Hello everyone. I wish to continue to thank everyone who is following and reviewing this story. We have arrived at the main part of the Kiola arc; Ahsoka, Eleesha and talk to and try to reason with the Renegades whilst Master Shaak Ti and Master Luminara Unduli try to find and arrest the rouge clones. Can they do it before Ahsoka, Eleesha and Barriss pay the ultimate price?
The Order Redeems: Chapter 44 – Prices
Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano set her speeder down in front of a large industrial enclosure and glanced across to her Padawan, Eleesha and her friend, Barriss. It was typical of many such buildings and enclosures that she could see throughout the Kibesh Industrial area of Kiola's Southern continent. However, she was well aware that this one was different. Even before she had got out of her speeder, hastily built blaster turrets could be seen covering the surrounding area as well as a durasteel reinforced gate directly in front of her. There was no doubt in her mind that the trace on the HoloNet signal had been correct; this was the base of the Renegades.
As she sat for a second, Ahsoka couldn't help but feel concerned. In fact, although she hid it well, she was slightly fearful, and not just because of the mission. During the flight from the capital city, Azuar, the recent news that she had received had run continuously through her mind; she was pregnant. Ahsoka's emotions were a jumble. On one hand she was elated that she was carrying Lux's child and would soon have a daughter, who she knew from her future self was going to be called Mina and be Force Sensitive, all of her own. However, on the other hand, she was terrified. She was only seventeen and at the moment, she was right in the middle of a very dangerous assignment and was just about to meet with the renegades who had already attacked her Padawan and her. Ordinarily, Ahsoka didn't care about her own safety in the slightest; danger came with the territory of being a Jedi, but the thought of that precious new life within her was making her think about it. Still, she was a Jedi and the mission had to come first.
In addition, the flight to Kibesh had given her time to think about the other issues that would surround her pregnancy. She knew that the council weren't going to be a problem; after all there was no rule against relationships or intimate activities anymore, but she would have to face Anakin and Padmé as well as her parents. If she was honest, Ahsoka had no idea how any of them would react to this news. In fact, she wondered if she would spend the next nine months protecting Lux from Anakin. The thought of Lux Bonteri brought another question to her mind; how would he react to the news that he would soon be a father? After all, he was only a year older than her. Ahsoka closed her eyes and briefly sighed; she knew form her future self that everything would be fine, but she still couldn't help worrying slightly.
The other issue she had, although it no longer worried her, was the fact that she still felt ill. Yes, she knew that her sickness was the usual sickness that pregnant Togrutas often faced, but it still didn't make it pleasant. However, Ahsoka had no intention of letting her condition interfere with her task. After all, Master Yoda had sort of hinted to her that the ordeals that she went through were one of the main reasons that the Jedi Code was altered to begin with. She was determined, therefore, to prove to everyone that Jedi could still be Jedi even if they had a partner or if they were pregnant or suchlike. That thought reinforced her will and she called on the Force to quiet her mind and supress her nausea.
Eleesha Altari looked towards the Renegade enclosure and her blue skin paled instantly. This was the first time in the young Pantoran's life that she had seen anything like this. The fact that the blaster turrets instantly focussed on them didn't make the situation any easier for Eleesha and she swallowed. She was relieved when the turrets didn't actually fire, however. She glanced across to her master and she was amazed that Ahsoka seemed to be taking the sight in her stride. Of course, Eleesha knew that Ahsoka had fought through the Clone Wars and was used to guns pointing at her, but still Eleesha had no idea how Ahsoka could be so calm; at least on the surface.
Through their training bond, however, Eleesha could sense some fear and apprehension in Ahsoka. She knew that it had something to do with the fact that her master was pregnant. Although Eleesha was delighted with that news, it did pose a problem for the mission and it also meant that she would have to put even more effort into protecting her new master. With steely determination, Eleesha vowed with herself to do just that.
Barriss Offee was also concerned with what she was seeing. In fact, she was convinced that coming here was not a good idea. She had no doubt that the people inside that enclosure would probably try to kill all of them instantly. During the speeder flight, Barriss had decided that the number one priority here apart from safeguarding the elections, was protecting Ahsoka. That was especially true now Ahsoka was pregnant. Barriss was well aware that Ahsoka could be a little self-sacrificing on occasions, as all Jedi are raised to be, but on this occasion, Barriss decided that she was not going to allow Ahsoka to sacrifice herself if it came to it.
Barriss knew that the thoughts that were going through her mind were probably the purest and most Jedi like that she had had in a long time. She smiled with the knowledge that finally, the pull of the Dark Side had gone; she was finally free and it was this mission and the discovery of her best friend's pregnancy that had done it. She gave herself a quick smile before she turned her attention to what was to come. She looked across to Ahsoka and asked, "Well, we're here. What do we do now?"
