Chapter XIII – Arrivals
Anakin thought he could see no other sights that could take his breath away. He had seen the moons of Tatooine in a great conjunction while lying down in the depths of Beggar’s Canyon. The sight of space itself and the endless sea of stars was incredible. Anakin thought that seeing the beauty of planet Alderaan was beyond words.
Nothing he had seen before prepared him for the sight that greeted him as he stood at his favorite viewing point at forefront of the bridge as they came out of hyperspace.
The planet Coruscant came into view and was the largest and strangest planet he had ever seen. This planet was entirely artificial and almost completely devoid of natural life. As they came in on the dark side of the planet, Anakin could see this half of the planet was entirely lit up from pole to pole. The entire world had become one giant city with regional identities. The amount of traffic that orbited this massive world was staggering. Anakin didn’t have time to look at one vessel before another would pass between them, or a larger one would garner his attention, or speedy fighters and shuttles would zip past.
He wished he had forty pairs of eyes so that maybe then he could take it all in at once. In just a handful of moments, Anakin saw four other red-painted Consular-class diplomatic vessels, two vicious looking Gonzati cruisers, a flight of seven Scimitar class long range transports, several triangle shaped Corellian Star Shuttles, a convoy of large, lumbering AA-9 freighters, and even a shapely and beautiful H-27 Nubian Yacht.
“Jedi Kenobi, our escort is approaching,” Captain Sesta announced.
“Very well, begin your landing cycle,” Obi-Wan instructed.
Four Z-95 Headhunter class starfighters shot past the nose of The Bucket and split into two different wings to take positions at the bow and stern. Anakin had a seat and strapped himself in next to Obi-Wan.
“Consular transport one-five-eight-four-two, this is Republic Naval Escort Delta Squadron. Stand easy and follow the two fighters across your bow, we’ll guide you in from here,” a pilot’s voice announced.
“Acknowledged, Delta One, you have the lead,” Aiya Rios said and Anakin felt the ship re-orient itself toward the planet.
“Rest easy young Skywalker,” Jedi Kenobi said. “By this time tomorrow you will be before the Jedi Council itself. The twelve Jedi Masters who make up the Council shall test you and then decide if you will indeed be trained in the Jedi Arts.”
As the ship began its initial descent into the atmosphere, Obi-Wan’s words did nothing to put him at ease. As they neared the spaceport, Anakin was stunned by what he saw waiting for them to land.
There was a red carpet leading from where they would land leading up to a platform where more than a few dignitaries were standing. On either side of the carpet was a laser barrier holding back a crowd of people on either side waiting for the senator to land. In front of the barrier were at least twenty soldiers dressed in solid black armored uniforms, eyeing the crowd suspiciously. Anakin leaned against a bulkhead as the mob’s emotions rolled over him.
“I feel it too,” Obi-Wan put a hand on Anakin’s shoulder. “I’ll see you through this.”
The ship landed on the platform and the exit ramp slowly lowered. Four of the soldiers came onboard and stood where Obi-Wan, Anakin, Khian, and Padme were preparing to disembark.
“Senator Amidala, we are your escort through the crowd and up to where Senator Palpatine and Supreme Chancellor Valorum are waiting for you. From there, you will be escorted to your quarters at the Republic Estates. We will escor…”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t need an escort,” Amidala interrupted.
The soldier could not hide his shocked look. “Senator, there have been threats made against you by multiple factions from across the Outer Rim.”
“Why wasn’t I told? Khian interjected.
“You weren’t told? Why wasn’t I told?” Padme asked.
“Perhaps you didn’t see the crowd outside? The attack on Alderaan might have shown you how inflammatory this can be. Perhaps this will demonstrate how widespread this can be. Please keep your heads low and stand next to one of us at all times, even you Jedi Kenobi,” the soldier instructed them all.
They departed the ship and the murmur of the crowd evolved into a roar. Anakin could clearly see that the side to his left was clearly upset over the presence of the cloning facility on Alderaan. The opposite side was also roaring, but their protest centered on her images being faulty or that Amidala was purposely trying to stir up trouble and antagonize people within the Republic. Obi-Wan kept his hand at his belt, just in case his lightsaber was needed.
