Obi-Wan sat in his chair in the Council chamber, practicing his waking meditation--it was the only way he could stay awake while Councilor Tiin pontificated. Obi-Wan was sure it was important, but he gotten home from a three-month tour only eight hours before, and he'd had only three hours of that to himself and that he had to dedicate to readying himself for this meeting--
Anakin was right. He should have reported to the healers when they got in--yes, they would have insisted he stay in the wing and would probably hook him up to all sorts of drips and machines the way they had the last time he had gone to the hall this tired--
But he would be able to *sleep*
He only closed his eyes for a moment, he would swear, but when he opened them again he had the suspicion they were closed for longer than he would have liked.
It was the only explanation as to why there was a strange woman standing in the middle of the room. The other councilors seemed unaware of her presence, but she was staring at them as if she had found herself in some strange dream. When she noticed Obi-Wan watching her she gave a soft “oh!” And covered her mouth with her hands.
It was enough to draw the attention of the room to her, and she stared back from over her hands. Her eyes were partially hidden behind a pair of blue rimmed eye-glasses, it Obi-Wan could see that they were very wide and pale blue.
“Miss, this meeting is restricted,” Mace said. “How did you get in here?”
The woman stared at him, but gave no sign that she actually understood. Yoga tapped his stick. “Answer him, you will,” he said, but the woman only made a high-pitched, strangled noise.
Obi-Wan frowned. She was dressed strangely; barefoot and wearing soft grey pants that bore the image of a Correlian freighter. Her shirt was a simple tunic with the image of some kind of clone trooper? The all-black armor looked designed to frighten rather than simply protect. He was behind some drum set up, and was using--well, red lightsabers to play them. Obi-Wan frowned. Why would she be wearing the image of a Sith trooper playing the drums?
“My dear, are you well?” Ki Adi asked, and the woman looked at him, staring at his head before forcing her eyes away.
“I don't think she understands us,” Obi-Wan said. “But she knows who we are.”
“You try talking to her then, Negotiator,” Mace muttered, and Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. Mace probably got less sleep than he did.
So he tied, greeting her in every language he knew. She cocked her head when he spoke Huttese, but didn't respond. Finally, Obi-Wan sat back with a sigh. “Well I simply don't know. We need a protocol droid. Senator Amidala’s droid is incredibly well versed in languages.”
“It couldn't hurt,” Plo said.
“Very well,” Mace said. “Bring him in.”
Obi-Wan nodded and pulled out his com.
“Obi-Wan!” Padme said, pleasantly surprised. “How can I help you?”
“We have found ourselves in need of ‘Threepio’s services. Would it be possible to send him sling to the Council?”
There was a muffled exchange, and then, “Of course. Knight Skywalker will bring him along now.”
“Thank you, Padme,” Obi-Wan said. He turned back to the woman. “We’ll soon get this sorted. Threepio is fussy, but he's good at what he does.”
The woman blinked at him, and Obi-Wan wondered if they shouldn't be treating her for shock. “Threepio,” she said, accented but recognizable. What she said next did not translate, but Obi-Wan recognized a despondent “fuck me,” when he heard one.
The Young Woman dropped her hands at last, slipping them into the pockets of her pants, staring back at the council with her mouth twisted ruefully to the side. She startled, however, and pulled out a strange datapad, wrapped in a blue protective case. She typed at it with both thumbs, but quickly grew frustrated, turning it off with a soft mutter and shoving it back into her pocket.
“It will be a few minutes until Knight Skywalker arrives,” Adi Gallia said, “And the poor dear looks tired. Perhaps we should see if she requires food or drink?”
“Or a chair,” Plo added.
Yoda grunted, and climbed out of his seat. Calling his gimmer stick to his hand, he walked across the room to face the woman, who had gone pale as a sheet. He stopped in front of her, tapping his stick, and she sank down immediately, sitting with her legs crossed--so sitting, she was of a height with the little Grandmaster, and he leaned forward, peering into her eyes.
“Hmm,” he said, and raised a clawed hand in question. The woman stared at it, and nodded quickly. Yoda placed his hand at her temple, and the woman’s eyes shut. Obi-Wan could feel the fluctuations in the Force around them as Yoda concentrated, and Obi-Wan focused his own senses.
Contrary to popular belief, no one in the galaxy was completely without the Force, save for the hssiss and ysalamiri, and the young woman was no exception, although Obi-Wan doubted her presence was large enough to consciously interact with the Force. Most of her strength simply found themselves with a streak of incredibly good luck, incredibly poor luck, or an empathy towards others that boarded on uncanny, and never knew from where their skills came. Obi-Wan rather wondered if this poor woman wasn’t in possession of all three.
At length, Yoda pulled away, disquieted. “Far, she has traveled,” he said. “Yes, far indeed. Knowledge she has, that she should not, and concern--” He tuned back to the council. “For us, she sees, as all dead.”
Obi-Wan sat up straight in his seat as the chamber around him broke out into denials. “She has visions?” he demanded; Obi-Wan knew well the dangers of trusting too much in visions--but Yoda shook his head, and did not answer. Still, he patted the young woman by the hand, and sat next to her on the floor, offering his presence as a silent comfort. The young woman looked surprised, but touched all the same.
Obi-Wan stroked his hand over his beard, and while the others were still discussing in low voices, he quietly called for tea.
By the time Anakin arrived with Threepio, Artoo, and Sabé in tow, the tea had been served. The young woman had been bemused when Obi-Wan had offered her a cup of his own preferred red blend, though Obi-Wan had no idea why, and she was sipping her tea, still cross-legged on the floor. She looked up at them almost absently, as if she had already had enough surprises that one more didn’t really register, but her eyes grew wide when she saw Threepio, and her grip on her cup grew slack, the tea nearly sloshing out the other end. Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow--not many sentients reacted in such a manner to C-3P0.
“Masters,” Anakin said, bowing to the Council. Behind him, Sabé copied his bow perfectly. Threepio shuffled forward.
“Esteemed Council,” Threepio said, and Obi-Wan bit his lip to hide a smirk as he heard Mace sigh. “I am so very honored to be of service, and am heartily gladdened that you thought of me to--”
“Threepio,” Anakin said, though his tone was amused. Obi-Wan rather felt only Anakin, and Padme, found Threepio’s neuroses charming, though Obi-Wan did think the golden droid could be amusing at time. Artoo whistled something binary that made Threepio turn to him, but he didn’t respond. The young woman turned her astonished face to Anakin’s astromech, her hand creeping up to her neck, her fingers drumming on her collarbone.
Threepio turned to face his maker, and then back to the council. “Ah. Yes. How may I serve you, Masters?”
Obi-Wan smiled at the young woman as he stood, walking over to stand with Threepio. He place his hand on the droid’s arm, and held his hand out to the woman, who scrambled to her feet. When Yoda hummed and moved to stand as well, she bent and offered her hand, which the wizened master took with grace. A thoughtful young woman, then--or at least one who knew to fear Yoda’s gimmer stick.