"We talk to them, Barriss," Ahsoka answered. She briefly shook her head as she realised that she sounded like Obi-Wan Kenobi at that moment. During her Padawanship, Ahsoka had got used to Anakin's rather upfront methods of doing things. However, since she had returned to the Jedi Order, she had vowed to end hostility where possible and over the last four months, Ahsoka had noticed her own approach alter slightly. She hoped out of the Speeder and gestured for Eleesha and Barriss to follow her.
"Do you think they'll want to talk, master?" Eleesha asked with a slight hint of fear in her voice.
Ahsoka looked at her Padawan. She could quite understand why Eleesha had asked that. After all, she wasn't one to talk herself during the Clone Wars. However, for some reason the Force told her that the Renegades were not as evil as everyone on Kiola believed. "Yes. I sense that there is someone here who wants to talk. Hopefully, we can end this."
"I hope you're right, Ahsoka," Barriss added as the three girls approached the gate.
"WHAT DO YOU WANT, JEDI?"
All three girls looked up towards where the voice had come from. Several male and two female Twi'leks could be seen standing on top of the enclosure walls. All of them had heavy blasters in their hands which were pointed at the three Jedi. One of the red skinned men in particular caught Ahsoka's attention; she recognised him immediately from the holo they had been shown in Governor Masti's mansion, Rigel Killar. Whether he was the one to ask the question or not, Ahsoka wasn't sure, but since he seemed to be glaring slightly at another Twi'lek male, this time with green skin, she didn't think so. Ahsoka held her hands up to show that her lightsabers were not in her hands and replied, "We're here to talk. We want to sort this out."
"No talking until the monsters that killed our families are in our custody," the green Twi'lek shouted back in reply. He angrily pointed his blaster. "Get ready to die, Jedi."
Ahsoka and Eleesha were just about to reach for their lightsabers before Rigel interrupted, "Pika, let them speak. We don't want to sink to their level." He glanced down and added, "I will listen to you. I am a reasonable man." He turned behind him. "Open the gate, but keep an eye on them."
Very slowly, the gate in front of Ahsoka, Barriss and Eleesha opened up. The three girls looked at each other for a few seconds. It was obvious to Ahsoka that there were some divisions within the Renegades as there often were in any kind of terrorist organisation. Ahsoka was pleased, however, that Rigel Killar seemed to be prepared to listen. If they could convince him about the new information that they had discovered, perhaps this could end. However, something told her that they would have to watch the green Twi'lek, Pika. He seemed to want trouble. He wasn't the first of his kind that Ahsoka had dealt with however; she just had to be vigilant. Ahsoka shrugged and signalled for Eleesha and Barriss to follow her.
As the three girls entered the enclosure, in the corner of her eye, Eleesha caught Rigel Killar walking slowly and carefully down from the top of the curtain wall to meet them. Eleesha sensed that there definitely was a hint of curiosity in his mood. The young Pantoran didn't like what she was sensing from the green skinned male, who seemed to be called Pika, at all however. In fact, something in the Force told her that he was one of the bandits that her and her master fought at the holo node. She walked closer to Ahsoka and whispered, "I don't like this, master. I think the green Twi'lek is out to kill us."
Ahsoka flashed a brief smirk and quietly replied, "Of course he is. In fact, this is probably a trap. However, as Skyguy used to say, that's unfortunate; for them."
"If that's really the case…." Barriss began; also in a quiet voice. "…is it wise to just walk in like we are?"
Just as the three girls reached what seemed to be what was passing as a headquarters, Ahsoka quietly sighed and answered, "We need to talk to them. To do that, we have to spring their trap."
Barriss frowned and regarded Ahsoka. For a moment, she wondered if Ahsoka had forgotten that she was pregnant and was deliberately putting herself in trouble. Just as Barriss was about to reply, Rigel walked in front of them. "I will listen to you Jedi. I must apologise for the behaviour of my comrades at the holo node. I did not order them to attack you or try to kill you. I only wanted the holo node out of action. I do not want anyone to die if at all possible. To make that easier, I hope you have some news for me about the clones that killed my wife and daughter."
Barriss visibly recoiled from Rigel's words. It was true. His family really were killed during her mission. At that moment, she found it difficult to remember that they were dead before she got there. She still felt guilty that that whole slaughter was ordered to turn her dark.
Ahsoka noticed Barriss' reaction and shook her head slightly. She knew that she would have to talk about this to someone when she got back to the temple. It was possible that Barriss needed some counselling as well, just like Ahsoka herself had needed after Anakin, Obi-Wan and Katooni brought her back from Shili. Deciding to think about it later, she turned towards Rigel and replied, "Yes, we've just made a breakthrough. Is there somewhere we can talk?"
Rigel opened the door behind him and walked inside. "Follow me."