Anakin couldn’t help but feel weary from so many strong emotions hit him as they walked up the carpet to where the dignitaries were waiting for them. Anakin shook more hands than he could count from people he would never be able to remember.
When Anakin shook Senator Palpatine’s hand, he felt a tingle within him when they made contact that extended from his hand up his arm. He looked deep into Palpatine’s eyes for what seemed an eternity, although it only lasted a moment. In that moment, he could feel those eyes bore into him maliciously. They broke their contact and Palpatine went to escort Senator Amidala away as though nothing had happened.
He started to follow Padme, but Obi-Wan held him by the shoulder. “Our path does not lie with politicians, Anakin.”
Anakin took one last look at Padme being led away by Senator Palpatine and nearly surrounded by other senators, diplomats, and dignitaries. All of them were bombarding her with questions. Khian looked at each one of them as if they were concealing some sort of lethal device. Through the crowd, however, he saw Padme look back at him over her shoulder and smile.
Seeing her smile emboldened him enough to face an army of Jedi Masters.
Felic noticed how the eyes were constantly scanning the crowd for danger. No doubt this man would be an obstacle, but not an impossible one. He made a note of Khian’s name before putting the pad of paper back into his briefcase.
After the gathering broke up, Felic walked a little slower back to Palpatine’s office to finish the day’s work. His mind whirled with possibilities. She was here now, on Coruscant. No doubt Padme would be eyeing the spacious offices and wondering how quickly she could begin campaigning to take Palpatine’s seat in the Galactic Senate.
A few blocks from the office, a man bumped into Felic. They exchanged the usual, fake apologies before resuming their paths.
Felic ducked into a side alley before opening the scrap of paper the man had placed in his pocket during the accident. The paper felt so good in his hands. So…natural.
“He suspects, summon SD.”
Felic swallowed the scrap before resuming his leisurely stroll.
“Stay close to me, Anakin. You are about to enter the hallowed grounds of the Jedi Temple. I know many of the Jedi you will see here so don’t do anything that might embarrass me,” Obi-Wan advised.
“How could I possibly embarrass you?” Anakin asked.
“You have a point. I wasn’t at all embarrassed when I asked you not to touch anything and then you reached out and tapped the glass of a cloning tank,” Obi-Wan grinned.
“How long are you going to remind me of that?” Anakin sighed.
“Anakin, if you ever become a Jedi Master and sit on the Jedi High Council and you’ve taught many Padawans who then go on to shape the future of the galaxy, then I might consider letting it slide,” Obi-Wan’s grin spread even wider.
They walked up the steps to the Formal Entrance to the Jedi Temple and Anakin felt a sense of awe and wonder fill him. Standing in perfect symmetry were giant statues of the Four Masters of the Jedi Order. The two inner statues represented the Sage Masters and had their arms folded in deep thought. The two outer statues represented the Warrior Masters and held their lightsabers high into the air. At the top of the stairs, various groups of Jedi were congregating and carrying on discussions.
Moving past the impressive entrance, Anakin was stunned at the number of Jedi and the activity that the cavernous hallway held. Everywhere he looked there were men and women of all ages and species walking around them. Occasionally, one would stop and say a greeting to Jedi Kenobi.
A group of students who Anakin guessed was eight years of age were crowded around two other students who were only a few years older. The older ones were making objects spin around a column very quickly. Suddenly, one of the younger boys rose into the air and joined the objects whizzing around the column. The group broke into cheers as the boy bounced off of one column and over to another and began whirling around that one.
Another boy rose into the air and the two older boys bounced the objects and the younger boys off of the columns like pinballs and they soared across the room. Others stopped and watched the boys and the objects finally join up in the middle of the room. They formed their own column and began to spin very quickly. The two younger kids’s laughs turned to shrieks as they spun faster and faster as the older boys laughed.
“Taran, Therrik, enough of this!” A voice called out as a much older man strode across the hall.
“The Force is not to be used as a practical joke,” he said sternly. “Don’t you all have someplace to be?” he addressed the crowd.
