"Coruscant inbound," an intercom from the cockpit of the cargo ship the "guests" were being transferred in said. The sound of the first word made Rocket's tail tuck between his legs.
"I am Groot?" Groot asked, seeing his friend's shaking discomfort.
"Stay quiet," Gamora hissed under her breath.
"It's hotter than Drax's balls," Rocket whispered.
"Shut up," Star-Lord snapped under his breath.
"Yes Rocket, you shut up," Drax spat, "you would not know how hot nor cold my testicles
The cargo hold was suffocating and hot in the silence, with all of the white and black troopers sweaty and stinking from other battles throughout the day. Rocket sniffed in the air, growling at it as his nose shriveled. "Holy fuck."
"Quiet," one trooper ordered.
"Oh can it G.I. Joe," Rocket fired back, "I'll rattle your head around in that helmet like a ping pong ball in a bucket."
The trooper slowly looked down at his prisoner. "I'd watch your mouth, if I were you."
"Then watch closely," Rocket said, taking in a deep breath.
"Fives," Ahsoka said in her communicator on her arm, "please route some air conditioning into the cargo hold, we have a flower that needs to be kept from wilting."
A chuckle went around the soldiers with a blast of cool air, but Rocket was still hot headed. "The only person here who's ten colors and built like a twig is you, horns, so don't talk plants with me."
"I am Groot," Groot said grumpily, glaring at the Jedi.
"Yeah!" Rocket said in agreement, feeling a thud as the ship landed.
"Docked and loaded," Fives said, getting groans around the ship. "Permission to unload, Captain Rex?"
A trooper with a yellow and black shoulder pad spoke into his helmet. "Permission granted on the condition that you are forbidden from making that kind of pun again."
The hold opened and the Guardians' escort squad and Jedi leader moved them outside of the ship. Star-Lord marveled at the sight around him: every building was a skyscraper, downtown city as far as the eye could see, and the kind of flying ship traffic in the sky with several layers that he had never seen this advanced before. What surprised him most was the diversity of the planet, even the docking platform they stood on had men and women of all different alien species in plain, brown robes, or more colorful, fancier garments that he only imagined belonged to some of the galaxy's finest politicians and nobility. The ones wearing the simpler robes reminded him of the clothes Obi-Wan wore earlier, so it would make escaping much harder with this many Jedi around. "Good news," Ahsoka said, leading them up a flight of stairs and into a giant temple with blue and gold carpet. Statues of men and women in the plain robes adorned the long hallways, and their descendants walked them.
"We're fucked…" Rocket whispered to Gamora. "You know what my bounty is in this system?"
"Maybe you should not mention your high bounty here out loud," Drax said, out loud, drawing the eyes of every nearby Jedi onto them, "especially in the system crawling with Jedi and that seats the Senate."
"I am Groot," Groot grumbled.
"It'd be in everyone's best interest if you were to stay quiet," Ahsoka warned them, leading them to an elevator too small for the entire entourage. "I'll take it from here."
She led the Guardians of the Galaxy into the podular elevator with a glass window facing the outside. The sight made Star-Lord gasp, seeing the evening skyline that crushed New York's and Chicago's gleaming as the sun set behind it. "I love this view too," Ahsoka said, turning to Rocket with a smirk, "but it's best if we all view it from behind the glass."
Rocket blinked. "...what?"
Ahsoka made a pulling gesture, yanking a small pistol from the raccoon's hands through the air. She examined the firearm with a grin. "A T-39 snubnosed Greldknob, huh?"
"It's for self defense," he spat.
"It's for glass," Ahsoka said, "I might be young, but I'm not stupid." The elevator opened to a long hallway with a red and gold carpet and statued pillars on either side depicted Jedi of an older republic. "Follow me." She led them down the long hall, traveling up a short staircase to a tall, open door. "Wait," she said.
"Whaddya mean, wait?" Rocket spat.
"Shh! Be quiet!" Ahsoka hissed, listening in. Anakin stood in the center of 11 Jedi masters, including Obi-Wan, visibly annoyed.
"We can't keep hiding these operations from the Chancellor," Anakin argued, "how is he going to support our case in the Senate if we keep these matters under wraps?"
"The Senate has made it evident that they wish to keep their distance from the Order," a familiar authoritative voice said, "and it has always been the custom that our relationship to them is on a 'need to know' basis."