The three girls followed Rigel inside. The building that they were entering, in Ahsoka's eyes, was little more than an abandoned factory. It was clear that both the walls and door had seen better days as they were both showing signs of corrosion on the metal fastenings. Ahsoka noticed that the entry panel had been renewed, however. It had likely been done by the renegades themselves as, although serviceable, the retrofit was far from a professional job.
Rigel immediately sat behind a desk that was in the centre of the room. The red skinned Twi'lek regarded the three girls in front of him for a moment. The first thing that struck him was that the green skinned Mirialan girl seemed to the oldest, but that she was also unarmed. What really interested him, however, was that he was certain he had seen her before. As he looked at her for a few seconds, his mind instantly twigged; she had led the Republic forces on Kiola that fought to free the planet. She was the commander that had issued the order to clear the houses. He was very interested to hear what she had to say; if she said anything.
He turned his attention to the Pantoran. He knew that she was the Jedi that had cut the hand off Kareena; not that he particularly blamed the girl for that. After all, the people he had sent to attack the holo node had gone against his orders and tried to kill the Jedi. It was quite obvious that the girl was very young and he guessed that this very well may be her first mission. What was it with Jedi? Why must they send out children to things like this? His mind briefly flashed back to his darling lost daughter, Aril. There was no way he would have subjected her to such a task.
It was the Togrutan that worried him, however. He knew exactly who she was. He had seen numerous HoloNet reports on Ahsoka Tano during the Clone Wars and he knew all about the false accusations that were labelled against her. He was well aware that if she was strong enough to survive that and fight back, she was in a different league compared to the Pantoran in his opinion; especially after how she fought off five of his friends. He knew he would have to be careful with her; she definitely deserved his respect. He put it to the back of his mind and stated, "Please begin, Master Jedi. I'm listening."
Ahsoka stepped forward. She was relieved with what she sensed about Rigel. Even though he had lost his entire family in the massacre, it was clear that he was both a fair and just man. Truth be told, she couldn't really blame him from taking offence with the election after his experiences. If there was one thing that her own experiences had taught her; it was the importance of fighting back. She had, however, noted his response to Barriss. She would have to keep an eye on that. She put on a serious expression and began, "Rigel, I am Jedi Knight, Ahsoka Tano. This here is my Padawan, Eleesha Altari and this is my friend, Barriss Offee; as I think you know, she led the Republic forces here during the liberation. We investigated the scene of the massacre this morning and we have made a breakthrough."
Rigel brought his hands together in front of his face, "Go on."
"From what we found," Ahsoka started. "We have reason to believe that the families were killed before Barriss' troops entered the area." Ahsoka noticed that Rigel was about to protest in anger, so she quickly added, "However, you are right; it was a group of Republic clones that killed your families. We are certain of it." Ahsoka sighed and continued, "Rigel, as you probably know, Chancellor Palpatine turned out to be a Sith Lord and he orchestrated the entire war…"
"What's that got to do with anything?" Rigel interrupted with anger. In his opinion this was just a story that the Jedi were telling to avert blame.
"I was just coming to that," Ahsoka shot back. "I'm afraid that it's beginning to look like the massacre was a deliberate act ordered by Palpatine. Although we can't fully prove it yet, we believe that he ordered a group of clones to Kiola specifically to kill the families before Barriss' troops arrived."
"WHAT?" Rigel blasted with anger as he stood up. "Are you telling me that the Chancellor of the Republic ordered our families dead? Why?"
Barriss took a step forward and dropped her head. Again, the actions that she had done because of that ran through her mind. Even though she had finally fully defeated the darkness, she was certain that she could never fully rid herself of the guilt. She couldn't help but feel slight angry and aggrieved herself. After all, Palpatine's orders had turned her dark then coerced her into bombing the Jedi Temple and framing Ahsoka for the crime; which had almost led to her best friend being executed. She closed her eyes and answered before Ahsoka could defend her, "He did it to turn me dark and I'm sorry to say it worked. I've done some terrible things because of it. Palpatine knew that I would wobble and start doubting myself if innocents were killed. That's why he did it. I'm certain of it."
Ahsoka put an arm around Barriss. "It's okay. This massacre was not your fault." She turned back to Rigel and said, "I have reported our findings to the Jedi High Council. I expect that they are following the information up as we speak. We have a good idea who the clones were now. Hopefully, the council will get them."
"Why should I trust you?" Rigel asked with narrowed eyes. Although he was angry with what he heard, he couldn't help but wonder if it was true. Why would the Jedi tell him this story, which completely confirmed the Republic's guilt, if it wasn't?
