So, what really happened on Florrum after Obi-Wan and Anakin switched their drugged drinks for "regular" ones? To wrap up Warriors of Shadow and tie it in to the story to come, here's a little one-shot for you...
For Your Eyes Only
Obi-Wan looked up as the chime on his door sounded. "Come in." He raised his eyebrows as Anakin entered the room, a wry grin on his face. "What's gotten into you?"
His former Padawan took a seat beside Obi-Wan at the small, round table where the Jedi Master was engrossed in the latest intel gathered by the Council. "We got a message," he said, holding up a small holo-transmitter.
"We get a lot of messages, Anakin," Obi-Wan replied with a sigh, setting the 'pad down and regarding the younger man. "What is so special about this one, if I may ask?"
Anakin shrugged and twirled the transmitter in the air between them using the Force. "I'm not sure," he said as they watched the floating device. "I haven't played it."
Mouth quirking, Anakin lowered the transmitter to the table and glanced at his former Master. "All I know is that it's from Master Halcyon," he said, his words careful. At the mention of her name, Obi-Wan inhaled once, but merely nodded as Anakin activated the device. Moments later, Kalinda's familiar form flickered to life before them.
"She cut off all her hair?" Obi-Wan said, leaning forward. "Why in the blazes would she do that?"
"Shhhh," Anakin replied, holding his finger to his mouth.
Kali smiled at the viewer. "Greetings, Generals," she said. "I certainly hope that you're doing well. As you may or may not know, my squad and I just returned from a mission to Florrum, where we uncovered some very...interesting goings on, involving the Weequay pirates that you both encountered about a month ago."
"Hondo Ohnaka's gang?" Anakin said, his eyes narrowing. "This should be interesting."
Obi-Wan nodded, his hand on his beard as he watched Kali's hologram. She seemed to be savoring something, taking a moment to pause; her gaze turned as if she could see him – though he knew it was impossible – he found himself being drawn to her dark eyes. "But this isn't the reason I sent this message," she continued, her tone light and conversational. "I actually wanted to thank you both for the very thorough reports on your dealings with the pirates – they were most helpful." Here she stopped again, her head ducking and Obi-Wan knew that she was trying to hide her smile; despite himself he found that he was smiling as well.
Finally she looked up and cleared her throat. "But more helpful than all of your information was the...tactical strategy that I picked up from your shared experiences," she continued, her expression smoothing. "'What strategy?' you may ask? Well," she paused and glanced to some unseen person at her side. "Weave? Will you start it, please?"
After a moment an image appeared in her stead. "That looks like a security camera-feed," Anakin said, leaning forward, his eyes narrowed. "From Hondo's place." He and Obi-Wan exchanged glances before looking back at the image, which was a wide angle shot of the festival hall of the pirate base, though the camera zoomed in closer until Obi-Wan could make out the long table where he and Anakin had sat for the banquet. "Look, there we are," Anakin added, pointing to the center of the image. "What is this all about, Master?"
"I'm sure she has her reasons," Obi-Wan replied, though he found that he was perplexed as well. At this point in the vid they were seated while Ohnaka leaned between them, speaking and gesturing as they were brought a few cups of ale. Obi-Wan watched his and Anakin's images switch their mugs with those of the pirates next to them.
Suddenly the holovid paused and Kali's voice sounded, though she did not appear. "This is where it starts to get interesting," she said, her tone businesslike. "On a side note: nice job switching the mugs. Obviously, yours were drugged." She paused while the video resumed, showing Obi-Wan and Anakin toasting one another and sipping from their cups as they spoke. "And now you are free to imbibe a little bit," she continued. "Naturally, you don't want to refuse Hondo's hospitality."
Anakin shook his head as he watched their images drink the ale. "What's the point behind all this? What's she..." He trailed off as the image paused again and Kali's voice sounded once more.
