Anywhere But Here
by Mya Scarlet
This is an AU story inspired by highly enjoyable fics of the (sadly now defunct) "General's Grrls", which used the character of Obi-Wan from SW Episode I extrapolated forwards in time to his role as General Kenobi.
My OFC, Chloe O'Brian, was inspired by the character with the same name from the TV series "24". I also use some of the same types of storylines as found in that show in elements of this story.
This story is meant to be a bit of fun. Don't take it too seriously, and please let me know if you're reading. I love comments, they keep me writing!
Chapter One: Anywhere But Here
On the sixth morning of her internship with the Jedi, Chloe O'Brian jumped aboard the crowded transport shuttle that would take her to the Temple District, squeezed into a standing space by the window, took a melancholy gulp of her coffee and admitted to herself that she would much rather be going somewhere else.
The styroplast coffee cup bore a cartoon-like depiction of a grinning Besalick and a slogan proclaiming the 'best food and drink in CoCo Town, guaranteed!' For the whole of the previous week, Chloe had been too excited to make her usual breakfast stop at Dex's Diner. But today she had craved not only caffeine but the sight of a friendly face, and she had been so reluctant to leave the diner she had almost risked missing her transport.
Only last week, on her first day, she had made this same journey, barely able to contain her excitement. Hundreds of students at the Coruscant Academy of Sciences had competed for the single internship position. Many of them would have been prepared to pay a great deal to swap places with her; in fact she had refused a few eye-watering offers from the sons and daughters of powerful senators and businessmen. That first morning, as she was led through the lofty halls and expansive chambers usually restricted to members of the Order, Chloe had struggled to believe she wasn't dreaming.
Unfortunately, the reality of working for the Jedi had proved to be no less than a crushing disappointment.
Chloe's com unit was beeping. She retrieved it from her bag, looping her coffee-holding arm around the rail to keep herself upright as the transport lurched to a stop.
Galactic Museum, the automated voice announced.
The com beeped again. Chloe looked down. Caller unidentified. She flipped the unit open.
"Hey there, roomie."
The line was a little faint but the female voice was unmistakable. Chloe grinned. "Matty! Where are you? I thought you were due back last night?"
"Yeah it's ridiculous, isn't it? I only got a two hour stopover. I called in to grab some stuff but you were asleep. Didn't want to wake you."
"Oh you should have! I wanted to catch up. Where are you now? The line's not great."
"On a mid-rim shuttle to Jabiim. Nasty trouble brewing there if you ask me but I'll wait to see if my theories are right before I say any more." Matty spoke so quickly most people struggled to keep up, but Chloe was used to it by now.
"What's up with the line?" she asked, when her friend finally paused for breath.
"Oh, my com's out, but I managed to persuade the captain to let me use one of his secure channels. But what about you? I'm dying to know how the internship's going! What are you working on? Can you even tell me?"
Chloe grinned, imagining some poor, bewildered shuttle captain submitting to Matty's ruthless onslaught of persuasion. "Na," she replied, "not much chance of that. They've just got me in the archives, cataloguing ten-year-old intel. I get the impression they were forced to take me on. Some kind of political standoff between the Jedi and the Senate. I get the feeling it was supposed to be someone else. But they got me instead, and now no one seems to know what to do with me."
"But you've only been there a week sweetie," Matty said, "maybe they're just sussing you out. They've never done anything like this before, you know. You're the first."
"Yeah, I guess." Chloe drained her now-cold coffee with a frown.
"So what are they like?" Matty asked, and Chloe knew there was a mischievous look on her friend's pretty face.
"The Jedi! Are they super-fearsome or condescending or inscrutable or what? I need to know."
"Well I haven't met many of them. I saw Master Yoda from a distance and he's, I don't know… short? Other than that I've only really spoken to Master Nu who's in charge of the archives and she's ancient and prim but pleasant enough I suppose, and then there's my supervisor Li-Sei who's incredibly beautiful and elegant and hates me."
"Oh no! Poor you! But hey, Jedi-bitch! That's unusual. Could be interesting."
"Hmm, that's a very positive way of thinking about it," Chloe replied, as the transport lurched again. She frowned, peering out of the steamed-up window.
Temple Plaza, the voice announced.
Shit. Chloe fumbled with her bag. "Look Matty, I'm nearly there. You know I'd love to talk to you all day but I'm going to have to go in a few minutes. I'm nearly late as it is." Squeezing between bodies, she lunged to push the door exit button with her elbow.
"Sure darling," Matty said. "But… there's just one teeny tiny thing I wanted to ask you…"
"Hmm?" Chloe jumped from the transport, dodging traffic to cross the street. The Jedi Temple loomed ahead, across the plaza, large, grey and solid, its spires standing proudly against the blue sky. It was rather worrying, Matty had once said, that while most religions were satisfied with one phallic symbol on their buildings, for some reason the Jedi needed five.