Ahsoka and Eleesha glanced at each other for a second before Ahsoka turned to Rigel. She sensed that her words had had an effect. He was starting to believe her, Ahsoka reasoned, but how could she fully convince him? After all, she didn't really know what the council were doing with the information she had given them. That, in itself, gave her an idea. "One of the main reasons that the High Council sent Eleesha and me here was to discover the truth about what happened. Republic troops were guilty of an atrocity here, and as a Jedi, I must do something about that." She dropped her eyes to the floor and added, "The war changed the Republic and it changed the Jedi. I know that more than anyone; trust me. However, we are doing everything possible to reverse that. I assure you, the clones that did this will not get away with it."
Rigel sat back down and crossed his arms. He had to admit, he was impressed. He didn't need that fabled Force trickery that the Jedi used to know that the Togrutan girl in front of him was sincere. In fact, he could tell that both she and the Mirialan had suffered a great deal. His eyes briefly widened as he realised that it wasn't just his people on Kiola that had suffered. Still, he couldn't afford to be railroaded; he had to make sure. "So, what are your council doing about it?"
Ahsoka grimaced slightly. In reality, she had no idea what the council were doing. She hoped they had acted on her info, but she didn't really know. She wondered exactly how to answer Rigel therefore. On one hand, she knew from the Clone Wars that bluff sometimes worked. However, on this occasion, the Force seemed to be telling her that honesty was the best option. In response, therefore, she replied, "To be honest, I don't fully know. We informed the council of our discoveries just before your attack on the HoloNode. I haven't been able to talk to them since." She glanced around as another idea came to her mind. Barriss, Eleesha and Ahsoka were here because the Renegades HoloNet signal had finally been traced. That meant that the Renegades must have had a Holo transceiver of some description. "If you have a Holo transceiver, let me contact the council. I promise I won't call for any reinforcements and you can be there with us. I'll find out exactly what is going on."
Rigel was in two minds. On one hand he knew that this could be a Jedi trick, but on the other hand, this could be a good opportunity to see if the girl was really telling the truth. Acting on instinct, he turned back to Ahsoka said, "Alright Jedi. I'll let you contact your council. I want to see and hear for myself what they are doing. However if there are any tricks…"
Ahsoka could sense a slight hint of uncertainty in Eleesha and she put a hand out to Eleesha to reassure her. "Fair enough," she interrupted.
"Right, follow me and remember; no tricks." Rigel turned around and walked to the corner of the room. For a second, the three girls were puzzled about what he was doing until he pulled a hidden lever and a panel in the wall raised. Rigel led the three girls through the raised panel into a room hidden behind the first one. He pointed to a Holo projector in the centre of the room. "Make it quick and I'll be watching every move you make."
Eleesha narrowed her eyes. Although she had kept quiet, she couldn't work out what her master was doing at all. Why would Ahsoka try to contact the council in the presence of the leader of the Renegades? What was her master up to? She couldn't hide her puzzlement as she watched Ahsoka nod, walk to the Holo projector and enter the details for the Jedi Temple. There was no doubt in the young Pantoran's mind that her master was up to something. She couldn't help smiling slightly, however, as holograms of the Jedi Council appeared.
"Greetings, Knight Tano," Master Yoda stated. "Found the Renegades I see, you have."
"Yes Master," Ahsoka replied; she knew what she was doing was a calculated gamble. However, she was convinced that showing Rigel some trust was the right move. After all, she had already sensed that he wanted to hurt no one. She gestured towards Rigel. "This is their leader, Rigel Killar. I have informed him of the discoveries Barriss, Eleesha and I made earlier. In an effort to prove to him that we are looking for the clones that killed the families, I decided to contact the council to see if there are any developments."
"Greet you, I do, Mr Killar." Master Yoda turned back to Ahsoka. "Feel he is trustworthy, do you?"
"Yes Master." Ahsoka looked down slightly and in the corner of her eye, she noticed Barriss doing the same. It was obvious to her that Barriss had figured out what she was doing. "I feel that the people here do need some answers. Rigel's family were among the dead."
"You have our sympathy and our apology," Master Mundi replied.
"With all due respect," Rigel blasted with a tinge of anger. "I don't want your sympathy, I want justice. Tell me, what are you doing about this?"
"Shocked us, young Tano's report did," Master Yoda began as his eyes and ears dropped. "Fooled by Palpatine, we all were. Terrible his order to kill innocents on Kiola, was. An idea of who the rouge clones were, we now have. Dispatched Masters Ti and Unduli to hunt and arrest them, I have. Left just now, they did."
Rigel was shocked. Was it possible that the Jedi really were looking to bring about justice? A part of him wanted to believe it, but how could he be sure? He smirked slightly; there was one question he could ask and it would call the Jedi's bluff. "How long until they have them?" he asked.
"Unfortunately, we don't know," Master Plo Koon answered. Even over the HoloNet, his artificial voice reverberated around the room. "We are uncertain about their location."
