Chapter IX – Trespassing
Author’s Note: Thanks for entering my contest! Although there were MANY good suggestions, I could only choose one. The winner was Ambria Getal (see her on Facebook) and so chapter 7 has been named “Frustration”. I will have more features coming in the future so keep an eye out on my facebook page. Enjoy reading!
A lone figure crouched down on all fours and waited. A few, tense, moments passed before he breathed easy.
So far, breaking into the Jedi Temple was going according to plan.
He sprinted noiselessly down a hallway and counted the seconds. When he was certain the guard would have moved past the door was standing by, he opened it and slipped inside.
What was waiting for him on the other side of the doorway startled him. He knew that his path would take him by the Hall of Masters, but actually seeing the life-size statues there brought his memories flooding back.
He couldn’t help but feel like a child again, staring in awe and soaking in all the grandeur and majesty that is the Jedi Order.
“More like ‘was’,” he mumbled to himself as he walked.
He passed the statues of the older masters such as Master Satele Shan and Master Fae Coven. He paused at the base that was devoid of a statue. The plaque simply read “Master Mace Windu”.
“You,” he muttered under his breath with disgust.
“You were supposed to take me on. The only Master of the Order to take a padawan in the history of the Jedi Order. How do you sleep at night, knowing what happened to me? What you did to me?” he said.
He checked up and down the hallway before returning his gaze to the base. His thoughts lingered on Master Windu’s praise, the close attention paid to his progress, the personal lessons that no other Jedi had.
He spat on the plaque before moving on.
Time was against him now. Paying a member of the Republic Temple Guard to take a longer break than usual would only buy him so many minutes.
He took the steps up to the medical wing three at a time, breathing heavily by the time he left the fourth flight and slid the door open. His goal was meters away now.
“Night duty, meh. Demonstrate your knowledge of the Force by moving a chair is fine, but move it while Jedi Ellian is trying to sit down and you get night duty,” a voice said from inside.
He held his breath and quickly slipped inside. The layout of the medical wing had not changed and that was an advantage he needed more than ever. He was able to duck behind a supply cabinet as the door closed.
“What was that?” the student asked from behind the desk. He walked over and inspected the door before looking around the medical wing.
“If someone’s in here, you’ll find it pretty hard to hide from a Jedi!” he warned.
He almost scoffed at the student’s idle boast. If the student had been able to sense his presence through the Force, he would have been caught already.
The student slowly walked by the cabinet, but he was clearly looking in the wrong places. Once the student walked past, he stepped out quickly and hit the student over the back of the head.
The student crumpled to the ground. For a moment, he stood over the young man’s unconscious form and studied him. Something seemed oddly familiar about him.
He rolled the student over and let a gasp escape his lips. “Therrik, what are you doing down here?” he asked his former classmate.
There was no mistaking his friend’s shockingly red hair and lanky form. How long had it been since they had last attended classes together?
Again, nostalgia rolled over him like a wave. Memories of running to classrooms, sharing a barracks style room, and boasting about their future as Jedi Knights flooded his mind.
And now he knew what Therrik was doing in the medical wing late at night. He was still just a student, cursed with only the most mundane of duties. Worse, he wasn’t even a padawan. He was crawling through life as a Jedi.
They were in the same class together at the Jedi Academy. That only meant that he too would have been an anonymous figure sentenced to monotonous tasks. His feelings of longing for the “good ol’ days” were quickly replaced by rage.
Rage that he too would have wasted his life being held back from his true potential. Rage against the Jedi who thought that emotions were the path to the dark side. Rage against a council who hailed him as a wonder child only to restrict him at every turn to teach him the “value of patience”.
Before he lost himself completely, a light caught his attention. He realized that Therrik hadn’t logged himself out of the terminal he was sitting at. He now had an unexpected bonus in access to the Jedi computer system.
“Thank you, my friend. Stop wasting your life with these spawn,” he murmured and sat down at the open terminal.
He had quickly accessed the Jedi Master’s archives. “Let’s see what these bastards have been up to,” he said.
He honed in on Master Windu’s communiques and was startled to see a large number of them centered on just one person.
Most Jedi Hopefuls had files written on them. There were enough messages between Masters Yoda and Windu to fill a book. More astounding was that they all seemed to take place in the last two Galactic Days.
“Who in the stars is Anakin Skywalker?” he asked.
He continued reading about the young man who was discovered on the Outer Rim. He was stubborn, headstrong, and with no knowledge about his Force ability had ripped the wing off of a starfighter.
His eyes locked on a phrase he thought he would never see again.