"And here's where it gets educational," she said. Though she sounded neutral, Obi-Wan knew her voice well enough to know that she was grinning. "Anakin, I don't know if Obi-Wan has ever given you his 'don't drink to excess' speech, but you might want to learn by example in this case." The playback resumed and Obi-Wan could hear her speaking to someone in the background. "Can you boost the audio any more?" Immediately, the sounds of the pirate banquet filled Obi-Wan's cabin, along with other, more familiar voices – their own.
"Is that...?" Anakin's mouth was hanging open as he watched the vid. "Did you really...?"
Obi-Wan shook his head. "I don't think that either of us would..." He frowned. "Well, I certainly don't remember that." The audio of the footage revealed the sound of clapping and jeering, followed by the clinking of glasses. "Or that." They were silent for a few moments, watching.
"Master, I had no idea you were so light on your feet," Anakin chuckled, his eyes on the feed. "You're an excellent dancer." He glanced at his former Master and shook his head.
"You're not so bad yourself, Anakin," Obi-Wan replied. "And on your hands, no less. Very impressive." He bit back a laugh as the younger man frowned. Suddenly, a clamor rose up from the vid and both Jedi leaned forward, their mouths falling open.
"No..." Anakin looked at him. "It has to be a fake. There's no way..."
Obi-Wan ran a hand through his beard but said nothing as he watched, shaking his head every few moments. Abruptly, the image halted again and Kalinda appeared once more. "It gets a little muddled here," she said, her hands folded in front of her, her face solemn. "There was a problem with the recording...anyway, I know that you're both curious about the rest of the evening, so the guys are going to reenact this next bit for you...remember, this is as good an approximation as we could get, considering the quality of the feed." She nodded and the camera moved to face two clones, seated at a table within a ship's galley. "Crest, Milo: whenever you're ready."
The first clone, completely bald, flashed a grin to the camera before leaping from his seat and raising his mug. "I would like to propose another toast to our new friends," he shouted. "To the galaxy's most fearsome pirates..." He said something else, though it was intelligible as his words were slurred.
Anakin frowned. "Is he...is that supposed to be me?"
"It certainly sounds like you," Obi-Wan chuckled. "He's not bad, actually. I only wish we could understand what-" He was cut off as the next clone, a younger looking fellow with a full head of hair spoke in a crisp Coruscanti accent as he raised his own mug.
"Anakin, control your insolence," he shouted, the liquid sloshing over the rim of the cup as he gestured. "I'm trying to concentrate!" He took a deep drink from the mug and glanced down in frustration. "This is empty," he said to 'Anakin.' "Get me another, if you don't mind."
Beside him, Obi-Wan saw the younger Jedi's grin spread wide. He shot him a look, but Anakin merely shook his head, biting his glove to cover his laughter. "Come on, Master," he said at last. "Even you have to admit, he's pretty good."
"I'm not your Padawan any more," the bald clone replied. "You have two legs..."
'Obi-Wan' managed an indignant glare. "Two legs? What does the number of appendages that I possess have to do with anything, my very young former apprentice?"
The bald clone tossed the rest of his drink back and slammed the mug on the table before him with enough force to slosh the liquid within over the rim. "Legs equal the ability to get your own drink," he replied. "As in, you can walk, right?"
It was Obi-Wan's turn to chuckle as Anakin frowned. "You're right," he mused, his hand in his beard once more. "They are talented, aren't they?"
Here the image panned back to Kali, who was laughing in earnest and applauding. "Great job, guys. Fantastic work, really." She looked back in the camera and took a deep breath, a smile still on her face. "The rest is more or less the same," she said, clearing her throat. "Anyway, I know that you're both very busy, so I won't hold you up any longer. I just wanted to thank you; the fact that I was able to complete our mission successfully was due – in part – to your fine examples."
Anakin frowned. "What?"
Kalinda put her hands behind her back and gave them a slight bow. "Not that we didn't have a little bit of trouble with the pirates," she continued. "But I found that it was considerably easier to deal with them as long as I didn't get quiteas...intoxicated, as either of you."
"We were drugged, obviously," Obi-Wan said, shaking his head. "I put it in the report."