"Is that…" Star-Lord whispered, trying to look over Ahsoka's horns. "Nick Fury?"
"Shh!" Ahsoka hissed again.
"You think that a dreadnought carrying a glowing stone isn't strange enough for a government-backed investigation, master?" Anakin asked.
"As troubling and strange as it seems," 'Nick Fury' said, "if we involve the Chancellor this early into any investigations the Jedi will carry out it will potentially derail any progress we make to connecting the stone to the Separatists. The Senate will turn this into yet another witch hunt- we don't want a repeat of Geonosis."
"We simply need more information on these Infinity Stones before we move forward with any investigations," Obi Wan said. "We know the Chancellor has selected you to act as the go-between, but this is a Jedi matter until we have a reason to involve the Senate."
Anakin let out a deep breath. "All I'm saying is that public support for the Jedi has been steadily decreasing since the start of the Clone Wars and the Senate mirrors the thoughts of the people- the more we collaborate, the better."
"In due time, we will," an older, calm man's voice said with a gruff but kind tone. "More to learn, we have. Teach us, our visitors will."
Anakin turned toward the entrance to the meeting room, seeing Ahsoka and the Guardians of the Galaxy waiting. It was clear he seemed cornered by the other Jedi, but he hid the anger behind it well. "Padawan."
"Take a seat, young Skywalker," Nick Fury said, earning a respectful bow from the young Jedi who took his place among the council of 12. The Guardians entered the room. It was bright and warm, the pink and orange sky playing off the dark red curtains on the twelve pillars holding up the round room, the wide, spotless windows in the back showing the other side of the city with the setting sun making the rooftops shine. It wasn't as grand as the other view, but a pretty sight nonetheless. The floor had three circles, the outermost a warm brown where the 12 red, cushioned seats of the Jedi sat in a circle looking inward on the second beige circle where Ahsoka and the 'visitors' stood, finally a periwinkle circle in the center with a white, feathery star directly under a domed ceiling with intricate and foreign writings and designs.
"For a room dedicated to getting shit done," Rocket whispered, "it looks awfully comfortable."
"I am Groot," Groot whispered in accordance.
"Good evening, masters," Ahsoka said, standing in the center, "I would like to introduce the self-proclaimed 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' originating from the outer rim planet, Earth."
"The planet with the child Master Yoda sensed?" Obi Wan said with a chuckle. "Well, isn't that convenient."
"The Sith reaching him first, I fear," the small, wise old master in brown and beige robes with the kind voice from earlier said, using the Force to levitate the stone above his hand. "Spotted recently, Bane was, escaping from the Outer Rim." He had a walking stick propped up by his tiny chair, his green, wrinkled skin and scraggly, thin gray hair making him appear more frail than he really was. He had a stern, pensive expression on his face, his soft, greenish gold eyes scanning the room as if looking through their souls. "Secure this planet, we must." His big, pointed ears on the side of his head and the three, stubby digits on his hands and feet offset the reverence the other Jedi in the room had toward him. "But at hand, other matters are."
Drax scoffed. "What's the puppet doing here?"
Gamora wanted to die, while Peter and Rocket swallowed a laugh. Ahsoka's face turned white. "I'll… leave you to that, masters," she said, quickly evacuating herself from the battleground.
The entire demeanor of the room changed starkly, with the hair on the back of Drax's standing on end from the glares he received from the 12 Jedi. "He is Grand Master Yoda," Nick Fury said venomously, "and you will treat him with the utmost respect." 'Nick' was a man of great height and stature, a muscular, lean, bald, dark-skinned human with fierce brown eyes and a stern scowl that made him appear intimidating. It was obvious he was a man you did not want to pick a fight with.
Gamora's eyes pooled with apprehension, hearing his voice. "Mace… Windu?"
Star-Lord saw the fear in her face and heeded it carefully. He'd ask about it later.
"Master Kenobi," Mace Windu said, "would you and Knight Anakin please relay what you found on the dreadnought?"
"Certainly," Obi Wan said, "it started out as a response to a lead we had on Nute Gunray's whereabouts, naturally we prepared for a fight and that's what we got- however we did not expect a dreadnought to be housing him. Upon charging the ship, our signals were scrambled by our visitors. We entered the dreadnought after them and ran to the control room, all escape pods were still docked, all their fighters were engaged, and after a brief scuffle with them, Anakin came upon the stone."