"Correct, Master Plo is," Master Yoda agreed. "But find the rouge clones, Master Ti and Master Unduli will. Have our promise on that, you do."
"Well, we will continue to disrupt this election until they are arrested," Rigel blasted. "You could all be lying for all I know."
"We are telling you the truth," Master Windu retorted. "We would advise that you stop your actions against the vote."
Ahsoka could see that Rigel was about to cut the connection; which she knew would do no one any good. Before he could do anything, however, she decided offer Rigel a deal. "Rigel, stop. Before you do anything; the council are telling the truth. It will take a bit of time. Please stop your attacks. The last thing Kiola needs is more upset and bloodshed. Trust me, this planet needs this election."
"Why should I?" he returned. He knew he had the Jedi in a spot here. However, it was also clear to him that there was definitely some truth in what the Togrutan had told him.
Ahsoka pointed at herself; she hoped she was doing the right thing here. She didn't really care about her own safety, but she was concerned about Eleesha, Barriss and of course, her unborn child, but the success of the mission and the election had to come first. "You have us. Barriss, Eleesha and I will stay here as your insurance if you stop the attacks."
Rigel was stunned. He looked around. He could see instantly that the Mirialan seemed to be in some sort of agreement, as did the Pantoran. It was clear to him by the look on their faces, however, that the two of them were concerned about the Togruta for some reason. He was interested about that. In addition, he caught the same look of concern on the faces of the Jedi Council members he saw in the hologram.
"Hmmmm, A noble sentiment, Knight Tano," Master Yoda stated. Even over the HoloNet, his worry was visible on his face. He turned to Rigel. "Accept these terms, do you?"
Rigel thought for a second. It was very clear to him now that Ahsoka Tano was special for some reason. She would be a very powerful bargaining chip. Plus, of course, he could make sure that none of the three Jedi were harmed whilst they were here. Yes, he might just get justice after all. "Alright, I agree. These three ladies will be our guests until you find these 'Rouge Clones' you speak of. Until then, we will allow the election to proceed. I warn you, if there is any indication that this is a trick, we will bring this election to its knees."
"A trick, this is not. Our assurances, you have. May the Force be with you, Knight Tano, Padawan Altari and Padawan Offee."
"We will see," Rigel replied finally as the holo connection broke. He turned to Ahsoka, Eleesha and Barriss. "Well, it looks like you'll all be staying as our 'guests' for a while. I promise you that none of you will be hurt. I am not a murderer, but I must insist that you hand over you laser swords."
"But…" Eleesha protested. Although she was fully prepared to sacrifice herself, she didn't want her master or her master's unborn child hurt. Although she wasn't brilliant with it, if she could keep her lightsaber, she could at least, offer her master some protection.
Although she understood Eleesha's concern and the feeling's coming from the Pantoran that she was sensing, Ahsoka cut her Padawan off. She had sensed that Rigel was sincere. She knew that they were in no danger as long as Rigel could keep control of the Renegades. Rather it was the green skinned Twi'lek, Pika that she was concerned about. She unclipped both of her lightsabers. "No Eleesha, it's okay. Someone must start to trust." Again she couldn't deny the irony in her statement. Oh how her life had come full circle, she reasoned with some amusement.
Eleesha reluctantly nodded and agreed. Along with her master, she handed her lightsaber over. "Thank you," Rigel stated. "Now follow me. Although you are sort of, our prisoners for now, I will see to it that you are all relatively comfortable." Ahsoka nodded in response. For now, Ahsoka knew that it was out of her hands. It was up to Master Shaak Ti and Master Luminara Unduli now.
Jedi Masters Shaak Ti and Luminara Unduli raised the hoods of their robes as they walked down the boarding ramp of the Jedi Shuttle. As an initial effort to find the secret special Spaarti Clone Troops that, according to the rumours Shaak Ti had heard on Kamino, Darth Sidious had ordered, the two women had decided that the location of the fully known Spaarti Clone Cylinders, Cartao, was the best place to start. They both knew that Palpatine was very unlikely to have ordered such barbaric troops from the same place as the troops that the Jedi were aware of, but it was certainly possible that the cloners on Cartao may have some idea where more Spaarti Clone Cylinders were located.
In addition, the fact was that these particular Spaarti Clones, if they even existed, were only the best guess at the identity of the clones that had killed civilians on Kiola. There was no actual proof of that. It was possible that Ahsoka's theory was wrong but both women knew that it wasn't. Their own feelings both agreed that the young Togruta was correct.
Luminara especially was keen to find these abominations. Even though they were acting under that monster, Palpatine's, orders, they were still responsible for turning her Padawan dark. Luminara was thankful that Sidious was dead at least. Hopefully once these clones were found, the last of his evil could be destroyed.
