Title: No Absolutes
Fandom: Star Wars
Genre: Action Adventure, Crime Drama, Family, Hurt/Comfort, Mystery, Science Fiction, Slash
Relationship(s): Tyvokka & Obi-Wan Kenobi, Obi-Wan Kenobi/Quinlan Vos
Content Rating: R
Warnings: Violence – Graphic, Violence – Domestic and/or Against Children, Off-screen rape of a minor character, Assisted Miscarriage, References to Children in War (canon), References to Slavery (canon), Dark Themes
Word Count: 107,000
Summary: After almost a year of war and loss, Obi-Wan just wanted to go home. Unfortunately, neither Master Jinn nor the Temple were as welcoming as his dreams had always painted them. He was lonely, grieving, and certain that he was about to be sent away again. Master Tyvokka was not impressed with how the High Council handled the Jinn-Kenobi partnership. There was something wrong there and he was going to fix it no matter who stood in his way.
Chapter 9: A Game of Tooka and Mouse
23rd day of the 6th Republic Standard Month, 958 ARR
Tyvokka offered the plump female behind the desk a pleasant smile, “I have an appointment with Justice Nolis.”
“Master Tyvokka of the Jedi Order of Coruscant.”
The secretary nodded and her lekku waved as she paged the comm in the Judge’s office. “Ma’am, your eleven o’clock is here.”
“Send them in, Mari,” Came the reply as the door lock beeped open.
Tyvokka thanked the assistant, who blushed a beautiful blue as she held the door open and greeted the startled Judge with a bow. “Many thanks for your time, Justice Nolis.”
“Master Tyvokka, I presume?” The Judge, a Human female with blond hair tied up in a painfully tight looking knot and wide blue eyes, blinked and pursed her lips as Tyvokka surmised that no one had informed her that she was meeting with a Jedi. “What can I do for the Jedi Temple?”
“I have a story to share with you.” He started as he settled into the guest chair in front of her desk. “It might seem too outlandish to be true, but I have the evidence to support my claims.”
Leaning back in her chair, Justice Nolis waved a hand, “I have no doubt. A Master of the Jedi Order wouldn’t dare waste anyone’s time on a fool’s errand.”
“It starts with the Captain of smuggling vessel, the Hiddle Coua, who decided, likely out of spite, that ze wouldn’t be delivering zir cargo to its ultimate destination.”
“Who is this smuggler?” The Judge asked with a frown, “Where is ze now?”
“Dead.” Tyvokka admitted bluntly, “The entire ship’s crew was found dead a year ago. The Hiddle Coua worked mostly legal shipping contracts between Coruscant, Shili, and Berne. Mx. Taz came to the temple with a very dark artifact ze had smuggled through RepSec. A Sith Holocron.”
Justice Nolis jerked, “That sounds bad, but it’s been a while since I worked shipping disputes.”
“The import and export of Sith artefacts must meet very strenuous guidelines.” Tyvokka agreed, “They must have clear documentation on ownership and excavation. They must have been examined by a Jedi Archeologist who has determined whether the object is inert or simply dormant. And they need to have paid certain taxes.”
“I’m not surprised that someone is smuggling Sith objects. You can find everything from rare art to illegal foodstuffs in smugglers’ holds.” The Judge considered him with a thoughtful look on her face, “Odd though that a smuggler would bring an illegal item to the attention of the legal authorities.”
“It would be, except this item—the holocron—was not dormant or innocent and in the process of smuggling it two of her crew were driven mad and three died, even before they hit Coruscant.”
“That is-” She shook her head, “I don’t know what that is, but it is not good. Do archeologists often find holocrons still so dangerous?”
“As a matter of fact, they do.” Which was not something Tyvokka had known before this case had landed in his lap. “Very few Sith relics are found inert. Many more are asleep or can be made so, but the Jedi Order has an entire body devoted to minimizing this threat against the galaxy, as we have since the Sith wars.”
“Okay, but that can’t be it.” The Judge argued, “As much as I would love to, you can’t prosecute an item. And I really doubt that after a thousand years there’s still an estate the dependents of the Hiddle Coua could sue.”
Here, Tyvokka hesitated. This was where two Judges had refused to believe and a third had committed treason. “You would be correct, except that this holocron is not a thousand years old. By all estimates of our archeologists, it’s barely thirty.”
She sucked in a deep breath, “Please tell there’s an option beyond the obvious.”
“There are options.” Tyvokka began slowly. He didn’t want to lie, but he also didn’t want to give the wrong impression. “There are dark side Force groups that have the technology to create a holocron. Our experts, however, have placed dialect and construction to a decidedly Sithly origin.”
“Okay.” Justice Nolis looked a little pale, “So the Sith are still around, which is terrifying but not currently a legal issue. It’s not illegal to be a Sith or a dark side Force user. And I really doubt that the sithly name the holocron gave is going to match up to a known individual.”
Tyvokka smirked, “You would be right. This is where standard investigative procedures come into play. We tracked a payment to Mx. Taz from an accountant on Singish. That got us a coded list of client names, which includes a trust that has both Senator Palpatine and Hego Demask on the signatory line. In fact, they are the only ones attached to the account at all.”
The female stared at him from behind her desk. “That is quite a tale, Master Tyvokka.”
“Only the truth,” He said mildly.
Tyvokka slid the encrypted datapad over the desktop. Everything was on it. All the reports, all the evidence, a clearly defined chain of investigation as well as the evidence for charges against one judge of the upper courts. It was everything, even if it wasn’t the only copy.
“Why come to me?” She asked after thumbing through the reports, “These Judges you went to before, known to be hardliners against corruption and criminal behavior, the best options possible. Anyone would have said it. I’ve no reputation to challenge theirs.”
“Besides the fact that two Judges laughed me out of their office for trying to convince them the Sith are back? And one attempted to have me killed? You’re correct. You haven’t been behind the desk on any foundational cases. But you hold a certain standard to your work. You’re not without mercy or compassion, you’ve been heard acknowledging that criminal behavior often stems from a lack of resources and economic movement.” He relaxed a little, “Admittedly, you’re also well known as not a fan of social behavior. We matched the last four known events you attended with the guest list, and you never once encountered Senator Palpatine or Hego Demask. Which can’t be said for many.”
“I literally have no other recourse but to sign the warrants,” The Judge said, looking at the papers in front of her, “You meet the burden of proof so thoroughly I can’t imagine how any defense attorney could argue the conviction.”
“Thank you, your Honor.” Tyvokka let out a subtle sigh of relief. “And just because the evidence is overwhelming doesn’t mean that the Palpatine’s attorney won’t find some loophole. As you said, claiming to be a Sith is not a crime.”
T’un scoffed as he caught sight of his lineage brother finally arriving, “You actually showed up. I was certain you were going to comm at the last minute to tell me I would have to explain the case myself.”
“Yes, well,” Tyvokka rolled his eyes, “Regardless of my personal feelings, we all still have an obligation to the Order and the Galaxy.”
“It’s good that you remember that,” T’un said dryly.
“I just came from Justice Nolis’s office, thank you.” Tyvokka scowled at his friend, “I wasn’t going to just not show up.”
T’un smirked, “But you might not have hurried if you missed the meeting.”
Before Tyvokka could respond to that blatant character assassination, the Padawan off to the side cleared his throat.
“They’re ready for you, masters.”
“Ready to meet with us perhaps, ready for us?” T’un snorted, “I think not.”
“Your humility, Master T’un, is a sight to behold, as always.” Master Dapatian scowled at the Human, “Why have you requested a meeting with this esteemed body? Do you have more dissension to sow?”
Tyvokka was unreasonably proud of his lineage brother for swallowing back the caustic remark he surely had at the tip of his tongue. The High Council did the only dissension sowed in the Order, after all.
“You might not be aware, honored masters,” T’un began, “but the Shadows have been investigating a case that involves eight counts of murder, corruption of a government official, smuggling a controlled artifact within Coruscant space, and at least one incident of breaking and entering, and conspiracy to commit murder.”
“Such a large case with such weighty allegations,” Master Sifo-Dyes frowned, “what do you need from the High Council?”
“Our prime suspect is a member of the Senate,” T’un admitted, “We also have substantial evidence that he’s not just a dark side force user but an actual Sith. I’m actually more surprised that it’s not larger.”
“We still have the mass drugging that Obi-Wan tipped us off about.” Tyvokka thought carefully, “And the associated child murders. We can’t pin any of that on the Senator, but we do hope that he’ll have information on it as well.”
T’un shook his head, “We don’t even really have a case for that, no evidence, no victims, just a couple of eyewitness accounts of strange and violent behavior.”
“And Wilfred Domes,” he frowned, “You don’t think that-”
“Masters.” Master Adi Gallia interrupted, perched on the edge of her seat, “The Sith?”
The two Shadows blinked at the concerned audience.
“Yes. About a year ago, the Temple received a holocron,” T’un fiddled with his datapad so that the case files could be shared with the High Council. “An expert from the EduCorp determined the holocron couldn’t be older than thirty years.”
It was no surprise when the High Council exploded in complaints.
“We’re not done!” T’un shouted. It took a minute or two for the room to quiet enough they could be heard. “A Shadow team followed up on the person who left the holocron with the Temple, but by the time they tracked down the ship, the crew was already dead.”
“There are pictures and forensic reports about the mass murder scene on pages 33 through 46.” Tyvokka cited, “We were able to track down who hired the crew of the ship to smuggle the holocron onto Coruscant, and it was there we hit a lucky break.”
“The third party who arranged the smuggling was unfortunately dead before Master Dooku arrived to question him, however, his office was still intact.” T’un continued, “Which was where we found the evidence implicating Senator Palpatine and the head of the International Banking Clan, Hego Demask.”
