Anakin is pulled from
his memories and meditation by the
chattering of young girls. The sound is
absolutely unmistakable, yet Anakin is intensely aware of how long it
since he last heard such innocent noise.
He watches as
the six handmaidens descend the stairs. All are wearing identical
gowns of soft
indigo fabric which cover almost every bit of exposed flesh. The
hoods obscure most of their faces, long
sleeves cover their hands and the hem of the gowns brush the
Queen, by contrast, wears an ornate, complicated dress with voluminous
and a large headdress. Her face is
painted in the traditional Naboo style Leia wore hours ago in the Jedi Temple's
They reach the
foot of the steps, falling silent as they
realize they are not alone. Standing,
Anakin bows to them. "Ladies,"
he says deferentially.
bow their heads in return. All except Leia who tries, but refuses
take her eyes off him. The young woman
pretending to be the Queen says regally, "Master Skywalker."
the room, followed closely by Senator Organa
and Gregar Typho. Obi-Wan's lips are
pressed into a thin line. He bows to the
Queen. "I apologize, milady,"
he says, "but there has been a change in our plans."
she immediately asks in an
"We received a
hypercomm message from the Temple. They are in
possession of new information and
believe the Black Sun means to ambush us near the Kalarba sector.
Because of the delay in receiving messages in
hyperspace, it is imperative we take action now."
Master Jedi," the Queen replies. "What do you suggest?"
"I believe – "
enough to Corellia. We should drop out of hyperspace now,"
Obi-Wan looks at his former apprentice. Anakin manages to refrain
from flushing. He realizes how out of character this
behavior is for him. His former,
hot-headed self most certainly would have reacted in this manner, but
not been that man for a very long time.
Looking at the
Queen, Obi-Wan smiles. "I concur, your highness," he
says. "I believe it would be best
if we were to divert course to Corellia."
"Then we best
put these plans in motion," the
Obi-Wan nods in
agreement and Gregar Typho leaves the room,
headed for the cockpit. Bail Organa is
speaking to the Queen decoy, but Leia hovers near, listening to the
away from the group of girls, staring at the
Alderaanian moss painting that hangs on the Common Room wall.
Across the room, the handmaidens speak in
hushed tones amongst themselves. Without
looking, Anakin knows Leia is watching him.
next to Anakin, looking at the moss
painting. “I can’t remember the last
time I heard you speak out of turn,” he says.
Anakin can hear the amused grin in his former Master’s voice.
“Neither can I,”
he admits honestly. “It is quite disconcerting.”
“Well, I believe
you impressed Queen Amitabha a great deal.”
“My life’s ambition,” he says wryly, “to impress a fourteen-year-old
girl.” He glances at the pack of young
ladies and realizes his comment might not be so far off the mark.
Turning away, he says, “And that wasn’t the
Queen. It was her decoy.”
Obi-Wan looks at the girls. He studies them for a moment and then
chuckles softly to himself. “Indeed,” he
says. “I believe the real Queen Amitabha
is the second handmaiden from the left.”
“I can’t believe
I missed that,” Obi-Wan muses. “I must be getting slow in my old
“It was bound to
happen, Master,” Anakin says
seriously. “Don’t let it get you down.”
into Anakin’s shoulder with his own in a
playful gesture. “That sounds like the
Anakin I know,” he says. “I was
beginning to wonder if anything of the boy remained in the man.
It’s good to know he’s still there somewhere,
even if I have to bear the brunt of your humor.”
Anakin turns to
face his friend, his expression once again
sober. “A Jedi strives for mastery of
himself,” he says seriously.
Obi-Wan replies with mock severity. “But not at the cost of
destroying the man
inside the Jedi.”
Unsure of what
to say, Anakin turns back to the moss
painting. He has to admit he is enjoying
the exchange. Point of fact, he has
enjoyed the entire trip. He can’t
remember the last time he enjoyed anything.
Anakin fixes his
attention on the moss painting, trying to
use it as a focus point to anchor his thoughts and emotions. He
doesn’t want to enjoy anything.
It’s not his
So much was kept from him. But
the secrecy has compromised Obi-Wan’s perspective. If he truly
knew the gravity of the
situation, he would feel differently about things.
The Padawan springs
life, jumping up to block his way.
“Master Skywalker,” he stammers.
“You can’t go in. The Council is
“I know,” Anakin
resisting the strong urge to push the young man away.
“That’s why I’m here.”
But Anakin doesn’t
hear him. He is already pushing his way
into the Council chambers.
As he suspected,
Council seat sits empty. For reasons he
does not understand, Obi-Wan is not privy to the Council’s decisions
him – and his family. Anakin suspects
that the rest of the Council does not believe that Master Kenobi could
impartial on the subject.
the room and he feels like he’s been punched in the chest.
