"Shattered Balance"
Chapter 2/?

By: Pink-Green-White-4ever
Last Revised: August 30, 2008

Summary: Anakin and Padme share a long overdue secret with Obi-Wan. Shocking revelations are brought before the Jedi Council concerning Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

Rated: M for language and adult situations
Ship: AP

Authors Notes 1: This piece is AU RotS from the morning after Anakin's nightmare. Knowledge of the SW universe prior to this will be helpful.

AN2: This is my first venture into the universe that is Star Wars. As my big brother so eloquently put it "You didn't want to start shipper-centric, you decided to just jump right off the edge." And he's right, I did. The main idea for this story was his, something he wanted to see done but hasn't been, and probably doesn't have time to do since he writes for two other fandoms on top of this one, but that he gave me, helped me shape into something that has my own unique spin and vision on.

AN3: All the details I've got that have been gleamed from the canon of this wonderful sandbox of George Lucas' come from 's data bank, Master Shawn30 and his collection of books and his vast knowledge of the force, and of course my own knowledge of the universe.

Dedicated to: Shawn30, for being my favorite brother from another mother and the most wonderful and knowledgeable Master I could have asked for! And thanks to everyone who reviewed the first chapter, I appreciate the feedback immensely!

Side Note: Shawn and I are actually opening an Anakin/Padme stories archive – 500 Republica. If you wish to visit it, check out the link on my profile, PM, IM, or Email me, and I'll send it to you!

--

"Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." -- Terry Pratchett

--

Judging by his outward appearance, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi would have been described as calm, cool, and collected. It was well known that he couldn't be rattled on the battlefield, and was so in control and at peace with himself that those who knew him often wondered if ice water ran through his veins.

But the truth of the matter was that he knew dread, frustration, worry, and stress just as intimately as all others in the galaxy. He was just far better at hiding it.

He'd been aware of Anakin's attempted rescue of the injured clone trooper, and of the fact that his former Padawan had taken off immediately following the incident, only to be spotted flying like a Gorbunga bat out of hell toward the Galactic Senate dome before veering off and heading back into the mass traffic of chaos that was Galactic City.

Just a short time Obi-Wan had been contacted by Anakin and asked to meet him at Senator Padme Amidala's apartment. The request in and of itself wasn't completely surprising – Padme and Anakin were close friends, they respected each other a great deal, and cared for one another. What did surprise him though had been the serious tone of Anakin's voice. The normally strong tenor had wavered just enough for him to know something major was on the horizon.

Obi-Wan was thankful for the long, quiet ride up in the turbo-lift, and the fact that he was alone. He needed time to think, and to prepare for what he expected was to come. For years now he'd suspected many things regarding Anakin's private life, particularly where Padme was concerned, but he had never pried. If and when Anakin was ever ready to tell him all, he would accept whatever he was told, never mind the consequences.

Besides, one could hardly pry when they didn't have hard evidence to support their suspicions. To be honest, he'd wanted Anakin to trust him enough to just tell him without having to pry, but until now, he'd wondered if that day would ever come.

Sighing, Obi-Wan straightened his posture, smoothed his Jedi robe, and then felt the turbo-lift slow to a full stop.

When the doors slid opened he was greeted by Padme's protocol droid, C3PO. "Master Kenobi," the droid addressed him, bowing. "If you follow me, the Senator is waiting for you in the parlor." Without a word he stepped from the turbo-lift and began the short walk to the Senator's penthouse.

Upon entering the lavish apartment, the scene before him stopped him dead in his

tracks. Padme sat serenely in a winged, high-back Nabooian leather chair, her hands resting comfortably in her lap. It gave him a jolt to see the round, graceful curve of her stomach. The last time he'd seen her, she had definitely not been with child. His eyes immediately swung to Anakin, who was pacing back and forth across the room, arms folded behind his back, muttering every now and then to R2 while shooting sidelong glances at Padme. R2, it seemed, was moving along every inch of the walls, his sensor extended, searching for something.

Trying not to grin, Obi-Wan continued to watch them unannounced. It felt like a monumental moment that two people who meant so much to him were about to confirm his suspicions of exactly how serious their relationship was. The thought of which, minus the implications to Anakin in the Jedi Order, pleased him. Master Qui-Gon would approve that the Jedi Code wasn't the first thing that came to mind upon finding his friends like this. After nearly four years of wondering, of being in the dark, he felt as if he was finally going to step into the light.

"Why do I get the feeling that I'm going to need a drink?" Obi-Wan finally spoke up, startling both Anakin and Padme.