Someone that Yoda and Mace Windu regarded so highly as to label him as the “Chosen One”, but had yet to receive any formal training? This was someone he had to establish contact with. Perhaps, if they worked together, he could escape the shackles of his current employer.
The possibilities were endless.
A warning bell sounded on his communicator. His transport was on the way back to pick him up. He had to move quickly.
Major Issic proceeded down the medical bay and smiled. This trip to the Jedi Temple had been far more successful than he had ever anticipated.
“That is unacceptable!” Padme called across the table for what Anakin counted as the 47th time. He was beyond bored and drummed his fingers on the elaborate conference table. This is what being a Jedi was all about? The meeting entered its ninth hour and he was convinced that Tarkin was thoroughly enjoying every minute of this.
“Senator, I am sure that the ‘tens of people’ that care about this vendetta you have against the Armed Forces of the Republic are behind you, but I can assure you that you do not have enough support to block this expansion,” General Tarkin said. “The soldiers who are keeping your planet safe deserve larger facilities to accommodate their needs.”
“General, when I conducted that joke of an inspection last week, we were hard pressed to see more than four soldiers in the same place at once. Now you’re telling us that you’re cramped? You have enough space already to run your own pod races and you want more? The people of Alderaan demand an explanation,” Padme fumed.
Anakin sat at the far end of the table and tried and failed to stifle yet another yawn. Obi-Wan finally rose from his chair next to Anakin. “It’s clear that both sides have valid points that need to be explored. I suggest we adjourn until tomorrow morning. We can all re-think our positions until then.”
Anakin was mentally drained by the frustration that filled the room. It was painfully obvious that Tarkin was delaying this entire proceeding to avoid any type of concession. Senator Amidala was making some excellent points that could not be ignored. Tarkin had sidestepped each one of those points with the skill of an experienced diplomat.
“Jedi Kenobi, may I have a word please?” Padme asked as the conference room emptied.
She tapped her foot as Anakin and his master approached her. “Surely now you see the futility of these discussions. Tarkin is stubbornly denying us any access at all and refuses to give us a simple reason as to why.”
“Well, these are preliminary discussions, Senator. As a politician, you can understand the need for formalities. I have a feeling that these negotiations will lead to a satisfactory conclusion. Tomorrow should be a long, but productive, day,” Obi-Wan said.
“How can you be so short-sighted? You call nine hours of listening to him babble about logistics and ‘breathing room’ preliminary? Surely, as a Jedi, the truth…” but she shook her head in resignation.
“No, I am going to retire for the evening. As you said, Jedi Kenobi, I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow,” Padme stepped between him and Obi-Wan and stormed out of the room.
“Something tells me she’s not going to spend the evening in her room reading a good book,” Anakin said.
“Well we can hope that she will let diplomacy take its natural course. This is how the Galactic Republic has survived for as long as it has,” Obi-Wan said.
Felic Ordon awoke at the same time as he always had. He detested the idea that a mechanical clock should rouse him and relied on his own body. Thus far, it had never failed him.
He took pride in his attire because working for Senator Palpatine meant looking professional at all times. The senator was an important man to all people throughout the Republic. As his personal representative, it was vital that Felic create the best first impression possible to all visitors.
His breakfast was completely organic, a rare sight on this planet. He rigidly stuck to his routine, placing his dishes in the cleaning bin and letting them soak in antiseptic fluid.
After breakfast, Felic cleaned his blaster pistol thoroughly before packing it away in his briefcase.
He walked along the street with only a few other people, but they all ignored him. He blended into the crowd and soon became just another face among the countless trillions making their way to work. The Coruscant Transit sped by him and he smiled to himself. He felt sorry for the poor people who enslaved themselves to automation.
Felic looked at Republic Legislative Office building with a slight shudder. He knew that climbing the long flights of steps to Senator Palpatine’s office was a chore, but he prepared by arriving early. The alternative was to take the turbolift and the thought of being propelled by that…machine…gave Felic’s stomach a turn. An added benefit was that so few people used the stairs that Republic Security paid far less attention to it.
People passed him as though he wasn’t there at all. That’s the way Felic enjoyed living on this world. Everyone brushing by him was tapping into or was being tapped by some piece of technology. Felic smiled to himself. Being as pure and free as he was made him special.
After finishing his climb, he allowed himself only a few moments to catch his breath before opening up his briefcase and preparing for the day. Felic pulled out a pad of paper and a pen. He glanced at the pistol before setting the case on the floor under his desk.
The Republic had cleaning droids that were supposed to be efficient. As Felic scrubbed a small stain out of the senator’s window, he felt disgusted by a machine’s definion of “efficiency”. It didn’t really matter to him, manual labor in the name of the man who rescued him was an honor.