“That evidence is on page 103.” Tyvokka offered.
There was some stunned silence as the gathered masters scrolled through the incredibly detailed report. Tyvokka made a mental note to go over the concept of brevity with his Padawan. Neither reports nor briefings need the type of detail that Obi-Wan had put into this. Though, perhaps it was a good thing. With so much evidence against them, no one could question the validity of the arrest.
Except, apparently, Dapatian. The Master of the Order scoffed, “This is ridiculous! I don’t know what you’re after, Tyvokka, but I won’t allow you to besmirch an upstanding member of the Senate!”
Tyvokka exchanged a concerned frown with his lineage brother. They hadn’t really been prepared for outright denial. “I understand that this is difficult to believe, masters-”
“Difficult?!” Dapatian stood with a shout, scowling at the Wookie, “Try impossible! These men are upstanding members of our community!”
“They’re corrupt as Bantha shit.” T’un said bluntly.
For a minute, the Master of the Order just stood before his chair, panting and scowling, and Tyvokka had the fleeting thought that all might not be lost. Before the Wookie could step forward to calm tempers, Dapatian screamed and threw himself at the two masters.
Hit by a flailing limb, T’un hit his head on the way down before he rolled out of the fray. Tyvokka had been the Master’s target, though, and he’d brought the large Wookie down hard; it was all he could do to deflect the most damaging blows.
Wookies, as a species, were large and strong, but Kel Dor were no wilting flowers. Thick hide, sharp talons, and strong limbs made them dangerous adversaries. Thankfully, the rest of the Council weren’t waiting to see who survived like in some holovid. They’d dove right into the fight once they realized how overwrought the Master of the Order had become.
Finally, Yoda pried the Master of the Order off Tyvokka with the Force.
“Like a youngling you are,” Yoda scowled, holding the thrashing Kel Dor up out of the danger of hitting anyone, “than time out you will go.”
“I think he needs a bit more than time out, Master Yoda.” Sifo-Dyes huffed as he stumbled to his feet. “Someone call Master Che and warn her that Dapatian needs sedation!”
“Master Tyvokka, are you alright?” Adi Gallia fretted as she helped him up, “I don’t know what happened! Master Dapatian has never been your biggest fan, but to attack another Master of the Order!”
“I’m fine.” Tyvokka said, waving away the many concerned voices as he climbed to his feet, “But I agree, Master Dapatian has never been that hostile before.”
Sifo-Dyes frowned, “I wonder what-”
“While I agree Dapatian deserves the attention of a mind healer, could you first authorize the arrest?” T’un asked as slowly gathered himself from the floor.
Adi frowned, “You already have the warrant?”
“We thought it prudent to have everything in place before approaching the High Council, as it was, we had to go to three different Judges.” Tyvokka said with a sigh, “Justices Marre and Wale laughed us out of his office, and Justice Healpp is to be tried for corruption. Justice Nolis only heard our request this morning.”
“Good grief, what happened?”
“Healpp agreed to approve the warrant and then attempted to put a hit out on our Shadows. Shadow Kiene ended up in the Healing Halls with a rather nasty concussion.” T’un tapped his foot, “The approval?”
Sifo-Dyes gave a look around the disordered chambers before nodding, “I think it would be best to go ahead. If the Sith are behind Master Dapatian’s condition, perhaps some light can be shed on how to treat him.”
T’un and Tyvokka bowed, the Wookie already pulling up the comm for the team on standby. “Thank you, masters.”
“Don’t thank me yet. You’ll be the ones standing in front of the Senate when they complain about the arrest of a sitting Senator.”
T’un snorted, “I’m not scared of them.”
“We’ll see how you feel after you have to explain the charges.”
Tyvokka frowned as his comm rang. “It’s Justice Nolis.”
Tyvokka answered as he stepped out of Master Che’s way, waving Tholme and Obi-Wan over as they entered. Hopefully, he would be sending them out momentarily. “Justice Nolis, is something wrong?”
“Master Tyvokka, I’m so glad I caught you. You have less time than you thought. I caught one of my aids selling the information we discussed to an opponent of Palpatine’s in the Senate. By what little I heard, the Senator intends to confront Palpatine before the last vote of the day. That doesn’t give you much time.”
Tyvokka swore long and loud, bringing silence both to the room and the open line. “Tholme! Obi-Wan! Palpatine’s got a head’s up! Go! Go now! We can’t wait!”
The Jedi entered the Senate hall just as the last break of the day finished, catching not only Palpatine in the public sections but also the hundreds of other Senators and staff streaming into the hall for the last discussion period of the day.
Palpatine was an older Human male bedecked in the heavily ornamented robes popular on Naboo. His red hair was streaked with grey, and a smile pushed his face into an amiable expression. The Senator who had stopped him was younger, dressed just as ostentatiously, and his face was screwed into an unpleasant sneer.
“I knew you were a snake, Palpatine, but even I didn’t think you’d sunk so low.” The younger male was saying as a space opened around the two Senators.
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”
“Don’t even try to lie. It’s all over the holonet.” The Senator snarled, “You’re a gods-be-damned Sith! Nothing you say can be trusted!”
“A Sith?” Palpatine scoffed, “What ridiculousness is this? Are you drunk? Have you been hit? I’m as much a Sith, and as dark as any in this Senate. We, all of us, are working towards the betterment of the galaxy!”
“I don’t believe you. You’re a snake in the grass, as evil as evil can be, and if it’s the last thing I do, I’ll make certain that your life’s work is uprooted and sifted through for the stains you’ve left on it.”
“Senator Paturen, you sound like a fool. Shouting about in the rotunda about monsters better left to fairy tales.”
Obi-Wan shifted his way through the crowd, using the Force just a little to deter the surrounding people from noticing as he moved between them. He just needed to be in the right place to support Master Tholme.
“Even fairy tales have a basis in truth,” Senator Paturen insisted.
“I don’t have time for this,” Palpatine huffed and turned to walk away just as Master Tholme stepped out of the crowd and into his path.
“Senator Palpatine, you’re under arrest.” Tholme said, reaching out with anti-force magna-cuffs.
“Under what grounds? The hearsay of a political opponent?” The Senator sputtered.
“For conspiracy to commit murder and treason,” Tholme said blandly. “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can, and will, be used against you in the court of law.”
“Treason against the Republic? I would never.” Palpatine protested, “I have only ever worked for the good of the galaxy! I lobbied for more stringent labor laws, to lower Coruscanti taxes, and raise the budget for emergency assistance to Republic planets! Surely, that is not the work of a Sith?”
“You’ve also been taking bribes as part of the commission against corruption, and we know of at least three instances that you paid for Sith artifacts to be smuggled into Coruscanti real space.” Tholme motioned for the Senator to turn, “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
“That’s a lie! I would never do such a thing!” The Senator avoided Tholme’s grasp deftly as he observed the implacable demeanor of the security guards that had stepped forward and the greedy looks of the watching crowd. Obi-Wan was glad his partner wasn’t there. Even without psychometry, the crowd’s greed was pushing at his shields like the protection was barely there.
Obi-Wan could practically taste the decision the Senator made as he shifted into position. Palpatine was going to run.
And he did, spinning away from Tholme, Palpatine moved faster than expected for a male his age, but he still didn’t get far. Obi-Wan had positioned himself perfectly, and when Senator Palpatine ran for the back exit, Obi-Wan moved smoothly into his way. He tripped the Senator and trapped the sprawled form face-down on the floor with his own robes.
“You got him, Obi-Wan?”
“Yeah, I got him,” Obi-Wan leaned down to pull Palpatine’s arms behind his back and secure them with the cuffs he carried. “Now we can add resisting arrest to your record.”
Tholme called for one of the guards, “Sergeant Tarkin, if you would please assist us in getting Palpatine to the Temple.”
“With all due respect, Master Jedi, but surely he should be remanded into Republic Security’s custody?”
Tholme shook his head, “Palpatine might be more dangerous than expected. Senator Paturen was frightfully well informed; we have reason to assume that Palpatine is a Sith. We don’t know what type of training he’s had, so a stay in the detention block of the Temple is simply the best move.” Stepping over to Obi-Wan, Tholme took custody of the Senator. “Take our speeder back to the Temple, I’ll ride back with Palpatine and Sergeant Tarkin.”
“We can call for a shuttle from the Temple.” Obi-Wan suggested, aware of the observing crowd, a sick swooping sensation in his stomach.
“And have to control the crowd and Palpatine while we wait?” Tholme shook his head, “We didn’t bring enough guards for that. Better to go in two cars now than wait.”
Obi-Wan thought about protesting. He was really very certain that this would not end well, but Tholme wasn’t by himself, he had Tarkin as well. And the speeder would likely be followed by a great number of Republic Security members as well. So, Obi-Wan agreed to head back first, even though the feeling that it was not the right choice heightened with every step away.
Quin was standing by the doorway to the High Council chambers when Obi-Wan left the lift. “How did it go?”
“Well enough,” Obi-Wan admitted.
“That’s not the face of a Padawan who just helped successfully arrest a Sith.” His partner pointed out.
Obi-Wan scowled but didn’t deny it. “Tholme took Palpatine in a separate speeder. And I just have a bad feeling about it.”
Fear spiked through Obi-Wan’s bond with his Master, and he turned immediately to the Wookie. Something had gone wrong.
Master Tyvokka took a deep breath, “Run that by me one more time.”
Radka nodded, “Report came in from Republic Security. They have holo-vid of Tarkin and Tholme being pushed out of a RepSec speeder on the 33rd level. They hit a public landing pad just outside the Great Memorial. They’re bruised and battered, but still alive. No broken bones so far. Unfortunately, the good citizens were more concerned about the health of Tarkin and Tholme than watching which direction the speeder went.”
