15

Florrum

Obi-Wan watched as an Alderaani corvette set down outside of the complex. He recognized the ship a being Bail Organa's, and he frowned, wondering why it was here.

"Looks like we have visitors," Hondo said as he stood beside Obi-Wan.

"That's the Chancellor's ship," Obi-Wan told him.

"The Chancellor? Uh oh," Hondo said, growing worried.

Obi-Wan turned to him. "Don't worry, he has no interest in your …operations, Hondo," he said.

"Eh? How can you be so sure?"

"He has bigger problems to deal with right now," Obi-Wan assured him.

"If you say so. I'll get my boys to bring him here, make sure the coast is clear."

"I appreciate it," Obi-Wan said.

Hondo left, and Obi-Wan continued to watch out the window of his small room. But it wasn't the Chancellor who he saw emerge from the craft, it was Anakin. "What the blazes is he doing here?" Obi-Wan said as he left his room to meet the visitors.

"Welcome to Florrum," Obi-Wan said as he met Anakin.

"Thanks," Anakin said. "It's good to see you, Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan nodded. "You too. I have to say that I'm surprised, though. You're taking a significant risk, Anakin. And while that doesn't surprise me, given that it's you, I have to question your decision to come here."

"I'll explain it to you, I promise," Anakin said. "But right now I need you to come with us."

Obi-Wan frowned. "Come with you? Where to?"

Anakin and Rex exchanged a look.

"We're going to Kamino, General Kenobi," Rex said. "We have a plan."

Why do those words always worry me? Obi-Wan said. "I hope it's a good one," he said. "We're not exactly in position of strength."

"Are you sure about that?"

Anakin and Obi-Wan turned around to see Hondo standing there.

"What are you talking about?" Anakin asked.

"I mean, me and my men will help you out," Hondo said. "I never liked the Jedi much, but what those clones did…just terrible. If you have a plan to get revenge for this atrocity, count us in."

Anakin and Obi-Wan looked at each other in surprise.

"What's the plan?" Hondo asked Anakin.

"Well, the way I see it, it's the Kaminoans who are responsible for this inhibitor chip," Anakin said. "Palpatine no doubt came up with the idea, or at least told them to ensure that there was a way to control the clones. But the cloners are the one who created the chip, and the ones who put it in the clones. They must know a way to deactivate it. Chancellor Organa told me that they're being completely uncooperative, denying everything. I figure they just need to be properly motivated."

Obi-Wan frowned. "And how do we do that, exactly?"

"Aggressive negotiations, that's how," Anakin replied.

"What you're suggesting is not the Jedi way, and it smacks of darkness, Anakin," Obi-Wan said. "Be mindful of…"

"Are you kidding me?" Anakin interjected hotly. "The Jedi way is all but gone, Obi-Wan. Are you really gonna question me now? These cloners are as responsible as Palpatine for the Purge! They need to be dealt with in whatever manner necessary to make them talk."

Hondo nodded, and looked at Obi-Wan. "Skywalker is right," he said. "These cloners have no honour. They don't deserve to be treated honorably."

Anakin smirked. "Well? What do you say?" he asked Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan looked at Hondo and then at Anakin. "You are both overlooking a vital fact," he said. "Kamino will be swarming with clones, clones that will kill us on sight."

"Not if we don't look like Jedi," Anakin said.

Obi-Wan frowned. "Do I even want to know what you are considering?"

Anakin simply smiled.

Coruscant

"Any word from General Skywalker?" Rex asked Organa as they took an early meal together.

"No," Organa replied. "Do you know what he had planned?"

"Not exactly," Rex said. "But knowing General Skywalker, it's bound to be…creative."

Organa smirked. "Creative? Or crazy?"

Rex chuckled. "Six of one, half dozen of the other," he commented.

As the two men continued with their meal, Rex's comlink sounded.

"Maybe that's him now," Organa suggested.

