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Deciding Factor

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“Padawan?” Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi paused in his steps while he waited for his padawan learner to answer his summons. “Padawan?” A little alarmed by not particularly worried, the Jedi wandered along the paths of the garden, calling out occasionally.

Halfway through the negotiations his little padawan had gotten tired and unfocused. A side effect of having been sleeping too little since their last mission. In a moment of weakness, he’d sent the newly minted padawan to their shared quarters. He shouldn’t have been so indulgent of the boy's tiredness. The boy would have to learn how to focus through the exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Obi-Wan couldn’t continue to indulge his padawan.

“Padawan?” He didn’t think the boy would wander off, he’d been well trained, but there was a possibility that he would have been distracted. That was a distinct possibility. “Padawan Luke, where are you?” Obi-Wan turned the corner to find the 14-year-old Jedi padawan sprawled halfway on top of one of the beasts the Queen kept for company, sound asleep. His small blond head was pillowed in the animal’s stomach while the creature curled protectively around his slender form. Luke’s expression was angelic while he slept, looking innocent and beatific in a way he would try to deny while he was awake. “Oh dear.” Luke curled even further in on himself while the animal’s eyes cracked open. Obi-Wan inched away as it growled at him. “That’s fine; I won’t take him.” When he was far enough away, the animal seemed satisfied, closing its eyes and breathing deeply.

“That is your little apprentice?” Kenobi stiffened at the sonorous voice of the Queen. He turned and bowed even as he resented the word ‘apprentice.’ It sounded too much like a Sith phrase.

“Yes, your majesty.”

“He is quite the beautiful creature,” The woman glided closer and stopped beside the famed negotiator. “Tell me, why was he not at the table?”

“I am afraid he was too tired, milady. He has been on several missions in the past few weeks and is too young to manage his energy correctly.”

“You do not think that you have worked the boy too hard? For a child, that many missions are probably dangerous to them.”

“He will be a Jedi, your majesty. A Jedi must be able to function no matter the circumstances. Padawan training is historically difficult.”

“Hmm,” The queen said nothing, bending down to place a wide hand upon Luke’s head. The boy shifted in his sleep but did not wake. Her dark hand patted his head gently before pulling away, “Such a sweet child. Nothing like his father, is he?”

“I’m afraid I do not understand,” the Jedi master felt his heart tighten painfully, and he watched the Queen carefully. Luke was not awake, and he did not want him to hear anything of this conversation.

“Do you think me blind and foolish, Jedi?” Queen Nefri straightened and tucked her hands into her sleeves, “I lived through Clone War as well. I knew you and you first padawan well — the Hero With No Fear and the Negotiator. I can see his father’s spirit in him. Does he even know his own name?”

“Luke is a Jedi Padawan, and that is all he aspires to be.”

“Padawan Luke Skywalker? Does he too know no fear? Does he leap into the jaws of death followed by his faithful master?”

“You majesty,” A little desperate and irritated, Kenobi glanced down at Luke and up to the woman. “Padawan Luke is simply that, a padawan.”

“You raised the son of your former apprentice? I am curious, Kenobi. How did you acquire the boy? Was it before or after the Hero With No Fear defected?” Wordlessly, Obi Wan’s mouth moved up and down as the words drained from his mind.

How had she known? No one outside the Jedi Council knew that Luke was Anakin Skywalker’s son. Just as none of them knew that Leia was Anakin Skywalker’s daughter.

“You wonder how I know?”

“I must admit. I am curious.”

“It is easy to see his father, in him. Just as I can see his mother. Tell me, did you want you to take them away? Did she want her children to be Jedi? Did Skywalker even know that his children existed? Does he know that your apprentice is his flesh and blood? How do you live with it?”

“It is the protocol for the Jedi to obtain any children that test to a high enough midi-chlorian rate,” Kenobi said tonelessly. “It has been a tradition for centuries to do this? I do not find any difficulty in living with my actions because they are for the greater good and upholding tradition.” Queen Nefri looked him up and down, pursing her lips.

“My people have also been given an offer from the Confederacy. Dooku has made a generous offer that is much more appealing to my council than that of the Republic.”

“Your Highness, I assure you, the Republic is.”

