Chapter XI – Attempts
Chapter XI – Attempts
Anakin was feeling like a fifth wheel. Obi-Wan was deep in discussions with the Jedi Council. Padme was surrounded by reporters, politicians, dignitaries, and officials from across the Republic. Anakin was stuck up in the suite that Padme had arranged for them with nothing to do but watch.
The news broke quickly about the cloning labs they had discovered the previous evening and their names were spreading across the galaxy like a fast moving sand storm. Obi-Wan was called a “heroic Jedi Knight” and Padme was now being referred to as “The Senate Wonder”.
Anakin wasn’t mentioned at all.
The holo-projector he had turned on was constantly bombarded with the same images Padme had recorded the night before. He paced up and down in his quarters, absently listening to the broadcast as Padme went on about the “atrocities” and the “monstrous creations” they had seen.
Anakin was on a beautiful planet he had never been on before, with incredible people he had never been with before, with ground-breaking history being made all around him, and he was stuck pacing in his quarters.
Despite all this, his mind was settled on what Obi-Wan had done the night before. He ran the battle through his mind over and over again. Death stared them in the face and Obi-Wan spat back in Death’s face.
Anakin was desperate to know more.
Padme entered the room and quickly closed the door behind her. She seemed pleased with her effort, but exhausted by the ordeal of the press conference. She rested against the door and closed her eyes, glowing in her victory.
“Enjoy your time soaking in the press? Making your mark on the galaxy?” Anakin asked. He felt his anger rise like bile in his throat.
“Why are you in such a sour mood? This is the start of something tremendous! The Galactic Senate will convene at once to discuss this and we have to go to Coruscant immediately to give testimony,” Padme moved across the room toward him and smiled. “Anakin, before the day is over, you will be on the way to the Queen of the Core.”
“And what will I do there? Sit around my hotel room or shall I practice hiding in a corner?” Anakin shouted.
“Anakin, where is this coming from?” Padme asked.
He took a deep breath and looked at the floor. “Last night, when we ran into that group of soldiers, Obi-Wan acted and I just watched. When that ALC nearly blasted us into oblivion, Obi-Wan destroyed it while hardly breaking a sweat and where was I? Cowering behind a damned bench, being useless!” He kicked the foot of his bed and walked over to stare out of the window.
Padme walked across the room and placed a hand on his shoulder. “What do think you could’ve done against an armored vehicle with a Class IV cannon mounted on it? Assuming you had been able to get past its guns and actually to the ALC itself, what damage would you have caused? Anakin, you did the only thing you could’ve done. Don’t worry any more about it,” she gave him a warm smile.
“I should’ve done something. I just feel that I should’ve done…anything,” Anakin turned away from the window and looked at her. For a long moment, they just stared into each other’s eyes. Padme slowly moved toward him.
Obi-Wan Kenobi came in from the adjoining room. “I’ve been summoned back to the Jedi Temple and the senator now has an appointment with the Supreme Chancellor himself. Transportation has already been arranged and we leave in two hours. I’m sorry, did I interrupt something?”
Anakin and Padme took an instinctive step away from each other. “Jedi Kenobi, I have to talk to you,” Anakin said.
Padme stepped out of the room as Obi-Wan sat down in a chair several feet away. “Of course, but keep in mind we are on a tight deadline.”
Anakin sat down across from Obi-Wan and met the Jedi Knight’s gaze. He took a moment to collect his thoughts, then began to tell Obi-Wan exactly what he was thinking.
“What you did last night was incredible. I’ve never seen anything close to it and I want to know how you did it…and then tell me how I can do it,” Anakin said.
“What happened was the result of years of training learning how to use and control the Force. I was trained and educated at the Jedi Academy in the City of Spires on Coruscant for over a decade. Then there was the combat training and countless hours learning how to use a lightsaber so that I can be effective when I am needed to be. Perhaps, someday, you might be trained, but the Council will decide if you’re too old or not,” he smiled at Anakin.
“I’m sick of being patronized!” Anakin stood up and shouted at Obi-Wan, his fists clenched tightly. “How does the Council know I can’t be trained? Who are you to say that whatever is going on with me cannot be focused, just as it was with you? I’m ready to learn how to stop being as helpless and useless as I have my entire life!”
“Calm down, Anakin. I just meant that someone who shows Force Potential is trained at a very early age. I’m sure you have done a few minor, trivial things with the Force before, but…” he abruptly stopped speaking.
Anakin had heard enough. He had learned from Padme that there were times when words were as meaningless as a diet was to a Hutt. Clearly, Obi-Wan did not take him seriously. He stood before the Jedi Knight and shut his eyes tightly. His anger at being dismissed so easily focused the feelings within him.
Obi-Wan Kenobi grabbed on to the sides of the chair as it began to lift into the air.
The chair slowly began to rotate before Anakin felt another surge push against his own. Obi-Wan stopped himself from spinning and began to lower himself back to the ground. Anakin refused to be dismissed again and knew he simply had to prove himself beyond all doubts.
