Disclaimer: Lucas owns all. He's a very rich man.
Description: This is an Alternate Universe story set in the time period of Episode III. The "opening crawl" will tell you most of what you need to know, and I don't imagine you'll find the storyline difficult to follow. Essentially, it's a reimagining of the Clone War. Rather than fighting the Separatists, the Republic and the Jedi are at war with the Sith.
This story will be dark in parts, but I hope it will also convey the sense of great fun present in Mr. Lucas' movies. This is an Obidala story, but that certainly won't be the sole focus. I hope to provide an entertaining adventure with some twists and turns throughout.
A/N: Feedback is always greatly appreciated. Do me a favor and leave a review. Criticism, praise, and questions are all more than welcome. Thanks!
THE MERCY SEAT
War! The Republic is losing ground in its battle with the Sith. Led by the Dark Lord Darth Sidious, the Sith have conquered countless worlds and brought the galaxy to its knees. Lured by the promise of power, disillusioned Jedi Knights are joining their ranks in droves.
To strike fear in Republic leaders, the Sith have begun kidnapping key politicians. Senators and planet rulers live in total fear. Some have resigned from office; others have joined the Sith.
In space above the Outer Rim world of Sarna, Republic warships do battle with a Sith fleet commanded by the ruthless General Grievous. Infiltrating Grievous' flagship, a Jedi Knight leads a daring mission to rescue a captive Senator.
The chaos was beautiful in its own violent way.
Short-range fighters were carved apart in the crossfire of the battleships. One after another, A-Wings exploded, the dying screams of Jedi ringing out over the fleet's open channels.
Obi-Wan Kenobi wove a path through the narrow spaces between fire, drawing a wide circle around the Sith command ship to reach the docking bay on the other side.
But before he could turn about, a stray blaster bolt rocked the ship, tearing off a chunk of the left wing, which flew back over R2D2 and drew a whining protest.
"Calm down, R2," a smooth voice replied. "We're all right. Shift the stabilizers to compensate."
The droid complied and the ship steadied slightly, but they wouldn't survive another hit.
Obi-Wan brought the A-Wing around, grimacing as it lurched to one side. He could see the docking bay of Grievous' battleship now. The shields were down, like he'd known they would be, as a new batch of fighters prepared to launch.
"This might be one of our more memorable landings," the Jedi quipped, dodging fire as he made his approach. "Not too fast now, R2…"
The ship accelerated, shuddering as nuts and bolts popped off into space. Obi-Wan's chest shook with the ship's violent vibrations.
"R2!" he growled, gripping the console. "Are you even listening to me?!"
His loyal droid bantered back, before Obi-Wan shouted: "Brace yourself!"
The A-Wing crashed into the open bay, wiping out some engineering droids and side-swiping the ships they were servicing. Obi-Wan's fighter skidded across the hanger with a metal-on-metal howl before finally gnashing to a halt.
Two dozen battle droids surrounded the vessel on all sides.
"Careful with this one," the nasally leader warned.
They waited in silence, casting glances at one another. R2 let out a shrill beep, drawing their attention, before the cockpit window shot into the air and Obi-Wan followed with a graceful leap.
Igniting his lightsaber in mid-air, he sliced three of the droids in half and landed in a roll so that he sprang back to his feet.
With a flick of his wrist, the Force sent another six flying into the A-Wing, where they broke apart into piles of scrap.
The rest of the droids attacked en masse, but he deflected their shots back at them and cut through the remainder with easy strokes of his lightsbaer.
When the last one fell, Obi-Wan took a moment to admire his handiwork. R2's self-conscious mewl drew the Master's eyes.
"Well you can come out now," Obi-Wan encouraged with a smirk. As R2 cautiously descended, the Jedi added, "And a lot of help you were."
R2 beeped petulantly.
"Sure, sure. You'll get the next ones," Obi-Wan said, sweeping his eyes over the bay. When his gaze landed on the elevator, he gestured for R2 to follow. "All right, come on. Stay close."
His companion trailed after him. This might have felt routine if not for the target of his mission.
Obi-Wan entered the elevator, R2 beside him, and pulled up a ship's schematic on the interface.
"Do you think you can hack in and find the Senator's location?" he asked.
R2 beeped in the affirmative, connecting his port to the computer panel. In a matter of seconds, he relayed the data orally.
"What's on Deck 47?" Obi-Wan asked. R2's reply drew a frown from the Jedi. "The General's Quarters? Hmm. That's an observation chamber; it's not where you'd keep a prisoner. I suspect this is a trap."
The droid whined uneasily.
"What are you complaining about? You get to wait in the elevator; I'm doing all the leg work, as usual."
R2 relented with a somber beep, keying in their destination.
Obi-Wan allowed himself a moment of introspection. He thought of the hostage, his friend of many years. He'd tried to recuse himself from the mission, explained he wasn't capable of detachment, of putting duty above feeling, but his concerns were dismissed by Yoda.
It would soon become clear if that faith had been misplaced.
The chamber had a foreboding look about it, all black and gray and red with pale yellow lights that spawned shadows throughout. On the far side, near enormous windows that revealed the dogfight in space, the hostage sat in an ornate chair with her wrists shackled down.
Obi-Wan's heart skipped, relief and disgust pouring through him in equal measure. He descended the staircase and crossed the chamber, giving his target a tight smile that concealed deeper feelings.
"Obi-Wan," she breathed. "How did you get in here?"
"Later," he said quickly, flicking his wrist to remove her metal bonds. "We need to get moving."
Padme nodded and stood up, rubbing her tender wrists. Obi-Wan took one of them in his hands, tracing the light red marks with his thumb. A brief burst of anger bubbled up in him as he rubbed the angry skin, before her questioning expression snapped him out of it and the feeling drained away.