In addition, Luminara couldn't hide the fact that she was still worried about Obi-Wan. Although out of danger, he still had bandages over his eyes and therefore couldn't see. Plus, she had no idea of the outcome of the surgery to repair his eye sockets and left arm bones. However, Luminara knew that Obi-Wan was in the best place for his recovery and this mission was vital not just to find rouge clones, but Luminara was well aware that the lives of Ahsoka, her new Padawan, who Luminara hadn't yet met, and Barriss could possibly rest on the success of this mission. She was at least slightly happier after being told by Shaak that Barriss seemed well and stable during the communications. Maybe she didn't have to worry about her any longer.
Out of the corner of her eye, Shaak Ti watched Luminara. It was obvious to the Togrutan master that Luminara seemed to be taking this mission personally; not that she really blamed her. Shaak herself was upset by the revelations that Ahsoka had told the council; especially since Shaak Ti had become very impressed and fond of the clone troopers whose training she had overseen on Kamino during the war. Of course, now the war was over and the galaxy was finally at peace, that particular duty was no longer required, but still, the idea that Sidious used his concealment as Palpatine to create highly corrupt clones really irritated her. Of course, like everyone, she was very surprised when the Order 66 chip was discovered in the clones after Sidious' effects were searched after his dealth. Ahsoka's visions were completely true after all.
That was the biggest problem with this mission. Once the chip was discovered, every clone trooper in the GAR was ordered to attend various medical bays to have the chip removed and the prime minister on Kamino was arrested for his part in the cover up. Unfortunately, even though the known Spaarti clones were included in that order, the clones Luminara and her were searching for were completely secret and unknown so they will still have those diabolical chips still in them plus, of course, it appeared that these particular clones were bread to be butchers from the beginning. The truth was that Shaak did not expect these clones to come quietly; if they could be found at all.
"I hope we find some answers here," Luminara stated in a resigned voice. "I have no idea where to look otherwise."
As the two women approached the entrance to the clone facility, Shaak replied, "I hope so too." Shaak frowned. She could sense that there was still something on Luminara's mind. "Worried about Obi-Wan?"
Luminara's head snapped up and she looked at Shaak. She sighed and answered, "Yes, but I know he's in the best place. I just hope that Barriss is okay. I was planning to wait by the Holo Projector just in case Ahsoka asked for help with her."
"As I said, Barriss was fine when Ahsoka contacted the council; if a little guilt ridden."
"That's what I mean," Luminara quickly added. "Still I feel that Barriss is a lot lighter. Our training bond has lightened."
"That is good," Shaak stated with a smile. Both women walked through the doors and Shaak added, "Now, let's get some answers." Luminara nodded and they approached the front desk.
They were met immediately by a tall human male. He appeared to be in his early fifties with short greying hair that was thinning on the top. He was wearing a starched business suit. "Good afternoon, Master Jedi. I am Terrance Drefel; what can I do for you? In need of more clones perhaps? "
Luminara and Shaak looked at each other for a second before Luminara answered, "Actually, we are looking for information. We understand that Spaarti Cloning Cylinders are quite rare now after Spaarti Creations was destroyed. Obviously, you have some left that you used to create some clones for the Republic. However, we have reason to believe that Chancellor Palpatine commissioned secret clones. Do you know anything about that?"
Terrance narrowed his eyes. "Secret Clones? I assure you, I know nothing about that. I have heard that rumour myself. In fact, anyone in the cloning business has heard it, but as far as I know, it is just a rumour."
Even though she sensed that Terrance was mostly telling the truth, Shaak decided to call his bluff and put him on the spot. She had no doubt that, even though what he said was the truth, he still knew more than he was telling them. "Well, that's strange then. You see those secret clones massacred innocent families on Kiola and are guilty of war crimes. Awfully violent for rumours, wouldn't you say?" In Shaak's view, there was no reason to tell him that it was only a theory at present.
"What?" Terrance blasted back with wide eyes. His shock and uncertainty flowed through the Force and was easily detectable by both women.
"You see, Terrance," Luminaa added with a smirk on her face. "We are looking to arrest them and anyone who is sheltering them. They were commissioned by the Sith to erode democracy. Anyone sheltering those barbaric clones is guilty of treason against the Republic."
"T….t…..treason?" Terrance stuttered. It was clear to both Luminara and Shaak that Luminara's words had had the desired effect. He was terrified. "I assure you, we didn't create them here and they are not based here. I have no idea where such monsters would be made."
"No idea at all?" Luminara asked with a raised eyebrow.
"N…..n…..not really," Terrance replied. "However, I don't actually do the cloning here. It's done by the local Cranscocs. They might know where more of their cloning cylinders went."
Shaak and Luminara nodded. There was no doubt that his words could very well be accurate but there was a problem; Cranscocs were an insectoid race that didn't speak. Instead, they communicated by changing colours. Very few people understood the colour changes so asking them was probably out. "Is there anyone else who may know?" Shaak asked.