"Well, you know who's supposed to be returning to Coruscant," Matty's voice on the line interrupted her train of thought. "Don't you?"
"Oh come on Chloe, it was all over the holonet yesterday."
Chloe deposited her empty coffee cup in a refuse bin marked in gold with the temple logo. "Nope. Didn't see it."
"You know! The famous duo. Skywalker and Kenobi. Anakin Skywalker, the one they're calling the Hero With No Fear, and his master, who was, if you remember, the first Jedi to kill a Sith in a millennium."
"Oh yes… them," Chloe said vaguely, glancing at her watch again. She really was cutting it fine today. Li-Sei was going to love the opportunity to tick her off for being late. "You don't buy into that hype about them, do you? I thought you would know better. Surely it's just propaganda?"
"Exactly. But now is your chance, our chance, to find out the truth."
Chloe stopped walking. "Oh no. No you don't." She shook her head. "Don't get me involved in your dirty work. I thought you considered yourself a serious journalist, anyway. Why would you be interested in celebrity gossip?"
Matty laughed. "Well for one, I'm curious about these two, just like every other red-blooded female in the galaxy. Except you, that is, my dear, and don't scowl, I know you're doing it."
Chloe scowled even harder and started walking again. "I'm not scowling."
"But seriously, Chloe, we're at war. The galaxy needs heroes right now. If they really are what they are claimed to be, people need to know. Not everyone believes the rubbish Palpatine's spin machine spouts, especially not in the Outer Rim."
"If you say so," Chloe replied.
"Do you even know what they look like?"
"Yeah, I guess… I mean I must have seen pictures…"
"Thought not. Look in your bag. I put a datapad in there last night."
"Just listen. Take a look, when you have a spare moment, it sounds like you have plenty. I've put their photos on it, along with my notes from their public biographies. And it's a press datapad with a built-in camera on the back. So if you get a chance for a moment alone with either of them, and they're feeling chatty, perhaps you could sweet-talk them into a little interview…"
Chloe snorted. "You know my sweet-talking skills are practically zero." She flipped open her bag as she walked, finding the grey spine of the unfamiliar-looking datapad but deciding against taking it out now as her bag was full to bursting point. Ahead of her lay the entrance to the Temple, but the steps were crowded with people. The clock at the west side of the plaza began to strike the hour. "Look Matty I'm actually late now, I'll have to go."
"Okay darling, but remember, if you have a moment. It might just lighten up your day. And if not, try to relax anyway. Lie back and think of your future career. That's what I do."
Chloe laughed, weaving her way in the crowd. Two shuttles swept in low overhead and Chloe had to shout over the noise. "And you behave yourself, Matilda Jaks."
"Of course I will!"
"And stay safe." Chloe's face grew serious. "I mean it."
"Yes, you too. I'll call you when I'm back in reach of civilisation."
They said their goodbyes, and Chloe snapped the com unit shut. Ahead it didn't look good. The crowd was impenetrable. What on Coruscant were they so worked up about? Chloe skirted to the right. There was a discreet staff entrance to the building around this side, if she remembered correctly. That would have to beat fighting through a mass of bodies. Li-Sei made her feel clumsy and unfeminine as it was, the last thing she needed was to be both late and dishevelled.
The entrance proved easy enough to find, even sunk half a level below the plaza. But getting in was another matter.
Five minutes later, Chloe slid her security pass across the scanner for the fifth time. The little red light blinked mockingly. She bent to squint at the display, wriggling her shoulder as she did. Why did her bag have to be so heavy today? Chip not recognised, she read. Enter card number at the keypad.
Chloe looked down at her card, complete with 20-digit security number in tiny writing. "You've got to be kidding," she muttered, finally giving in the pain in her shoulder and dropping her bag on the ground. Her hair whipped about; it was windy along this side of the building. Tucking a loose strand behind her ear, she slowly and patiently typed in the numbers. They appeared, concealed, as little Jedi logos on the screen.
Processing, the display said calmly.
The red light blinked again. No.
"Okay." Chloe took a few deep breaths, trying to exhale her frustration. "One last time."
Again she typed in the numbers. Again the display told her it was processing.
The green light came on! She was in!
Except the door didn't open.
"What?" Chloe looked back at the display.
Iris scan required. Place eye level at marked position.
Okay, she could do that. That was no problem. She stood on tiptoes to reach the marked level, hoping she was holding still enough. The scanner beeped.
Chloe waited for something to happen.
The red light came back on. Text scrolled across the display.
Unknown error. Process aborted. Please scan card to begin.
It was during her subsequent twisting, half-stamping, and altogether rather childish expression of irritation at the stupid kriffing door system that Chloe fell over her bag.
And the fact it was her own fault made it ten times more annoying. She stumbled backwards, cursing, to land heavily on her bottom on the cold hard duracrete.
Her ankle hurt. The contents of her bag were strewn across the floor. For a second she entertained the possibility of giving up and going home.