He gestured to the main door. "If we can just get—"
Obi-Wan snapped his mouth shut as the door slid open to reveal a man in a black cloak. The man walked to the edge of the platform, looking down on them, before drawing back his hood. Obi-Wan met the cold gaze of Quinlan Vos, a hard-looking brute with gaunt features made sharper by the taint of the Dark Side within him. His eyes, once black, were a deep shade of yellow now. On either side of him stood two combat droids brandishing electrostaffs.
Padme's stomach tightened and she took a step back, while Obi-Wan looked on them placidly.
It had been over a year since he'd first heard of Vos' fall, and he'd come to make peace with it. Betrayed oaths, falls from grace, were too routine now to be confounding. Reality cares nothing for our surprise, or for our pain; it's cold and steady and workmanlike, dragging fear into the light and casting shadows on all that we try to build.
"Hello, Quinlan," Obi-Wan said evenly.
"I have been eagerly awaiting this moment," the Sith replied, his voice like crunching glass. "For longer than you know."
"I don't doubt that."
"Put down your sword. I'd hate to bloody you in a lady's company."
He glanced at Padme with his last words. A shiver ran through her, as Obi-Wan stepped in to block Vos' line of sight.
"I don't think so," Obi-Wan said, voice dangerously low. "You'll not get away this time, Sith."
Vos flipped over the platform railing to the floor below, igniting his lightsaber. Obi-Wan followed suit, glancing back at Padme. She took his meaning and moved to a safe distance. A cold feeling persisted inside her. She had infinite confidence in Obi-Wan, but the peril he faced was nevertheless terrifying.
When he was satisfied of her safety, Obi-Wan moved ahead cautiously, meeting Vos in the middle of the chamber.
"Your death will curry me much favor with Lord Sidious," Vos taunted.
"I'm afraid he's in for a disappointment."
Vos christened the duel with a wide swing that Obi-Wan easily deflected; the Jedi dropped into a familiar defensive stance, calmly pedaling back as the Sith attacked blindly.
Vos was undisciplined and erratic, using a reckless mishmash of hammer strikes and lunges. Obi-Wan was patient, whirling his blade fluidly with blocks and deflections.
When Vos overcommitted on a lunge, Obi-Wan planted on the Sith's foot, holding him in place and cutting his throat open with a vicious slash. Vos' eyes went wide and he clutched at the wound as blood poured between his fingers.
Vos swiped wildly at the Jedi, but Obi-Wan avoided it and severed Vos' arm. The red lightsaber switched off when the limb hit the ground.
The Sith stumbled about, gargling blood, before the pain overcame him and he dropped to his knees. His hand slipped from his neck and the blood spurted like a faucet.
"You… you..." Vos croaked. "... Y... you..." He held Obi-Wan's eyes for a long moment before finally falling forward, dead at the Jedi's feet.
With only a brief, sad look at what remained of his friend, Obi-Wan turned to Padme. For a moment, she didn't move, staring at Vos' corpse. But when he called her name softly, she snapped to attention and scurried to his side, swallowing back bile when she was walked past the body.
Obi-Wan grabbed her by the arm, more to comfort than to guide her, as they hurried to the stairs. They were met at the op by the two combat droids, but Obi-Wan easily dispatched them.
He led her out of the chamber into a long corridor. Padme followed dutifully, grabbing his free hand, which he thoughtlessly gave her. He checked both directions, then led her to the right.
"You knew him," she said quietly.
He nodded stoically. "He was a friend when we were younglings."
"But he turned."
Something flashed in the Jedi's eyes before he forced it down. "We all suffer the fate we make."
It was said dispassionately, but Padme knew better. He carried guilt like a weighted vest. Perhaps when they were safe, she could set about it removing it.
"How are we getting out of here?" she asked.
Two droids rounded the bend and opened fire, but Obi-Wan deflected it back at them and they exploded against the walls.
Without missing a beat, he said: "Watch and learn, m'lady." He raised a comm-link to his mouth. "R2, come in."
The faithful droid beeped back at him.
"Have you secured transportation yet?"
R2 gave a whine of chagrin.
"Well what have you been doing this whole time?" He continued before the droid could answer, "Nevermind, don't tell me. Are there any ships left in the secondary bay?"
R2 beeped in the negative.
"What about the escape pods?" Padme asked.
"That's too risky. We'd give Grievous a clean shot."
The droid offered an alternative.
"Eject all the pods at once? That's not bad. Gives us better odds. What deck are the pods on?"
At R2's reply, he said affectionately: "All right, stay out of trouble—we'll meet you down there."
The lift came to a stop. Outside, Obi-Wan could hear the dull thrum of droids and unclipped his lightsaber.
When the doors slid open, a dozen were awaiting him. His blue blade flashed on and decapitated half of them in one swift motion. And before they could fall, Obi-Wan leaned in and shouldered the broken droids backward, knocking down the others. Then he carved them apart like a machete clears brush.
With the last head severed, Obi-Wan glanced at Padme. "Come on."
She wore a look of amazement as she carefully stepped over and between the fall droids. "How did you do that?"
"Beginner's luck," the Jedi quipped.
Padme managed a small smile and trailed him down the corridor. The rest of the way was clear sailing. But as they lay eyes on the escape pods, and permitted in themselves a feeling of victory, a bulkhead opened at the end of the corridor.
One by one, six black-clad Sith appeared. Sun-colored eyes peered out from beneath their hoods, and pernicious smiles spread across their faces as red blades ignited.
"I don't suppose they're here to see us off."