“This young woman appeared rather suddenly in this room, Threepio,” Obi-Wan said. “But she speaks no language that we recognize. Do you think you could try speaking with her?”
Threepio leaned back, as if standing straighter. “Of course, sir! As you know, I am well-versed in over six-million forms of--”
“I’m sure that’s why they called you,” Anakin said, cutting him off. “So you don’t want to keep them waiting.”
Threepio looked between Anakin and Obi-Wan for a moment. “Of course not,” he said, mildly offended, and turned back to the young woman. “If you could speak, Madam, I could begin my analysis.”
The woman blinked, chewing on the side of her tongue absently as she watched the droid. Then, she spoke, and while her words were still that accented string, Obi-Wan clearly heard her call Threepio by name--by his full designation.”
Threepio jerked back a bit in surprise. “Well, I’ll say,” he said. Anakin frowned.
“What did she say?” he asked.
Threepio turned to Anakin. “She said, ‘You are C-3P0, human-cyborg relations, fluent in over six-million forms of communication.” He sniffed. “It seems that I am famous,” he said, and turning back to the young woman, gave an answering stream of words.
The young woman grinned, saying something much more brightly, before her expression sobered and her voice turned grave. Threepio turned to Obi-Wan in shock.
“Master Kenobi, she says she knows who the Sith Lord is!” Obi-Wan felt struck, his serene mask slipping as the council around him broke out into whispers. “Of course,” Threepio said. “She did say she wasn’t sure this wasn’t all a hallucination brought on by stress and lack of sleep, but if it wasn’t she was quite sure.” Threepio nodded, and Obi-Wan looked back at the strangely-dressed young woman, who waved weakly at him.
The last time Scarlet had a fictional character acknowledge her existence, she had been running from Jason Voorhees in a warehouse that she had never seen but knew anyway, and had halfway through realized she was wearing roller skates because *she was dreaming.*
This, sitting in the middle of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, in the High Council Chamber, in front of *most of the Jedi High Council*--including Yoda (who really did seem bigger in person), Mace Windu, and *Obi-Wan-freakin’ Kenobi* (who looked just enough like Ewan McGregor to make her doubt)--this was not a dream. If it was a dream, she wouldn’t be wearing her Darth Vader drummer shirt--though she still might be shoeless.
And she had just talked to *C-3PO!* and *Anakin Skywalker was right there!* and she had just admitting to knowing who the mysterious Sith Lord was--and didn’t that just put a fox in the henhouse.
Obi-Wan had stood when Threepio had told them what she had said, coming closer. He looked at her, asking a question very intently in what had to be Basic--and Scarlet turned to Threepio.
“Master Kenobi wishes to know just how you came by this information.”
Scarlet took a deep breath. It was on the tip of her tongue to say, ‘Because Star Wars is an inescapable cultural phenomenon, and even if I wasn’t the fan that I was, I would recognize the main villain--but that might be a little flip, right now. It wasn’t that the atmosphere was hostile, per say, but it was *on alert* and Scarlet did not want to alarm the highly trained beings in the room who all expertly wielded *lightsabers*, serene Jedi Masters or no.
(Not that they were doing a good show of being serene at the moment. Adi Gallia looked pale, and Mace looked like he had the same headache for the past three years.)
Scarlet opened her mouth, and closed it. She tried again. “Threepio, if you don’t mind me calling you that?”
Threepio’s hands bounced a little, the gesture conveying pleased surprise. “Not at all, miss! And may I say, thank you very much for asking.”
“No problem,” Scarlet said. “The “how” is--complicated, and kinda hard to believe.” She bit her lip. “You can translate as I go, if you want, I know they must be anxious to know what I’m saying.”
“Very well,” Threepio said. He turned and spoke to Obi-Wan, who nodded, and gestured, rolling his hand in a clear sign to continue.
“Right,” Scarlet said to herself. “Well, nothing for it, I guess.” She sniffed, and looked up. “I think that I have jumped into another...dimension? Another universe? I mean, our scientists have been talking for awhile now about the multiverse and parallel worlds theory, so I guess a world in which Star Wars is real is nothing out of the realm of possibility, but I always thought that was more of a...a Stargate trope. Or Even Star Trek! You know, you go through the wormhole, there’s a transporter malfunction, and boom--instant crossover.” She waited while Threepio translated, and watched Obi-Wan’s already tenuous composure falter.
“But that’s besides the point,” she said once Threepio had turned back to her. “The point is, where I’m from, this,” she gestured. “This is all...a fairy tale. It’s a fable, it’s *fiction* that started with a movie set almost twenty years from now. It’s a story that’s been told in hundreds of books and comics and seven movie--eight if you count Rogue One--nine when Episode VIII comes out--and a story that has reached and is *loved* by millions of people--” She wasn’t going to go into the nature of reality, and that stories that are lived by are just as real as stories that *happened,* but she wasn’t in a classroom now, and she wasn’t actually lecturing.
“I know the Sith’s Identity because I’ve seen the fucking movie,” she finished, and sighed.
Threepio finished his translation, and the council began to debate once more, this time with Anakin weighing in. Scarlet stepped in, and carefully touched Threepio’s arm. “Can you tell me what they’re saying?” she asked.
“Oh, of course,” he said. “Masters Windu and Mundi are skeptical of your tale, and are arguing that there must be a different explanation. Masters Fisto and Gallia are advocating on your behalf, and Masters Ani, Billaba, and Koth are advocating further inquiry.”
Scarlet nodded. “Well, I don’t blame them. I hardly believe it, and I’m living it.”
Obi-Wan spoke at last, and Threepio said quietly, “Master Kenobi has added his vote to further inquiry. He suggests that they first reach a consensus as to how to proceed, and if they are inclined to believe you further.” It stung, to be doubted, but Scarlet couldn’t really argue against it.
The handmaden who had arrived with Ani--and Scarlet thought it might be Sabé, but she never really did learn to tell them apart, stepped forward.
“Oh!” Threepio said. “Mistress Sabé has offered herself a guardian, and your caretaker while the council deliberates.”
“Whatever you say, pretty lady,” Scarlet muttered, and then stopped Threepio with a hand on his arm. “You don’t need to translate that last bit.”
“Of course, Miss.”
“Scarlet, please. Call me Scarlet.”
“Of course, Miss Scarlet,” Threepio said, and Scarlet closed her eyes. The fucking *dialogue*.
If she heard someone say they had a bad feeling about something before she had a chance to, she was going to be mighty put out.
The Temple was a lot bigger than Scarlett had realized.
Like, a lot bigger.
