I know, I said there would be a time skip, but first, let's check up on happenings on Coruscant.
Also, I wrote part of the last chapter on a Laptop instead of on my phone, so that's why capitalisation was a bit wack.
And we'll go to Naboo
Jedi Master Obi-wan Kenobi was tired. To say that Anakin had managed to cause an uproar in the Council by leaving would be an understatement. He had done his best to defend his former pupil and long-time friend's actions, and it had really put his nickname of the negotiator to the test.
And now, he was going to visit an old friend. That friend being Luminara Unduli.
He pressed the button for the doorbell, and heard the faint chiming through the door. Mere moments later, the door opened, Luminara standing behind. "Hello master Kenobi" she said, "I had just made myself some tea. Would you like a cup?"
"Yes, please" Obi-wan replied, stepping into the room. As he looked around, he noticed that the room looked different. It wasn't enough to qualify as messy, really, but some things were out of place. With Luminara being a very tidy person, it was a sign that she wasn't quite alright. Although that was to be expected, considering... Everything.
Luminara noticed the glances. "I'm sorry about the mess" she said. "I..."
"It's alright" Obi-wan said. "I think it's tired us all out."
She put a cup of tea on the table in front of him, before sitting down on the opposite side. "So, what brings you to my humble quarters on this day?" Luminara asked.
Obi-wan sighed. "How are you doing, Luminara? And please answer honestly, because you are far from fine. Nobody would be fine if they went through what you did. And I think we've known eachother for long enough, don't you?"
She sighed. "I don't even know what to feel, master Kenobi. I'm just tired. Tired of... Well, all of it."
Silence hung heavy between them. "I feel like I failed her" she then said. "I never knew that these terrible things were going on inside of her."
"You can hardly blame yourself for this" Obi-wan said. "You hadn't seen her in what, half a year?"
"Exactly" Luminara responded. "I should've been trying to keep contact with her. Should've seen what was going on inside of her head. She's always been so independent that I guess I felt that she wouldn't need it."
Obi-wan sighed. "We can't change the past."
"But we have to learn from it" Luminara said.
"While that is true, beating yourself up over your mistakes is senseless." Obi-wan replied. "Trust me, I have more than enough experience in that department, and it's never helped anyone."
He was only met with silence, and didn't press on
Two people where walking down the streets of Coruscant. They where both wearing cloaks to conceal their identity, which wasn't uncommon in this part of the giant city planet. Most people came here to participate in several forms of legal, less legal, and downright illegal forms of trade. Or, as was the case with these two figures, to meet someone with information.
"You think this is an actual lead?" Riyo asked.
"I don't know" Marcus, her bodyguard, grumbled. "I'd say even odds. I still don't like that you insisted to come with me."
"You know me, can't handle second-hand reports" Riyo said. "Besides, I'm sure you'll be able to protect me."
Marcus grumbled again. "Well, in these parts, you really never know."
Riyo chuckled, as she elbowed her bodyguard in a friendly manner. "Come on, where's your sense of adventure?"
"I've had about enough adventures in the army." he answered. "And here we are."
And indeed, here was the plaza where they had arranged a meeting with an important informant regarding Riyo's investigation into Ahsoka's trial. Or, really, the charade that didn't even deserve to be called a trial. The investigation had been so incredibly negligent that it just had to be on purpose. The details of how and why, though, still eluded them. After this meeting, hopefully, some questions would be answered.
They sat down on a bench in the centre of the plaza. "And now, we wait" Riyo said.
"Let's hope he doesn't show up too late." Marcus replied. "The longer we stay here, the more dangerous it gets."
They didn't have to wait long, luckily, because only a few moments later, someone sat down next to them, face turned away.
"You got it?" Marcus questioned.
"I got it" the person answered. He was wearing a helmet to conceal his identity. He set down a bag in between them. "Here it is" he said. He then grabbed a sandwich out of the bag and started eating, seemingly completely at ease. For a moment, everything seemed peaceful. Normal.
And then, a shot rang out. Time seemed to slow down as Marcus instinctually jumped in front of Riyo. The informant was slumped over, the hole in his chest still smoking. The bodyguard quickly assessed the situation. "Time to go!" he said, as he grabbed the bag and pulled Riyo up. He slung the bag over his shoulder and grabbed Riyo's wrist, practically pulling her along.