Obi-Wan palmed his chest. There was a tugging sensation just behind the breastbone, a sickening anxiety of something forgotten. The Force was tugging him somewhere.
Master T’un frowned, “RepSec vehicles should have beacons on them. Investigations can’t find it?”
“Investigations reports the beacon cut off. They knew the vehicle was headed down and due South, and there are reports of a RepSec vehicle disrupting traffic in the lesser light levels but -”
“It’s hard to get comm signals from below level 55,” Master Tyvokka sighed.
Obi-wan frowned, his gaze unfocused as he stared vaguely in his Master’s direction, following that tugging sensation in his mind, “I think- I think I could find him.”
T’un sounded surprised, “Truly?”
Obi-Wan shrugged, the room coming back into focus, “It’s not precise. But maybe if someone else was flying?”
Master Tyvokka jerked his head towards the door, “Quin, take a speeder and follow Obi-Wan’s directions. We’ll get support in the air as soon as possible, but someone needs to be tracking that Sith now.”
“Yes, Master.” Quin was already dragging his partner toward the hangers as Obi-Wan offered him a dazed nod, his attention elsewhere.
It was times like this that Tyvokka regretted he had never been in the field with his Padawan. He trusted Tholme, Plo, Shaak, even Vokara for all that she didn’t watch Obi-Wan as precisely as his lineage did. It had never felt like a big deal, that the others educated his body while Tyvokka healed his heart. Now, with fear and anxiety flooding the Force from many of the people in the room, it felt like a mistake.
Tyvokka took a deep breath and turned back to the others. He had to trust that Obi-Wan would come back.
“I’ve sent Shaak Ti out with a team of Shadows and Guardians.” T’un said, “I wanted to send out every Knight and Master currently in the temple, but that seemed like a bit of overkill.”
“I’m not at all opposed to hiring a Mandalorian sniper to take him out from a far.” The Wookie snorted, “But there’s a certain sense in only sending a few. Both RepSec and Investigations will already be on the ground or trailing after our own people. And we must assume that emergency services won’t be far behind. Send too many in and it will just end up hindering the ability of those who can act.”
“But perhaps we should still call Mereel?” T’un met Tyvokka’s begrudging grin with one of his own.
Adi stepped forward, “Vokara has given me an update on Master Dapatian’s condition.”
T’un frowned, “How is he? His behavior was quite bizarre. I’d never seen him react in that fashion before.”
“He was drugged.” Cho’na Bene said, frowning.
“I had wondered if that was it.” Tyvokka nodded slowly, “Quin and Obi-Wan reported receiving intelligence that someone was drugging certain people among the lower and mid-levels and then sitting back to watch what happened. No one really knows where it came from, but the informant had observed several instances where reasonably sane and self-disciplined sentients appeared to lose their mind and act very aggressively. Quin and Obi-Wan were eye-witnesses of at least one case, themselves.”
“Right. Well, Research is calling it E3-9-05 and side effects do include irrational and murderous behavior. Vokara was quite furious that a sample has been in Research’s possession of months, yet they still haven’t produced an antidote.”
“Has Vokara checked the archives?” Madam Nu asked, stepping forward, “If it was administered by the Sith perhaps it isn’t new at all. There might be some information on it from the last Sith war.”
“Excellent suggestion, Madam Nu.” Tyvokka agreed, “If you need help, Master Tahl is likely trying not to pace a hole in the floor.”
“Better she finds out from us, than later that we sent two padawans chasing the Sith,” T’un cringed lightly. Tyvokka wasn’t looking forward to the fallout either.
“I will comm her.” Madam Nu said, thumbing the link already. “No need for those of us out of the field to linger like a foul odor.”
Jinn burst through into the Council chambers, interrupting a dozen conversations. “Have we found Palpatine? I can go in five minutes.”
“Peace, Master Jinn.” Sifo-Dyes said stepping forward, “We have teams already in pursuit. If you would like to assist, the Healing Halls are preparing a relief package for the lower levels. It seems likely that Palpatine will do more damage before he is caught.”
“I have the most experience in fighting darksiders,” Jinn scowled, “I should go after the Sith!”
T’un scoffed, “I think you’re forgetting that the Order has an entire organization for dealing with the Sith and the dark side of the Force that you have never been a part of.”
“Xanatos, though fell he did,” Yoda croaked, coming to stand beside his Grandpadawan, “one of the Sith, he was not. Use him as a measure, we cannot.”
The damage Xanatos duCrion did to his teacher was horrifying for certain; the mind healers he had spoken to said that it wouldn’t surprise them if it took years to heal the damage the corrupt bond had done. Tyvokka sympathized with the male, but Jinn was not a blameless victim. Not only was he party to his own injury by refusing to seek help earlier, but he also dealt that damage forward to Obi-Wan. And that was not something Tyvokka could accept, not when he could still feel the uncertainty and fear in the youngling.
Jinn frowned at the older Master before turning his attention back to the Acting Master of the Order. “Who went after the Sith?”
“Padawans Kenobi and Vos were first to be sent in pursuit.” Master Sifo-Dyes said, “Teams of knights and masters from both the Shadows and Investigations were sent afterwards.”
Jinn’s face was screwed up in the most unpleasant arrangement Tyvokka had seen in decades. He held on to his temper though, so at least there was some evidence of progress. “You sent two padawans? On what grounds?”
Tyvokka kept his expression placid. As much as Jinn wanted a fight, Tyvokka was just as stubborn that he would not get one. “Obi-Wan has a truly remarkable Force gift. Combined with what he knows of the Sith and the undercity of Coruscant, we should see Palpatine in hand shortly. “
“A guess.” The Human said flatly, “We’re hinging the entirety of catching the most dangerous being in centuries on a child’s guess.”
“Intuition, instinct, experience and the Force.” T’un rebuked, “I assure you, it’s not a guess. Obi-Wan has the most consistent gift for precognition I have ever heard of.”
“Really? I doubt that.” Jinn snapped, “The child was my student for nearly a year and he never showed a single ounce of this ‘gift’.”
“Did he not use it?” Tyvokka questioned carefully as the central comm for the High Council lit with a priority alert, “Or did you ignore it?”
Sifo-Dyes stepped between the two masters, his hands outstretched, “Peace, masters. We have more pressing concerns. The padawans have found Palpatine. But there appears to be a problem.”
Following Obi-Wan’s directions, Quin slowed as they approached a familiar district of the undercity. The two could feel the dark roiling within the hanger, they’d found Palpatine.
“Isn’t this where the mercy mission works?”
“Not quite,” Obi-Wan said, looking around, “it’s this neighborhood, but not in this direction.”
Quin set the autopilot to return to the Temple as Obi-Wan got on his comm to message the masters that they had tracked Palpatine down. The plan was simple and the least likely to go completely sideways. They would approach the hanger and monitor Palpatine while the Temple mobilized forces. If the corrupt Senator managed to escape, then their job would be to catch the tags on his ship.
What they wouldn’t be doing is engaging. Two padawans without even a decade of experience between them would not fare well against a trained Sith. Even an apprentice.
They crept up to the hanger carefully. Quin’s attention was on the plexicrete flooring that made up this section of the neighborhood, looking for sensor plates and trip wires. Obi-Wan’s eyes were searching for laser sights and security cams.
“You know,” Aud said from behind them, “I shouldn’t be surprised to find you two here.”
“Aud!” Obi-Wan bit back language that wouldn’t have been out of place in a spacer’s junkyard, but Quin didn’t bother.
Aud smirked, “Didn’t know little Jedis were taught that kind of language.”
“You’d be surprised what they teach us.” Obi-Wan said dryly once his heartbeat was back in the safe range. “What are you doing here?”
“Our den is around here.” Aud said, “What’s going on?”
“Senator Palpatine is in that hanger,” Obi-Wan said, putting his attention back on the hanger. “The Order is bringing him up on corruption charges.”
“He’s probably a Sith,” Quin added bluntly, “dangerous, unhinged, and willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish his goals. Which in this case, is to escape.”
“Aud,” Zif interrupted, a male in mechanic’s coveralls in his grasp. “Nizs might be able to help.”
“The man paid a month at a time. Just credits, no account numbers. His boy dropped them off.” The mechanic shivered, “scariest male I’ve seen in a long time. Zebrak, I think. But his markings were… odd. Black and red, like nothing I’ve ever seen before.” Nisz shook his head, “And I’ve seen a lot of dangerous folks come through this city.”
“Thank you, Nizs,” Obi-Wan said with a small smile.
“Was there anyone else in the hanger? Any other equipment?” Quin asked.
But the mechanic could only shrug, “I was the only attendant. And there was only one ship, but the Zabrak came in several times a month to shift crates around. I didn’t ask what was in them.”
They got little more from the mechanic and after a few more questions, Zif led him back from their small huddle.
“We have to assume that whatever is in those crates is dangerous.” Obi-Wan bit his lip. “Can you contact the Temple?”
“Signal’s down,” Quin said with a shake of his head.
“We need to get as many people out of here as possible.”
“We can do that.” Aud offered with a frown, “We’re known around here. People will believe us.”
“You know, you don’t owe us anything. Even if you did, offering the information about the Capitan’s log would have paid it.” Obi-Wan frowned, “This is dangerous.”
“Very dangerous,” Quin agreed, “You should really get out of here.”
“You think we don’t know danger? The undercity isn’t exactly a walk in the park.” Aud frowned, “Seriously, though, Kenobi, maybe I just like your face? You’re weirdly attractive for a tiny being without fur or claws.”
Obi-Wan scowled when Quin bit his knuckle to keep from bursting out into some seriously inappropriate laughter. This wasn’t even the first time someone had mentioned Obi-Wan’s appearance recently. He’d been accosted at the market while on a date with Quin by a recruiter for a fashion house based on Corellia. Ze hadn’t been happy to find out that Obi-Wan, and his face, belonged to the Order.