Following Sabé, Scarlett knew she looked like a tourist, was aware that her mouth was hanging open, but let’s be serious here--this place was fucking gorgeous. High ceilings, pale walls and large windows, and a pervading sense of peace that, to be honest, made Scarlett hesitant to speak out loud. Next to her, the whirring of Threepio’s joints and gears seemed too loud.
Sabé seemed nice, however, and though she walked in front, she looked over her shoulder often, offering a warm smile. Scarlett did her best to smile back, but was more often than not caught gaping at one sight or another.
Then, of course, they walked out the main temple doors and Scarlett found herself gaping for a whole different reason.
Scarlett was no stranger to cities; she grew up a stone’s throw from NYC and had lived in Philly for years--but nothing would prepare her for the sheer mass of a planet-wide city. Wind tugged at her hair and she remembered that they were, technically, up incredibly high--if Coruscant was a forest, they would be in the canopy. (Scarlett was reminded, then, of the Rankin/Bass Hobbit cartoon, when Bilbo finally looks out over the top of Mirkwood forest, and Scarlett had no doubt that the lower levels of Coruscant were just as treacherous).
Sabé gestured, speaking louder now that they were outside and gestured towards a waiting speeder. Scarlett didn’t need Threepio to tell her that this was their transportation, but he did anyway, adding his own opinions on the matter as well. “Reckless, things, but better than Space travel, in my opinion. I don’t understand how Artoo handles it! It would drive me quite around the bend, let me tell you.”
Meeting Scarlett’s look, Sabé rolled her eyes and helped Scarlet into the car. Scarlet sat in one of the bench seats in the back, fumbling for a seatbelt. *Some things are universal,* she thought as she pulled up a belt to see a buckle like on an airplane.
Sabé, Scarlett learned, was a very good driver--she learned this because, even though Threepio cried out constant warnings, Scarlett found herself laughing. She’d never been a good flyer, but maybe it was the open air, maybe it was the fact that she was in Star Wars, but flying in a speeder car was the best roller-coaster ever. She was almost sad when they arrived at what must have been Padme’s apartments.
Sabé turned to her once they landed, smiling at the way Scarlett was still giggling softly to herself, and said through Threepio, “We’re at the Senator’s apartments. She’ll be at the senate building for the day, but we can get you fed and into a change of clothes.”
“Thank you,” Scarlett said, and climbing over the side of the speeder without waiting for anyone to offer a hand; if Sabé was offended she didn’t show it, though Scarlett worried for a brief moment that it would be considered rude. It’s just--she never liked getting helped down from things, and since she was barefoot she actually landed better than she usually did in her boots, but--
She was obsessing. Let it go, Scarlett. It’s already done, and you didn’t stumble so you look like a badass.
Scarlett was glad when they went inside, however; it was cold on Coruscant, or at least colder than she would be comfortable going barefoot for much longer, and Scarlett was grateful that Padme’s apartments were plushly carpeted. She paused in the doorway, flexing her toes to revel in the softness, and sincerely hoped she wasn’t about to track space-dirt all over Padme’s floors.
Sabé gestured her over, and when Scarlett came close, Sabé opened a door to reveal a luxurious bathroom. Scarlett felt her jaw drop again; it was both like the fanciest hotel lobby she had ever been in, and also a little bit opaque in places. Where was the toilet?
Sabé, without missing a beat, began to show her the various features--the shower (water and sonic. SONIC!), the toiletries, the sink and--yes--the toilet. At last, she handed Scarlett a plush robe.
“We’ll get you dressed after you bathe,” Sabé said. “I’ll call up for some food, as well. Meanwhile, I’ll have Threepio program a personal translator for you, now that we know what language to use.” She smiled, and Threepio continued. “Though I do say, it is no hassle for me to translate for you, though I would like to return to my duties with Mistress Padme. She’s a very important senator, you know.”
“I know,” Scarlett said. “And thank you.”
Sabé smiled at her again, and closed the door. For the first time since appearing in the chamber, Scarlett was alone. She took a deep breath, and eyed the shower.
Oh, this bath was going to feel *so* good.
The bath was *amazing*, and not just because Scarlett had been chilled and tired after a long day at work and then *interdimensional travel*. They certainly understood luxury on Coruscant, and it was obvious in the smallest details--such as the warmed porcelain (or, well, this was Star Wars. It was probably, like, “porsteel” or something. Still. It acted like porcelain), and super fluffy towels.
Like, seriously fluffy.
The Scarlett who emerged from the ‘fresher was a scrubbed clean Scarlett, pink from the heat. She’d brushed her hair back from her face with her fingers, but it was still heavy enough to fall forward, and when Sabé entered the room holding a pile of fabric, Scarlett was jujing her hair, trying to get it to fall semi-evenly.
Threepio was nowhere to be seen, but Scarlett smiled, hoping to convey welcome and relief. Sabé, with a rather telling look, picked up a shining silver earpiece that looked like Madonna’s headset. Gently placing the fabric on the low couch, Sabé stepped forward to show Scarlett the power button and the red indicator light. She held up the device, and Scarlett ducked her head so that Sabé could reach to put the translator in place. (It wasn’t that Scarlett was tall, only 1.7 meters, and Sabé was of a height--but Scarlett easily had 27 kg on her, and *felt* larger).
The headpiece was cool, and warmed quickly against her skin, the earpiece in her right ear covered in a soft, contouring foam.
“There,” Sabé said, and Scarlett heard it clearly in English a moment later. “How does that feel?”
“Perfect,” Scarlett said, and it echoed out of a small speaker near the microphone.
Sabé grinned. “Wonderful. That will make things a lot easier.”
“It will,” Scarlett said, “Thank you.” Sabé waved it off, and turned to the pile of fabric.
“I’ve brought you something to wear,” she said, and Scarlett looked at the cloth suspiciously.
“No offense meant, but I don’t think I’ll fit into anything you could wear,” Scarlett said dryly, gesturing at herself. She had been large chested as a young teen, and they’d only grown larger in the last fifteen years--and her waist had grown to match. Sabé had a dancer’s build, and Scarlet knew the rest of Padme’s handmaidens looked much the same.
But Sabé just laughed. “Have some faith in me. You might be surprised,” she said, and shook out the garment. Scarlett felt her eyes grow wide
It was certainly...voluminous. And colorful, like a rainbow sherbert, and the cloth floated through the air like ribbon in a breeze. It was beautiful.
“I’d destroy that,” Scarlett said, low and slow, and reached out to feel the cloth between her fingers. “It’s so soft!”
“And stronger than it looks.”
“Silk?” Scarlett asked. She had a silk dress that she had bought at Renfaire; it was the most delicate and most durable thing she owned.
Sabé cocked her head. “If the word is translating correctly, then yes. It also is adjustable, so you’ll have something other than that bathrobe to wear while more clothing is made.”
“Made!?” Scarlett’s head shot up, looking at Sabé in shock. “You’re making clothes just for me?”