But she couldn't. Matty had been right, Chloe was the first to be taken on this so-called internship programme. And the Jedi did need help from the security services, even if they didn't want to admit it. She might have to spend a frustrating summer contributing absolutely nothing to the war effort, but just having been employed in any formal capacity by the Jedi would put her in a unique position next summer when she graduated and joined the Intelligence Corps.
So she couldn't run home and hide, no matter how much she wanted to. Chloe sighed, looking around. Her belongings were scattered everywhere.
She was retrieving her keys from beneath a bench set into the back wall of the sunken entranceway when she heard footsteps. A glance to her left revealed a brown-robed figure stopped at the doorway. A man, from the set of his shoulders, most likely a Jedi. But his hood was up, she couldn't see his face. Polished tan boots were visible below his robe.
Chloe hastily stuffed her belongings in her bag. Matty's datapad wouldn't fit. She clutched it to her chest as she scrambled to her feet.
"Excuse me!" She called out weakly. No response.
"Excuse me," she repeated, limping towards him, placing a hand tentatively on his arm. He turned his head towards her, dropping his hood as she continued, "do you think you could just…" But she stopped mid-sentence.
His gaze locked with hers.
She couldn't breathe.
Chloe became vaguely aware that he was regarding her with amusement, but she was still helpless, captured by eyes that seemed at once to reflect the sky and her innermost thoughts and then something else, something mysterious that suddenly she yearned for, desperately, even though she didn't know what it was, something that lay just out of her reach, something that she might understand if she just kept on looking at him.
And then the spell was broken. Those eyes left hers and swept down her body, then back up again.
The mystery was unsolved, and Chloe was left with an ache of longing in her chest and a trail of fire on her skin.
It was only then that she realised she was smiling, rather foolishly, at him. Whoever he was. But, apparently, he was no longer amused by her. He was frowning, and his cheeks were flushed pink.
Then he spoke.
"I don't think so." He looked down in disgust at her hand, which still lay on his robed arm.
She dropped it instinctively. Without another word, he turned on his heel, negotiating the door system with a wave of his hand. Then, flashing her a final glance of intense disapproval, he strode inside, sending the door slamming shut with a sharp flick of his wrist.
Chloe's mouth hung open.
I don't think so? What had he meant by that? And why had he been so horrified by her? Just how terrible did she look?
"Damn arrogant Jedi," she muttered, pulling out her security card with renewed determination but shaking hands. This was, quite possibly, the most irritating place she had ever been.
Just as she was about to slide her card across the scanner, a tiny circular cover on one side of the display panel caught her eye. Chloe smiled, instantly calming down as she slid a fingernail underneath and flicked it upwards.
Checking left and right, more out of instinct than any sense of guilt, she fished in her bag for a data jack and slipped it into the newly exposed socket.
Ten minutes later, Chloe crept into the cramped librarian's office in the Jedi archives, hoping upon hope that some miracle had waylaid her superior that morning. The was office empty, and thanking the Maker, she rushed to sit down, turning on her monitor with lightning speed and arranging the contents of her desk to give the appearance of having been there a good half hour.
Only a heartbeat later, Li-Sei breezed in, glossy black hair swinging with each step.
"Ah, Chloe," she said.
This was her usual greeting. Not, Good morning Chloe, or, Hello Chloe. Just, Ah, Chloe, as one might respond to the sight of something persistently irritating, something once would really prefer to never see again.
And yet Li-Sei looked a little bit different this morning, Chloe noticed. The Jedi's cheeks were flushed, her manicured fingers tapping nervously against her hip.
"Stack twenty is waiting and ready to be cleared out," Li-Sei said, "I've already checked there's nothing classified in there, so I can authorise you to go in. It's very dusty though, did you remember to bring some old clothes today like I told you to last week or have you forgotten?"
"No, ma'am, I've got them in my bag," Chloe said, driving imaginary daggers into the other woman's almond-shaped eyes whist flashing the most insincere smile she could manage.
Li-Sei seemed satisfied. "Good. And you might need to work late today. Obi-" she made an exaggerated show of stopping herself, then laughed, "I mean General Kenobi has a great deal of work for us. I've just been speaking with him. He promised to call in later, so you may even get to meet him." Her perfectly pink lips curved upwards with what was presumably supposed to be benevolent superiority.
"Sure," Chloe said, pulling an old shirt and leggings from her bag. Perhaps the supposedly great General Kenobi would take the time to read her file, and invite her to work intel on his next mission. Perhaps he would be charming and gallant, like knights were supposed to be. Perhaps he would give her an excuse to get out in the field, or out of the Temple, or even just out of this wretched office.
"Oh, and Chloe," Li-Sei had paused by the doorway, "you might need to go and get your pass reset. Apparently the entire external security system has gone down."
Chloe quickly took the data jack from her pocket, stuffed it well out of sight in her bag, and directed her very real smile of satisfaction squarely at the wall.