“Do not advertise your lies and contracts to me again, Jedi Master.” Obi-Wan discreetly placed a hand over his lightsaber and watched the woman carefully. She had not raised her voice, but she still had not stepped away from the sleeping Luke. “I have heard your words and what you have many times. You wish to tell me that my planet should be a part of the Republic. I see little appeal. If I am honest, Master Jedi, I did not want to hear your mindless drivel in the first place.”

“Your highness.”

“Hush,” the Queen’s dark skin was a brilliant contrast to the snow-white gown she wore with ease and grace. Her graying hair curled around her shoulders. “You will wake the boy.” Kenobi stopped to watch Luke snuffle in his sleep and fidget some. Remembering to keep his voice low, he spoke again.

“Your majesty, why did you agree to speak with the Republic in the first place?”

“To ensure that I was making the right decision.”

“Then why?”

“The Confederacy will be here in the morning for negotiations. I expect you to be there, Master Jedi.” With a final wave, the regal queen departed the room, leaving a befuddled Master Jedi and the sleeping padawan. Dark eyes followed the queen out and refocused on the sleeping blond.

It had been 14 years since Anakin Skywalker had defected from the Republic and Jedi Order. On the mission to rescue the Chancellor while Obi-Wan had been unconscious something had happened. He was not awake when Anakin beheaded Chancellor Palpatine. He did not know that Anakin had agreed to leave with Dooku as a Separatist general. Obi-Wan did know what was happening until someone found him, still unconscious, in an escape pod floating in the debris above Courasant.

News of Anakin’s defection had rocked the Jedi Order to the core of its being. The Republic had teetered beneath the sloth of the Senate and the lack of leadership. Disillusioned and terrified, the Senate devoured itself. Infighting and war had abounded as Republic sector turned their troops on each other. In the killing frenzy, the Jedi had been desperate to take the republic and return it to any flavor of stability.

With political assassinations picking off the only options of a reasonable Chancellor, Bail Organa the first victim who had only just survived. Too injured to do anything to but retreat to Alderann. Senator Chuchi the second and more successful attempt; there had not been enough recovered to send home. Master Yoda and the council had no options left.

For the good of the galaxy they had assumed leadership of the Republic. Just in time for the Confederacy to establish its borders firmly. General Skywalker, this time wearing the tan and brown of a Separatist, told them that any attempt to ‘pacify’ or ‘re-unify’ the Confederacy would be meet with extreme prejudice.

Master Yoda did not attempt to invade any of the Confederate planets. He and the council were consumed with their work in stabilizing the splintering Republic. The transition had not been easy, but Obi-Wan saw no other option and felt that at last, he was fulfilling his duty as a Jedi.

#$#$#

“Why are we going to see Master Yoda?” Luke straightened his tunic a bit self-consciously and glanced up at him. “Was there something wrong on Nexbuit?”

“You do not need to fidget, padawan.” Obi-Wan guided the shorter human into the turbo lift and nodded to the Senator that was waiting there. The Senator took a glance at Obi-Wan and Luke and fled the turbo lift, muttering that he would walk the rest of the way.

“Sorry, Master.” Luke sighed and dropped his hands to his side. “But did something go wrong? Do they not want to join the Republic?”

“I do not think so, Padawan,” Obi-Wan was too dignified to rub a hand over his face, but he wished, for a brief moment, that he was back on the battlefield where such actions were commonplace.

“Do you think it was because I slept on the fuzzy animal?” Luke’s voice dipped toward despondency.

“No, Padawan. I do not believe that was why.” He remembered the sneering quality to the Queen’s voice as she baited him. “Hush, now. We are going to see Master Yoda. You must be polite and quiet.”

“Yes, Master.” Luke nodded brightly but at the stern glance from Obi-Wan, stilled. “I’ll wait outside if you want.”

“That won’t be necessary,” the turbo lift glided to a halt, and the door slid open. The two initiates on door duty bowed immediately. “Please inform Master Yoda that Master Kenobi and Padawan Luke are here.” They mumbled an agreement and vanished. Obi-Wan tucked his hand into his robes and watched Luke try to imitate the motion. His heart ached a moment at the thought of another short blond trying to do the same. Luke glanced up at him and placed a hand on his thigh.

“Master?”

“Attachments are forbidden,” he recited, pulling away from the kind comfort from the teenager. Obi-Wan staunchly ignored the flash of hurt in the force that radiated from Luke. “Remember this, Padawan.”