"Our chief of marketing, Cia Treefel, possibly. She makes it her business to find out about the competition. After all, the galaxy has just come out of the Clone Wars and cloning is now a very big business."
"Okay, can we talk to her?" Luminara asked.
"Certainly," Terrance replied. "Please follow me." He turned around and walked towards a set of doors to one side of the entrance foyer. Luminara and Shaak quickly followed him. As he led them down a white corridor, the two Jedi looked around. There was no doubt in the mind of either woman that the cloners here on Cartao did not take anywhere near the same amount of pride in their products as the Kaminoans did. Although the facility was just as big and impressive in its own way, there were no vast observation walkways to oversee the process, like there were on Kamino, just cavernous rooms in which the cylinders themselves were housed. In many ways, both Luminara and Shaak were slightly upset by their own thinking. Clones were men, not products; even if they were initially bred to betray them and destroy the Jedi. That was not their fault and thankfully, that chip had been found and removed. Coupled with the accelerated process in the Spaarti Clones, it was no wonder that the Spaarti clones were distinctly inferior.
Eventually, Terrance led them through another set of doors that were clearly labelled as the marketing department. In many ways, now they were here, this whole facility seemed wrong. The idea of marketing living beings was very uncomfortable. There was no doubt now that the use of clones during the war was one of the reasons why the Jedi Order temporarily lost its way. In the end, it was Ahsoka Tano walking away and then re-joining which ended up saving the order and reversing it all. Both Jedi shook their heads to rid themselves of their identical thoughts as Terrance stopped in front of a desk. "Master Jedi, let me introduce our chief of marketing, Cia Treefel."
"Thank you," Shaak replied. She looked at the woman sat behind the desk. Like Terrance, she was human but she was considerably younger. Shaak estimated that she was around twenty four. She had long blonde hair with blue eyes. She was wearing a white blouse with a grey business style top over it and a very short grey skirt that was barely decent in Shaak's opinion. The girl had a very light and airy expression on her face and she seemed to be slightly out of it. In Shaak's view, she was typical of the young girls that companies such as this employed to improve their image; beautiful and dressed to suit, but short on intelligence. Still, if the girl had the answers that they were looking for, it didn't really matter.
Cia smiled and stated, "Good afternoon, Master Jedi. What can I do for you?"
Luminara glanced at Shaak for a second. She had sensed what her fellow Jedi thought of the young girl in front of her and she quite agreed. Nevertheless, she decided to answer, "We want to know if there is anywhere else where Spaarti Clone Cylinders have been set up."
"Why do you want to know that?" Cia asked with narrowed eyes. "I'm not going to tell one of our biggest customers about our competition, am I?"
Shaak cast a smirk; so this girl wasn't as brainless as her initial appearance suggested then? Shaak was happy about that. In fact, Shaak sensed that it was a deliberate front that the girl was putting up; perhaps to fool potential customers. "No you see, we are searching for a rouge band of Spaarti bread Jango Fett clones commissioned by Palpatine. They are guilty of a massacre on the planet Kiola and we having been tasked to arrest them for the crimes."
"A massacre?" Cia asked with surprise. "I assure you, none of our clones misbehave like that."
Luminara frowned and decided to overlook the girl describing the carrying out of a massacre as 'misbehaving' and replied, "They weren't misbehaving. We believe that they were specifically commissioned by Palpatine for such atrocities and were acting under that monster's orders. We have to find those clones. If they are as we suspect, they are very dangerous."
"I see," Cia replied. "Well, we had nothing to do with that."
The two Jedi looked at each other. This was beginning to sound like a game that younglings were known to play, pass the parcel. This time, instead of a parcel, it was responsibility, guilt, blame that was being passed around and neither woman was particularly in the mood for it. Still, as Jedi it was required for them to be patient and that was something that both women were known for. "Yes, but somebody did," Luminara added. "Now, do you know of anywhere else where such clones could have been commissioned?"
Cia twisted her face for a second as she thought. "Well there is Centax – 2. Although I don't like to say it, when Spaarti Creations was destroyed, many of the surviving clone cylinders were moved there. We only kept so many here. Since different people operate them, however, I have no idea what actually goes on there. I do know that the Spaarti Fett clones for the Republic were actually subcontracted to there as the order saturated us. It is very possible that your secret rouge clones were among them. I don't really know, however."
Luminara and Shaak looked at each other. The Spaarti clones for the Republic actually came from Centax – 2? They did not know that. There was no doubt, Centax – 2 was their next destination. "Thank you for your time," Shaak stated. When Cia nodded, both Jedi turned and headed back towards the exit. As they walked back to the ship, Shaak took a moment to go through what they had learnt. Some of the info that she had learnt from Kamino was wrong; she was certain of that now. Mind you, they were only rumours. There was no doubt, however, that the main rumour itself was true. Palpatine did commission clone troopers, on Centax – 2. It appeared that he had used Cartao as a bit of a cover so the Jedi could be fed some information.