"Star Lord described it as containing the power to take control of the universe when combined with the other five stones," Anakin said, "and their mission was to return it to Earth to keep it out of the wrong hands."
"So then you believe they acted in good faith," a tall, pale-skinned, old and lanky master said, stroking his short, white beard pensively. He had yellow tall, elongated head, appearing as if he had a second brain on top of the first.
"Yes, I do, Master Ki-Adi-Mundi," Anakin said, leaning forward in his chair and staring at Rocket, "maybe some of them are not used to doing so, but it seemed as if they were just doing their job."
"Raised, an interesting question has," Yoda said.
"Whose hands are you keeping the stones out of?" Mace Windu asked.
The Guardians shifted uncomfortably. "Well," Star-Lord said, "I think that kind of question requires-"
"My father," Gamora cut in, stepping forward.
The Jedi sat back while the other Guardians started to sweat. Rocket shook his head. "What the hell are you-"
"Quiet," Mace Windu said, opening the floor to Gamora. "Speak."
Gamora surveyed the room. "I am Gamora, daughter of the tyrant known as Thanos. The Jedi were familiar with my father's family- in the days of the old republic, the Jedi defeated his grandfather, Kronos, who actively aided Darth Revan and Darth Malak during the Jedi Civil War."
Yoda, Mace Windu, Obi Wan, and Anakin all exchanged wary glances. "I'm not saying I don't believe you," Obi Wan said, "but the Jedi Civil War was meticulously documented. Nothing in the records mentions 'Kronos' as not even once."
Gamora continued her case. "Maybe not your records, but I read mine before I escaped his grasp," she said, "Kronos fed them ships, men, and weapons anonymously, with promises of expanding the Sith Empire past the Outer Rim. When the Republic won, Kronos withdrew from our galaxy. He knew it wasn't wise to take on the Republic then."
"Then what makes it wise for him to attack us now?" Anakin asked. "We're at the peak of our power, the Republic is."
"And our discord," Mace rebutted, "so what you're telling us is that Thanos is aiding the Sith Lords and Count Dooku in destroying the Republic, again?"
"What does this have to do with the Infinity Stones?" Anakin asked.
"Thanos has no opposition," Gamora said, "Earth has set him back, but I'm coming to you from a humble position. He fears you because the Force gives you the power to wield the Infinity Stones, but in his hands he will destroy you, the Republic, and anything else that stands in his way. He knows the Clone Wars have divided you, and he plans on cutting you right down the middle, himself."
"Gamora, come on, we got a Hulk," Rocket said, "if we bait him into coming to Earth he'll be tying his own noose."
"No, Rocket," Gamora said, defeated. "We need their help. Stark's a brilliant man, but there's a reason Thanos owns every adjacent galaxy to ours." She turned back to the Jedi, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a small, thumb drive-like device. "I can show you any proof you need, but keep that Stone protected. As much as Earth would hate taking part in this circus of a Senate, they are the only ones who will help you defeat my father, but they would easily be overrun by a Separatist attack."
"If the Separatists had one in a dreadnought by itself," Obi Wan said, "it's safe to say they know of its importance."
"Then you think the Separatists know of this Thanos, then?" Mace Windu asked.
"Determine that now, we cannot," Yoda said, cutting through the back-and-forth. "Action on this must be taken still, with our other troubles."
"If Thanos is as fortified as you say, it would certainly spell doom for our forces to spread them thinner, if we do not strategize carefully," an orange, amphibious Jedi master said through a gray breathing mask. He was tall and lanky with rigid, orange, ear-like protrusions on the side of his head and gray mesh over his two large eyes as another protective measure.
"Master Plo Koon, correct are you always," Yoda said, gesturing to a tall, dark-skinned Jedi with long black hair, brown eyes, white horns and white, pointed studs on his forehead "as for the records, Master Agen Kolar to confirm Gamora's claims he will."
"What about the child, Master Yoda?" a reptilian master with a long beak, yellow slits for eyes and greenish-yellow skin asked.
"See to it personally, I will, Master Kcaj," Yoda said. "Master Saesee Tiin will take my place for the younglings, until my return."
"Going that far into the Outer Rim would place a target on your head, Master," Saesee replied. He was a lean and muscular with beige skin and two horns jutting down and forward from the side of his head.