He thought of Obi-Wan patting him on the head and telling him he was a nice boy, but that was all. He thought of Padme turning her nose up at him in disgust because he would always be a nobody. Anakin regained his focus and felt the surge within him burn white-hot. Obi-Wan and the chair were almost back to the ground when they both suddenly flew sideways and slammed against the wall.
The Knight of the Republic slumped to the ground in a heap, the remains of the shattered chair all around him, a mixed look of horror and amazement on his face.
“I’m not asking to be trained, I’m telling you that I will be trained,” Anakin said in a low voice before slumping back into his chair.
He sat there, panting with the exertion. He had never been able to summon such raw power before. Obi-Wan slowly got to his feet, but did not approach Anakin at first. Instead he looked at Anakin as though he were looking through Anakin.
Finally he said, “Perhaps I have underestimated the ability within you,” they met each other’s gaze and a smile crossed Anakin’s face.
Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi left their room with one bag each. A courtesy droid was standing in the hallway waiting to take their bags down to the transport below. They were joined down in the lobby by Senator Amidala who had packed a total of eleven bags and had several droids to herself. She gave them a warning look when they eyed her pile of bags suspiciously and Anakin decided that some questions should never be asked.
As they walked across the nearly deserted lobby, one of the silver courtesy droids put one of her bags down and walked away.
Padme blew a lock of hair out of her face in frustration. “I don’t have a lot of time to deal with a malfunctioning droid,” she began to move toward the droid when Obi-Wan stopped her. Anakin also had a feeling that something about this situation wasn’t quite right. When the droid reached the rear doors, it exploded in a shower of sparks and flames. Screams filled the air as Obi-Wan moved to shield Padme from the flying debris.
“You two stay here,” Obi-Wan said. He ignited his lightsaber and then ran over to the scene of destruction.
“I’m getting real sick of hearing that,” Anakin muttered, but that feeling of imminent danger in the back of his mind would not leave him alone. He grabbed Padme by the arm and dragged her to a nearby check-in counter.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” Padme protested, but Anakin remained silent. Warning bells were ringing through his mind as he looked up to the elegent glass roof of their hotel.
Nine men burst through the ceiling, coming down on zip lines and settled in the lobby. Each man was wearing form-fitting plates of a lightweight plastoid-alloy composite dyed dark green and sealed to a black bodysuit. They all carried heavy blaster rifles. One commando was wearing solid black armor rimmed in gold.
Padme pulled out a small blaster pistol hidden in the folds of her dress and got four shots off at the commandos.
“Get the senator! Leave the Jedi!” Lieutenant Jango Fett ordered and all eight of the commandos unleashed a tremendous barrage. Padme screamed as the blaster bolts rang out all around them. Anakin frantically tried to figure out a way where they could get out of this with their skins intact. The soldiers began to move closer to the counter in a move that would out-flank the two crouching figures.
Anakin felt the fear rise within him again. Twice in only twelve hours, they were in a situation where death was literally around the corner and he felt totally helpless. The fear quickly turned to anger at their predicament. Would he always be this powerless?
The fire began to slacken as the commandos’ attention was diverted. Anakin peeked around the corner of the counter and saw the source of the distraction. Obi-Wan had sprinted back from the rear of the building, his lightsaber flashing menacingly.
Jango Fett turned to face the Jedi Knight and raised his arm. A gold pulse of energy shot out and engulfed Obi-Wan’s arm and lightsaber. The beam connected the two and Obi-Wan found his arm paralyzed. Jango grinned and flung the connected arm toward the wall, slamming the Jedi into the wall. The pulse disappeared as Obi-Wan slumped against the floor, his lightsaber extinguished.
Anakin took the opportunity to do the only thing he knew he could. With Padme protesting, he stood up and faced their attackers. They were still about fifteen meters away and they stopped firing, confused by this move. Using their moment of hesitation, Anakin used the surge he was feeling and thrust his hands outward.
Jango Fett and the remaining commandos floated twenty feet into the air and were flung toward the front entrance. The members of the Republic’s Finest soared across the lobby and crashed through the doors that led out to the street. The doors ripped off their hinges and the glass on the doors exploded from the impact.
None of the commandos rose from the street.
Obi-Wan staggered back to them. “Alderaan Security, I need a Scanning Team to our transport immediately and another dispatched to our location to search our bags for explosive or chemical devices. I also need our route to Senator Amidala’s office cleared of all traffic. My clearance code is Delta-Gamma-four-two-five-one-five.”
“Padme, are you all right?” Anakin asked as he was checking to see if any debris had hit her.
“I’m fine, but Anakin, what was that?” she asked.
“That was me saving your life,” Anakin was bent over, trying to catch his breath, but rather proud of himself.
“I don’t believe the Republic Garrison can be counted among your biggest supporters, Senator,” Obi-Wan said as he surveyed the damage.