A woman, a Jedi Master in the Acquisition
division, holds a dark haired infant while another woman – younger,
her Padawan – holds a second, fair haired infant.
Finally finding his
voice, Anakin rages, “No!”
Master Windu says, obviously displeased, “your presence is unexpected
unwanted. You are supposed to be
meditating on Dagobah.”
Anakin paces back
forth near the entrance, his vision moving between Master Windu and the
infants. “You will not train them,” he
“Our own council do
keep on who is to be trained,” Yoda says.
“Not on this
Anakin rages. “You will not take them
Master Mundi gives
Masters Yoda and Windu a sidelong glance that makes Anakin wonder if
of the Council members understand the full scope of the situation.
“They are my
children,” Anakin bites out. “I do not
give consent for them to be trained. You
will return them to Padmé. Now.”
The Council seems
split. Some of them obviously knew, some
just as obviously did not.
infants are strong in the Force,” Master Koon
says seriously. “It is imperative they
be brought to the Temple
and trained as Jedi.”
“No,” Anakin’s tone
well as his presence in the Force is absolutely rigid, unmoving. “You fear me,” he says, looking directly at
Master Windu. “Let me remove any doubt
from your mind as to how badly things will go if you do not immediately
my children to their mother.”
“That sounds like a
threat, Jedi Skywalker,” Master Windu counters angrily.
Anakin holds his
ground, glaring at Master Windu. He is
not afraid and he will not back down.
“Recess we will,”
says wearily. “Escalate this conflict we
that Master Yoda intends to be alone with Anakin, the rest of the
members file somberly from the room.
Anakin watches the two infants until the Jedi carrying them are
approaches and Anakin stares down at him angrily.
“In your training,”
Yoda says, “many mistakes did we make.”
but he does not deny Master Yoda’s assertion.
He knows he is far from the model Jedi.
He has always been too proud, too unstable, too powerful.
“Strong in the
your son and daughter will be,” Yoda continues.
“Training will they need.”
Yoda sighs and his
lips purse together. He shakes his head
sadly. “Misstep we did,” he says. “Informed you we should have.”
“Yes, you should
Anakin snaps. He was in the process of
establishing a permanent settlement for himself on Dagobah when he felt
inescapable pull to return to the Temple. Because
he also needed supplies, he heeded
the call and made the trip. It was a
total fluke that he arrived in time for the hearing.
“For a thousand
generations chosen Jedi in this manner we have,” Yoda says. “Your anger anticipate we did not. Shortsighted were we.”
“Did you take them
from Padmé?” Anakin demands.
Shaking his head,
says, “Her consent did she give to bring the twins before the Council.”
“Did you tell her
intended to take them?”
“Only that the
wished to see them, tell her we did.”
Anakin grinds his
teeth together, pacing in a tight circle. “You let her think you were
them to me,” he accuses. He punches his
fist impotently at the air.
“A mistake it was,”
Yoda says, “to bring your children here.”
Anakin gives him a
wary, sidelong glance.
train them we cannot,” Yoda says wearily.
“But a choice you have.”
“Stay with the
the Council believes you should.
Meditation, control do you need.”
“I’ve been trying
do that,” Anakin rages. Why the hell do
they think he’s been sitting in that stinking swamp halfway across the
if not to learn something?
“But your choice
avoided you have,” Yoda says meaningfully, his eyes boring into
Anakin stares down
his Master for only a few moments before the force of Yoda’s gaze makes
look away. “What choice?” he asks in an
“The choice between
your family and your calling.”
Anakin closes his
eyes, reeling as if he was struck. As
usual, Master Yoda is right. Anakin has
been hiding on Dagobah. Hiding from
“An exception for
the Council will not make,” Yoda says.
“Absolutely forbidden, attachment is.
For a thousand generations, this way has it been.
A family you cannot have if a Jedi Knight you
intend to be.”
Anakin reels from
words knowing that deep inside himself he hoped against hope that the
would grant an exception, that they would allow him to be both a Jedi
father. But it is not to be.
judgment, your attachment to your wife did,” Yoda says.
“Leverage did it give Palpatine. Manipulate
your fears he did.”
Anakin finds it
difficult to stand. He walks to one of
the Council chairs and falls heavily into it, his head cradled in his
“More raw power do
have,” Yoda says, “than any Jedi born.
But chaotic are you.
Unsettled. Beyond your control
are your emotions and fears. Dangerous
it makes you. Dangerous to everyone.”
raises his head and looks at Master Yoda.
“What do you want me to do?” he asks hopelessly.
Yoda says. “If within the Order you wish
to stay, return them to their mother yourself you must.”
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