"Ben," Padme spoke his nickname softly, smiling at him from where she sat.

"Milady, it's a pleasure to see you again, and in such good health," he offered with a genuine smile, and then turned to his former Padawan. "Anakin, you look well rested for a man who I was told was off meeting with an informant last night."

"Master," Anakin greeted him with a little less warmth than he'd intended.

Obi-Wan bowed his head once and moved further into the living room. "Your transmission said it was urgent."

"Palpatine is Darth Sidious."

Anakin's ominous proclamation rushed from his mouth, causing Obi-Wan's eyes to suddenly widen as he slowly sank down onto the Venusian-fabric covered sofa. "Excuse me? How do you know that?"

As Anakin went on to explain the morning's events in stark detail, Obi-Wan listened in shock and awe. Clearly his vaunted detective skills had given his partner in Jedi affairs the skill to accurately confirm his claims. The mind probe, the tattoo on the clone troopers arm that denoted its creation, and the Order itself that clearly earmarked who could execute it. Not the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, whomever he or she might be at the time.

Only Palpatine, known also to the 3.5 million clone troopers throughout the galaxy as Darth Sidious, could give the order.

The hierarchy of the Jedi Order had worked so closely with Palpatine, and they had never once sensed he was the key player behind it all. To hear Anakin speak of the trooper's actions this morning, it made Obi-Wan sick to think that not one Master on the Jedi Council, and not even Anakin himself who had spent countless hours in conversation with Palpatine, had ever felt what truly lay within the Supreme Chancellor. He thoughtfully considered the three years of war, of being shipped from decimated world to decimated world, from the Republic to the Outer Rim, constantly at Palpatine's beck and call. All of it was for not. The war wasn't really a war at all. They'd all been exquisitely played.

"C3PO, I'd appreciate that drink now," Obi-Wan murmured to the protocol droid when Anakin finished telling his compelling tale. Grazing his hand over his beard, the slight tremble that coursed through him was evidence enough that he was losing his legendary cool. "By the Force..."

"Do you understand the political ramifications of this morning's events?" Padme finally asked them both. "With Chancellor Palpatine being Darth Sidious, it means the Senate is completely under his control. We have no way, even if the Jedi move in to arrest him, of getting a conviction in the High Courts. Not without hard, concrete, irrefutable evidence. There is too much corruption in the Senate. Too much unrest and chaos among those who are not even aligned with him, to remove him from office. He simply holds too much power and is feared by many who would aid him."

Anakin's gaze fell upon her. "If he institutes Order 66…."

"It won't matter," Obi-Wan finished for his partner.

"Maybe not in regards to the Jedi, but for the Republic there's still a chance. Even if he instituted the Order, he'd find himself facing a galactic rebellion," she explained. "The so-called Grand Army of the Republic would face the combined forces of nearly every world in the Senate. A hostile takeover would create yet another catastrophic war. Even now, there are Senators who feel he wields too much power, and who are working together toward a common goal of a vote of no confidence in him."

Obi-Wan pondered out loud, "Then what is he waiting for? Why, if he has this much power, with the combined Separatists and the Republic's Grand Army behind him, why is he waiting?"

"That's what we need to find out," Padme noted, her hand resting over her belly. "And time is not a luxury we possess."

"Don't even think it, Padme," Anakin quickly interrupted. "You're in no condition to help. You need to pack, to go somewhere safe…."

Before Padme could even protest his comments, Obi-Wan stepped in. "Anakin, think about this for a moment. We need someone who can rally the Senators. Someone who can gain us unwavering support with the Senate, if we're to succeed at this."

Padme directed a mild glare at her husband. "Anakin, I can't, and more importantly won't sit back and hide when the Republic needs those with a strong, moral grounding to stand tall. For this government and the people of it to survive we must each now do our part in making sure that Palpatine's days of power are over."

"We need to assemble the entirety of the Jedi – the council, every knight and Padawan – to go after him. Before that you need to be somewhere safe and out of his reach! He knows what you mean to me," Anakin argued, his voice rising with the mass of emotions swirling within him.

"Ani, there is no where safe for me," she responded. "I'm always going to be a target because of who I am and what I do. You can't protect everyone, and you certainly can't protect me every minute of the day."

Jaw clenched, Anakin moved toward her, bending to one knee in front of her before reaching out to cup her face. "I can't lose you," he whispered before moving his hands to her stomach. "Or our baby."

Obi-Wan turned then, "C3PO, I think I need…"

"Another drink for you, Master Kenobi?" the droid asked.

