INTO THE PENUMBRA
Synopsis: Obi-Wan is captured by Count Dooku on Geonosis. As a prisoner, the Count shares the darkest secret of the Sith with Obi-Wan, thus changing the course of galactic history.
"Master Kenobi, you disappoint me." Count Dooku's mellifluous voice was rich and mocking, "Yoda holds you in such high esteem."
The fallen Jedi's blade thrust at Obi-Wan's chest and flipped down to slash at his legs.
Obi-Wan gasped in exertion as he blocked the Count's feint, and leapt aside at the last moment, nearly losing his legs. As he backed away from the approaching Sith Lord, Dooku's elegant features twisted in a cruel grin, "Surely you can do better."
The crimson blade flashed in a series of elegant strokes that were so swift, Obi-Wan barely managed to deflect them all. He spun away, trying to put some distance between himself and Dooku, but it was of no use. The Count didn't let up his attack for even a moment, slashing high and low, feinting and stabbing, nearly overwhelming Obi-Wan's defense with sheer force.
As Obi-Wan staggered backwards, Dooku's eyes widened, and suddenly he spun, crackling forks of blue lightning springing from his fingertips to strike Anakin Skywalker in mid-leap. Anakin's handsome features twisted in agony as he was struck by the dark energy for the second time since the fight began. Obi-Wan gasped in shock and leapt at Dooku's unprotected back, his sky blue blade thrust directly for the Count's heart.
At the last moment, Dooku flicked his hand in annoyance and Obi-Wan felt as if a runaway speeder had struck him in the chest. He flew backwards and smashed into the hangar wall with a loud crunch. The Jedi Knight felt incredible pain in his lower back and a stabbing ache in his head. As he watched with blurry vision, Dooku fired a final burst of Force lightning into Anakin, and then sent him sailing towards the conduction tower at the rear of the hangar.
As Obi-Wan Kenobi's vision faded to black, he saw Dooku glance at the hangar entrance, and then felt himself rise into the air and float towards Dooku's ship. Blackness closed on his vision and then he knew nothing at all.
Obi-Wan floated in a sea of green.
He waved his arms and heard a distinct clunk as they hit something. He glanced around and realized that he was not in an ocean after all. He was in a bacta tank.
What was he doing here, Obi-Wan wondered, the last thing he remembered was seeing Dooku blast Anakin into a wall.
Dooku. The hangar. Geonosis.
The memories of the catastrophic mission to the desert planet and the bloodbath that had followed came rushing back into his mind. He beat his fists against the transparisteel tank, he had to get out of here, had to find out where he was, what had happened to Anakin.
A blurry figure outside the tank seemed to notice his discomfort, and after a few moments, Obi-Wan felt the bacta draining out of the tank. As soon as the cylinder was empty, the glass slid aside and the Jedi Knight spilled out onto the floor. Struggling to his feet, Obi-Wan tore the rebreather from his mouth and glanced around the room, scanning for any threats.
Aside from a squat FX-6 medical droid near the console, the large chamber was empty, with five other tanks lined up beside Obi-Wan's.
The Jedi Knight quickly strode towards the doorway, and sensed a slight chill as he did. He paused and stared down, realizing, with a bit of mortification, that he was naked. His cheeks colored slightly, and his eyes darted around, searching for anything that he could wear. He certainly wasn't going to try to escape from a Sith Lord's stronghold without any clothes.
As he searched for clothing, Obi-Wan pushed out with his senses, and was alarmed to realize that he felt the powerful presence of Dooku nearby. He resumed his frantic search, turning over chairs and tearing open cabinets, looking for anything that he could use to either cloth or defend himself.
The door to the chamber opened with a hiss, and Obi-Wan heard the distinct sound of rancor-leather boots on tiled floor.
He turned slowly, careful to show no fear, while holding his hands before his waist to preserve his modesty.
Count Dooku stood in the doorway, dressed as he had been on Geonosis, in a dark tunic and trousers, an auburn cape and ceremonial Serenno crest on his collar. His curved lightsaber hung on a hook of his rancor-leather belt. A pair of super battle droids flanked him, and a slight smirk lit his aristocratic features.
"I see you have made a full recovery, Master Kenobi."
"Where am I," asked Obi-Wan cautiously, his eyes affixed on the two battle droids.
"You are in a Confederacy medical facility," replied Dooku, "In the Outer Rim, far from any Republic system."
Obi-Wan's mouth tightened, "I take it, then, that I am your prisoner."
Dooku raised a white eyebrow, "A prisoner? Hardly, Master Kenobi."