“Of course,” Sabé said, confused. “How else would you get clothing?”
Scarlett blinked. “Buy...them...?” She squinted at Sabé. “Do you not have a pre-fab clothing industry?”
Understanding seemed to dawn on Sabé’s face. “Not on Coruscant,” she said. “Though, I have heard of some cultures who wear tailored clothing. Here, we have droids that can produce tailored clothing in almost no time at all, thought most of Senator Amidala’s clothing is crafted by artisan hands.”
That made sense; hand-made was always the sign of either poverty or extreme wealth. She looked back at the sherbert dress. “Will I get pants?” she asked, and Sabé laughed.
“If you wish,” she said. “Come. I’ll help you dress, and then we can order your clothing, all right?”
Scarlett nodded. “Sounds great,” she said, somewhat helplessly bemused.
The dress was like a wrap dress, and also something like bondage fetish wear for a resident of cotton candy mountain. There was no need for support wear, as the dress fastened in such a way that Scarlett, who had grown used to a certain amount of metal in her underthings, felt locked and loaded.
“This dress is amazing,” Scarlett said, and Sabé laughed.
“It’s a favorite of mine as well,” she said.
Obi-Wan stroked his beard as he listened to the debate around him.
The question was a thorny one--the most likely situation was that the woman, this Scarlett, was some sort of spy, a desperate attempt to sow discord among the ranks in the Jedi Temple. If it was a plan, it was certainly a successful one, as there hadn’t been a moment when two councilors weren’t trying to talk over one another since Sabé had lead her off. Yet, Obi-Wan wasn’t entirely convinced; the story was too implausible and, in Obi-Wan’s experience, droids didn’t have the creative capacity for such tales.
On the other side of the room, Kit was toe to toe with Eve Koth, his head tails twitching in agitation. Yoda was seated between them, resting on his gimmer stick, and looking at nothing.
Another possibility was that Scarlett was operating under some sort of mental delusion; it wouldn’t be the first time Obi-Wan had seen the stresses of living in a galaxy at war create fractures in the mind--particularly in one with an active Force sense. It was possible that Scarlett’s natural empathy has caused her more pain than she was able to handle, and her mind invented the answer. Yet, this, too, created issues, how Scarlett appeared in the Council chambers being the foremost of them.
Mace was rubbing his temples as Adi and Depa both spoke to him in low, urgent voices. Obi-Wan wondered if they were arguing against Mace or each other.
Of course, and this is where Obi-Wan got stuck, Scarlett *could* be telling the truth. After the events on Mortis, Obi-Wan was long sure of his understanding of the limits of the Force. If it could make a planet disappear and distort time, then Obi-Wan was willing to consider that it could pluck a person from one dimension and drop her in his own.
He didn’t *want* to believe it, but he couldn’t actually discount it--especially as that option seemed to answer the most questions and tie up the most loose ends.
Then there was Scarlett’s claim that she knew the identity of the Sith lord that was behind this whole mess. Of everything, *that* was what caused Obi-Wan the most concern. Why say that she knew and not name the Sith?
Anakin, in one of his customary leaps of insight, had asked Obi-Wan as much before leaving the council chambers. As he wasn’t on the council, Anakin couldn’t rightly be there, though Obi-Wan knew it grated that he couldn’t make his opinion known. (It was one of the reasons why Obi-Wan tended to speak for him in the chambers, despite what Anakin occasionally accused of him.)
Obi-Wan’s communicator beeped with a text message, and he surreptitiously glanced at the screen. Anakin was returning to Padme’s apartments. Threepio had finished programming the communicator, and Anakin was going to ask some questions about the language she spoke.
Biting his lip, Obi-Wan sent back a gentle warning not to frighten the poor girl. He remembered all too clearly the way her face paled when she had seen Anakin, and his heart sank when he thought of what that could mean.
A moment later, Anakin responded with a rude word in Huttese that amounted to “pleasure yourself in a sandstorm”--it was, for all of that, a mild word for the language, and a sign that Anakin a) heard the warning b) was mildly offended but understanding and c) in a good mood nonetheless. Obi-Wan put away his comm.
“Enough,” Yoda said, at last, striking the ground. The floor shivered beneath Obi-Wan’s feet, and the council stilled. “All speak, none *listen*. To the Force, listen will you. What does the Force say?”
The council was silent for a moment, and Mace shook his head. “The Force splinters, and the shards obscure each possibility. I cannot tell where the fractures happen, only that they happen.”
Obi-Wan dropped his hand. “Master Yoda,” he began. “You were in closest contact with her. What is your belief?”
“Hmm,” Yoda grunted. “Difficult to see, everything is. Difficult to see everything always is, but see her mind clearly? Difficult was *not*. Knows us, she does, yes. Like legends from fables,” here Yoda looked sideways at Obi-Wan. “Obi-Wan most she sees, young and angry and old and sad.”
Obi-Wan forced himself to meet Yoda’s eyes, and was surprised to see the amount of sympathy there. Sympathy and--
“She saw you, too,” Obi-Wan said, sure of it only as he said it. Yoda nodded.
“Old, she saw me. Old and week.” He hummed, low. “Hurt I was, and mad, yes. Broken hearted.”
“Because the rest of us were dead?” Plo asked, and Yoda sighed. He did not answer, but he did not need to.
Obi-Wan looked at his fellow councilors. “Her story is...remarkable, and hard to believe. But the Force gives no warning against it, and considering the nature of her message, ignoring what she has to say could very well prove catastrophic. I say we listen with open minds, and then seek corroboration. If there is truth in what she says, then there will be some form of evidence.” Obi-Wan took a deep breath, as the answer to his earlier question came to him. “There will have to be, for I fear the true identity of the Sith is one well known to us.”
Anakin always felt most at home in the air.
As good as he was in a starfighter, and he loved how the absence of drag allowed him to really move, he would always prefer flying in-atmo. There was just something about the feel of the wind in his hair, the rush of it, that let him feel like he was really moving (when he had been young, before Qui-Gon and the Order, before Podracing, he used to dream about stepping off the edge of a dune into the sky and simply...flying away. Sometimes, he still had those dreams).
Yet, as much as he loved moving, he loved landing at Padme’s more--here, he could be himself in ways he could not be in the Temple. He could be Anakin, only Anakin, husband to Padme, who could leave her own responsibilities aside for just a little while.
He eased the speeder down to a soft landing, hopping down to the platform before the landing gear had finished compressing, and was walking into the apartment’s living quarters within moments. He nodded at Sabé when he saw her, acknowledging her wave, and looked at this new arrival--Scarlet, apparently.
Scarlet was staring back at him, her spoon forgotten where it hovered halfway to her mouth. She was damp around the edges, and scrubbed clean, wearing one of the handmaid’s dresses--probably Sabé’s, honestly, though it looked very different on her. Her spectacles were still hanging from her neckline, and he wondered what they were for if she wasn’t going to use them to see. The staring was a bit disconcerting, however, and he smiled, awkwardly, wishing Obi-Wan were here. Obi-Wan was always better at this sort of thing.