Now came the part of the day that Felic dreaded the most. He logged into his desk’s terminal and accessed Senator Palpatine’s messages. He felt unclean as he keyed in his access code.
Felic skimmed through the numerous messages that came in overnight. Felic ignored most of them and forwarded only the most important on to the senator’s personal message box.
Two messages held Felic’s attention.
From: Sen. Amidala – Alderaan. Priority – Urgent.
Subject: Jedi Knight
Esteemed Sir, I am astonished to see that the Jedi sent by the Order is extraordinarily naïve and not the least sympathetic to our cause. I continue to be bogged down by endless meetings that produce little in the way of actual results. I have one final meeting with General Tarkin and I can only hope this Jedi Knight will finally see things our way.
Felic smiled to himself. He was growing annoyed with how this small person wanted to monopolize Senator Palpatine’s time. It didn’t help that the world of politics was filled with small people trying to force themselves into bigger roles and offices. She had been rattling her saber enough to make Felic wonder what would happen in the next election cycle.
His smile faded when he read the next message.
From: Sen. Amidala – Alderaan. Priority – Urgent.
Subject: Your Eyes Only
Senator Palpatine, I cannot wait any longer. The meeting this morning convinced me that playing by the rules will get me nowhere. I learned that it is sometimes better to ask forgiveness than permission. Unless I hear from you within the next two Galactic Hours, I will penetrate the Republic Garrison and get answers myself. This may end my career if I’m caught, but all traditional methods have not gained anything. I await your response.
The doors to the outer office opened and Senator Palpatine walked in. Felic scrambled to greet him and hold open the door to his personal office.
“Good morning, Felic. All is well, I trust?” he asked.
“Senator Palpatine, I am so glad to see you are well,” Felic said eagerly. “Everything is just fine here. You have your usual messages from Chancellor Valorum asking for your advice, again,” Felic chuckled to himself.
“It’s always something with that man,” Palpatine sighed.
“He comes to you so often for help I sometimes think you’re running the Republic through him,” Felic smiled as the senator sat at his desk.
Palpatine looked at him for a long moment. “Well, I suppose I shall hold his hand yet again.”
Felic bowed deeply before returning to his desk. He sat and re-read the messages from Senator Amidala. The time index showed there was still another hour to respond to Padme’s message as she requested.
He pressed the delete button before resuming his normal work.
It was the dead of night that found Anakin tossing and turning in his sheets. Being on a planet with only one sun was unnerving. Adjusting to Alderaan’s rotation and revolution would clearly take some time.
As it was, he finally threw the sheets aside and quickly dressed. Here he was on a new world and if he was going to be restless, he would be restless while exploring what this world had to offer. He grabbed his hood and mask before chuckling to himself.
“Life without sandstorms,” he said and put them on the table.
He left their apartment and wandered aimlessly through the streets. Anakin marveled at the height of the buildings and how massive the city felt. The city seemed to stretch on forever.
Anakin saw few pedestrians at this late hour and those he saw said a kind greeting to him as they passed. He looked back to see them looking right back at him. He blushed when he looked at his wind-ripped clothes and was still able to shake a little sand out of his shirt.
He entered some kind of a local square and saw the streets converge near a large statue of a man. Standing in front of the statue was a girl holding a bag with her head bowed.
Anakin immediately recognized Padme Amidala.
She remained perfectly still for several moments, seemingly a statue herself. She looked back up at the statue’s face above her, and then sprinted down a side street. Anakin was about to take off after her when a hand grasped his shoulder.
“Enjoying your midnight stroll?” Obi-Wan asked.
“Jedi Kenobi! How did you know how to find me?” Anakin asked.
Obi-Wan smiled at him and tapped his temple. “Don’t underestimate the power of the Force.”
“Senator Amidala was just there!” Anakin said pointing at the statue. “She ran down the street.”
Obi-Wan stared down the street that Anakin indicated for a moment. “She’s not rushing off to a midnight meeting, she’s in distress.”
“Then we have to go after her,” Anakin said.
“We have to at least make sure she’s in no danger,” Obi-Wan nodded.
After running through the darkened streets for nearly an hour, they came to rest under a grove of trees near a low point at the garrison’s wall. The wall had moved with the terrain and the ground had sunk here to a point where the wall was no more than four or five meters high. Obi-Wan pressed a finger to his lips and there, they waited.
Anakin could barely see in front of his face and was now very aware just how loud his breathing could be when no other sounds were present. The two more distant moons of Alderaan were the only ones visible tonight, making this night ideal for skulking around.