Eventually, the crowd began to disperse and the boys were lowered to the ground. The further Anakin walked with Obi-Wan, the fewer people Anakin saw. They finally stopped and boarded an elevator. As it rose to the top of one of the spires, Anakin began to feel nervousness rise within him as well.
“Relax, remember the techniques we discussed. You need to remain calm, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said.
“They have to see it my way, Jedi Kenobi. The Council has to see that I must be trained. This is the best thing to ever happen to me and I want to learn as much about it as I can. They just have to agree,” Anakin said as they walked down a long hallway with a pair of large doors at the end.
“I will speak to the Council on your behalf, but you must have patience. Even if they do agree, there will be much to discuss. Should you be placed with the other Jedi Hopefuls? That would be very awkward because you are many, many years older than they are although your skill level would be similar. Shall we place you with Padawans waiting for a Knight to take them as their apprentice? You would be older than many of them and well behind in your skill of using and understanding the nature of the Force,” Obi-Wan explained.
“Jedi Kenobi, couldn’t I just be your apprentice? You know what I’m capable of and you’ve already been with me for so long and been with me through so much,” Anakin looked at Obi-Wan as they neared the doors to the Council Chambers.
“To be honest, I would enjoy having you as a Padawan. I cannot help but be impressed with your potential. But I have just become a Knight of the Republic not too long ago. I am not sure if they will allow it.” Seeing Anakin’s frown, he added, “But should the discussion lean that way, I will ask if you can be my first Padawan. Now please, calm yourself, Anakin.”
“Sure, I can relax because Jedi Masters who have about a million years experience are going to talk about me behind closed doors and wonder whether or not my life will revolve around the most important thing to ever happen to me. Yeah, I can just lean back and whistle a happy tune now.” Anakin began to sweat a little as they stopped in front of the doors to the Council Chambers.
“The Council and I have much to discuss apart from you. The discovery of the cloning tanks and the subsequent investigation will have galactic ramifications. You will wait outside until we are ready to see you. Don’t worry, my friend, I’m sure it won’t be long. Oh, and Anakin, if they ask you any questions and you don’t know the answer, just be humble and say ‘it would be an honor to serve the Republic,’” and he stepped inside.
“I will be your Padawan, Jedi Kenobi. I will accept no other,” Anakin said in a low voice.
One hour later, Anakin paced up and down in front of the doorway leading to the Council Chambers in the Jedi Temple. He tried so many times to practice what Obi-Wan had taught him.
“There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity,”
Anakin chanted over and over again. He knew it was only a piece of the Jedi Code, but the last line about death didn’t seem very relevant unless the High Council were discussing ways to make it relevant. When a group of Jedi Masters who had more knowledge of the Force than anyone else was deciding your fate, this was enough to block any meditation technique from calming the pounding from within his chest.
He continued pacing while Obi-Wan was inside, hopefully pleading his case. Every time Anakin thought about stretching out with the Force, he stopped himself. The temptation to just feel out and reach inside the Council’s Chambers was nearly overwhelming him and he had to fight his own desires and force patience into his mind.
Two hours had passed and Obi-Wan had not come out yet. More than once, Anakin wanted to ask one of the passing protocol droids to “accidentally” wander in and ask if they even remembered he was still there. Instead, he continued his pacing.
After a third hour, Anakin was nearly going out of his mind. Finally, the door to the chambers opened and an older Jedi appeared. He was a green skinned Nautolan standing less than two meters tall with very large, solid black eyes and fourteen green tentacles extending away from his head. He fingered the silver lightsaber at his side and stared curiously at Anakin, sizing him up with his unblinking, obsidian eyes.
“You have very little patience for someone so attuned to the Force. Has it always been so?” He asked at last.
Anakin stood there, staring dumbfounded into his large eyes.
“I mean, when you were an infant, were you like this or did you become impatient after leaving the crib?” Before Anakin could answer this odd question, another voice came from within the chambers.
“There will be time for questions later, Master Fisto,” a deep voice said.
Jedi Master Fisto stepped aside and motioned Anakin into the room. Anakin Skywalker took a deep breath and then entered the Council Chambers for the Jedi High Council.