STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS

Episode 2A

TITLE: Collapse

AUTHOR: Susan Zell

DISCLAIMER: All characters from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" series are the property of George Lucas and Lucasfilms Ltd. No profit has been made by this venture. I've merely borrowed the characters to tell a small tale of "in between". All toys will be returned to their rightful place in the toy box at the conclusion of playtime. All scrapes and bruises are the fault of the previous owner….oh wait that's me.

SUMMARY: A diplomatic mission goes awry, leaving Obi-wan, Anakin, and Padmé struggling to survive an assassination attempt.

TIMELINE: Sometime after Bombad Jedi

SPOILERS: None

RATINGS: PG-13, Non-slash.

TYPE: Action/Adventure, Hurt/Comfort

WARNINGS: Violence

APOLOGIES: I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV; Nor am I a SW fanatic with factual nuances at my beck and call; therefore, all discrepancies be it SW jargon/lore/etc or medical diagnoses are my own. Also, this story hasn't had the nurturing I usually give my stories. I've been distracted of late with a new career direction. But I know folks have been clamoring for a new story. Hopefully this one can stand enough on its own as a decent narrative that will bring interesting character interaction and exhilarating adventure.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: I'm an Obi-wan fan, but I do love the father/son/brother relationship between Obi-wan and Anakin and how it plays out against the backdrop of the Clone Wars, both the movie versions and the television show. So my stories will evolve around that. Hopefully I've treated both characters with the respect they are due.

I know it's been a long time between stories, but there is no helping that. I don't post stories unless they are complete, aside from minor tweaking. Also, my new career takes precedent over all fan writing, but fear not since it still includes being a published author. Look for my new steampunk alternate history novel "Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar" on bookshelves soon under the name Clay and Susan Griffith. The link at the author's page will tell you all about it. Please check it out!

SWSWSWSWSWSWSWSWSWSW

No plan, no matter how well designed, ever survives the first shot.

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS

Episode 2A

CollapseThe struggle to maintain diplomatic relations with splintering governments demands the Senate send delegates in hopes of swaying more planets to the side of the Republic. However, not every mission is met with diplomacy. Senator Bail Organa has been arrested on the planet Nodeha for crimes against their sovereignty! Jedi Knights Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker escort Senator Padmé Amidala to negotiate his release and attempt to sway Prince Illidar and his expansive spice mines to the side of the Republic.

Chapter One

Dangerous Negotiations

Large tapestries hung over an elaborate throne to accent the court of Prince Illidar. The crown prince sat upon it flanked by a number of armed guards.

Senator Padmé Amidala was flanked by her own guards.

Two Jedi Knights walked with her down the long aisle toward the Prince, whose sharp dark eyes darted between the two tall men recognizing them for what they were.

"I am Senator Padmé Amidala, representative of the Republic, here to discuss the release of a political prisoner. Senator Bail Organa."

The Prince shifted in his seat, taking time to enjoy the view of the luscious woman before him. If he had known such a beautiful woman existed in the political arena he would have invited her instead of the annoying man currently residing in his dungeon.

"I see. And why should I release him? Do you have something to trade for such generosity? I'm sure you have much to offer me, Senator Amidala." he responded slowly, watching her eyes flash angrily. Nodeha was a world built on trade. He was well within his right to ask for compensation for any action.

The younger Jedi stepped forward to stand beside the Senator, perhaps a tad too quickly. "We offer your kingdom to remain intact!"

"Anakin." The bearded Jedi raised a warning hand to the other of his order and then directed his attention to the prince. "What we mean is you would gain the immense respect of the Republic for offering leniency in regards to any misunderstandings perpetrated. We are curious why the grand kingdom of Nodeha would arrest a Senator."

"He committed a crime."

"I find that highly unlikely," Amidala responded. "Bail Organa would never do anything of the sort. He came with good intentions to seek your alignment with the Republic cause."

"May I ask the crime?" The bearded Jedi repeated.