“Uh, hi,” he said waving.
Scarlet went to wave back with the hand that had the spoon, and remembered, abruptly that she had it in her hand, and put it back in the bowl.
She spoke, and Anakin smiled when he heard “Hello,” in basic half a second later. He pointed at her earpiece.
“How’s that working for you? Is the lag too long? I can always adjust it.”
Scarlet blinked at him, listening to the device, and her eyebrows climbed her head. “You made this?” she asked, and then shook her head. “Wait, why am I surprised. You made Threepio.”
Anakin’s breath caught. “How do you know that?” he asked, and Scarlet looked up at him again, smiling wryly.
“I saw the movie, remember?” she said. She shrugged. “Not for nothing, but it’s kinda your story--the prequels, anyway.”
Anakin cross his arms, and Sabé stood to take the bowls away and give them privacy. “Is that why you’re scared of me?”
Scarlet snorted, which surprised him. He really was expecting fear (it hurt, but he was used to it). “No, man. I’m *leery* because you have a *temper* and I’ve seen what happens when you get pissed.”
Anakin froze--she couldn’t mean. “What do you mean?”
“I mean I’ve seen it all,” she said. “I know about the visions, Tatooine, your *wife*--” she looked away. “You really should have told Obi-Wan, you know? About all of it.”
Anakin scoffed, suddenly defensive though he wasn’t entirely sure why. There was no way she could know the things she was saying--not unless she was telling the truth. And what did she know, anyway? “Obi-Wan wouldn’t understand.”
“Obi-Wan has lost everyone he ever loved, except for you--who he loves as a brother.” Scarlett snapped. “That man has lived with darkness breathing down his neck--if you think he’s never been tempted by the Dark Side, then you’re not nearly the Jedi I know you to be.” Anakin reared back. Who the hell was she--
Scarlett leaned in. “I want you to listen to me, and I want you to hear what I am saying. Obi-Wan *loves* you. He is *attached* to you. And when everything goes to shit? He *shatters*.”
Anakin frowned. “You mean when I die?” he asked, and Scarlett just looked at him. “You said in the chamber that all the Jedi die.”
Scarlett huffed a breath, but he couldn't see what was amusing. “From a certain point of view,” she said. “But no, you don’t die in the purges.”
He doesn’t die in the purges? But what would Obi-Wan consider death if not-- “I--I fall?”
“Fuck,” Scarlett looked away. “Have you had the dreams yet? The ones about Padmé?”
Anakin paled. “How did you--never mind. You’ve *seen* it.”
“Yes, I have,” Scarlett said, and the honest regret in her voice made him look at her again. “The problem with prophesy, Skywalker, is that often it’s self-fulfilling. You had dreams of Padme dying in great pain, and all of your efforts to stop it simply caused it to happen. You *fall* trying to save her, and personally lead a swath of devastation for *twenty years* that the Galaxy still hasn’t recovered from, *thirty years later.*” Scarlett sighed. “It’s not entirely your fault. The Sith Lord is here, on Coruscant, and has been pulling strings for decades. He’s fucking *groomed* you to fall.”
And then it was staring him in the face--and for once, Anakin saw clearly. “Palpatine,” he whispered, and Scarlett looked at him surprised.
“Yeah,” she said, softly, and laughed bitterly. “You know, I wasn’t expecting you to catch on this quickly, but I think you’re more obtuse in fandom than you are in the canon.”
But Anakin wasn’t listening. “The *Chancellor* is the *Sith*?”
Scarlett sighed. “Yeah. I’m sorry, dude. I know how much he means to you.”
“He’s a sith!”
“Doesn’t mean *you* didn’t care.” Scarlett chewed her lip. “You can’t go after him.”
“He kills my wife!” Anakin cried.
But Scarlett shook her head. “The last time you confront him, *he won*, and newsflash, *You kill your wife!*”
Scarlett was expecting anger--Anakin’s temper was legendary, after all--but instead he paled, swaying on his feet, and Scarlett quickly jumped up to help guide him to his seat.
“Please don’t tell me I broke you,” Scarlett muttered earnestly, ducking down to try and meet Anakin’s eyes, but Anakin wouldn’t meet her gaze, his attention drawn far away.
“Anakin,” she shook him gently by the shoulders, feeling not a little like she was juggling a live grenade, but Anakin just let himself be moved. Scarlett pulled back, crossing her arms and biting at her thumbnail as she thought. He looked like he was in shock--blanket, he needed a blanket.
Spotting a decorative throw over the far couch, Scarlett quickly grabbed it fighting the way her new dress swirled around her, as if underwater. It was beautiful, she was sure, but right now it was just in the way.
Gently, Scarlett draped the blanket over Anakin’s shoulders, and Anakin stirred enough to say:
“He was right.”
Scarlett paused. “Who was right?” She asked. She couldn’t remember anyone threatening Padme directly, but it’s possible that scene simply ended up on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Palpatine, perhaps? Were they that close to the end of the story?
But Anakin didn’t say. He did, however, focus on Scarlett, a laser-intensity that make Scarlett step back. “How?” He asked, sounding as if his voice had been dragged over broken glass.
Scarlett could dissemble, but there was no point. However, there also wasn’t an easy answer. She sighed, and sat next to Anakin on the couch.
“That’s a hard question to answer,” she said. “The prequels had...issues...in their storytelling. What we were told in visuals didn’t match a clunky script and--” she cut herself off. “Not important. Truth is, I know what were were told, and I know what I saw, and it doesn’t make sense.”
“Try,” Anakin grit out, and Scarlett bit back the obvious quip. There was Anakin’s temper.
“She shouldn’t have died,” Scarlett said quietly. “If they can replace limbs and clone people, there was no reason for her to die.”
Anakin paled further. “You’re not helping,” he said.
“I’m having a hard time concentrating, sorry!” Scarlett snapped. “Fuck you--you dream about her dying in pain, in childbirth, and you get so focused on stopping it, you fall right into Palpatine’s trap and fall in a big way. Padme, who is worried about you follows you to Mustafar. Obi-Wan goes with her; he’s just been attacked and nearly killed by Cody, which is a whole ‘nother story and not at all Cody’s fault, and he’s worried about you, too. It happens with the purges, everyone is dying.” It would probably be a bad idea to mention that Yoda asked Obi-Wan to kill Anakin. “When you see Obi-Wan, you’re convinced they’re cheating on you and you--” Scarlett held up her hand, her fingers cupped in a C, replicating Vader’s signature Force-choke.
Anakin’s eyes are wide, his lips pressed firmly together. Scarlett hurried to continue: “It doesn’t kill her. Obi-Wan gets her to a medical station, but she just...fades. Dies. The doctors are mystified. The movie says she dies of a broken heart, but...”