"I hope it's far stronger than the last," the Jedi Master muttered.

While C3PO scuttled out of the room, Anakin and Padme continued to remain close before Padme nudged him back. They both turned to Obi-Wan, watching him staring at them. "I think an explanation is in order."

"I married Padme, just after Geonosis," Anakin began, moving away from her. The most liberating feeling he ever had swelled within his chest at finally revealing the truth of his life. "The baby she carries is mine. Simply put, I love her. She and this baby are my world."

"And you failed to mention, in the nearly four years since your marriage, all of this to me why?" The hurt in In Obi-Wan;s voice was clear to recognize.

"Ben, we both wanted to tell you, and argued over that point many times," Padme attempted to explain while mindful of the pain they caused their very good friend. "But because of our positions, mine in the Senate and his in the Jedi Order, the timing was never right. We couldn't tell you, and we especially didn't want to make you an accomplice to it all."

"Master, would you have ever been able to understand this?" Anakin finally asked, watching Obi-Wan's head snap back as if he'd been slapped. "You're always reciting the Jedi mandates to me, but you've forgotten, I'm not like the others. Not because I'm the Chosen One, but because unlike everyone else, I had a life before I came to train as a Jedi. I can't be, will never be able to be, what you and the Jedi wish me to be."

"Anakin…" Obi-Wan began.

"We've fought, side by side through a three and a half year war. You know me; you know the kind of Jedi I have been. While I have not always followed the rules, there was never a moment where my duty was not fulfilled to the best of my ability."

Anakin continued. "And I've done all of this, been the warrior everyone wanted me to be, and I still managed to love Padme."

"Milady?" Dorme's voice interrupted the silence that had descended. "Your visitors are arriving."

The three turned toward where Padme's assistant was standing. "Of course. I'll be with you momentarily." She smiled when Anakin moved to her, leaning down to help her ease from the chair. "I've already begun to set my end of this in motion," she informed them, watching Anakin narrow his eyes at her while Obi-Wan smiled. "If you'll excuse me, I have a quiet lunch-meeting with several other like-minded Senators to attend to. Rest assured when Palpatine is removed from office the Senate will stand tall with courage and stability."

"Padme…" Anakin started to speak up.

"I'm not going to sit by with my hands folded in my lap; it's not the type of person I am. I'm also not going to do anything to get myself, or our baby, injured. Life has to be business as usual for anyone watching the comings and goings of Senator Amidala. Now, if you'll excuse me." Moving carefully, she moved over to Obi-Wan, leaning down to place a gentle kiss on his cheek before she moved to Anakin, who kissed her softly.

She turned then, and with Dorme's help she slowly exited the room, sweeping past R2 as the droid rolled in. C3PO moved toward his chirping partner. "And?" he asked. R2's response was a series of wild chirps before he turned and rolled from the room once more. "Master Ani, R2 has just informed me that he has concluded his extensive security sweep of Mistress Padme's apartment. Nothing malicious was found. He's heading to the kitchen area to recharge until you're ready to leave."

"Thank you, 3PO."

"You and I need to have a very LONG talk, my friend," Obi-Wan spoke up from his seat on the couch, a smirk gracing his features.

Anakin turned his attention to his master, a mischievous smile sliding into

place. "Perhaps you could wait, Master, until after we save the galaxy before you yell at me?"

"Perhaps," the elder Jedi agreed.

--

"My Lord..." General Grievous started, only to start gasping for breath through a hacking cough. "Your orders have changed?"

"Yes," Palpatine turned his attention back to the holo-projector's blue outlined image from the papers on his desk. "Instead of Mustafar, send the Separatist leaders to Kamino. Arrangements have already been made for their arrival."

"And me, my Lord?" Grievous hissed and then wheezed.

"Return to Coruscant, General Grievous. I have sensed a major tremor in the Force. Something is amiss."

Grievous gave a nod. "I will leave immediately, my Lord."

"Commandeer an unregistered transport and bring a battalion of droids with you. Go to the secret landing dock and await my next orders. We wouldn't want you to have another altercation with Master Windu should the Jedi get wind of your arrival." He allowed himself only a smirk at the growl that Grievous let out at the mention of the Jedi who had injured him so.

Without so much as a word of goodbye, Palpatine cut the transmission and slowly swiveled his chair so he could gaze out at awe-inspiring Galactic City skyline. His Empire... whether anyone knew it yet or not.

Everything was transpiring according to his design.