"I agree with Master Tiin," a tall, green, muscular master with frog-like, black eyes and long, green tentacles protruding from his head like hair said with a deep voice that reminded Peter of a Jamaican accent, "for you to go alone would put the entire order in jeopardy."
Yoda chuckled. "Never alone, with the Force, I will be."
"Master Yoda never said he would go alone," a tall, shapely, beautiful Jedi with stunning indigo eyes, dark skin, and white and turquoise tentacled headdress said, "going to Earth opens the opportunity for two objectives, securing the child, and securing the planet."
"Just what I was thinking, Master Allie," the last member on the Jedi Council said. She was tall and slender, the same species as Ahsoka with red skin and blue and white horns, except she was older and wiser with a quietly fierce aura about her. "Perhaps Master Obi Wan and his padawan should go? They have been the most intimate with Bane and Dooku, should either of them attempt to interfere."
"Perhaps I should go with Yoda instead, Master Shaak Ti," Mace Windu said to her, "Obi Wan's diplomacy skills are invaluable, however given the situation we must only rely on diplomacy unless it is dire."
Anakin shot a glare at the second-in-command and sat back in the chair, turning to Obi Wan and cocking an eyebrow. "Your absence would not go unnoticed by the Separatists, Master Windu," Anakin said, "remember, it was you on Geonosis who chased the Count away from the fight in the first place. With you gone, we'd most certainly receive an attack right at home."
Mace turned to object but Yoda spoke first. "Young Skywalker is correct," Yoda said, "invaluable, your presence here is, Master Windu. I will handle the child, they will sway the leadership."
Master Windu looked like he wanted to argue, but he had faith in the Grand Master. He turned back to Gamora. "Then it's settled."
A sigh of relief swept through the Guardians. "Thank you, master Jedi."
"Does this mean we can leave now?" Rocket spat.
"Master Kolar will accompany you to Master Jocasta Nu, they will help cross reference your history with ours," Mace Windu said. "As for the rest of you, privates will be here soon to take you to your quarter, but just remember- you are in the center of Republic, Jedi presence. Watch your mouths, but more importantly your hands, are we clear?"
"Got it," Peter said.
"I am watching them right now," Drax said, looking at his hands, "they do not seem to be very interesting."
"I am Groot," Groot said with a nod.
"Aye aye, Mister Milk Dud," Rocket said, getting his tiny foot stomped on by Gamora. "Ouch!"
"One question," Peter said, "where's the bathroom?"
Anakin popped a smirk, the rest didn't find it funny. "In your quarters," Master Windu said.
"Master Ti," Yoda said, passing the Infinity Stone to her. "Place this in our archives, you must."
Shaak Ti stood up and bowed. "I'll make sure the knights patrolling know of its importance."
"Meeting adjourned," Yoda said. All 12 Jedi stood up, with some shuffling toward the exit. Four soldiers rushed in, shepherding the Guardians "Obi Wan, Anakin," he said, hobbling out of his chair and pulling his walking stick to him through the air. "We will leave at once," he announced. "No longer can we leave this war's fate up to chance, already lost, we might have."
"Gamora was pretty forthcoming with information about the stone," Anakin said, "if this Earth is already unified against Thanos, then we will be there to help you secure the child in no time."
"Don't be so sure," Obi Wan said with caution, "a bit of resistance to forming an alliance with the Republic recently is normal. I wonder why Earth has been this quiet to us, if they are mobilizing against Thanos as suggested."
"Then go we must," Yoda said, turning to Mace Windu who watched a small hologram recording of the meeting that just occurred, keeping it for their references.
"Master Yoda," he said. "I take it you will leave as soon as possible."
"Keep the academy safe," Yoda said. "Return soon, I shall."
Windu nodded to the three Jedi about to embark on a trip to the outer rim, a planet sitting on the cusp of the unknown. "May the Force be with you," he said, watching the three Jedi leave the council, where it was safest.
THERE YOU HAVE IT
SO NOW THERE ARE THREE THINGS GOIN ON
YODA IS GOING TO TRY TO FIND THE CHILD
OBI WAN AND ANAKIN ARE GOING TO LEARN ABOUT EARTH, ITS GOV'T, AND SECURE THE PLANET
GUARDIANS CHILLING ON CORUSCANT AND COLLABING W THE JEDI TO LEARN ABOUT THANOS
WHICH ARE YOU THE MOST EXCITED FOR?