Prince Illidar studied him closely. He was cagey that one. Too quiet and too reserved. While the other Jedi looked ready to leap across the room and decapitate him with his diabolical lightsaber, the other one just stood there observing, much like the Prince himself. And that made him nervous.

"He represented falsehoods."

"That's a trifle vague," the elder Jedi replied dryly, stroking long fingers down the sides of his beard, his eyes never shifting from the Prince. "Care to enlighten us further?"

"He spoke of false pretenses and attempted the traitorous act of subjugating members of my staff to his cause when I expressly forbade it."

"One cannot be a traitor to an unaligned government. Specifically if he were invited by said government for the purpose of discussing an alliance." Senator Amidala stepped forward from the protection of the Jedi at her side.

"He was warned, but he was not discouraged."

"Perhaps Senator Organa was not aware of your customs," stated the bearded one again, his voice still soft and low in comparison to his compatriots.

"You cannot hold a member of the Republic Senate," Amidala insisted, her voice remained even despite the flash of anger in eyes, much to the Prince's surprise.

"On the contrary, I can do as I please. The Republic has no weight here. Your Senate requested audience to plead the case of the Republic's plight. I listened. I debated his presentation and while I was doing so he choose to spread his views among my people. It is my decision alone whether Nodeha joins the Republic!" The Prince slammed a gloved hand on the armrest of his throne. "I made sure he would not do so again." His tone held a taint of threat and malice, just as he had intended.

"I demand to see Senator Organa!" Amidala's voice rose, clearly letting her emotions get the better of her. It only made Prince Illidar smile.

The bearded Jedi's blue eyes narrowed and laid a calming hand on the Senator's arm. The younger Jedi leaned toward the other one his voice low.

Did they sense something? It was fact that Jedi could not sense machines. They couldn't possibly know!

The older Jedi stepped forward. "What the Senator meant was that we will need to see Senator Organa if you please, to corroborate his side of the story."

The Prince did not answer right away, contemplating his options. Then he grinned as another thought came to him. He nodded agreeably finally. "But your weapons remain here."

"Not on your life," responded the younger Jedi hotly.

"Then you will not enter. I would be a poor jailer if I allowed weaponry on just any visitor into the prison."

"I will go in to see Bail. You two can wait for me here." Senator Amidala voiced.

"Forget it. We're going." A look of heated anger passed between the young Jedi and the Senator. More and more interesting knowing what he did about Jedi, pondered the Prince.

"We will all go in," replied the quiet one. The bearded one relinquished his lightsaber first, his cool blue eyes boring into his as if searching for duplicity. But the Prince was a politician from birth, nothing but boredom showed there.

The prison was below ground, 500 meters under the mountain. They took a lift down to the lower levels where the rock walls made the air cold and damp. An armed detail met them below. A sergeant bowed low to the Prince and beckoned him aside for a moment whispering in his liege's ear.

"The older one is the renowned Sith Killer. The younger is the right hand of Palpatine, Chancellor of the Senate, also known as the Hero Without Fear."

The Prince paled. "Are they insane?" he hissed. "I can't possibly deliver them! They are at the top of the list. What would they have me do? Arrest them? No cell would hold them!"

Proving one's loyalty to the Separatists was one thing but taking on two Master Jedi was quite another. There was no way to meet the Trade Federation's demands. Though the request wasn't specific as to how to deliver them, dead or alive, the Prince mused. He had their weapons, ample proof for any doubting Separatist.

He straightened coming to a decision, which he chose not to elaborate with the sergeant. "Escort them to the inner chamber. Use the south entrance."

"But, my lord, that is not toward the prison." The glare that earned him cowered the lowly sergeant. "As you wish, my lord."

SWSWSWSWSWSWSWSWSWSW

Obi-wan exchanged a concerned glance with his fellow Jedi and former apprentice. They had both been privy to the layout of the palace before leaving Coruscant. This was definitely not the way to the prison. It was taking twice as long and veering well away from where they were supposed to be going.