“She dies in pain,” he said, his voice broken. Scarlett bites her lip. Anakin had been in this position before, but Scarlett could give Anakin something that he hadn’t had before--something to live for.
“She dies after pain,” she said. “Whatever it was induced labor. She lived to see your children.”
Anakin stiffened. ”Children?
Scarlett nodded. “Boy and a girl. The stories that I know? Starts with them. Your children live, Anakin, and if we do this right, Padme will, too.”
Looking up at her, Anakin’s eyes focused, and Scarlett felt her breath catch. The intensity of it!
“What do I need to do?”
Padme put her padd down with a soft click, raising her hands to rub at her temples. She had woken that morning with a faint headache, and it had only gotten worse as the day progressed. Sabe and Dorme both had advised her to work from home, to let her body rest with her pregnancy so near its end, but she had stayed home the day before. More than one day, with her history of attendance, would raise too many eyebrows. She would need to save her leave for her return trip to Naboo.
If Padme would get a trip to Naboo at this point. She had wanted their baby to be born in the lake country, where she and Anakin had fallen in love. Yes, she liked that: their baby born where their parents love had been born.
The baby kicked out and stepped down hard on her bladder, and Padme sighed as she stood and wobbled her way, again, to the ‘fresher attached to her office.
She should have stayed home, appearances be damned; at least there she didn’t need to wear so many robes and could fit easily into the small space of the ‘fresher.
Struggling to set her robes to rights once more, she started when she saw Sabé in her office.
“Is something wrong?” Padme asked, and Sabé’s smile was easy, though her eyes were calculating.
“There has been an unexpected development, and your presence is needed, my lady.”
Padme felt her headache pound and then fade as the adrenaline rushed her system; something was wrong, and yet under control--something that couldn’t be resolved without her.
“Very well, Sabé. Send word to my ship, I’ll meet them at the landing pad.”
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
The Council room was silent following Obi-Wan’s declaration.
“Know, you do, the identity of the Sith?”
Slowly, Obi-Wan nodded. It was all so obvious in retrospect. They already knew that Sith had to be someone high enough to influence the chancellor directly, it was part of the reason why they encouraged Anakin’s liaisons with Palpatine, but--
Influence left too much to chance. That meant that either Palpatine was enthralled to the Sith--
Or Palpatine was the Sith.
“I must speak with Scarlett,” Obi-Wan said, standing and striding for the door. “If I am right, the accusation is a most serious one--one I will not make without proof.” He stopped and turned, bowing to his fellow Councilors. “Masters,” he said, and was gone, never seeing the concerned look Mace and Yoda shared.
Leaving the Council chamber, Obi-Wan stopped to speak with the council secretary. J’ozz was a senior padawan, and had been on the front lines until a blast took his left leg. He was back in the temple on medical leave, and had been filling in as secretary since. He was good at it, and Obi-Wan wouldn’t be surprised if it became a permanent position. “Padawan J’ozz, can you please call me a transport? I need to get to Senator Amidala’s apartments, and quickly.”
“Yes, Master Kenobi,” J’ozz said, and Obi-Wan smiled at him in thanks.
Striding purposefully down the hall, Obi-Wan pulled his comm from his belt. “Cody, are you there?”
There was a brief pulse of static as the call connected, and then Cody replied. “Here, sir.”
Obi-Wan frowned. There was a lot of ambient noise around Cody, almost as if he was in the middle of a party. Or a bar fight. “Cody, are you at 79s?” It was a bit early for drinking, though Obi-Wan couldn’t say he didn’t understand the urge.
There was a pause. “No, sir,” Cody said, wary. “I’m in the barracks.”
Ah, that would explain it. “Jesse convince Kix to sing karaoke again?”
“I think Kix lost a bet, sir.”
Obi-Wan grinned. “My condolences, Cody. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to call your leave short. Something has come up, and I will need you with me.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir,” Cody said, and meant it. Honestly, Jesse knew he couldn’t carry a tune to save his life (not that it would stop him).
“I’m getting a transport momentarily. I’ll pick you up on the way to Senator Amidala’s.”
“Sir.” There was a pause. “Should I get Rex too, sir?”
If they were going agasint the Chancellor, Obi-Wan wanted a few people involved just in case things went south. On the other hand, it would be a relief to have Cody and Rex watching their backs. “Good thinking,” Obi-Wan said, walking out to the landing pad at last, where pilotless speedercar was already waiting. “I’ll be there in ten.”
Cody hung up his com, and turned back to the barracks. Jesse *did* have Kix singing, but not in the way that Obi-Wan had assumed. He shook his head--a life like theirs erased much in the way of personal privacy, he knew, but he’d always been of the opinion that certain things, sex things, should be at least done in the dark or behind a curtain--not out in the open for any Vod to see.
Of course, Cody didn’t really do in for sex things anyway, so he minded his own business when he could. It would be different if Commander Tano was present, like she sometimes was, coming to visit. (Though, the last time she had arrived unannounced, the pair of them had split right quick and Tano, for all they knew, never noticed.)
Cody donned his armor as quickly as he could, a silent presence among the other brothers who were cheering the happy couple on, or placing bets that Cody deliberately didn’t see. That Cody may have slipped a credit chit to when he was obviously deliberately not seeing it.
Slipping from the room, Cody commed Rex, waiting for him to answer before he spoke. “General Kenobi needs us at the Senator’s. Pick up’s in seven.”
“I’m with the Commander,” Rex said. “The Senator called her earlier; we’re already on our way there.”
Cody nodded. “Right. I’ll tell the General.”
Cody signed off and made his way out to the landing pad, wondering just what was going on.
Rex turned to Tano, who was in the pilot’s seat. Rex very much did not have himself braced against the bulkhead, even if Tano was trained to use a speedercar by Skywalker. “Cody and General Kenobi are on their way.”
“Master Obi-Wan must have felt him, too,” Tano said. They had been at the Galactic Gallery, Rex playing escort as Tano conducted research for her art history assignment, when Tano had suddenly stiffened and told Rex that they had to get to the Senator’s quarters. Something had upset her master in a way that she’d never felt before.
The speeder ride was tense, even though Tano said she felt no further upsets. Rex crossed his arms and willed their speeder to go faster. He needed to see for himself.
“The first thing,” Scarlett said, spying Sabé returning and carrying a pile of brown and white cloth. “I’m changing. This dress is lovely and all, but if we’re planning a coup and a revolution, I’m wearing pants.”
Her tone was dry, but Sabé still stopped dead in her tracks, her face shuttering abruptly. Scarlett’s eyes went wide.
“Oh fuck, how secure is this place?” Scarlett asked, looking between Anakin and Sabé. Sabé didn’t move, didn’t answer, but Anakin shook his head.