“Yes, Master.” Luke bowed, retreating inward and tucking away his wounded feelings. “I will remember.”

“Master Kenobi,” a zabrak initiate bowed, “Please, Master Yoda will see you.”

The two were lead through a door and into what used to be the Chancellors office. The massive desk had been removed and the furniture replaced with the chairs most favored by the Jedi. In the center, Master Yoda was meditating peacefully. His ears twitched when Luke entered, and he opened his eyes.

“Greeting, Master Kenobi, Padawan Luke.”

“Hello, Master Yoda,” Luke bowed.

“A successful mission you did not have?”

“No, master.” Obi-Wan accepted the seat Yoda offered. Luke stood to his side and waited. “The Queen did not wish to join the Republic and nor did her advisors. The Confederate negotiators joined the meetings on the last day we were there.”

“Hmmm, a pity.”

“Yes, master.” The ancient Grandmaster watched him carefully before switching his gaze to Luke.

“Padawan Luke, what think you?”

“I don’t know, master,” Luke sounded quiet and soft, “But people make their decisions, and we have to respect that.”

“Hmmm,” Master Yoda carefully considered the boy before nodding. “Serving sweet milk in the commissary I hear they are. Have some while speaking to your master I do.”

“Yes master,” Luke bowed and left the two Jedi masters alone. Obi-Wan watched the short blond leave the room and shook his head when the door closed.

“What concerns you?”

“The Queen knew about Luke,” Obi-Wan said without preamble. “She knew who his parents were and made some….interesting remarks.”

“Indeed? Hear this did Padawan Luke?”

“No, Master Yoda. He was asleep at the time.”

“Hmmm.”

“Master, I do not think Anakin knew about his children. Senator Amidala told us that she had not had a chance to inform him and she had not made a communication in the last few years to tell him.”

“Continue to monitor her comms we do?”

“Yes, it’s a necessary precaution. She’s still under house arrest, and none of her letters or calls suggest she wants to tell him.”

“Broke the code, Knight Skywalker did,” Yoda chewed thoughtfully on his gimmer stick, “Married he did. Know this; you did not?”

“No.” Obi-Wan had been under intense investigation from both the Jedi and the Senate after Anakin defected. Afraid that, he too, harbored Separatists loyalties, Obi-Wan had spent the next seven months in prison while everything he had ever done was investigated. When Luke and Leia had been born Obi-Wan had known immediately.

Their bright sun-like presence in the force had been blinding to all the Jedi on the planet. Their birth screams echoed through the force, and the twins had announced their presence. It took a total of two days to trace the twins to Padme Amidala and then to Anakin Skywalker. Once the Senate discovered her relationship to the Jedi traitor she had been stripped of her title and her children had been passed to the Jedi Order. She had endured two years of investigation before she was sentenced to a life of house arrest.

Her apartment had been taken and her possessions seized. While Obi-Wan had not visited since the day he had gone to take the twins he knew she was living her days out in a police-owned apartment under constant surveillance.

“Hmmm, suspect Padawan Luke to follow his path do you?”

“I do not know.” He wished he hadn’t been given Luke as a padawan, but orders were orders. “Sometimes I think he might and other time I think he would never even consider the option. He is obedient and polite and skilled, but sometimes I think….I think he feels too much. He has problems releasing his feeling into the force and abstaining from attachments.”

“Dangerous things, attachments are,” Yoda agreed, “Observe the boy, continue to report. If like his father, he might become, tell us. If needed, use Revan’s Cure, the council will.”

“Revan’s Cure?” Obi-Wan blinked in real surprise, “That’s a little drastic, Luke’s only 14.”

“Emotional, the boy is.” Yoda tapped his knee with his stick, “too indulgent you have been, Obi-Wan. Like his father, he will become. If needed, Revan’s cure we will use.”

“Yes, Master.” Obi-Wan stood and bowed. “I’ll go find him.”

As he left the former office of the Chancellor he paused to watch a short news segment about the Confederacy. A handsome red Twi-lek was speaking excitedly. Obi-Wan recognized the reporter; they belonged to a neutral news station. The alien was reporting the recent figures of slavery and criminal activity in the Confederacy. According to the reporter, they were at an all-time low thanks to the intervention of General Skywalker.

Obi Wan sighed heavily as he stepped into the turbo-lift. He wondered what Anakin was up to and if he knew the extent of the damage he had done to the galaxy.