Aud meant nothing by it, but the healthier Obi-Wan had gotten, the more comments he’d received. It made him deeply uncomfortable to think that all anyone noticed anymore was the breadth of his shoulders and the brilliant shade of crimson his hair had turned.
“I’m flattered by your interest, Aud,” Obi-Wan frowned, “but, uh-”
“Don’t worry, your virtue is safe with me.” The large Luprasi shuddered, “It’s still weird that you don’t have fur.”
Quin chuckled as a mass of emergency personnel filled the streets, “Why don’t you move back to the barrier? Back up is here, no need to singe your fur on this for us.”
Aud stepped back with a shake of his head, but not before he cuffed both padawans around the neck and brought them in close for a hug. “Don’t lose your heads. I’d hate to tell Aula that she needs a mourning dress. Got it?”
“Yeah,” Obi-Wan smiled, “We’ve got it.”
“Good.” Aud changed places with Knight Hsola, the Draken sharing a sharp-toothed smile as he joined them at the edge of the property.
“Well, you boys have certainly kicked over the hornet’s nest.”
“It wasn’t on purpose,” Obi-Wan offered with a sheepish grin, “But-”
“We will totally take credit for finding and tracking down the first known Sith in a thousand years.” Quin said with a grin wide enough to catch bugs. Obi-Wan didn’t look as he reached out to his partner and smacked him in the shoulder.
“Now isn’t really the time,” the Knight offered with a smirk, “So, how’re we going to do this?”
Obi-Wan frowned, “We’ve got to give the Senator the opportunity to surrender.”
“Obi, he’s not going to surrender.”
“He’s a Senator; regardless of whether he’s a Sith, or if he’s already managed to escape custody once.” Obi-Wan shook his head. “He’s going to have a million friends in the Senate. Thousands of people in the government he can charm or coerce into dismissing his case. We must go by the book as much as possible. Or he might wiggle free on a technicality.”
“Alright, I think that means I’m up.” The Knight said as he considered the no-man’s-land cleared in front of the hanger. “You both stay here.”
“Be careful,” Quin said in a whisper as the Draken approached the hanger, “I don’t want to see Radka crying.”
“Probably because she’d hit you first for being the messenger,” Obi-Wan mumbled under his breath. Radka was violent when her emotions got away from her.
“Sheev Palpatine! Senator for Naboo!” Hsola shouted from the sparse cover closer to the hanger, “You’re under arrest! Come out with your hands behind your head, there will be no need for bloodshed!”
Quin couldn’t resist, “This is not going to-”
A bolt of concentrated blaster fire hit the debris Hsola was taking cover behind and shattered it. It sent the Knight flying, and the Draken hit the plasticrete floor of the level with something like a ba-dum-thump. Anyone else would have been dead or suffering massive internal injury. Hsola, thank the Force, could just walk it off. Draken were hard to kill.
Obi-Wan sighed, “You just had to say it.”
“Hey, now!” Quin huffed, “That was not my fault!”
“You jinxed us!” Obi-Wan hissed, “Don’t think I won’t remember!”
“We need a new plan,” Shaak grabbed the padawans by their collars, like unruly pups in need of rescue. Which, Obi-Wan could admit, probably wasn’t wrong. Pulling the boys back behind the barricade further out from the hanger. “Any ideas?”
Obi-Wan could still hear the automated blasters firing at the assembled Jedi and RepSec officers. For a moment, the sound muted, and the metal pressed against his back became stone. Instead of the dim light of the low level of Coruscant, Obi-Wan was back in the ruined towns of Melida/Daan.
The gloom was from encroaching night and the flicker of light came from the traps that had sprung already, hot pots of burning oil sitting ready to explode outward at any shift in the soil. Across the field was a holdout of the Elders of the Daan.
The gateway to the Field of Sorrows.
“Cerasi?” Obi-Wan blinked, “You’re dead.”
“Obi-Wan?” Her hand came up to his shoulder, and he blinked again, but this time when he looked it was Quin frowning down at him. Pressing a thin thread of force through his gloves. It was warm, and it was familiar, and it was from now. “Are you okay?”
He shook his head, “Sorry. What was that?”
“We need to figure out a way to get through the security, before Palpatine can leave.” Quin was still frowning at him, but he let Obi-Wan move when the younger Padawan shifted to peer back over the speeder’s hood.
“It looks like there’s a switch near the door,” Shaak noted calmly, “but even with the Force I wouldn’t bet on being able to get through that field of fire.”
“There’s a gap,” Obi-Wan coughed, blinking back the field of dead bodies to bring the street back into view. “There always is. Auto-shots aren’t smart enough to avoid hitting the other weapon.”
“That sounds like you’ve done it.” Shaak murmured from the left.
On his right, Quin was muttering, “And you call me reckless.”
Obi-Wan ignored them both. “But we don’t have to get through them, we just have to stop them.” He scrambled towards the manhole only a couple feet away.
“Wanna share with the class, Obi-Wan?” Quin scowled.
“Auto-Shots take a tremendous amount of power. On Melida/Daan they were powered by generators you could’ve run a whole fleet of ships off.” Obi-Wan pointed down into the maintenance shaft. “Somewhere down here is an illegal hook for those machines, because the zoning board sure as Force didn’t approve the bill for those war machines.”
“And we can find it, we can hack it.” Quin nodded, “Okay, I’m in.”
“Good, because I can’t do a hack like that.”
“I can’t follow,” Master Ti said as she shielded the two. “Master T’un and Tyvokka need me topside.” She gave them a firm clap on the shoulder, “But I trust you can handle it.”
“Probably,” Quin said as he jumped down the shaft.
“Maybe,” Obi-Wan huffed as he followed his partner down. Just before he dropped, he saw his Master across the street and the warmth and strength in the Wookie’s eyes resonated down the bond. Obi-Wan took a deep breath, sending affection back to his Master before he dropped.
They needed to turn those Auto-Shots off.
“What’s it look like down there?” He called down to Quin as he carefully climbed down into the safety of the well.
His friend huffed, “The power hook up is about thirty feet below you, sitting right before the bend in the shaft. Which is nice, because about a foot below me is some seriously nasty liquids.”
“We’re going to spend so much time in decon,” Obi-Wan huffed, “Can you handle it? I want to stay at the entrance, make sure nothing follows us in.”
“Yeah,” Quin said quietly.
A shiver went down Obi-Wan’s spine, Quin was rarely ever quiet. And even more rarely, for a good reason. “Quin?”
“Don’t freak out,” Obi-Wan’s heart was already in his throat and that certainly didn’t help, “but this thing has a bomb attached to it.”
“You,” Obi-Wan took a moment to lean his head on the ladder step and just breathe. He’s going to need so much counseling after this. “Can you disarm it? Do I need to grab Master Ti?”
“Master Ti doesn’t know explosives.” Quin muttered.
“Quin!” Obi-Wan shouted, “Do I need to go find someone else?”
“No, It’s- it’s a digital bomb. It uses the power lines as the explosive. I can hack it.” Quin shouted back, “It’s just going to take a moment.”
“Take all the time you need,” Obi-Wan huffed as he peaked his head back out the maintenance shaft. He couldn’t really help his friend. The well was tight quarters to begin with, and down near the bend it narrowed. He couldn’t do much for his friend, but he could keep watch.
What he could see of the battlefield was limited. The Auto-shots went off now and then, but most of the emergency responders had cleared the weaponry’s field of sight. The only ones left weren’t moving.
“Senator Palpatine, we have you surrounded.” Master T’un’s voice echoed in the space between buildings. “Should you attempt to flee, Republic Security has orders to shoot on sight.” There was a slight pause and then, “Now would be a good time to surrender.”
Obi-Wan snorted, because Palpatine was going to get this far and then just surrender without a fight. Sure, that could happen… at the dawn of never.
“Senator Palpatine,” came Master Tyvokka’s voice this time, “this doesn’t have to end in any more bloodshed. You’ve worked towards the betterment of the Republic for many years; you’ve done a great deal of good in the world. Don’t let this be what you’re remembered for: the hopeless last stand of an obstinate criminal. You can come back from this.”
There was a pause, but without the click-screech of the megaphone being turned off. Just the quiet murmur of shuffling boots and gear, and then the whisper-hissed voices of the two masters.
“Come on, give it up, Tyvokka. There’s nothing redeemable in that waste of hot gasses. Let’s just send in the battering ram and get that worm out of here!”
“He’s a Senator from a prestigious planet and a male without even a parking ticket to his record; T’un don’t be rude.”
“He claims to be a Sith,” was Master T’un’s dry response, “he’s off his rocker. Everyone knows the Sith are dead.”
“Dead?” Came a rattle-hiss voice and the metallic clang-thump of the hangar doors opening. “The Jedi, so certain; always know best, don’t they? The Sith aren’t dead, you idiots. We’ve just been waiting for the perfect moment to strike!”
“And that moment is on a Coruscant lower-level hangar bay?” Master T’un said dryly. “I still think he’s nuts.”
Palpatine stood between the open doors of the hanger, threw his head back and cackled. From behind his cover, Obi-Wan could just see the hint of sparking against the dark cloth of the male’s robes. “You’ll see our power! You’ll feel it!”
And with barely a twitch of his fingers, the darksider sent lightning hurtling towards the masters huddled behind the blockade.
“Hey Quin?” Obi-Wan shouted down, “Those Auto-shots going down anytime soon?”
He bit his lip bloody, keeping the words ‘try faster’ behind his lips. “Palpatine’s started throwing lightning around up here!”
The list of curses the other boy let out would’ve earned him dishpan hands from his Master, but Obi-Wan was far more concerned with the masters about to engage in fighting on a battlefield controlled by Auto-shots than his partner’s language.
