Hello, everyone! *waves ashamedly*
I know I haven't updated in ages and I apologize for that, work has been hell lately and I didn't have much time. But here's the new chapter. I hope you like it! Next part shouldn't be too long to come.
Thanks as usual for all your reviews! I'm going to reply to all of them right now. Thanks for still reading! *smooches*
Padmé tossed in her bed, trashing around, sweat on her brow. Sleepily, she opened her eyes, remnants of nightmares disappearing slowly. Sighing, she got up from her lonely bed and pulled on a robe, slowly making her way to her children's room.
It was silent save the machines keeping Leia alive.
She slumped down on a couch nearby, her eyes lost in the distance. Even Luke seemed to be weak lately. As if he could feel his sister's pain and his parents' distress. Padmé couldn't find the energy in her to soothe her son. All her attention could only be turned to the limp body in front of her. She couldn't even touch her baby because of this glass protecting the girl from the world.
She prayed their plan would work.
Anakin had accepted it, telling her he would send her a transmission when he fulfilled the first step. There had been no other words when he left. No embrace, no touch. Only their respective sadness they could no longer share.
A silent tear made its way down her cheek.
The young mother spent the whole night staring at the bacta tank.
"And here we are."
A deep breath and for the first time in forever, a glimmer of hope.
Obi-Wan chuckled good-naturedly and patted Lainé's head gently.
"Melida/Daan," he repeated. "There was a war." If Barriss and Lainé saw the forlorn look on Obi-Wan's face, they made no remark. "The people here could never agree on a simple name for the planet. One people wanted to call it Melida, the other, Daan. The Republic decided to please both. So the planet was called Melida/Daan."
"So you've already been here, Master?" asked Barriss as they slowly made their way to the capital. The landscape was very simple on the planet. Rocks everywhere.
Obi-Wan nodded and smiled a little bit sadly.
"A lifetime ago..."
The rest of the trip was made in silence as the three Jedi reached the capital.
"They are here, Your Highness."
Vader nodded once. Turning his eyes to the high mountain in the distance, he silently motioned for the troopers to join him.
The boots marched on the snowy ground, the sounds muffled by the harsh wind blowing around them. The Emperor was striding purposefully, ignoring the cold gust of wind whipping his face.
He knew the Jedi had probably felt the threat by now.
But they were powerless in their hiding place. Their ships were too far away. The inhospitable weather made it impossible to flee.
They were cornered.
Vader didn't even let a small smile creep on his face. He only felt determination. His entire being was turned to the small voices embodying the Force. He was listening. He was following It.
Every step he took was making him get closer to the Jedi.
Closer to Kenobi.
There was a sudden silence in the assembly.
Faces turned in horror in the direction of the cave opening, as if listening to a sound that wouldn't come before long minutes.
The Jedi looked at each other, senses attuned to the Force, utter fear distorting the faces of every Knight and Padawan.
Only one Jedi took his sword out, closing his eyes and drawing from the Force.
Kahl inhaled deeply and voiced everyone's fear.
"He is coming."
The stones shielding the cave opening exploded into nothingness and white armors came into view.
The dark figure entered the cave, smoke parting to reveal a hooded face.
Jad Kahl calmly turned to his fellows and together they lightened their blades, waiting for the onslaught.
Laughter resonated in the cave. It was icy and shuddering.
The hood came down.
Vader's eyes settled on them calmly, as he made no move, his lightsaber still clinging to his waist.
At last came his voice, calm but terrifying.
"Who is the leader?"
Kahl only took a firm step in the Sith's direction.
A deep breath.
"We do not know," came the -almost- shaky answer.
A small smile crept up on the Emperor's face then.
"We will see."
"The Jedi have been captured."
"Are you alright?"
"Of course, I am."
He sounded like it had been too easy. He looked like the stranger she loathed.
Padmé looked away. The holo-transmission flickered slightly.
"They put up some fight though. Didn't last long after I killed one or two younglings."
Padmé closed her eyes shakily, feeling her heart tighten into her chest painfully. When she opened her eyes again, Anakin's eyes seemed to dare her to tell him he was a monster.
She was too tired for this.
"How do you know Obi-Wan will feel their capture through the Force?" she whispered. There was a bitter taste in her mouth.
"I made sure he would feel them suffering."
And she knew what was happening then. Torture. Faint screaming in the background confirmed her suspicion. She felt bile rise into her throat and struggled to maintain composure.
Anakin's gaze was cold. She read shadows in his eyes and suddenly realized she was seeing the Emperor in action.
This wasn't Anakin.
This was Vader.
Whatever that meant.
"Did you do your part?" he demanded.
"I am contacting him right away."