A second shot rang out as people around them frantically ran. Magnus stormed into the crowd, shielding Riyo's body with his own. "Pull the hood off" he said, and Riyo complied. They moved to their speeder as fast as they could in the crowd. Luckily for them, they reached the speeder without further incident.
"Well, we must be on the right track" Riyo said. "Apparently, this information is worth killing over."
"It really would be much better for your health if you didn't paint so many targets on your back." Marcus commented. "But I know that you're going to disregard my advice anyway."
Riyo made a face in mock-hurt. "Me? Disregard your advice? Never! I took it into careful consideration and then chose to ignore it."
Marcus sighed. "Sometimes I wonder why I took this job."
Riyo was sitting at her desk. She and a few of her aides where reading through the documents their informant had gotten for them. It was a report of the battle of Ragne IV. Admiral Tarkin had been the leader of the fleet in said battle. Marcus, meanwhile, was busy keeping said office secure, increasing security measures in case of an assassination attempt. Such an attempt wasn't unlikely, given what had happened after they had acquired the information.
"Senator!" Naya, one of her aides said. "I think I found something!"
Riyo stood up from her desk. "What is it, Naya?" she questioned, as she walked up to her.
"Look at this" Naya said. "Isn't that-"
"Yeah" Riyo said. "That's her. Play it, please."
Naya pressed a button, and the sound of Barriss Offee's voice filled the room. "This report will most likely fall on deaf ears" she said. "But the tactics employed by admiral Tarkin lead to an unacceptable loss of sentient life, both soldiers and civilians. His strategies are in direct violation of everything the Jedi hold dear, and therefore, I cannot bring myself to work with him any longer. I implore whoever sees this message to send it to the Jedi High Council. Signed, Barriss Offee, Padawan of the Jedi Order."
Silence hung in the office for long moments.
The silence was broken by another aide, Bon, speaking up. "There are reports here of several arguments between commander Offee and Admiral Tarkin here, senator." He said.
Riyo's eyebrows shot up. From what she'd heard from Ahsoka about Barriss, that was highly uncharacteristic, to say the least.
"Alright everyone, good work" Riyo said. "Keep digging. I think it's about time I paid a visit to the GAR prison complex."
A claxon rang as the cell door was opened. Riyo walked inside, observing as the figure of Barriss Offee rose from her position on the floor. "Leave us, I'll be fine" Riyo told the guards. The guards nodded and walked towards the cell door, up the steps.
"Just knock when you're done" one of the guards said, then shut the door behind him. Riyo didn't bother to respond, instead focussing her attention on the Mirilan.
"Senator... Chuchi, is it?" Barriss questioned.
"That's me" Riyo responded. "Now, I don't have much time, and I'm in need of answers."
Barriss sighed. "If you're wondering why I did what I did, then you'll find the answers in the recording of the trial." She said.
"I think not" Riyo responded. "I'm looking for more... Specific reasons. You wouldn't mind if I recorded this?"
"I'm in a max security prison with who knows how many recording devices pointed at me" Barriss said. "I suppose one more couldn't hurt."
"Alright" Riyo said, ignoring the remark. She pressed a button on a device on her wrist. "For the record, this is Riyo Chuchi, current senator of Pantora, speaking to former Jedi Padawan Barriss Offee. Now, lets get it on with. You used to work with admiral Tarkin, right?"
"That is correct"
"The record states that you disagreed with his military strategies, and that you frequently argued with him, is that correct?" Riyo then asked.
"Yes. I have even recorded a message in an attempt to bring his vile strategies to the attention of the Jedi council, although they have refused to act on this." Barriss responded.
"Please tell me, Miss Offee, what exactly did these 'vile strategies' you speak of entail?"
"Well, it was the battle of Ragne IV that I served with him. As you may know, Ragne IV is a republic world. The native population had requested republic aid in defending their world against the separatists. We were tasked with defending the capital city. Tarkin decided, when the fighting started, to not allow the civilian population to evacuate, in hopes that the defenders would fight harder if they knew that civilians were on the line. He also forced the civilians to build defensive works and dig trenches."
Riyo's stomach churned. "He held civilians hostage to encourage the natives to fight harder?" she asked.
"Yes, he did." Barriss replied. "Around three-quarters of the civilian population died in the fighting, most due to bombardment or artillery fire. Any of the natives that refused were executed. When I was first sent out as a healer, I swore an oath to uphold all life as sacred, no matter species, homeworld, religion, allegiance, no matter what. As a Jedi, I swore to uphold all life as sacred, and to never take a life unless there was no other option. These disgusting practices that Tarkin perpetuates are in direct violation of everything I have sworn to uphold. This war is in direct violation of everything I have sworn to uphold!"