“We’re safe here,” he said. “I keep her apartments swept pretty regularly.”
“Yeah,” Scarlett said. “Hard to have a secret marriage if everything is being recorded and/or transmitted.” She stepped closer to Sabé, and Sabé cocked her head to look at her, not yet giving up the garments.
“You really do know everything, don’t you,” Sabé murmured, and Scarlett shook her head.
“Not everything,” she insisted. “Enough to know what’s coming, but not enough to be comfortable.”
Sabé huffed a small laugh, and finally handed over the clothing. “No one ever truly knows enough to be comfortable,” she said, and Scarlett smiled at her. Sabé stepped back, and looked between Scarlett and Anakin. “Padme is on her way,” Sabé said, and help up a hand when Anakin opened his mouth to protest. “She had to be informed of Scarlett’s presence in her own quarters,” she said. “Furthermore, Padme has been suspecting for some while now that there’s something wrong with the senate. If you’re planning a “revolution,” she will want to be involved.”
Anakin sighed, sitting back. “And I couldn’t stop her if I tried,” he said.
Sabé grinned. “Good,” she said. “You’re learning.”
Scarlett turned to hide the expression on her face, and ducked back into the ‘fresher to change. The Dress was a lot easier to get out of than into, which was a relief, as she was able to lift the entire thing over her head. She sighed as she looked at the ball of sherbert fabric in her hands; even crumpled it was one of the most beautiful dresses she’d ever seen.
She shook it out, looking for a place to hang it, and ended up folding it over the top of the door to the shower stall. Turning to face what Sabé had brought her, Scarlett began to dress, quickly slipping on the simple underpants that sat atop the pile.
There was a pair of brown pants, finely tailored. They went on like a favorite pair of jeans, the kind that had been worn soft, and while there were a few moments where Scarlet wasn’t sure the pants would fit over her hips, they never actually caught.
The pants fastened with a simple button, and Scarlett found herself smirking at that - some technology was too simple to be advanced. It made her feel more at home to know that her fancy space-pants had a button fly.
Next was a shirt, and Scarlett had to cover her mouth with her hand, even though she was alone, because that was Han Solo’s shirt. They didn’t just get her clothes, they got her Space Pirate, clothes.
But there was no way the shirt would function the way the dress had, and sure enough, when she picked up the shirt, there was, underneath, a clearly recognizable bra.
“Suck it, George,” Scarlett muttered, and thankfully finished dressing.
Tano was out of her seat even before Rex had fully stopped the speeder, hopping over the side in a graceful leap, the way Skywalker did, and Rex hurried to follow suit. He didn’t like the thought of his General going into danger without him, for all that Rex knew the Jedi could handle himself--it was more that Rex knew the condition that Skywalker would be in after facing down something he really shouldn’t have been able to.
Cody understood. Hell, Cody wrote the manual on managing Jedi with more drive than self-preservation.
At least when Kenobi and Skywalker were together, they tended to come out more-or-less unscathed.
However, Kenobi wasn’t at the Senator’s apartments, at least not yet, and Rex made sure his blaster was ready when he followed Tano into the rooms.
Of all the things he could have found, Rex wasn’t expecting the source to be a young human female, dressed in new spacer-style dress, and staring at him like he was the star of a holo drama.
Tano had stopped in front of them, and was standing with her hands on her hips. It made Rex relax a fraction; if Tano sensed danger, she would have kept her hands at her sides, to a quicker draw on her ‘sabers.
Skywalker had stood quickly, surprised at their abrupt entrance. “Stand down, Rex,” Skywalker said. “You, too, Snips. She’s friendly.”
“She feels strange in the Force,” Tano said, doubt coloring her words, and the strange woman scowled.
“Now what’s that supposed to mean?” she demanded, affronted, and Tano, Skywalker, and Rex turned to looked at her with raised eyebrows. (Well, she couldn’t see Rex’s eyebrows, but the point remained). After a moment, she seemed to deflate. “Well, I mean. I am from another dimension.”
Tano’s eyes went wide.
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Obi-Wan was not the last to arrive, but that didn’t stop him from walking into the middle of something. He stopped in the doorway, Cody at his back, and surveyed the scene.
Scarlett, the clear catalyst in all of this, stood in the middle of Padme’s main living room, dressed in far more recognizable clothing than she had been, even if the style was a bit...piratical.
Obi-Wan raised his eyebrow at her, and she offered him a sunny smile in return. If their reality did exist in hers as a form of entertainment, Obi-Wan was sure she had chosen those clothes for a reason. It was certainly an interesting choice, for a stranger to dress as a Corellian spacer.
Sabé stood behind the couch to their right, where Anakin sat, forearms braced on his knees. He looked a bit hollow-eyed. Concerned, Obi-Wan stepped into the room, going to Anakin’s side and placing a hand on his shoulder. Anakin flinched, but grabbed Obi-Wan’s hand before he could pull it back.
Cody, Obi-Wan saw, went to stand with Rex and a rather stunned looking Ahsoka.
“What’s going on?” Obi-Wan asked.
“That is what I would like to know,” Padme said, entering from behind him, through the room’s main entrance.
Anakin stood at the sound of her voice, but instead of bowing with Obi-Wan, he lept over the back of the couch, pulling her into his arms. Obi-Wan’s eyebrows tried to disappear into his hair; As indiscreet as they could be, he would have never expected Anakin to display his affection for Padme so openly. Not while the War was on, at least.
“Ani!” She cried, caught off guard, but when she placed her hands on his arms to push him away, she stopped, her grip turning tender. “You’re shaking, what’s wrong?”
Anakin shook his head, hiding his face in her curls. “I’m sorry, I just--” he said, voice muffled, and when he tightened his hold, Obi-Wan finally had the sense to avert his eyes.
It was a good thing he did; if he hadn’t, he’d never have seen the wistful look on Scarlett’s face. As he watched, she sniffed, looking down and scrubbing her hands over her face. After a moment, she looked up, catching his eyes. He looked away first.
“You never do anything by halves, do you,” Padme said, her voice wry but fond, and Obi-Wan looked back.
Anakin had finally pulled himself together, though the smile he gave her was still a bit watery. “What would be the point in that?” he offered, but his inflection was a bit too flat.
Padme, always one to have Anakin’s number, simply leveled him with a look, and turned to look at the rest of the room, her eyes lingering on Scarlett before flicking to Sabé. Sabé gave no outward sign of movement, but after a moment, Padme nodded anyway, as if Sabé had given her a full report. Obi-Wan wouldn’t be at all surprised if that was exactly what had happened.
Then, of course, her eyes landed on Obi-Wan.
Before the events of the last few hours, Obi-Wan would have said Padme looking sheepish would be one of the most shocking sights he could see. Now, however, Obi-Wan could feel nothing but bittersweet amusement at his friends’ predicament.
“Obi-Wan—” She began, but Obi-Wan held up a hand.