“Force lightning is a fun trick,” Master T’un shouted, his lightsaber deflecting most of the electricity. “But if it’s your only one, this is going to be over fast.”
Palpatine hissed, reached into his robes to bring out a lightsaber with a red blade. “I’m just getting started.”
“Excellent,” Master Tyvokka said, settling next to his lineage brother, “Wouldn’t want to be bored.”
“I am Darth Sidious,” the demented darksider spat, “And my name will be remembered for all eternity.”
If the Senator made it out of here alive, Obi-Wan wondered if anyone would take the time to tell the darksider that the only people who remembered the names of the Sith were the Jedi. No one else cared.
“Obi-Wan!” Quin shouted up from beneath him, “I got it!”
“The bomb or the power?”
“Both! Should be off right about—now!”
On the battlefield, the masters must have noticed the way the Auto-shots had gone dark because where before they’d been mostly passive against Palpatine, now they were pressing back. Forcing him further and further back from those huddled behind the barricades. The mostly defensive passes of Soresu gave way to the offense of Djem So and Makashi.
And it was working. The two masters had the advantage of experience and long years of working together. They were fast and fierce as they pushed Palpatine further and further from the crowd. Proving why, at least in the Order, ‘old’ was just another word for ‘formidable’.
The dark side of the Force gathered around Palpatine and the air thickened, becoming even harder to breathe in the smog and dirt of the low light level. His red lightsaber in one hand, he reached out with the other and lightning coursed from his fingers. It fouled the air with the stench of burning toxins and sent adrenaline through the blood.
The crowd gasped, but Master Tyvokka’s concentration didn’t waver. All his attention was on the Sith and the lightning the Jedi had caught on his blade. Obi-Wan bit his lip, huddling at the top edge of the maintenance shaft; even light sabers couldn’t hold lightning forever.
In the background, from beneath his feet, Obi-Wan could hear Quin curse as the subsonic hum of a secondary generator kicked in and the Auto-shots started to reboot. Master Tyvokka and Master T’un only had a moment or two before the targeting system came online, and they were both inside the blasters’ range. Obi-Wan couldn’t do much from here, though. The control terminal would be within the hanger, or maybe even off site, and the maintenance shaft was only going to fit one person at a time at the bend.
“What’s going on, Quin?”
“It’s karking Coruscant automation,” the older Padawan cursed, “the system was hard-coded into the power lines. Protocol for unplanned interference of the system is a reboot. There’s no way to keep them off!”
If the off switch wasn’t going to work, Obi-Wan considered as he looked around for a handy solution, then they might as well try pulling the plug. Zale crouched beside a parked speeder and secured in a holster under his jacket was exactly what Obi-Wan was looking for.
“Zale!” Obi-Wan waved the Luprasi closer. “I need your blaster.”
The young male’s ears went back, and his lips turned pale from how hard he pressed them together. “My blaster?”
“Yes,” Obi-Wan beckoned with his fingers, “can’t explain now, but I need it.”
Zale slid the blaster across the plexicrete paving, nipping uncertainly at his lip before he scooted back behind the shelter of the speeder.
Obi-Wan appreciated his trust and would be sure to thoroughly explain to the male once this disaster was over. For now, he could hear the charge gathering in the battery pack and he had little time left.
There was something of a dead zone for Auto-shots in the gap between the two overlapping fields of fire. On Melida/Daan the Young had timed it and chuck a grenade through that dead zone once they were close enough, taking out multiple Auto-shots with one bomb. Obi-Wan didn’t have a grenade. More, because of the engineering of Coruscant buildings, especially down here in the undercity, a single explosive could do a tremendous amount of damage. So, Obi-Wan was going to have to be lucky.
May the Force be with him.
From behind the maintenance shaft cover, Obi-Wan took careful aim at the lower case of the Auto-shots. The heavy plate armor that covered the rest of the war machine was weaker there because of the access panel. And right behind that access panel was the bundle of wires that ensured the Auto-shot worked.
The only problem was, Obi-Wan couldn’t see them from this distance.
He reached down to that place near his center that Quin and he were strictly not talking about. That bit of light and power that was the surprisingly flexible bond between the two padawans. Obi-Wan reached down into it; he could feel the fierce pace Quin was working on his terminal, trying desperately to get the secondary system shut down, and the vague worry his partner felt at what exactly Obi-Wan was trying to do. Gently setting that aside, Obi-Wan let the familiarity of his best friend anchor him in the force as he reached out and let it guide him.
With eyes shut to focus on the silent nudging, Obi-Wan pulled the trigger. One. Two. Three. And finally, the stray sparks turned into a hot shower and the background hum of systems turning on became the sharp tear and loud crumple of the Auto-shot landing on the pavement. First one and then the second, as Obi-Wan took aim again, turning the lethal war machines into so much scrap.
Quin cursed as he tugged Obi-Wan back into the maintenance shaft. “What were you thinking?”
“It had to be done,” Obi-Wan replied, blinking back memories of rubble and the bodies of dead friends. No one was dead yet. That had been the whole point. “Someone had to do it, and I was closest.”
“Don’t scare me like that, Obi-Wan.” Quin murmured, pressing his face into the back of Obi-Wan’s tunics. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Obi-Wan bit back the admonishment about attachment or the reassurance that Quin would go on. They both knew that. But he understood his partner’s fear. The bond between them was strong, Obi-Wan knew exactly how much of it was Quin and how much was himself. There wasn’t a worry about blurring. But Quin had become a part of him. To know that one day he might reach for his partner and the other would just be gone sent a shiver down his spine. He didn’t blame Quin for his fear.
A shout caught their attention and Obi-Wan leaned to the side carefully, trying to see what had happened. Palpatine stood, caught between the two masters with his red lightsaber in hand. Even from the distance Obi-Wan and Quin stood at, the Sith’s rising panic could easily be seen.
“It doesn’t have to end this way,” Master T’un soothed as he stepped a little closer. “You’ve done some horrible things, and you need to be held accountable. But the law is not without mercy. Lay down your weapon, tell us what you can remember of the other Sith and your life could be spared.”
“There need not be any bloodshed today,” Master Tyvokka said, sliding closer, his lightsaber sliding low in an off-guard position. “You can come back from this.”
Palpatine opened his mouth to speak, but something seemed to come over him. The light from the streetlamps dimmed and Obi-Wan could just perceive a reddish sort of glow emanating from the Sith. Palpatine twitched, jerked, and the darkness within the Force exploded with enough force to punch the breath out of the observers. Palpatine was laughing.
Except, Obi-Wan’s memory flashed back to the scene in the interrogation room in Investigations and the similar chill that had gone down his spine. This wasn’t Palpatine at all.
Tyvokka stepped forward, arms outstretched and somehow between one moment and the next, seemingly within a blink, the Sith-turned-victim was caught between the two masters. His face screwed itself into a mask of rage and disgust, the skin and muscle sagging oddly. Wretched from its natural position by the overwhelming power of the Sith Master. Palpatine had played at the knowledge and experience this being radiated through the tenuous connection that allowed them to possess another’s body.
“You will not stop me!” the Sith Master spat. The Palpatine-shaped meat suit jerked as the possessor tried to keep both eyes on the Jedi caging him in.
“Let us begin,” Master T’un ignored the Sith, glowing in the Force. An unfelt wind shifting his robes. “In the presence of the Light of the Force we ask: what is your name?”
“No,” the Sith spat, “you will scream it before I am done; but you will not have it now!”
“In the presence of the Light of the Force we ask: what is your name?” Master Tyvokka intoned, the sheer weight of the Force in his voice resonating through the air and sending shivers down Obi-Wan’s back.
The Sith shifted in his borrowed flesh and hissed.
The Force circled the Jedi masters, coiling around the Sith tighter and tighter. As one, Master Tyvokka and Master T’un raised their hands higher, beseeching the Light and pressed with the Force; Obi-Wan could feel the overwhelming need to speak even from yards away.
“What is your name?”
“Plagueis,” The Sith Master snarled, the shift on Palpatine’s face grotesque. Bruising had appeared over the ridges of bone on the Senator’s face. Between Plagueis’s absolute control and Palpatine’s attempts to wrest that control from his Master, the muscles and tendons of the body were tearing themselves apart under the strain. Obi-Wan wondered vaguely, attention still caught by the metaphysical fight happening in the loading bay, if Palpatine would last long enough for his body to start bleeding because of the strain.
“Plagueis,” Master T’un didn’t smile, but there was an inexplicable warmth to his presence in the Force. “Master of the Sith ways or not, even you are a child of the universe. Recant of your way, leave Palpatine. Repent and the Light will welcome you home!”
The sound was choked at first, muffled from the odd hunch of the human body, but it gained volume fast and spread a chill down the observers’ spines. Plagueis was laughing. Blood bubbled from the mouth and dripped down the chin, but Plageuis didn’t bother wiping at it. It wasn’t his body.
“You fool!” He spat and blood sprayed the ground. “There is no welcome in the Light! You live a life on the edge of an ice knife. Cold and cutting, no matter how you fall.” He grinned with the rictus of a dead man, “And you will fall. The Jedi will die, and all the Galaxy will remember them as nothing more than the dust beneath the grinding heel of the Sith!”
“So be it,” Master Tyvokka said, “Plageuis of the Sith, by the Light of the Force which guides me, I cast you out of this man.”
The Sith hunched and snarled.
“Plageuis of the Sith, by the Light of the Force which guides me, I bid thee leave and take thy darkness with thee!” Master T’un called out, a wind kicking up around him.
“Plageuis of the Sith, by the Light of the Force which guides me, you are not welcome here! Leave!” Master Tyvokka shouted, his voice booming across the empty space the hanger had carved from the cluttered levels of the dark and dirty twilight level.