He stepped aside, and a silver-plated protocol droid walked into the room, dark garments draped in its hands.
Dooku motioned and the droid stepped forward, handing Obi-Wan the clothes.
"In my experience, prisoners are not afforded such luxurious garments."
Obi-Wan took the clothes cautiously, and then turned his back to Dooku and dressed as fast as he could. He slid the silk undergarments on before pulling the dark shirt and trousers over them. As he tugged on the black socks and boots, he realized that these clothes were the exact same style as the Count's. A part of him wanted to rip the dark attire off and throw them at the Count's feet, declaring that he would rather be naked than wear anything Dooku provided.
However, his common sense won out, and he realized that it was better to look like a Serenno nobleman than to walk around a hostile environment nude.
Fully dressed, Obi-Wan turned to face his captor, his blue eyes cold and hard, "If you expect me to thank you for the clothes, you are sadly mistaken, Count."
Dooku chuckled in amusement, "You have all of Qui-Gon's fire, my friend." He turned towards the door, "Walk with me, Obi-Wan Kenobi."
Obi-Wan had already taken a step, when it occurred to him that Dooku was still a Sith Lord, and that to do anything he asked was dangerous.
"No!" he declared.
Dooku stopped in the doorway and turned back to the Jedi Knight, his black eyes cold as space. "I did not say that was a request, Master Kenobi," but he made no move to punish Obi-Wan."
Instead, the Count made a frivolous gesture, "However, if you are not hungry, then I will simply have the droids show you to your rooms."
The super battle droids lifted their built-in blasters and trained them on Obi-Wan's chest.
The Jedi sighed, and realized that he had little choice, but to do as Dooku commanded. There was no point in resisting now, he needed to know where he was, what kind of facility he was in. Not to mention that Dooku's power vastly exceeded his own, as the Count had proven on Geonosis. Obi-Wan held up his hands, "Very well, Count, a slight repast would be welcome."
Dooku smiled, displaying pearly teeth, "I knew you would see things my way."
"Come," he beckoned, and the droids lowered their weapons.
Dooku led the way, his back ramrod straight, his cape fluttering slightly in the air. Obi-Wan trailed the Count closely, while the droids brought up the rear, their magnapeds clanking on the cold metal floor. As they passed through the halls of the base, Obi-Wan was constantly alert, looking for any hint of an exit, doing his best to memorize the layout of his prison. He was surprised by the level of effort that had gone into decorating the place. The walls were adorned with beautiful and exotic artworks, and the black marble floors were polished to sheen. Clearly, Dooku put a high value on appearances.
A pair of aged oak doors flew open of their own accord, and Obi-Wan raised his brow in surprise at the well-appointed dining hall, and the large table that appeared to be made from Kashyyykian wroshyrs.
Dooku took his seat at the head of table and gestured at the only other place that had been set. Aware of the two droids that had entered the chamber behind him, Obi-Wan took his place at Dooku's right hand and the heavy oak doors slammed shut.
A pair of serving droids brought the first course, a bowl of steaming green thakitillo.
The tangy scent wafted into Obi-Wan's nostrils and he felt his stomach growl in anticipation. How long had it been since he had eaten anything, he wondered. Not since before his first capture on Geonosis, and the Geonosians hadn't seen fit to feed him during his captivity.
Dooku smiled indulgently, like a grandfather with a favoured grandson. Then he took a spoon from the many pieces of silverware by his plate and began to spoon green curds into his mouth. Obi-Wan's stomach growled again, and he had a sudden impulse to hurl the delicious looking soup at the polished hardwood floor. What was he doing, sitting at a table with Dooku, a Sith Lord?
Then the battle droids behind him shifted, their gears creaking, and Obi-Wan knew that his only choice was to play Dooku's game for now. He could defeat two battle droids without his lightsaber, but he would be no match for the Count's powers, especially not when his body still ached and his belly felt as empty as space.
Picking up a spoon, he reluctantly took a large mouthful of thakitillo and tried not to enjoy it, failing miserably.
They passed through the next few courses in silence, and Obi-Wan felt his strength returning to him. As the droids took away the final course, Dooku dabbed at his mouth with a napkin, and looked at Obi-Wan.
"I trust you enjoyed your meal, my friend."
Obi-Wan did not allow himself to smile, "It was satisfactory, Count."
Dooku smiled, encouraged, "Then, with your belly full and your wounds healed, perhaps we may speak of matters of greater import."
Obi-Wan frowned, "More prattle about Sith Lords controlling the Republic?"
He put his spoon down, "No thank you, Dooku. I believe I've heard enough of your lies."
