Billaba," Anakin addressed the Chalactan Master. "You once told me that no Jedi is ever alone. That the Jedi are my family. Is that correct?"
Master Billaba did not appear disturbed. In fact, she almost appeared to be smiling faintly. "Yes, Anakin."
"And you also told me that Master Windu, the man who trained you since childhood is one of your closest friends. Is that correct?"
She was definitely smiling now. "Yes."
"I know what you will say, Learner Skywalker," there a definite note of warning in Mace Windu's tone. "But it is not the same thing. Master Billaba and I are both fully aware of the rules of non-attachment. Our lives are lived in service to the Jedi Order and the Republic. We formed our relationship on the conditions they must be met with. You formed an attachment, a full attachment to your mother over a period of nine years. Nine years before you would even begin to learn Jedi discipline."
"If that is true, Master then why aren't young Padawans forbidden from befriending their peers until they fully understand the rule of non-attachment?" he turned to his mentor. "Master Kenobi, you told me that your formed a friendship with your fellow Padawan Siri Tachi at the age of thirteen barely after you became Qui-Gon's apprentice. Did you fully understand the rules of non-attachment then?"
Obi-Wan looked distinctly uncomfortable, but shook his head. "No, I did not."
"Master Billaba, did you understand them when your formed your relationship with Master—"
"Skywalker. That is enough," there was a very hard edge to Mace Windu's voice.
"Oh, I don't know, Master," Depa said without taking her eyes off Anakin. "I believe the young one has a valid point. And as you can see, he is presenting calm, logical arguments rather than complaining or demanding. Perhaps we should hear the rest of what he has to say."
Anakin's nervousness increased when he realized he had their undivided and rather intense attention. Master Windu was stone-faced. Yoda's eyes were slightly narrowed. Moreover, Anakin could see out of the corner of his vision that Obi-Wan was staring at him as if he had never seen him before.
"I am aware of the rules of non-attachment. And I freely acknowledge that even after eight years of training, I still don't fully understand them," he drew himself up to his full height. "I care for my mother. I love my mother. As equally I do my friends and family of the Jedi Order. There is no difference that I see between the two apart from the fact that my mother is not a Jedi. If I don't free her, there is a chance she will be sold to the Hutts, where she will surely suffer and die."
"Acknowledge that we do, young Padawan," Master Yoda said. "But recall if you will, what I said when you first arrived here. Just one life is your mother. The lives of many are what a Jedi must concern himself with."
It took considerable effort to keep his temper down. Thinking of his mother's face, her touch, her love enabled him to keep a calm mask.
"That is true, Master. However, I have no current assignments now. Nor does Master Obi-Wan. It would take little more than a week at the most to fly to Tatooine, free my mother and return."
"How exactly will you free her?" Mace Windu asked.
"I can buy her freedom," Anakin said. "We can buy her freedom. Our Order has access to substantial currency. It would take a few thousand credits at the most to secure her safety without causing animosity between Tatooine and the Jedi Order. My mother has valuable skills. She could easily find work after she's freed."
"Perhaps, young Skywalker," Yoda said. "However, simple your solution is not concerning other matters. If freed, your mother is, only encourage your attachment to her it will. Released her you did when you decided to join the Jedi Order. But released her fully, you did not. Dangerous, your attachment to her is. Can you say you would not put her life over your duty? What if you had to choose, hmmm?"
"That is hypothetical, Master Yoda," Anakin said coolly. "The only innocent life that's at stake now is my mother's."
"Hypothetical or not, take that chance you must not," Yoda said sternly. "A great destiny you have, Anakin. The Chosen One you are. You request that you free your mother because you are afraid for her. Fear is the path to the dark side. Meditate you should on your fears. Train yourself to let go what you fear to lose and loss will not harm you."
Mace Windu nodded gravely. "Your request is hereby denied, Learner Skywalker."
Obi-Wan gave Anakin a sympathetic look but put a hand on his arm to guide him away. "Come on, Anakin."
But Anakin didn't move. He stood rooted on the spot.
The young Jedi stared at his Master for a moment before sighing.
"May the Force forgive me."
He faced the Council, his nervousness but a memory. When he spoke his voice was polite yet icy.
"If I cannot appeal to your sense of humanity, perhaps I should appeal to your honor."
Anakin narrowed his eyes at Yoda. "If, when I do bring balance to the Force, it's not me you will have to thank. It's the one who gave life to me."
"The Force gave life to you, young one—"
"Could the Force have done it alone?" Anakin interrupted. "The Force chose me to bring balance to it, but it also chose my mother of all the women in the universe to give birth to me. Do you know why?" without waiting for answer, he continued. "Neither do I. But I do know that it was the Force and nothing else that chose her. Does anyone disagree?"
Another silence followed. But it was uncomfortable rather than stunned.
"If you abandon my mother, then you condemn the Force. That is blasphemy—"
"Anakin!" Obi-Wan shouted.
"Accuse us of this you will not, young one," Yoda snapped. "Keep a respectful tongue you will or be forcefully dismissed from these chambers!"
"Master Yoda, do you deny that my mother was also chosen by the Force?" Anakin asked calmly.
Yoda's eyes were slits, but eventually he shook his head. "No."
"Then I see nothing that can come negatively from saving the life of one of its chosen servants." Anakin took a deep breath. "Masters…I hereby ask permission to return to Tatooine and secure my mother's freedom."
Nearly all the Council members were flat-out glaring at him.
"We will discuss this in private," Mace Windu said curtly. "Padawan Skywalker, you and Master Kenobi will wait outside."