"This seems a bit far out of the way for a dungeon," Anakin remarked icily.

The sergeant swallowed nervously. "We've had some planet quakes here recently that have made some of the sections impassible. This is the shortest route possible under the circumstances."

"Do tell," remarked Obi-wan.

"He's lying," stated Anakin with a definitive threat lacing his words.

"W-what?" The sergeant, despite his hesitation, did not pause in his steps. "There have been quakes."

"Where are you taking us?" demanded Obi-wan, his voice still even and non-threatening, but even so the sergeant faltered.

"Where my Prince decreed."

Suddenly, Anakin stiffened. "Master," he warned.

"I feel it."

"Feel what?" Padmé insisted.

Obi-wan grabbed the sergeant. "We're going back."

A great roar filled their ears; the lights flickered as shafts of fine silt fell to the earth around them. Padmé lowered her hands from her ears and gazed around curiously.

"What's going on?" she asked. "Another quake?" She pulled out a handheld lantern from her belt and flicked it on in case the power went out completely.

Abruptly the cavern floor shook. The sergeant and the Senator were thrown to the floor. Anakin and Obi-wan maintained their footing but only just. Sections of the stone walls crumbled.

"This is no quake!" Obi-wan shouted.

The sergeant was terrified. "He blew the pits! He blew them!"

"What are you talking about?" Anakin grabbed the man's shirt and brought him up to his face.

"The spice mine! Below this factory's power core. It will take out this whole section. We're going to die! He's going to kill us all!"

"The closest exit. Tell us now!"

The sergeant turned his horrified expression to Obi-wan and in that fateful moment made his decision whether to follow the orders of his insane prince or the Jedi. "We'll never make it back inside. There's another exit further down. But it's too far!"

"We're going to try." Obi-wan motioned them all to start moving.

The walls around them groaned and buckled under the tremendous stress of the explosion. Anakin grabbed Padmé 's arm and started running. Obi-wan chased after them, pulling the sergeant along after. The two Jedi could easily speed ahead but they were weighed down by their charges.

A wall of ahead of them broke away from it's support and started falling. It was massive enough to permanently block the passageway.

"Run!" Obi-wan shouted, knowing they had to make it across before it came down all the way.

Anakin picked up Padmé and force leapt across. Obi-wan tried to do the same with the sergeant but the man panicked and pulled away in fear, backpeddling from what he perceived as certain death.

"Obi-wan!" shouted Anakin. "There's no time." He feared his old master would try to run after the man, sealing his own fate and separating them, perhaps permanently. Anakin reached out with the force and held the wall back. He grunted under the strain, silently urging his friend to hurry.

Obi-wan raced back after the sergeant but not in time. Another section of the wall fell and crushed the sergeant beneath. Only then did Obi-wan spin about and force leapt back towards Anakin and Padmé. The moment he was with them, Anakin let the wall collapse into rubble.

"Come on!" Padmé yelled.

Cracks appeared above them running along the ceiling. They knew they weren't going to make it. Padmé ran ahead of the Jedi; she kept her fear under control as well as any soldier. Obi-wan admired that. He hated that she would pay the price along with himself and Anakin. Dust filled the air in the room, chocking and blinding them. The dim glow of an exit glinted less than fifty yards away when the Force screamed in their veins. Time had run out.

"We're not going to make it!" Anakin yelled.

A tremendous roar and agonizing groan filled their ears. An intense pressure filled their heads as the whole mountain collapsed. Obi-wan stopped running and looked up, gathering the very essence of the Force around him, filling him to capacity and beyond. It sang in him and he let it. His whole body was reinforced by the influx of energy, skin tingling with the rush of it. He would need everything at his disposal. His hands extended above him.

"Anakin! Stop!" he shouted to friend, who immediately obeyed and grabbed Padmé by the arm and yanked her roughly toward Obi-wan. She fell at his feet.

Anakin stood next to his Master and lent his own considerable power, their arms lifting to brace a mountain.