Dooku's expression grew grave, "Oh, Master Kenobi, how I wish I were lying. How I wish that none of this were true."
His gaze fixed on Obi-Wan, "Unfortunately, my friend, it is. A Sith Lord now controls the actions of hundreds of Senators, and by default, the Republic itself."
Obi-Wan let out an incredulous snort.
Dooku frowned, "The Battle of Naboo, ten years ago, was but the first step in this Sith Lord's plan. Darth Sidious engineered the blockade and sent the Zabrak Sith to ensure that the Trade Federation played their part."
Obi-Wan's brow furrowed, "None of this is new information, Dooku."
And in fact, it wasn't, the Neimoidians had confessed as much, although they had never been able to name the tattooed Zabrak, whom they had claimed masterminded the whole thing. Not that the Jedi had believed them. It was very obvious that the Sith Lord killed on Naboo was merely the apprentice, and the Sith Master was still alive. But it was only Dooku's words on Geonosis that had finally given a name to this mysterious Dark Lord.
Dooku frowned, "Then perhaps I can provide some." He looked directly into Obi-Wan's eyes, "The name of the Sith Lord that killed Qui-Gon," and here Dooku's voice shook, "Was Darth Maul."
Obi-Wan frowned, "Why should I believe anything you say, Count? After all, you are a Sith Lord yourself."
Dooku actually smiled at this and laughed lightly, "Not quite, my young Jedi, my allegiance to the Sith is only a ruse."
Obi-Wan looked sceptical, but Dooku paid him no heed.
"After the death of Qui-Gon on Naboo, I was greatly saddened; I had lost the closest thing I had to a son." His hand trembled, and he looked at Obi-Wan, "The Jedi Code forbids anger and vengeance, but is it not human. Is it not natural to want revenge when murder is committed, is it not right to want justice?"
Dooku paused and took a sip of the dark burgundy wine, "When I learned that Qui-Gon had been killed, I was overcome with grief. But I strove to ensure that his death would not be in vain. You had already avenged Qui-Gon's murder by killing Darth Maul, a feat that I do not think any other Jedi could have achieved. It was then, Obi-Wan Kenobi, that I knew you would be instrumental in the destruction of the Sith."
Obi-Wan smiled sardonically, "I believe that includes killing you, Count, as you have admitted to being a Sith Lord yourself."
"Ah, but my allegiance to Sidious is merely a ruse, as I have already told you. After Qui-Gon's murder, I sought out the being truly responsible for his death, as Darth Maul was nothing more than an instrument, guided by a dark hand. The true killer of Qui-Gon Jinn is still free, Obi-Wan, and it is the goal of the Sith to destroy all of the Jedi in existence."
"Oh, I'm certain that the hundreds of Jedi slaughtered on Geonosis by your hand was a great step towards that goal."
"Their deaths were not my doing," said Dooku, his voice full of remorse, "I cannot control the wishes of Viceroy Gunray and Archduke Poggle. They were the ones to command the battle droids, not me. By the time I managed to convince them to halt their attack, there were only a few Jedi left, whom I tried desperately to spare."
"I have fooled Darth Sidious into believing that I serve him, that I share his goal of destroying the Jedi and ruling the Republic. That is a deception, Obi-Wan, you must believe me. I love the Order, the Jedi were and still are my family."
Obi-Wan felt conflicted, he wasn't sure what to believe. Dooku seemed utterly sincere, and he could sense that the Count was in fact telling the truth. But he was sure that Dooku had an ulterior motive in telling him all this. He set his jaw and spoke calmly, "Who is this Darth Sidious."
Dooku frowned, and Obi-Wan continued, "If what you say is true, and the Republic is under his control, tell me who he really is. I will inform the Council and we will take action. No Sith, no matter how powerful can stand against thousands of Jedi."
Dooku paused, and he looked as though he was going to say something else, when the serving droids arrived, bearing their dessert. "Perhaps I will tell you the identity of the Dark Lord, but not tonight. When I am certain that you will not do anything rash, then I shall share the name of the Sith Master."
The droid set a large bowl of chocolate covered strawberries in front of him and Obi-Wan's mouth opened in surprise, "Candied fruit, Qui-Gon's favourite."
"Oh yes," said Dooku, "I remember the first time he tried it, nearly 50 years ago. We were on a mission to Chandrila and were attending a state banquet."
As he bit into the sweet dessert, Obi-Wan listened to Dooku reminisce over the man Obi-Wan had loved like a father, the man he had failed to save, and he began to wonder, was Dooku telling the truth?
A/N: If you liked this, please review.