He nodded, that strange and unsettling gaze still resting on her. Even through the hologram she could literally see the madness there.
Inanely she wondered if she was not responsible for this. If by her hatred and her scorn she hadn't pushed him back into the dark side's arms.
"Anakin-" she began.
"Don't leave the Palace," was all he said before cutting off the connection.
Padmé blinked. Then took a shuddering breath and sent a transmission to Naboo.
Her mother responded.
"Oh Padmé! We were so worried! They told us you had left, that you-"
"Mom, I need to speak to Dad immediately."
Jobal only frowned and called her husband.
When he appeared, her father still had a few bruises on his face, reflecting her own.
"I need your help," she said.
The three fugitives were welcomed by an old friend of Obi-Wan's in the capital. As they brought up memories, the Master Jedi felt himself drown into nostalgia just for a little bit.
But when his friend inquired about Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan could almost feel the old pain creeping in his chest again.
It felt so long since his Master had last contacted him through the Force.
Qui-Gon told him then he had done the right thing with Vader.
Yet Obi-Wan knew a Sith's word meant nothing.
The Jedi struggled to focus back on the present and his friend's words.
The arrangements were made with his sheltering friend and they were soon preparing for the night.
"We are going to join the Alliance."
That was all Obi-Wan said when the Jedi were alone in the room.
"Why join the Alliance now?" Barriss asked.
Obi-Wan sighed deeply and moved to the balcony outside despite the cool air.
"Bail offered it a while ago and I declined. I could have saved his life if I had been there. Many Jedi would have been spared had I not joined the remaining camp."
Barriss said nothing, only looked at the stars in the distance.
"I think we would have all been killed if you hadn't been there."
"What do you mean?"
He looked at her sideways. She stared back. He was about to inquire further when something came over him abruptly.
Barriss frowned and looked down at the same moment.
She had felt it too.
He rushed to his old friend from the Young, that Rebel organization he had once supported, had even been a part of. So long ago.
"Contact the Alliance now." A pause. A shared glance with Barriss standing beside him.
"I think Vader found the last Jedi."
Several minutes later, his friend was back, looking grim.
"You were right, Obi-Wan. They were captured on Umgul. The Alliance's leader herself informed the whole network."
Obi-Wan nodded, stroking his beard pensively.
Barriss turned to the Melida/Daan inhabitant abruptly.
"Who is the leader of the Alliance now? Weren't they all arrested?"
Obi-Wan looked up.
"But this is foolishness! Vader just arrested her husband! It won't be long before she is arrested too."
"On the contrary, I think she is very brave," his friend retorted before leaving the room.
"So what do we do?" Barriss turned to her elder.
Obi-Wan shrugged and looked away.
"I told them not to go to Umgul. It was pure idiocy."
Barriss stared at him, surprise appearing on her face despite her Jedi teachings.
"You cannot possibly leave them to their fate, Master."
The Jedi sighed and got up, slowly pacing the room.
"This is a trap," he responded tiredly. "An old-fashioned trap Vader created for me... I would be foolish to fall for this."
Barriss crossed her arms.
"Of course this is a trap," she said harshly and Obi-Wan looked at her in surprise. "But we can't leave them, Master. Vader is going to kill them all!"
"He will kill them with or without our intervention. Maybe he already did kill them." When he approached the young Knight, the Master's eyes were cold and unforgiving. "They chose fear and cowardice. They chose their fate. I will not intervene."
Barriss eyed him in disappointment.
"You don't seem to remember what it is like to be a Jedi either."
Obi-Wan's gaze became even harsher.
"There is nothing I can do! I already acted too rashly as it is when it came to Vader! We need time to meditate and determine our next course of action-"
"They are dying, Master!"
"We all die."
Barriss took a step back at the tone of the Jedi facing her.
"Master... They are our companions, our peers." she took a deep breath. "I will go there with or without you. I cannot let them die."
Obi-Wan looked away.
Something about this was familiar. Too familiar.
"Vader doesn't want you, he only wants me," he tried to explain to the young Knight. "You are going to get yourself killed for nothing!"
"You could come with me, Master!" She countered.
There was a pause.
When she looked back at him, there was sad understanding he didn't like.
"You could finish what you couldn't do last time."
He didn't speak but felt himself flinch.
"I saw you in the forest on Arbra. I know you spared Vader."
"Then you know how wrong I was to spare him," he countered harshly.
"You refused to kill an unarmed man."
Obi-Wan shook his head, unwilling to confront his feelings about his fallen Padawan now.
Barriss' voice interrupted his dark thoughts.
"Next time you will win. You are the only one who can stop him. Please, Master. It might be our only chance to do the right thing."
The Master Jedi didn't say anything in response.
He knew they would go.
They would fall into the trap willingly.