"Well, that's one hell of a motive" Riyo thought. "You say that you have sworn to uphold all life as sacred, yet you bombed the temple hanger, did you not? You must have some sort of justification?"
"Sometimes, as a healer, you have to make difficult choices" Barriss said. "Sometimes, you have to amputate a limb so that the rest of the body survives. Sometimes, when there aren't enough supplies to save everyone, you have to choose to let the heavily wounded die so that others can live. Sometimes, people have to die so many others can live. It's all for the greater good."
"Then why did you frame Ahsoka Tano?" Riyo asked. "Or do you value your life more than hers?"
"Because there never should've been a chance that she was convicted." Barriss said. "Any of the clones in that jail that I knocked out would've known that it hadn't been Ahsoka. I made sure of it. It was supposed to be a distraction so that I could leave Coruscant before anyone found out that it'd been me."
"You're right, if the trial had been fair, she never would've even stood in a court room. However, the investigation was coordinated by Admiral Tarkin, and was so downright negligent that it can be reasonably assumed to be malicious." Riyo then stood up, knocking on the cell door. "I thank you for your testimony, Miss Offee. The senate and the Jedi High council will hear of this."
The door opened, and Riyo walked up the steps. Then, she stopped for a moment. "I thought you might want to know that both Ahsoka and Master Skywalker have left the order as a result of your actions."
Barriss smiled. "Then I have saved two more lives. I hope they will be happy."
Luminara entered the café. She'd received a mysterious invite from Obi-wan to come here around this time, and he hadn't said why. Trusting her old friend, she came.
Scanning the establishment with her eyes, she saw him sitting in one of the corner booths. She walked over and sat down.
"So, what required so much secrecy?" Luminara asked.
"The council was sent an extensive investigation into Admiral Tarkin. The council has decided not to publish this to anyone in the order, fearing distrust. But I felt that you should, at least, hear these recordings. The first one was made roughly five months ago." He handed her an earpiece, and started the first recording.
Her eyebrows shot up as she heard her former padawan's voice. She spoke of her concern with Admiral Tarkin and his tactics. Barriss' idealism shone through, and Luminara wondered how she hadn't known this for so long.
It wasn't a long recording, and soon, her voice fell silent. Obi-wan grabbed another data-chip and slotted it in. "This recording was made much more recently. It sheds some light on the other recording." He pressed the button, and the recorder came to life. "For the record, this is Riyo Chuchi..."
Luminara was quiet as she listened to the interview.
She heard her former apprentice speak passionately about why she'd done what she'd done. She heard her speak about Tarkin. She heard her explain it all.
The recording ended, and silence hung heavy in the air. Luminara felt as if something was stuck in her throat. "Thank you" she said, her voice thick. "Thank you for showing me."
Riyo was huddled into a corner, blaster in her hand, ready to stun the first person to walk through the door.
Yesterday, she'd presented her dirt on admiral Tarkin to the senate, ranging from his neglect during the investigation into the bombing of the temple to evidence of several warcrimes on republic worlds. She'd also sent her case to the Jedi High Council.
Apparently, that had gotten her into some hot water. Not unexpected. Thus, with blaster in hand, she waited. She was damn lucky that Marcus had insisted on getting extra security, otherwise she might not have been forewarned.
The door opened and without hesitation, Riyo pulled the trigger. A blue stun ring shot out from her blaster, hitting the first thug square in the chest. He fell forward, unconscious, giving way to an addition thug behind him. Marcus fired his blaster, and another stun-ring flew through the room. There didn't seem to be any more thugs right now, but that would change soon. Riyo checked the energy levels on her blaster. 90%, still good. Remember to thank Marcus for his shooting lessons at some point. Or thank senator Amidala for suggesting them. Some people might have thanked God or the Force, but Riyo liked to extend her gratitude to those who deserved it.
She heard the voice of a clone in her earpiece. "This is commander Fox, 30 seconds out. Please confirm." Riyo clicked a button on her earpiece, confirming that she'd heard without having to speak.
One of the thugs entered the hallway and saw the unconscious bodies of his companions. Marcus fired a stun blast at him, but the thug had managed to call for help.
Luckily, right when the thugs were about to enter the office, Fox and several other clones rushed into the room. In total, four more thugs were stunned and one was killed when he tried to shoot one of the soldiers. Riyo signed in relief, putting her blaster back in the holster and moving to get up.