As the two Jedi walked back on board their shuttle, Shaak had a feeling that things were not going to be particularly friendly on Centax – 2 and she could sense that Luminara was thinking the same thing.
As he walked the curtain wall of the Renegade enclosure, Pika Tra was not happy. In fact, the green Twi'lek was furious. For the life of him, he couldn't understand what Rigel was doing. He simply couldn't believe that Rigel had called a temporary halt to actions against the election and he was even more annoyed when Rigel told everyone it was because he had spoken to the Jedi High Council and had believed their lies about finding responsible parties. Frankly, Pika didn't believe it for a second.
The one good thing that Rigel had accomplished, however, was that three Jedi were now the Renegades prisoners. 'Perfect for Kareena to get payback,' he thought to himself. In fact, he realised it was a perfect opportunity all round. Perhaps there was a more direct way to obtain justice than to wait for Rigel to come to his senses; the Jedi were now unarmed after all. He turned as he felt a small hand slip into his own. He smiled as he regarded his girlfriend, Lilly Higra. She was the reason that he was doing this. Rigel had lost his precious wife, Pika was determined that he would not lose Lilly.
Lilly studied Pika. The yellow skinned girl loved him with all of her heart, but somehow he had changed. Before this call for justice, a call that she firmly agreed with; or a least she did, once, he was calm, bright, and happy and he wouldn't have dreamed about hurting anyone. Now, she didn't know what had gotten into him. Somehow, facing that Togrutan Jedi had turned her Pika into someone that she didn't really know anymore, and it worried her. Something told her that he was thinking about that now. "Hey," she said.
"Hi," he replied.
"What are you doing?" she asked as she causally adjusted her right lekku.
"Thinking." He closed his eyes and breathed hard. "What Rigel is doing is wrong. We should be obtaining Justice from these Jedi, not making them comfortable and waiting for their lying council."
Lilly shook her head and her two lekku swung with the motion. This was just what she was afraid of. She agreed with Rigel; justice was the important factor, not hurting innocent Jedi. "I'm sure Rigel knows what he's doing. He must have his reasons; he has talked to these people after all."
Pika stopped walking. His precious Lilly; she was so innocent, so believing. It was why he loved her so much, but on this occasion, she was wrong. "Rigel is a fool for thinking he will get anywhere listening to them. In fact, he is weak. Our cause is right and strong and we have the backing of many of our fellow Twi'leks here on Kiola. There is only one thing these Jedi understand; force, and that's just what I intend to show them."
Lilly threw her left hand over her mouth in shock. This definitely wasn't the man she knew. "What're you saying?"
"It's time we took the justice that our people deserve. That Mirialan that's here was the one who ordered the clones to this and the other two are just like her. If Rigel will not do what must be done, then I will. I know that others here agree with me." As soon as he finished speaking, he picked up his blaster and walked off. As soon as he could convince the others, the three Jedi were dead.
Lilly couldn't help the few tears that started to drip down her face. A terrible feeling of dread filled her. It was no longer the Jedi that she had to fear or distrust, but the very man who she loved and it appeared that three innocent young women were going to pay the price for the change in her boyfriend's character. The worst detail, however, was she had no idea what she could do about it.
Well, that's chapter 44. I'm sorry it took so long, but this is a very complex arc and I had to plan more than just this chapter to write it. I wanted to show here that the true enormity of Ahsoka's condition is finally starting to hit her and because of that fear is starting to break out in her. She is only seventeen after all and she has no idea what having a child will truly mean for her and she has no idea if she can really raise it. Of course, it's caused trouble for Barriss and Eleesha too, since they've got to protect Ahsoka now (from herself as much as anything).
I also wanted to show here that Ahsoka is just as willing to put herself in harm's way as she usually is hence the reason she offered herself as insurance. In reality, of course, Eleesha and Barriss are in full agreement, but they are concerned over Ahsoka. That will come to the fore next chapter.
I know nothing much happened for Luminara and Shaak, but they are now on the correct track. I wanted to show that the info that they were going on was rumour and so was not completely accurate. I assure you, their part of the arc becomes more interesting next chapter.
Before you all ask; yes, Pika is going to cause trouble; big trouble as you will see next chapter and you will see why I altered my plans and had Ahsoka discover her pregnancy last chapter.
Next chapter will be the finale of the Kiola arc. Pika will cause big trouble inside the Renegades and Luminara and Shaak will find the clones they are looking for, but will they survive the encounter? What will Barriss do to ensure the safety of Ahsoka and her unborn baby?