Anakin nodded. "They must have spiked that ale, too. There's no way we could have gotten...like that from regular drinks."
"Now I know that you claim that the ale was 'poisoned,'" Kali said. "And for the sake of argument, I'll agree with you. But," she smiled again and Obi-Wan felt his heart leap at the expression. "In any case, I wanted to let you know that you don't have to worry about dear old Hondo spreading any...incriminating footage to the press. We managed to remove this particular vid from his custody." She held up a small datastick. "This is the only copy, so you can rest assured that it will be safe with me." Again, the grin that he knew so well. "Unless, of course, either of you give me any reason to disperse it throughout the Order, in which case I'm sure that many of the younger members could learn from your example, as I have."
Her hands clasped before her and she gave them another bow. "I'm sure our paths will one day cross again. May the Force be with you both." Again, it seemed as if her gaze moved to him and her voice softened. "Stay safe."
The transmission ended.
After a moment, the younger Jedi ran a hand through his hair. "She wouldn't." Anakin said, sitting up and looking at Obi-Wan. "Right?"
Taking a deep breath, Obi-Wan shook his head; memories flooded his mind. She's seen me in far more extreme states, he mused. As I've seen her. Of all the people in the galaxy, I can't say that about anyone else. He glanced back at Anakin and smiled. "Of course not, Anakin. It was only her way of teasing."
"That clone did a pretty good job, didn't he?" Anakin said with a chuckle as he rose from his seat. "I mean, he was dead on...'control your insolence...'" He laughed again and moved to the door. "Tell her I said thanks, would you?" he said, looking back at Obi-Wan.
Anakin rolled his eyes. "Yeah. Okay. Tell her, please?" With that, he slipped out of the room.
Obi-Wan looked at the transmitter.
After a moment he reached for the recording and activated it again. He watched it several more times before ending it abruptly and glancing at his comm. His fingers moved over the device, then moved back to his datapad; the process repeated itself three more times before he sighed and entered the code that would reach her.
Kali's image bloomed before him, familiar as his own. "I take it you got my message," she said by way of greeting. She was seated at the helm of a ship, her eyes were ahead of her, on the stars.
Obi-Wan nodded. "It was..."
"I was going to say completely erroneous." He smiled as she rolled her eyes, though she did not meet his gaze.
"You can't fake something that genuine, Obi-Wan." She paused and glanced at something beside her, something he could not see. "You know I was kidding, right? I won't really share it with anyone," she added. "I'll destroy it, if you want."
He shook his head. "I know. And no, you don't have to. Anything that annoys Anakin that much should be kept intact." In response, she nodded and adjusted something on the helm. After a moment he cleared his throat. "You're busy...I should let you go."
At last she met his gaze, though it was only for an instant. "Is there something else?"
"No, Kalinda," he said after a pause. "Not at the moment, anyway. Though I should say congratulations are in order on another success." He gave her a smile; after a moment she returned it, albeit with a small one as she nodded.
"Thank you. Though, you should really tell that to the guys."
She indicated the ship behind her. "Shadow Squad." A wide smile crept to her face. "They're extraordinary."
There was something in her tone that he recognized; though he couldn't have said why it perplexed him. "Well, then. Tell them for me, won't you?" He watched as she nodded again. "I almost forgot," he added. "Your hair."
"What about it?"
"You cut it," he replied. "I was just...it was unexpected."
She took a deep breath and looked again at some point off-screen. "It was time for a change, Obi-Wan," she said, meeting his eyes at last. "A much-needed change." He couldn't read her expression.
"It suits you," he said after a moment. "Though-" He checked himself. "In any case. I'm glad to see that you're doing well." It only took a small bit of effort to return his tone to a more businesslike one. "I hope to see you soon."
"May the Force be with you," she replied with a nod. "Good luck out there." With that, the image died and he was alone once more.
Stay tuned for the next installment...as always, thanks for reading! (Also, I realize that I took a bit of creative liberty with some of the dialog...but it was too tempting not to!)