Fox walked in, blasters still raised. After quickly checking to see if there was any more danger, he lowered them. "Are you alright, Ma'am?" he asked.
"I'm okay, Commander" Riyo said. "What about my aides?"
Fox was quiet for a moment, listening to the Comms in his helmet. "We found six, ma'am." He then said. "One of them, Naya, died trying to put up a fight. Another one is currently being looked over by a medic, a blaster bolt grazed his side."
She momentarily fell silent at the news. "Any idea who could've done this?" Riyo then asked.
"Judging by the tattoo's, they're part of Akro's gang." Fox answered. "They murder for their income, and don't shy away from public figures. they tried to kill senator Amidala on at least three separate occasions."
"Any idea why they're after me?" Riyo asked.
"Presumably because someone paid them to." Fox answered. "We'll try to investigate, but I don't have much hope."
"We'll see what comes of it" Riyo said. "Thank you for the assistance, commander."
Fox shrugged. "Just doing my duty, ma'am."
"Well, I thank you all the same."
Fives was bored. He understood that the 501st wouldn't have much to do while they were looking for a new general for them, but sending a captain and an ARC trooper to guard a senator that would be in-flight for most of the time seemed overkill to him. "Kriffing politicians" he thought. Luckily, this one was of the variety that viewed clones as actual sentient beings, so he supposed it could be worse.
He finished his rounds. "Nothing to report, sir" he said to the senator's bodyguard.
"Good" the man replied. "Strap in, we're going to land."
Fives strapped himself in next to his captain, Rex. In front of them, the blue swirl of hyperspace turned into white stripes, and then Naboo came into view. He turned his helmet microphone in to the private channel the 501st shared. Currently, Rex was the only one in range, but it was better than nothing. "I understand why a senator wouldn't go into hiding on her own world, but why Naboo? As far as I know, Naboo and Pantora have very different climates."
Rex grumbled. "I don't know either, Fives" he said. "Maybe she's got friends here or something."
"What is up with her anyways?" Fives questioned. "She keeps giving us these vague smiles. Like she knows something we don't."
Rex sighed. "Yeah, well, she's a politician. They're all at least a bit strange. I still don't understand why Fox keeps swooning over her."
Fives grinned. "Ah, so that's why he was so insistent. Thanks for the blackmail material, vod."
Rex grinned back. "Anytime."
The speeder stopped in front of a house, far from the main road. "Here we are!" senator Chuchi said. Her bodyguard, who had been driving, got out. Rex and Fives did the same. After scoping out the area, the bodyguard opened the door and the senator stepped out as well. Behind them, the front door of the house opened.
And out stepped none other than long-lost commander Ahsoka Tano. It had only been a month, but it felt more like a year sometimes.
"C-commander?!" Rex blurted out.
Ahsoka grinned. "Good to know that you still recognize me, Rexter." She said.
"B-But how?" he questioned. "Is the general here as well?"
"Well, I'm not a general anymore" Anakin suddenly spoke, "but yes, I'm here as well."
Ahsoka, meanwhile, turned her attention. "Hey Fives" she said. "Good to see you."
Fives grinned and removes his helmet. "Good to see you to, commander."
Senator Chuchi laughed. "I think I understand why senator Amidala was so insistent that I'd take these specific soldiers with me."
Anakin grinned. "Well, that was my idea. My wife's just good at pestering."
Everyone was silent for a moment. Then, Fives burst out laughing. "Looks like I won the bet!"
Anakin groaned. "Is there anyone that doesn't know?"
"Why do you think they asked you for advice anytime they needed something with me?" Padmé said. "You never had much skill for subtlety, sweetheart."
"Well, not like it matters now, anyway" Anakin said, and, just to exemplify that point, he captured her lips in a kiss. Rex immediately decided that the couple looked very natural like this.
"Well before this becomes more dramatic, let's go inside!" Ahsoka says.
"Oh yes, of course, come in!" Padmé says as she separates from her husband. She then turned her attention to Riyo. "I'll show you and your bodyguard to your rooms, and then we can continue our conversation over tea, perhaps?"
And that's it for this chapter! Up next, it's about time we turn the levels of gay up a bit, don't you think?
Anyway, consider following this story to be notified when I post my next chapter, because even I don't know when that'll happen! And, as always, tips, suggestions and reviews are appreciated, and have a nice day!