“What would I do without you two here?” she asked. “Can I rely on your protection on Coruscant as well? I refuse to believe that this will be an isolated incident.”
“When we reach Coruscant, I fear things will have to change. I have to get Anakin to the Jedi Temple upon our landing and I cannot guarantee anything. However, so long as it is the will of the Force, we will remain at your side,” Obi-Wan gave a slight bow to her and gave Anakin a wary look.
Anakin saw Padme’s face fall upon hearing this. “What’s wrong?”
“I just never thought that you would ever leave me,” she said in a flat voice.
“I will never allow that to happen,” Anakin grabbed both of her hands.
“You won’t have much of a choice, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said. “She has her work to do and we have ours. The role of the Jedi is not to be a permanent bodyguard. Let’s get her to her office until Alderaan Security clears us to leave.”
“I just never thought I would be alone again,” Padme muttered.
Felic looked down at the floor in disgust. On his holo-imager, the idiot news reporter was still blabbering about Senator Amidala’s brave rescue by the heroic Jedi Knight after there was an attempt on her life. Like most sycophants in the media, he droned on and on about her as if he was her slave until Felic tuned him out.
Leave it to Republic Commandos to blunder into a situation and try to kill a manka cat with a pea-shooter. He paced back and forth until Padme herself made her statement to the press.
“Nothing shall stop the truth. Nothing shall stop that which the citizens of the Republic deserve to know. Violence has never been the Alderaanian way and the sooner evil understands that, the sooner we can send it scurrying back into the dark,” Padme said.
The girl was dangerous. Felic had been reading numerous reports suggesting, hinting, and one or two even boldly admitting that her star is on the rise with limitless possibilities. She was a political novice who had gotten very lucky. Now, with the media falling all over themselves to get near her, Felic could see the writing on the wall.
He stopped pacing and sat down at the only piece of furniture in the apartment, his desk. Felic began responding to several transmissions to contacts that he had made from his time on the Outer Rim. If he moved quickly enough, he could arrange transport for all parties and be ready on Coruscant. It was clear that a handful of soldiers and a minor diversion would be insufficient to snuff out the life of this ‘celebrity’ politician.
Felic would be far more prepared for “The Senate Wonder”.
She had no idea how to serve the people. She was completely different from another Senator from Alderaan. The true Senator. She was everything that Palpatine wasn’t. Shallow, self-centered, and more concerned with fancy parties and fundraisers than using her office to help the citizens that she served.
Republic rules dictated that there could only be one Galactic Senator from each planet. If she rose too far and too fast, then she would probably win Palpatine’s seat. When that happened, Felic would be sent back to his home planet of Cerea. That was unacceptable.
Felic shivered at the thought of returning to the planet that Palpatine had rescued him from. He owed his employer everything. He began to send out transmissions across the Republic. Now was the time to squash another bug from Alderaan before it was too late.
Felic had done it before.
Felic could do it again.
He received multiple responses over the next hour. Nearly all of them were positive including the crucial one about his baradium. He allowed a grin to creep across his face. As more and more responses came back to him, he began to charter flights from across the galaxy to Coruscant. Killing a young woman was the least he could do for one he owed his life.
General Tarkin slammed his fist on his desk as he read Lieutenant Fett’s report that was sent from the hospital. It was damn sloppy work and the only thing that angered him more than the poor execution was the fact that it was ordered in the first place.
“Senator Palpatine for you, sir.”
Even before he could respond, the holo-image shimmered and came to life. Standing on his desk was a miniature Senator Palpatine appearing to be in a very foul mood.
“Answer this question directly, General. Did you give the order to have her killed?” Palpatine asked him.
“No, Senator, I did not give the order, although I see no need to have the girl alive any longer,” Tarkin explained.
“So the men whom you command undertook the risky and dangerous operation of having a Planetary Senator, who is guarded by a Jedi Knight, murdered. Moreover, they did this without consulting their commanding officer whom never consulted me,” Palpatine’s expression had danger written on it.
“Indirectly yes, although I never actually gave the order. I am still responsible for the men under my command,” Tarkin admitted.
“General, if you had consulted me. I would’ve told you that killing a senator before she had spoken on Coruscant was foolish. I need her to become a household name from one side of the galaxy to the other. Then and only then would her murder spark the outcry we need to rip the Republic apart and finally rebuild the Armed Forces of the Republic to a proper level. No more tedious outposts, no more peacekeeping missions, and no more pointless garrisons where general officers sit behind desks forgetting what the meaning of ‘honor’ is,” Palpatine said.
“When you play Sabacc against a master, you always have an ace. My ace is about to be put into play, but only after she has played the part I need her to play. The girl will die, Tarkin, but only when I order it and not before. When I have completely used her up, I shall discard the girl.”
Palpatine terminated the transmission.
General Tarkin straightened his tunic before pressing the call button on his desk.
“Colonel Kinyon, may I have a word with you?” he growled.
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