And the Sith screamed. An unearthly sound that reached right into Obi-Wan’s heart and clenched tight. The Padawan could see the fight as the powers of Light and Dark battled out over the possession of Palpatine’s body. And in a last shriek, the strain between the unstoppable force and the immovable object resulted in the only certain thing. The body exploded.
Quin reached out and grabbed Obi-Wan to duck back behind the shelter of the maintenance cover as pieces of flesh and shattered remnants of bone rained down on the gathered group. Such was the end of Senator Palpatine of Naboo, wanted on charges of treason and murder.
Chapter 10: Resolution
31st day of the 6th Republic Standard Month, 958 ARR
Master Poli Dapatian, the Healers had discerned, had been under the influence of the Sith’s alchemy for long enough that the scars on his brain might never heal. So, it was Master Sifo-Dyes that stood in front of the gathered Temple residents, holocameras from the select respectful news outlets zooming around, as the new Master of the Order laid accolades on those who’d fought in the confrontation against the Sith.
First had been thanks and practical gifts to the emergency services of the low light level that Palpatine had parked his ship in. Even as the ceremony was viewed all over Coruscant, emergency services and the Temple’s own mercy mission were hard at work in relocation efforts. Palpatine had done a great deal of damage to the infrastructure of the area when he’d resisted arrest.
Finally, after Quin began to shift and a number of knights and masters, Master T’un and Master Tyvokka among them, received the High Council’s thanks for their duty, Master Sifo-Dyes came to a stop in front of Obi-Wan.
“I have heard much about you these past months, Padawan Kenobi.” The new Master of the Order finally said.
“I cannot say that I was impressed with your conduct or your decisions. And your position as the student of Master Tyvokka did not endear you to me further.”
Obi-Wan stared at the Master of the Order, uncertain what he was supposed to do with that information. “What changed?”
Master Sifo-Dyes quirked a small smile and offered him a bead for his braid. Dark red and shot through with gold for bravery in the face of overwhelming adversity. “I faced a similar challenge recently. You have certainly given me the strength to know that what I see is not always what is there. And there is no guarantee we see all that is there.”
Obi-Wan fingered the bead for a moment before threading it through his braid. “I think we’ve all learned that lesson, recently.”
“Indeed.” The Master inclined his head as he continued down the line. Passing Quin his bead with little comment.
Obi-Wan couldn’t help but finger the new bead on his braid. The world was a vastly different place now than it had been when Master Tyvokka had taken him as a student. Even with the growing concern over what the Sith Master wanted and where they had gone; the Padawan couldn’t help but feel hopeful. No matter what happened next, his lineage would support him.
What his lineage couldn’t help him with was an ambush by Master Yoda. The oldest Master in the Temple was standing right behind him when Obi-Wan turned from gathering his refreshments after the ceremony.
“Ah, young Kenobi, busy you are?”
Obi-Wan resisted the urge to do something he might regret, like running away… or strangling the Grandmaster. “Master Yoda, I was just going to join my lineage.”
“Have time for a chat, do you?”
He looked down at the full plate he suddenly didn’t want to eat, and across the hall to the concerned look Quin was shooting him, before sighing and agreeing. If it wasn’t here in public, Master Yoda would try some other way to corner him again. “Perhaps a short one.”
Balconies lined the outer edge of the meeting hall, and Obi-Wan was momentarily pleased that the old Master wasn’t leading him to a literal corner for this conversation. Until he realized that Qui-Gon Jinn was waiting for them to arrive.
“Much pride you have brought your Master and the Order these past months.” Master Yoda said as he entered the balcony, “Sith and murders you were investigating, and the clues to drugs in the water; yes, much you have done this past year.”
Jinn nodded shallowly, “Your accomplishments are many, indeed.”
Obi-Wan took a deep breath, “I simply did as any of us would.”
“Wonderful student you must be,” Master Yoda said as he settled onto the bench, “Good teacher Master Tyvokka must be.”
Obi-Wan was just suddenly done. So completely and ridiculously done with the entire situation. He speared Yoda with a glare that had stopped gangs in their steps. It certainly seemed to set the ancient Master off his step. “What do you want?”
“Hero you may be,” Master Jinn scolded, “but Master Yoda is the Grandmaster of the Order, he deserves your respect, Padawan!”
“Respect? To a male who can’t seem to realize his own culpability in the Order’s status?” Obi-Wan had weathered war, gangs, and Sith, yet Master Jinn was still the nightmare under his bed, and he was done fearing a man struggling to admit he was ill. “I’ll give Master Yoda all the respect he wants when he does me the courtesy of respecting my choices. Please, Master Yoda, get to the point.”
“Peace, Qui-Gon. Still young, padawans are.” Master Yoda held up a hand when it looked like Master Jinn was going to speak and cleared his throat, “Forgive Master Jinn, I want you to.”
Jinn scowled in the peripheral of Obi-Wan’s view, but all his attention was on Master Yoda.
“Struggle he does with anger and betrayal.” Master Yoda said as a long pause, “If forgive him, you do, then forgive you, he will. And healing he can begin.”
Obi-Wan considered Qui-Gon Jinn and the taint of the darkside that clung like oil to his Force presence now that he wasn’t trying to hide it and thought that it was telling that Master Yoda was the one who arranged the meeting and made the request. Even as Jinn sat as an audience to the conversation, he wasn’t making his own case.
“Padawan,” Master Yoda began as he blinked, and beside them Jinn stiffened.
“No.” Obi-Wan shook his head, “I’ll forgive Master Jinn the day he learns to ask for it and realize why I’m never going to apologize for the betrayal he thought I delivered.” Obi-Wan bowed precisely to the sitting males, “Have a nice day, masters.”
Quin met him at the balcony doors and gently pulled his partner away from the infuriating conversation. The further they walked from the benches, the more the band around Obi-Wan’s chest loosened.
“Master Tyvokka sent me to rescue them.” Quin joked, carefully leading him around all the visitors that wanted to speak with the brave padawans that helped expose the Sith. “I told him not to expect the impossible, I’ve used up my allotment for the next year not dying against Palpatine.”
It took a moment for the words to penetrate the fog in Obi-Wan’s mind, but when they did, he snorted. “Truer words have never been spoken, Quin.”
“So, I figured,” And Obi-Wan shivered as his friend’s bare fingers traced up Obi-Wan’s skin. The Stewjoni wondered what his partner saw through his psychometry, “since this is supposed to be our celebration, we could go find a more private corner to celebrate in?”
Obi-Wan grinned sharply at the older boy, slowly drawing away and waiting until Quin was certain to think he’d say no before blurting, “You’d have to catch me first!”
Quin sputtered, left behind for a moment, but only a moment. And Obi-Wan laughed as he sped through the halls and gardens as his friend chased after him. “Obi-Wan, wait! What’re you-! Ugh.”
The red head just laughed as he aimed for the small out of the way garden where this had all begun. It was good to leave the world behind for a little while.
5th day of the 7th Republic Standard Month, 958 ARR
With Master Sifo-Dyes taking control of the High Council as Master of the Order, a new, more critical, eye had been put on the investigations and petition for reformation that Poli Dapatian had refused. Knowing that the Sith were still out there, instigating violence and stirring up chaos, possibly working to bring down the Order of the Jedi, the High Council had been much more willing to consider the suggestions their members had made. Some were already being enacted, such as the proposal to make Jedi knights from qualified members among the Corps, as well as the development of a much-expanded High Council.
The addendum to the bylaws required a certain number of seats for masters that were involved in the different councils of the Order. There would now be seats for the Council of First Knowledge, all three Corps, a representative of the Healing Halls, and one for Research. There were even new rules concerning the time a Counselor could hold a position on the High Council without break. Which meant that for the first time in nearly 700 years, Yoda was not a member of the High Council.
Tyvokka had even been approached by their new Master of the Order, quietly, about agreeing to the position of GrandMaster, but the Wookie didn’t want it and had suggested a few other elder members who might consider the position an honor. It was a bright new day for the Jedi Order of the Temple of Coruscant, and Tyvokka was proud to see how much change his lineage had wrought for the better.
“Thank you all for gathering together today. This will be the first meeting of our greatly expanded High Council.” Master Sifo-Dyes nodded with respect to the gathered representatives. “This will be the first time in over a thousand years that the High Council will have so many seats, and the first time we have ever restricted who can sit in them. It is new and strange, but,” he frowned, “I’m not opposed to this change. As has been belabored recently, Jedi do not hold to absolutes. That we had gotten so restricted in our views is shameful. However, we can all agree that this will require something of a learning curve.”
“We’re all doing our best,” Master Che encouraged, “but we should remember we’re all here working towards the same goals, the continued growth and health of the Order.”
“Well said. Now, the first item on our agenda is Master Tahl. I believe she is reporting on some research that Master Tyvokka assigned to her.” He directed his attention to the far end of the crescent where the Caretaker of First Knowledge sat, “Have you heard anything?”
Tyvokka frowned, “No. Nothing.”
A small skittish Cardalian Jedi, an avian of small stature with damaged plumage, offered a stuttered, “Perhaps it’s a good thing?”
“I sincerely doubt that.” Master Sifo-Dyes said, scowling at his datapad. He commed the administrative-knight at the door, “Let Master Tahl in, please.”
Tahl settled before the High Council and stared at them with unseeing eyes, “Do you want the bad news or the worse news?”
“Worse news?” Master Gallia asked tentatively.
“Right.” Tahl huffed, “I can’t prove it, but I think the archives are missing information.”
“An infiltrator?” Madam Nu gasped, “No. Impossible. The archives cannot be missing information.”