Although he was unable to see very much, Anakin relaxed and let his mind take in the essence of the night. Ahead, he knew there was the wall, but he could also feel that the guards were too far away to see out here. He could also sense the ground beneath his feet and felt out when the next breeze would be coming. As he was just beginning to expand on these sensations, he felt a slight disturbance. Like ripples on a pond moving toward him, he felt a presence coming toward their position. He held his breath and felt Obi-Wan tighten in anticipation.
Padme Amidala approached, silently moving along the wall. When she reached the lowest point, she removed something from her backpack. Taking one more look around, she pointed something above her and fired a tension wire attached to an anchor to the top of the wall. As it was speeding away from her, Obi-Wan put his hand out and the wire froze in mid-air fifteen feet above the ground. “I think that’s quite enough,” he muttered.
Padme frantically looked around for the source of whatever had stopped her grappling gun. “Come out Jedi Kenobi, I know you’re there,” she whispered.
Obi-Wan and Anakin removed themselves from their hiding place and crouched down beside the senator. “I was afraid you might try this,” Obi-Wan said. “I cannot condone the reckless and irresponsible act of sneaking on to a Republic garrison and breaking into its facilities.”
“But I have to do something!” she hissed. “I have tried the conventional approach for months now. Inspections, motions, committees, appeals, all of these have been useless! If Tarkin is hiding something, then I have no other choice but to try more ‘direct’ methods. There’s nothing reckless about this. I brought a holo-recorder with me and I will get to the bottom of this even if it does cost me my career. If you can give me an alternative other than listening to him stonewalling me, then I’m all ears.” The expression she had as one of the moons came out from behind a cloud said more than Anakin needed to hear.
“Obi-Wan, we have to help her. She’s right, Tarkin has to be hiding something in there and I don’t see how tact and diplomacy is going to bring out the truth,” Anakin said.
“Help her? Help her throw away her career once she’s been caught? And keep in mind that might be the best thing that could happen to her. The Republic soldiers are under no requirement to ask for ID before opening fire,” Obi-Wan warned.
“Then it’s our solemn duty to make sure that she comes back in one piece. That is unless you don’t mind reporting back to the Jedi Council that a Planetary Senator was killed and you could’ve prevented it and chose not to,” Anakin turned and looked deep into Padme’s eyes. “At least, I plan to prevent it.” They both turned to look at Obi-Wan.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Obi-Wan gave a wave of his hand and the anchor sped to the top of the wall and stuck there. He took a hold of the tension wire, tugged it once for safety, and began to climb. When he reached the top, he motioned for Padme and Anakin to follow him. Once all three were on top, Padme fixed another anchor from the top of the wall and dropped the remainder of the tension wire down the other side of the wall. All three of them violated Republic trespassing laws as they entered the installation and stealthily crept out of sight.
They came to rest in the shadow of a building across the compound. Anakin peered around the corner to see two guards standing outside a large warehouse. “There are two others patrolling the building’s perimeter,” Obi-Wan whispered. “The inside of the building is empty. Once we go further, we can never go back. Do you understand?” he asked the senator.
“Jedi Kenobi, there are forty-four other buildings on this installation exactly like this one that have sprung up only recently. I have to know why,” she whispered back.
“So what’s the plan, Miss Reckless?” Anakin asked. “Do you plan on attacking the guards? We can’t exactly sneak past trained soldiers standing five feet apart with the only door leading inside between them.”
“Well…” she began, but she didn’t get far. Obi-Wan Kenobi brazenly got up from their place of hiding and walked directly at the two guards. After a moment’s hesitation, they hurried after him. He strode directly up to them and didn’t flinch as the guards aimed their weapons at him.
“This is a restricted area! No one is to enter this facility by order of General Tarkin. Who are you?” The guards said as a humming sound began to fill the air, telling Anakin that their rifles were eager for a wrong answer.
Anakin thought that Obi-Wan had gone insane, but then something incredible happened. Obi-Wan raised his hand up and said, “I have the proper clearance.”
“You have the proper clearance,” the guards mimicked.
“You didn’t see anyone enter this building,” Obi-Wan said.
“We didn’t see anyone enter this building,” They said again.
“Use your access key to open the door now,” Obi-Wan instructed.
Obi-Wan winked at his two companions as the guard opened the door and then resumed their normal position while he entered the building. Padme ran after him and Anakin hesitated a moment, looking at the guards, and then ran to keep up. Anakin nearly stumbled into his companions no more than a few feet inside because they had stopped dead in their tracks. When Anakin activated the lights, he saw why. The room became illuminated and his breath caught in his throat. They had discovered General Tarkin’s Cloning Facility.