He knocked on the door of the small, Nubian cottage. She answered and they greeted each other with brilliant smiles and words filled with love. Once Anakin was inside he held out his severed Padawan braid. A slender hand took it as carefully as if it were the most priceless thing in existence.
"Oh, my son," she embraced him hard. "My son…my Jedi son…"
Anakin's arms tightened around her, eyes squeezed shut. Everything was right with the galaxy. Everything was perfect.
When they pulled away, his mother put her hands on either side of his face. He lost himself in the love in her eyes.
"You did your best, Anakin."
"It wasn't enough. But nothing could ever stop me from loving you. My son. My Jedi son."
Anakin blinked. "Mom…?"
She collapsed in his arms.
They both fell on their knees to the floor. Anakin gasped in horror when he saw his mother was no longer healthy and whole, but savagely beaten, her clothes torn and caked with blood.
Desperately, he checked her pulse. She was dead.
With a scream he awoke. He would have sat bolt upright but he was too weak. Panting with terror, he slowly became aware of his surroundings. He wasn't negotiating with the Council. He wasn't with his mother.
He was lying in a cot in a dark med bay.
The memories came flooding back. Harlene, Padme, Geonosis, Obi-Wan, Dooku…
(know what you refused to know, one chosen by the Force)
I could have saved her. If I had just…
A sob welled up in his throat. He tried to force it down but then his mind flashed to a memory just as cruel as the dream.
Harlene standing protectively in front of his and Obi-Wan's prostrate forms. Fighting Dooku. Getting killed. Walking away. No, don't disappear…
He saw something out of the corner of his vision. Someone. She was bathed in darkness, but he would recognize her anywhere, anytime.
"Are you real?" he croaked.
Slowly, she came to him. The faint light was enough to throw her features in full relief. Her eyes were still cold, and her face…the left side of her face…
Anakin gasped at the enormous, disfiguring, black bruise.
You did that.
His remaining hand of flesh reached out, trembling. His fingers barely brushed the injury when Harlene brought her own hand up and gently pressed it to her face. She closed her eyes for a moment then took her hand away. Confused, Anakin pulled his own hand back.
The bruise was gone.
Harlene smiled, all coldness gone.
"I forgive you."
Anakin broke. He pulled her to him in a bone-crushing hug, burying his face in her hair.
"I'm sorry," he gasped between sobs. "I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry…"
"I know," she whispered, stroking his bare back. "I know."
She held him as he wept out his grief and remorse.
One year later…
"…the catastrophe on the planet Belsus covered our departure and I have returned to Coruscant to bring the Padawans to the Council. I leave them in your care. I want nothing for myself," Codi Ty lowered his head in sadness but not a trace of shame. "I know that along with Master Tone and Flynn Kybo, I violated my vow to the Jedi."
One of the Padawans looked pleadingly at the icy faces of Masters Yoda and Windu. "Is there no mercy for him?"
The Togruta shook his head wearily and answered instead. "No. I will depart without regrets for my actions."
"Much to regret you have, Codi Ty," Yoda said flatly. "The betrayal of your vows. The death of your friends. Banned from the Jedi Order you are. The rescue of the Padawans, our judgment does not alter."
"Nor the death of General Grievous," Mace Windu added. "If indeed he is dead."
Harlene watched the exiled Jedi go.
I want to leave here she demanded harshly of the interface.
Heart pounding, head ringing, she stormed all the way to Claire's quarters and banged on the door. Her mentor answered moments later.
"Claire, I want Revenge of the Sith. I want it now. If you don't give it to me I'm going to go straight to the bookstore, I'll walk the entire fucking way if I have to—"
Harlene stopped when she realized she was staring directly at a picture of Darth Vader rather than her mentor. Slowly, she took the book from her hands and stared at the cover.
"I would say enjoy," Claire said. "But the only appropriate reference to that word would be the writing."
Claire closed the door. Harlene stared at it before going up to her room.
Four hours later, the novel opened to the last page dropped from hands shaking so badly it was beyond the owner's control. It fell to the floor, the light of the lamp making the still wet splotches on it glisten.
Teeth chattering, still crying, lips pulled back in the most livid of snarls, Harlene let out a shriek of fury as she picked the book up again and hurled it across her room. It fell in a crumpled heap.
The voice was soothing. It was a word he always acknowledged existed, but never knew nor cared what it meant.
His mind was slow and sluggish, as if he had been unconscious for a very long time. Instincts drilled into him since childhood attempted to drive him to full awareness but they did not succeed.
He tried to speak but his voice would not obey. He could feel his body…yet he couldn't. There was nothing around him.
Barely, just barely his eyes cracked open. He was not surprised when they met with pure darkness.
Where am I?
Don't be afraid. You're safe.
He didn't feel the urge to laugh or sneer and blamed it on his current state.
Where am I? What happened? Who are you?
Something soothing flowed across his mind.
All will be answered in time.
He knew who he was. He was vaguely aware of his last memories before…
His eyes opened further in shock.
You never died the voice answered. He could not put a gender, age or species to it. You've been here all along.
Who are you?
I can't tell you yet. You're not ready yet.
Ready for what?
Sleep now. When you are ready, you will know.
The soothing feeling in his mind increased. He couldn't fight it. Eyes that had been little more than yellow slits closed and he knew no more.
Sure he was my son. But I think to him they were all my sons. And I guess they were, I guess they were.
--All my Sons(1947)
So concludes the second chapter of my series. I hope everyone enjoyed it. Next comes the story I've been wanting to write for years. As Jacob said, that's when shit's really going to hit the fan. It will be my most intense and complex story yet.