“Get your head out of your ass, Nu. We’re Jedi, impossible is what we do before lunch.” There were scattered chuckles as Madam Nu scowled at the researcher like she wanted to lecture the younger female on her disrespect. “Regardless of how sacred Madam Nu thinks her archives are; I prefer dealing with people and among the Jedi, people have very long memories indeed.”
Tyvokka’s datapad updated with Tahl’s report. The front page included a list of names, mostly of people from a range of ages, but also names of places—some with the mark that meant a forbidden location—corporations, businesses, and ships. Eclectic and random at first look.
“Here’s the bad news, I tracked down the names of ten Master Jedi who have left the Order in the last century.” Tahl said, “By what material I could find, the one non-Jedi person they all had in common was Hego Damask, head of the Banking Clan.”
“Could this be the drug?” One of the masters asked.
“Research came back with the analysis that the drug is new.” Master Che said shaking her head, “Within the last year, new. He hasn’t been drugging a hundred years of Jedi masters or more.”
“No, he tempted them,” Tyvokka said. Some of the names on Tahl’s list were people he’d thought were his friends, people he hadn’t heard from in years but who had remained close to his heart. “Do we know what he tempted them with?”
“No.” Tahl said regretfully, “But we do know that all of them had served extensive tours as Sentinels in rim quadrants in the decades leading up to their resignation from the Order.”
“Do we know what they did after that?” Master Che frowned.
“No, Madam Che. They simply vanish.”
“That’s disturbing,” The Master of the Order said with a sigh as he slumped in his seat.
Tyvokka grunted, “Very much so.”
The next item on the agenda was a follow up brief concerning Palpatine’s momentary escape from custody. As Tholme’s behavior was under examination, Quin would be the one to lay out the investigation into how Palpatine escaped from custody.
Tyvokka had heard many on the Council complaining about the direction Quinlan could go in as a Jedi, most cavalierly bet on his fall within five years of obtaining his knighthood. But Tyvokka thought they could let go of their worries about this youngling. Just as much as Quin had changed Obi-Wan, so too had Obi-Wan changed Quinlan. They would stand as one unit before the High Council in the future, Tyvokka could well imagine it, and they would prove to be strong Jedi.
“You believe that Sergeant Tarkin conspired to set Palpatine free?” Master Cho’na Bene asked, setting the datapad down.
“Yes.” Quin nodded, “The evidence of his character and his capacity is well established and contradictory to what happened when Palpatine struck out at Master Tholme. Sergeant Tarkin even received his post in the Senate Dome because of an experience he had protecting a Senator’s aid during a sudden prison riot only months ago. It makes no sense that a member of RepSec who went toe to toe with a raging Luprasi was knocked out by a hit that barely left a bruise.”
“Master Tholme also fell,” Madam Nu pointed out, “and he’s not known for being easy to surprise, either.”
“If you’ll turn to page 149,” Quin replied, “You’ll note that Forensics has submitted a report on the Force impressions left on the speeder Palpatine escaped with, and even several days later the technicians could see how violent the force attack Palpatine waged on Master Tholme was. There was no corresponding second attack on Sergeant Tarkin.”
Master Sifo-Dyes hummed as he flicked through the report. “Do you have enough evidence to charge Sergeant Tarkin?”
“Knight Windu, as our representative from Investigations, what is your opinion on this matter?”
The Knight leaned forward, weighing the facts. “Without studying the case in more detail, I can’t say for certain, but Padawan Vos is likely correct. We probably can’t catch Sergeant Tarkin on this. We can’t prove that he knew about Palpatine’s destructive behavior. And we can’t prove that he knew about the drugs. We can’t even prove that there were drugs. Judicial was very… final in their actions concerning Wilfred Domes. The body was even cremated. There’s nothing to test for the chemical we found in Master Dapatian. Moreover, I’m uncertain that even with evidence that we could find a court that would convict Tarkin of aiding and abetting. Perhaps negligence, but that would barely be more than a stray mark on Tarkin’s professional record.”
“So, he gets away with it.” Quin said through clenched teeth.
“Yes, Tarkin gets away with it.” Tyvokka said slowly, considering the problem, “But that does not mean that he will get away with other crimes. We know now that Tarkin is dangerous, and we’ll be watching. A man like that doesn’t commit one crime and then never commits another. He’ll commit others, we just have to be patient. And on guard. We will get him.”
Master Sifo-Dyes quirked an odd smile in Quin’s direction, “May the Force be with you in all your endeavors, Padawan Vos. You’re going to need it.”
14th day of the 7th Republic Standard Month, 958 ARR
The Festival of Memory was the most private holiday the Jedi had. When the public asked, they were told that the Festival of Memory was predominantly an act of grief and that it was rude to ask to join them. Obi-Wan didn’t kid himself. If people knew exactly how the Jedi grieved, there would be mass shock and more than a little mocking. But then, the public had their idea about the Temple and those who lived within it, and it was best for all involved that they never find out how similar some of their rituals were to those of the Sith. It was just asking for trouble.
“Are you burying anyone specific this year, Obi-Wan?” Bant asked carefully.
“I’m not ready to talk about it.” Obi-Wan said quietly, and he pressed a flood of thanks down his pair bond with Quin when the older Padawan immediately asked Bant about how she felt about her padawanship with Master Che.
Bant could, and had, spent hours going back and forth over whether she’d made the right choice accepting the apprenticeship bond with the Head of the Healing Halls. All Obi-Wan’s attention, though, was on his pile of materials.
A small pile of grass and flower dolls developed as the day went on, each with a name carefully inked onto the bark of their body. Obi-Wan hadn’t set out to do anything specific. Except all the gardens had people in them and dealing with people had felt exhausting.
He’d retreated to the most out of the way garden he knew of, and the Stewjoni wild garden was just like he’d remembered it. The room was chilled, and the air was thin, but Obi-Wan didn’t mind. The strong old trees were quiet, and the tall grasses released a sweet smell when their stalks were bent.
He’d started with just one doll for Cerasi but as Obi-Wan had remembered names and faces, the feel of their blood on his skin or the echo of their dying screams would come back to him, and he couldn’t stop at just one. Suddenly he needed dozens of death dolls, and the enormity of what he survived hit him like a punch in the gut.
Obi-Wan sat back and counted the dolls, each of them specifically named for a child he’d failed to protect on Melida/Daan, and it overwhelmed him to realize what he’d survived. The war was over. He would carry it with him forever, but for the first time since he’d left the Young, he didn’t feel so soul-deep guilty about his own survival. He survived, the war was over, and even the thought shook something loose inside of him.
His lineage found him there the first night of the festival, weeping over the death dolls he’d made for children who would never grow up. Mourning them instead of sheltering inside his own fear and anger. No one ever told initiates how horrible the world outside the Temple could be. Obi-Wan wished he hadn’t had to learn the hard way.
It was Master Tholme who helped finish tightening the twisted grasses that made up their bodies, and Master Ti who had carefully written the names he could remember on their backs in beautiful calligraphy. Master Koon had thoughtfully hummed the melody of the prayer for the dead.
The same prayer that they were going to recite now.
Obi-Wan didn’t think he could thank his lineage enough. There were enough dolls for all the people he remembered. Even if they didn’t all have names.
Quin, whose death dolls were for family he’d never met, knelt next to him in the Temple’s central courtyard and helped him carefully bury each doll in the mound of earth that was their grave. He didn’t seem to mind how long it took Obi-Wan to let go of the dolls or how his hands trembled as they recited their names together.
The last doll Obi-Wan buried was his own. A death doll for his innocence. For the simple belief that what was broken could be fixed like new again. It was for his trust; that a Master would not break their oaths. And it was for the child he had been before blood had stained his hands and his sheets.
Each doll built the mound taller and wider, just as sacrifice and pain built the foundation of Jedi. When they were all buried, and his lineage had stepped back—dirt still clinging to the creases in hands and the ridges under nails and talons, like the memories of better times—Obi-Wan let it go. He let the pain and the misery build him stronger, just as the dolls would build the soil of the gardens stronger. It might be painful and horrible now, but by the time the year turned again there would be flowers in the gardens.
Master Tyvokka led their voices as Master Koon once again hummed and the lineage began the slow prayer together:
“We do not stand at their grave and weep,
They are not there; they do not sleep.
They are in the thousand winds that blow,
and the softly falling snow.
“They are in the gentle showers of rain;
and the fields of ripening grain.
They are in the morning hush,
And the bend of the graceful rush.
“They are in the starshine of the night.
They are in the flowers that bloom,
They are in the birds that sing,
and in each Light and lovely thing.
“We do not stand at their grave and cry,
They are not there. They did not die.”
(based on Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye)
Obi-Wan could feel the tears drip quietly down his face for everything and everyone that he had lost to war and the dark in the past twelve months. The voices of the Jedi of the Temple of Coruscant rose in an eerie chorus as the prayer was repeated again and again. A mantra to lead each grief-torn soul back to the light of the force.
This was what Master Jinn had forgotten. The Jedi festivals were not simply tradition; they were reminders from their ancient ancestors that the universe goes on; the planet continues to spin, and that at the end, the Force was everything. Obi-Wan promised himself that he would not forget. That he would not cling to the dead; he would let them go, and one day he would join them and know that he had done his best.
“You have not been yourself.” Master Tyvokka said quietly as he offered Obi-Wan the nassa broth to break the day’s fast with. “Will you share it with me?”
“I’ve been dreaming. It always starts out the same.” Obi-Wan admitted as he let the broth warm him from the inside out. “An army in Mandalorian armor, all the soldiers wearing the same face. A war being waged on a hundred planets, a hundred thousand planets. Battles where the Mandalorian army is led by Jedi that answer to the title of General. And blood and loss and pyres on a thousand planets. But recently it’s changed.”