Rising from his chair, he began calmly toured his office before the next set of scheduled meeting began. The carpet was soft in a deep red, the walls and ceiling echoing the color. The steel-gray Nabooian furniture gave the room a splash of simplicity. It never ceased to amaze that the leaders of the Jedi Council, the most influential and powerful of their order had been in his presence, in this very office, and they had no clue they were surrounded by so many precious Sith artifacts.

With a turn of his head he admired the Sith Chalice, a bas-relief from Yavin 4 from the Great Hyperspace War. His eyes fell upon the bronzium statues of the ancient philosophers, which included the Four Sages of Dwartii as well as other deities. One of the most precious statues in his collection actually embedded his lightsaber, which, when the time was right, he would release and use to bring about the end of the Jedi and the coming of his great Empire.

Hands behind his back, he returned to stare out the picturesque transparisteel window. Thoughts of the curious event that had occurred earlier in the day piqued his curiosity. He hadn't felt such a deep, far-reaching tremble in the Force since the morning of Anakin's loss of control in attacking the Sand people close to four years before. Things were beginning to reach a shatter point, as Master Windu might say.

The notion of quoting a Jedi Master in his internal thoughts was the irony of ironies.

No matter what the outcome that came from the ripple in the Force, he knew one thing with certainty. He would be ready, in the end, with or without the Chosen One by his side, to come out victorious.

--

Anger. Fear. Aggression.

Jedi Master Yoda taught generations of Jedi that those three feelings were of the dark side. That to be a Jedi, one could not fall prey to the trappings of the Sith. But if what Anakin had just told the Jedi Council were true, which he had no doubt, then maybe his vaunted teachings had been for naught.

How was it that in the years since Palpatine had been elected Supreme Chancellor, that in all the war meetings and strategic planning, and all the long conversations they'd shared, he had not once sensed that the Supreme Chancellor was in all actuality the Dark Lord of the Sith?

The eldest living Jedi at over eight hundred years old, and he'd never once felt the darkness inside Palpatine. Somewhere along his journey, he'd lost touch with the Force so completely that he worried it had abandoned him altogether.

Such a thought was humbling to say the least.

The idea that with one simple order the entirety of the Jedi Order could be wiped out caused a gnawing fear to swell in his chest. Even though it was forbidden, he'd long ago accepted that even he had grown attached to all the Jedi he worked with and had trained. He presided over the Order as head of the Jedi Council, and he'd built relationships with each of them – trust, friendship, and a kinship. There's was a unshakable brotherhood. To know that Palpatine possessed the power in one voice command to destroy the twenty-five thousand year legacy of the Jedi created such burning anger within him. It was a new emotion, one he'd always denied himself, but maybe that was the problem.

Maybe they had been blind to some of the more intimate aspects of the Force for far too long. There was much to ponder on once this crisis was averted.

For now the Jedi Council convened to discuss how to have Palpatine removed from office and tried in the High Courts for his crimes. And if that were possible at all.

"I must say, I agree with Anakin," Master Windu spoke up, his eyes trained on the same Jedi who he'd fought his right to be even trained in the Force. Yet another piece of the puzzle he'd been wrong about. "We need to gather the finest Jedi swordsman that are currently on Coruscant and storm the Senate building immediately. We must take Palpatine by surprise and with force."

All the thoughts of those who were gathered in the Jedi Council chambers were centered on the removal of Palpatine from office, and surprisingly not on the fact that Anakin had just revealed how much of the Jedi Code he'd broken – namingly all of it.

"Master Windu, we must proceed with caution," Obi-Wan pointed out. "As Senator Amidala reminded us earlier, the ramifications of this new information could have dire consequences not only for us but for the whole of the Republic. Palpatine could execute Order 66 whenever, wherever he pleased and we'd be helpless to stop it."

Masters Shaak Ti and Ki-Adi-Mundi nodded their heads while Mace's face took on a grim expression. Yoda sat calmly in his hover-chair, his gaze locked on Anakin. The Chosen One. For years, he had worried that the hope everyone placed in Anakin's destiny to balance the Force would meet a dark end. Now, despite it all, he had chosen his path, and perhaps he truly would lead them from the darkness. "Master Skywalker," Yoda began. "You opinion, I seek, on what we should do?"

The four other Masters present fell silent, looking to Yoda in surprise. Anakin's eyes widened, not sure of what had just transpired. "Master Yoda?"

"Earned your Mastery, you have," Yoda concluded. "Delivered to us grave information, you did despite your issues with us. The deepest commitment to the Jedi Order, you have shown. Your opinion, value it, I do."