“I understand why you kept it secret,” he said. “But unless you found each other three years ago, I don’t want to know.”
Padme frowned, a tiny furrow appearing between her brows, but Anakin rolled his eyes, his anxiety fading.
“Don’t tell me. You have a bet with Quinlan.”
Obi-Wan grinned sharply. “No. Quinlan simply runs the books. My bet is against Depa.”
Anakin blinked, incredulous, and stood with his hands on his hips. “You bet on my—”
“Marriage?” Rex offered. “Please say marriage.”
“Please don’t,” Cody countered.
Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan all turned to look at them. “What?” Rex asked.
Anakin raised his hands to the sky. “How many bets are there?”
“Three, that I know of,” Ahsoka said, shrugging. “I didn’t bet on anything, I just heard.”
Obi-Wan turned back to Anakin when he felt the faint push against his shields--a courtesy that he and Anakin had fallen out of the habit of many years ago, his surprise clear.
Anakin bit his lip, looking suddenly as young as he he really was. ”Are you mad at me? he asked, his mental voice tentative.
“No,” Obi-Wan said aloud, not caring when everyone looked their way. “No, Anakin. I’m not mad at you.” Not anymore, anyway. He’d long since come to terms with Anakin’s little betrayals, especially when they were choices that Obi-Wan himself would have made, years ago.
“I’m a little ticked,” Ahsoka said, cutting in, but it was said with enough levity that Obi-Wan felt the room ease. “Buuuut, I’ll get over it.” She flashed a grin. “Besides, that’s not nearly as interesting as that fact that she,” and Ahsoka pointed her finger at Scarlett, “says she’s from another dimension.”
Padme looked poleaxed, and Obi-Wan bit his lip to keep from smiling: two improbable expressions in ten minutes. He’d have to make a note in his journals.
“Oh, I’m afraid it gets worse,” Obi-Wan said, deceptively mild, to Ahsoka. “It seems Dooku was right — there is, in fact, a Sith in the Senate.” His declaration didn’t have nearly the impact that Scarlett’s had in the Council chamber, though Ahsoka did pale quickly enough that Rex took a half-step towards her.
“What?” Ahsoka demanded, and her bearing was so much like Anakin that Obi-Wan had to take a moment to breathe. (His own lineage was so fractured. Would Anakin have learned to see Qui-Gon in Obi-Wan? Would Qui-Gon see Obi-Wan in Ahsoka?) “How?”
Behind Ahsoka, Rex and Cody froze, their expressions, for once, matching perfectly as they processed the information, and then Rex snarled, clearly furious at the deception.
“A long-con,” Scarlett said. “Like every dictator-in-waiting, he was voted into power.”
Obi-Wan heard Padme breathe in sharply, and when he looked at her, he saw her eyes, wide with surprise and disbelief, narrow in righteous anger.
“His Sith name is Sideous,” she said, walking towards the center of the room. “As in insidious — his plans have been in motion for a long time, predating, well,” Scarlett gestured to Rex and Cody, stopping in front of them, turning her head to address Padme and the clones both. “To quote another series, that I *seriously* hope I don’t jump to next, “Chaos is a ladder,” and this fucker has been sowing chaos for decades, creating his own ladder to the top.”
Scarlett chewed her lip for a moment, and turned to face Rex and Cody directly. “Perhaps the worst thing he’s done, on a grand scale, is...you.” she said off, looking older than she had yet, and Obi-Wan bristled, her meaning clear.
“Now see here! The troops of the Gar are—”
“Sleeper agents, enslaved to the Sith,” Scarlett interrupted, not bothering to look back at Obi-Wan. “We’re talking real shady Cold-War stuff — every single one of you has a chip in your brain, yes? The Kaminoans told you it was to regulate aggression, to keep you stable, but that’s not what it is. Each chip is programmed to take over when he gives the right orders. He controls you completely, and it gets worse.”
Cody’s face could have frozen steam, and Rex looked ready to tear Scarlett apart on his brothers’ behalf, but Cody answered her question all the same. “I don’t see how.”
Scarlett smiled sadly. “The army was bread for the Jedi, trained for the Jedi, groomed for the Jedi, and when the time comes, they will kill the Jedi. In a single order, within minutes, the Clones, your Brothers, no long in control of their own minds, turn on their Generals, their Commanders, and wipe out the Jedi Order.”
Rex was shaking his head. “Never,” he said. “I don’t believe it.” Obi-Wan looked at him, there was something his his voice, a fear in his eye that belied the truth - Rex very much did believe it.
“It it helps,” Scarlett said quietly, “Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan survived the purges. Rex was not on campaign when the order came through, and Cody...” she swallowed. “You missed. It’s not canon strictly, but...we believe you fought the orders, all of you, as best you could. I think you fought, and won just enough.”
“The entire Order,” Obi-Wan said, faintly, and reached out blindly for a chair, waving a bit wildly when his hand hit nothing. Suddenly, there was a steadying hand on his elbow, and he looked to see Anakin standing next to him, concerned. “I knew — she had said — but it hadn’t —”
“Come on and sit,” was all Anakin said, and Obi-Wan let himself be walked over to the couch.
“The good news, is that the chips are removable,” Scarlett said. “I know for a fact that Rex gets his removed, as do Wolfe and Gregor. The bad new is that it takes *time* to perform brain surgery on an entire army, and the Sith is in a position to know if it began to happen on a grand scale.”
“But who is it?” Ahsoka asked. “The one one with the authority to do that would be...” she trailed off and gasped, covering her mouth with her hands, her montrails twitching. “No, not the Chancellor.”
“If we don’t do anything, he’s going to call himself Emperor. Emperor Palpatine.” Scarlett snorted softly. “You wanna know something funny? They filmed the prequels nearly twenty years after the original trilogy, and they got the same actor to play him both times, and because they put him in old age makeup the first time, he actually looked younger.” She shrugged awkwardly. “Maybe you had to be there.”
Padme sat next to Anakin on the sofa. “I just don’t believe it. I’ve known the Chancellor since I was a girl. He’s from Naboo!” But Obi-Wan could hear the hurt in her voice — and the anger. She believed, alright.
“You’re not the only one,” Anakin said, and Obi-Wan turned towards him, his heart in his throat. Palpatine had been friendly with Anakin since he was nine years old. Anakin met his eyes, but shook his head. later.
“Our biggest issue is what to do about it. Clearly, he cannot be left to achieve his ends. Democracy must stand,” Padme insisted, and Obi-Wan felt Anakin shift to wrap his other arm around her.
“You’re not wrong,” Scarlett said. “But you can’t just return to the way things were. Palpatine was able to do what he did because the Republic was broken, it’s ideals abandoned to petty infighting. The Rim Worlds were left to their own, at the mercy of pirate and crime syndicates. If want the Republic to survive, then you better be prepared to fight for change.”