“It used to be a vision of an army, completely void of individuality with a darkness so deep and so thick that I couldn’t see anything and through it, pain like I’ve never felt before. Like every bond I’ve ever made, or ever will make has been pried loose from my soul. A shock that turns into an overwhelming fear and the urgent need to vanish, to go away, to cease to exist. And the overwhelming knowledge that it would better to be dead than continue living.”
“But it’s changed recently?”
Obi-Wan nodded, “It seems like such a small thing. The dream starts the same, but then it changes. Shafts of light break up the dark smoke that covers the blank slate armor and suddenly there’s color, a brilliant array of colors, geometric designs and abstract, sigils of valor, honor, and bravery. Colors that seem to highlight the scratches and dents, evidence of survival?” He shook his head, “Everything is clouded and muted though the sound of battle and where once it had been a million beings responding with the same voice, now I know, somehow, they’re all different.”
“What then?” Master Tyvokka asked.
But Obi-Wan shook his head. He didn’t have an answer, “Nothing, it just ends.”
The Wookie hugged his Padawan closer, and Obi-Wan couldn’t deny that he took an immense amount of comfort in his Master’s hug. “Do you have any ideas what it might mean, Obi-Wan?”
“Nothing good. Nothing beyond the obvious,” Obi-Wan shrugged. Something had changed recently that had turned that horrible future into something that might just be survivable. It could have been Palpatine’s defeat, or it could have been Master T’un stubbing his toe. Master Yoda might have been a self-righteous 800-year-old frog, but all those years added up and there was one piece of advice that Obi-Wan held on to. The future was always in motion. “I think whatever the Sith were planning, there’s a chance now that it won’t go in their favor.”
“We’ll just have to hope that if we ever see the signs, we recognize them.” Master Tyvokka said, hugging him tighter to his side. “All we can do beyond that is prepare.”
“At least we know the Sith are back. They could do a lot of damage if we didn’t know they were out there until they struck.”
As they sat and stared at the stars, Obi-Wan made a promise to the hidden Sith Master and he hoped the Force carried it to ze’s ears. ‘I don’t know where you are or what you are doing, Darth Plagueis. But I know you’re out there and the Jedi will remember you exist. You won’t catch us off guard with your plans this time.’
This was what Shadows did. This was their duty to the larger Order and the Galaxy as a whole. To fight malicious Force use, to find and defeat the Sith no matter how many times the darksiders crawled out of their holes. Their way was the best way because under their guidance the world suffered no lack of opportunities for free will. Under the Sith only darkness would flourish.
Obi-Wan blinked a little before a smirk tugged at the corner of his lips. After all the fuss about where he’d find his calling in the Order, it had been right with his lineage the whole time. Obi-Wan certainly wasn’t upset about it either. Following in his Master’s footsteps sounded like the perfect future to him.
27th day of the 7th Republic Standard Month, 958 ARR
Tyvokka stood back from the door, watching as his Padawan paced waiting for the guest of honor to arrive. “It will be fine, Obi-Wan.”
“I know!” Obi-Wan settled himself back down, but Tyvokka could see his hands twisting where he’d tucked them in his sleeves. “I’m just so nervous.”
“Why? This is your lineage.” Tyvokka wrapped an arm around his Padawan and tugged him close. “You’re safe here.”
“But Master T’ra Saa is important to Master Tholme.” Obi-Wan said quietly, “He asked her to come back because of me, I don’t want her to regret that.”
“She won’t,” Tyvokka reassured, “She’s coming home, Obi-Wan. Regardless of how well she has discharged her duty; she did not want to be there. Trust me. She will be pleased to meet you, and even happier to be back with her love.”
Obi-Wan took a deep breath to reply but the door was opening and first through it was Master Tholme hand in hand with another Jedi. T’ra Saa was a Guardian who had willingly taken a ten-year post as a Sentinel in the far reaches of Republic space to protect Tholme’s chances with Quin. She was young for her species, one of a dozen Neti in the Order, the last blossom, as they called their young, the remaining survivors of a species that was practically immortal.
T’ra had given her heart to Tholme over twenty years ago and never looked back. Tyvokka couldn’t imagine that she wouldn’t love Obi-Wan just as completely.
“Obi-Wan, this is Master T’ra Saa. T’ra, this is our other Padawan.” Tholme paused and then offered a bright grin, “I was going to say that he’s real trouble, but so is Quinlan. It’s just, between the two of them, they usually stand a chance, and I don’t have to worry so much.”
“Be at peace, my love.” T’ra’s smile was gentle, and she was already reaching out to give Obi-Wan a hug. “I am here now and there is nothing that we cannot accomplish together. Even the messes of padawans.”
Plo huffed from behind them, “I rather remember quite a few ‘Padawan messes’ a couple of Jedi got into fifty years ago. Including a rather memorable incident with the Creyel dynasty’s eldest hatchling.”
T’ra blushed a beautiful orange color, high up on her cheek bones, and Tyvokka was delighted to see that Tholme matched where red peaked above his beard.
“This I have got to hear.” Quin said, pushing everyone into the sitting area of the quarters, tugging Obi-Wan along behind him and leaving the old Wookie to greet an exasperated Shaak Ti and a gleeful Plo.
“No way they can get out of this one!” The Kel Dor cackled.
“Don’t be so sure.” Shaak huffed, “T’ra is bound to have stories from her post and Quin usually has the attention span of a gnat.”
Tyvokka grinned, “Always wonderful to see you, Shaak.”
“Thank you for inviting me,” she said, as though Tyvokka had sent save-the-date notices instead of throwing up his hands and telling Obi-Wan to just invite the lineage.
“Wouldn’t be a lineage dinner without you, dear.”
The old Wookie was pleased to see that it only took two embarrassing stories and a sincere request to hear about the mercy mission to the undercity before Obi-Wan relaxed. Leaning forward from his cushion, hands gesturing to add emphasis, and a smile brighter than the dawn stretched across his face. Yes, it was a good day to be a part of the Lineage of Rae.
“Master, how are you?” Plo asked as he refilled the older male’s glass when the lineage moved from the low table to the less formal sitting area.
“Well enough.” Tyvokka smiled, it sounded like T’ra was attempting to teach the lineage a new variation of sabbac. He hoped this wouldn’t end like the last game did, pillow stuffing all over the room and more pudding on people than in bowls. “Though Obi-Wan is sure to turn all my fur grey.”
“I hate to say it Master,” Plo smirked, “but I’m quite sure that all your fur was grey long before Obi-Wan came to live with you.”
“Bah! Then perhaps he will make me lose it,” both chortled at the very idea. “Could you imagine? Old Master Tyvokka lost all his fur, going around the Temple in heavy cloaks for the chill?”
“Let’s hope not.” Plo’s mirth filled the Force around him, “But perhaps I can be of some use now that I am back in the temple.”
“How did your quest to find the missing force-sensitive children go?”
“Not well.” Plo frowned and put his cup down, “I put out word among the informants and the Shadows that I was seeking word of force-sensitive children, no matter the sensitivity, and what I found was… well, it is worth bringing up at the next Council meeting.
“Returning to the location that the Force continues to lead me toward, I sought help from some of Obi-Wan’s friends, the Iadaphas, and they pointed me in the direction of a warehouse. It was a large structure and even getting close was difficult. Every sense I trained to the Force warned that only death and pain waited for those inside. Even more so, when I submitted my request to Research, they returned that the warehouse was the place of work for both Wilfred Domes and Soaris Salman’yen, as well as owned by the trust Demask and Palpatine were operating.”
“He’s a Cobreli with a history of sexual assault and rape who’s made quite a ruckus at the mercy mission location for several months. Obi-Wan had a run in with him near the beginning of his apprenticeship with you. It was how he met the Iadapha.”
“Something to investigate further,” Tyvokka frowned as he sipped his juice, “Have you heard anything else?”
“Nothing good.” Plo admitted reluctantly, “All the statistics are panning out. There are less Force-sensitive children in the galaxy and with the reveal of the Sith still about—well, I can’t be the only one thinking that the two things are connected.”
“No. Sifo-Dyes is also concerned with the missing children. He believes, and I have no reason to doubt him, that the Sith were building up to an attack against the Jedi.” Tyvokka said, keeping Obi-Wan’s premonition to himself. It would not do to tell Plo without his Padawan’s consent.
Plo sighed, squeezing the last of the juice from his vacuum pack, “Hego Damask still can’t be found?”
“No, and the Banking Clan is making some fuss about the head of their clan being under such scrutiny.” Tyvokka turned to his oldest living Padawan, “Did you know that Damask is over a thousand-years-old?”
Plo choked, “He couldn’t be— Do you think—?”
“Yes. I think he was an apprentice of some Sith who survived the last wars. And if he is, then he’s been planning this for a very long time.” Tyvokka sighed heavily, casting his gaze across the gathered lineage, laughing, and joking. To lose any of them would be to suffer a wound that never truly healed. He had enough of them. He wanted no more healing scars across the surface of his heart. “Patience is a dangerous trait in an enemy. Very dangerous.”
“Hopefully his plan has been delayed, if not destroyed. Do you think the Wan-Das holocron will know anything?”
Tyvokka considered the suggestion. It would be difficult since Obi-Wan had expressed his anger about the holocron and the spirit’s actions. Tyvokka did not want to push the youngling too hard, but perhaps if he consulted Maa Tish, ze might figure something out. “It was not a source of information I had considered, honestly. I’ll bring it up with T’un. We’d need to request Maa Tish return, and I think the spirit will consider the situation more favorably from ze than me.”
“And in the meantime, we keep a vigilant watch.”
“And teach our padawans all we can.” Tyvokka said as he watched Obi-Wan throw a double fist of cards at Quin gasping outraged as the older boy cackled, ducking to avoid the toss. Vigilance would not be out of place at all in protecting something so precious as the future.