Rex nodded and stood up to fetch his comlink. "Who is this?" he asked as he activated it.

"It's me, Commander, Appo."

Rex was alarmed at once. "Appo? Where are you? What do you want?"

"I just want to talk, sir," he said. "Can we meet? You and me?"

Rex said nothing for a moment as he tried to ascertain if he could trust Appo. "Why?" he asked finally.

"I need to see you, sir. With all that has happened…you know, with the Jedi."

Rex frowned. "How many Jedi have you killed, Appo?"

"I was at the Temple," Appo said. "I know I'll never forgive myself for what I did there. But I've heard the C and D from the Chancellor, and I'm confused as hell."

Rex considered this. "I'll meet you at the Chancellor's office in one hour," he said. "Come alone, Appo."

"Thank you sir," Appo said. "I'll see you then."

"What's going on?"

Rex looked up. "The trooper who took over the 501st, he wants to meet me," he said.

"Can you trust him?"

Rex sighed. "At one time I trusted him entirely, but now…he's coming alone. He's heard the C and D order, and wants to talk. I told him to come to your office, sir. I hope that's okay."

Organa nodded. "Let's go together," he said.

A deep feeling of anxiety had settled into Rex's gut as he flew the Chancellor's speeder to the Senate building. He'd fought alongside Appo in many battles, but now everything was different. Appo had admitted to going to the Jedi temple, and Re could only imagine the atrocities that he'd committed there. There were children in that Temple, he reflected with a frown, babies even…

Organa could see how contemplative Rex was as they approached the Senate building, and knew the reason for it. He didn't know Rex well, but knew him well enough to see how the situation was eating away at him. Men that he'd trusted, men he'd considered brothers, had slain the very people they'd been created to serve: their leaders, in some cases, their friends. And even though Rex himself had not been involved in the massacre, he still felt culpable to a degree.

Upon reaching the Chancellor's office, they were met with two senate guards. They flanked a man that Rex immediately recognized as Appo. He was alone, and unarmed.

"Please come in, Captain," Organa said.

Rex watched his brother warily, knowing his part in the massacre at the Jedi temple.

"What do you want, Appo?" Rex asked, characteristically blunt.

Appo looked at Rex, then at Organa, then back at Rex. "I…I wanted to let you know that the 501st has heard your orders, sir," he said, looking at Organa. "I wanted to say how…ashamed we are…I am…" He stopped as his shame filled him. He shook his head. "I don't know why we did what we did…it's like we had no choice, like we were controlled and forced to do it."

"In essence you were," Organa said.

Appo looked at him, and then at Rex. "It's that chip Fives discovered, isn't it?"

Rex nodded. "We were genetically designed to kill the Jedi," he said bitterly.

"But why?" Appo asked. "Who would want such a thing?"

"The late chancellor," Organa said. "Palpatine planned this for years. He was a monster, Captain, a sith lord with designs on the galaxy. If it weren't for Generals Skywalker and Kenobi, he'd have succeeded."

"Are they the only Jedi left?" Appo asked.

"Master Yoda survived, as well as Ahsoka Tano," Organa said. "Beyond that, we don't know."

"We can't recall any survivors until we're sure the purge is over," Rex explained. "At this point, we have no way of knowing if the counter order has been heard by every commander."

Appo nodded his understanding. "Well I can speak for the 501st, and we're prepared to help the Jedi in whatever way we can. And I know there are other commanders who feel the same way."

Rex nodded. "I expect to hear from General Skywalker soon," he said. "Trouble is, I'm not sure I can trust you, Appo. There's too much at stake."

"I get that," Appo replied. "And if there's a way for me to prove myself, name it."

Rex considered this. "I'll give it some thought," he said.

"Perhaps the commander can assist us in assuring that other clone commanders have heard and are obeying the order to stop the attack on the Jedi," Organa suggested. He looked at Appo. "What do you say?"

Appo nodded at once. "You can count on me, sir."