Obi-Wan closely watched his best friend, mildly amused at the surprise clearly shown on Anakin's face. He knew that the Jedi Knight worried he might never attain Mastery, let alone to have Master Yoda proclaim it without so much as consulting the others. Even if he hadn't ever really said so, Obi-Wan knew that Anakin had always believed the Masters feared his power. And they did on some level, because Anakin wasn't considered normal by Jedi standards.

"Master Yoda, we need a plan of attack that won't fail. It will require planning," Anakin began, addressing Yoda directly. "But first we must ensure the safety of the entire Jedi Order before we go after Chancellor Palpatine."

"Master Kenobi?" Yoda spoke up, directing his attention at his fellow Master. "Your thoughts, I would value as well."

"I agree with Anakin. We can't afford to lose any more of the Order," Obi-Wan said, himself still reeling from the millions of lives lost in a war that was just a game to Palpatine. "We already lost forty percent of us in the Clone Wars."

Master Windu sat back in his chair, a pensive look on his face. He fought an overwhelming sense of guilt, as he knew that that emotion had no place here as they needed to plan their next step carefully. "I agree as well, but we need to take Chancellor Palpatine quickly, or nothing we do can stop him."

"Anakin, what of Senator Amidala?" Master Ki-Adi-Mundi asked with a note of genuine caring, leaving all thoughts of the Jedi's marriage to be considered another day. "You said she has already set plans into motion?"

Turning to face Master Ki-Adi-Mundi, Anakin began. "She's speaking with several other Senators, Master. Who are of like mind when it comes to having the Supreme Chancellor removed from office immediately. We will have political support when we make our move."

Master Shaak Ti tilted her head, sensing his feelings were intimately involved. "You don't approve of her actions?"

Anakin's face betrayed nothing, until he stared into her deep black eyes. "I fear for her safety."

There was the proof none of them could deny. If his story, which had included more than just the tale of the morning's happenings hadn't convinced them, the fear for her that was more than palatable would have.

"We must trust that Senator Amidala knows what she's doing, and that she will aid us in our quest to stop Darth Sidious," Master Ti spoke. "She's always been a champion of the Jedi Order and her ability to rally the Senators will provide stability for the Republic when Palpatine is gone."

"Master Ti," Yoda's voice rose above the room. "The Younglings safety, I trust to you. To Ilum, you will go. Depart immediately, you must."

"With all due respect, Master Yoda, shouldn't I be going with you when you storm the Senate?" Shaak Ti responded feverently.

"Question your ability, no one does. But a Master, the younglings will need. Leadership, they must have."

Shaak Ti bowed respectfully at Yoda, accepting her role, her mind already trained on the young Jedi to be. She understood part of his reasoning for sending her with the younglings. The deaths of her Padawans just after taking their Knight tests still left a gaping whole in her very soul, though through her training she'd learned to deal with it.

"A carefully crafted plan must be in place for the rest of the Order," Master Ki-Adi-Mundi announced.

"Perhaps a massive reassignment of the Jedi Generals currently serving on Republic Cruisers will be our best opportunity to get them to safety," Master Windu

suggested. "We could offer an explanation of assessing and re-deploying our best Jedi to end the war. And instead of each Master and Knight arriving at their scheduled destination, they can gather somewhere safe."

Obi-Wan cleared his throat. "We'd have to be very careful in initiating this plan. Chancellor Palpatine is no fool, and would not hesitate to give the order to have the Jedi exterminated if he discovered our plot.'

"Master Windu is right though," Anakin interjected. "A large reassignment would be just the kind of diversion we'd need to get our Jedi to safety and away from the clone troopers."

"Master Windu and Ki-Adi-Mundi will see to that," Master Yoda declared. "Master Kenobi?" Obi-Wan turned his attention to the elder Jedi. "A special mission, for you I have. Insight into the Chancellor's schedule and personal security, we will need, to plan accordingly. Retrieve them, you must, by any means necessary."

Obi-Wan bowed his head. "Of course."

"For the sake of secrecy, no one must be aware of what we are planning outside of this chamber," Master Windu reminded each of them.

"I wish to help," Anakin blurted out, only to be silenced by a look from Master Yoda.

"Help you will, Master Skywalker. Guard Senator Amidala tonight, you must. Tomorrow, help Master Kenobi you will. Aware of your attachment to the Senator, Palpatine is. Your routine, normal it must remain." As Obi-Wan had before, Anakin bowed his head. "Act quickly, we must. Time is short. The very preservation of the Jedi Order and the Republic, we must defend."