Chapter Thirteen

"We wish to thank you for the news of the younglings." Mace Windu began, motioning for them to sit. He had opted to meet with them in one of the smaller meeting chambers instead of the council room. As she had previously requested, he also had Master Yoda join them via holographic transmission.

"I'm glad that I got to them when I did." Buffy admitted. "There was a droid patrol not far from where they were holed up, and heading in their direction. It probably wouldn't have been long before they were found and killed."

*Costly turns, this war takes.* Yoda said. *Needless deaths, all.*

"That's what happens when powerhouses can't play well together." Buffy said grimly. "Everybody wants things done their way, and it's the little people, the ones that don't care one way or the other, that suffer for it."

"If I may ask," Windu spoke up, not particularly wanting to get into such a discussion at the moment. "what were you doing out there? I was under the impression that you would remain here until we spoke again."

"Your kind are not the only one to get visions." Buffy told them. "For whatever reason, they were supposed to be saved, and I was supposed to save them. I don't ask questions, I just go do it."

*Find the Padawans, where did you?* Yoda asked.

"Jabiim." Shar answered this time. "And it was a good thing to. We intercepted transmissions saying that the droids had 'kill all' orders."

Master Windu looked surprised. "Jabiim is the planet that Knight Skywalker just returned from. Did you not sense his presence?"

Buffy shrugged, thankful that she'd already considered them asking this question before they'd arrived and spoken with her mates. She didn't want to take the chance that they could sense their mental communications. "There was an old adversary on the planet that I was trying to avoid. I kept my shields up tight so that she wouldn't sense me. She'd have no problems killing those kids just to piss me off."

"You have much Darkness, yet you are a preserver of Life." Windu said thoughtfully. "You are a true mystery."

"Everyone has Darkness in them, Jedi," Buffy said. "even you. It's how you handle that Darkness that counts."

*Wise, you are.* Yoda commented. *Yet, to acknowledge that Darkness, the Dark side leads.*

"No, it doesn't." Koyi denied. "Allowing the Darkness to rule you, leads to the Dark side. In the end of things, it is always better to acknowledge what cannot be changed. Darkness resides in each of us. Accepting that it exists is not the same as seeking it out, but to not do so leaves one open for others to take advantage."

It was the closest that they were going to hint at what was happening within their own ranks. As they had walked through the halls, they had sensed that Skywalker wasn't the only one flirting with the Darkness that Jedi teachings was trying so hard to suppress. The others were younger, and with further training, they would no doubt learn to control their emotions, but wartime wasn't best time for such learnings.

*Approached by the Sith, you have been?* Yoda asked, returning the conversation back to the matter at hand.

"Of course, I have." Buffy answered. "You think you're the only ones that would rather have us with them than against them? I told that to your Council earlier."

The hologram of Master Yoda turned to face Master Windu, who was looking at the triad in blatant surprise. Then his focus turned inward as he recalled the entire scene from beginning to end. "You did." He muttered. "I can not believe that we overlooked that."

"I guess you were too busy trying to decide if you should kill us or not." Buffy snorted derisively.

"Who approached you?" Windu asked, definitely not wanting to go there.

"Old guy called Tyranus and his Girl Friday, name of Asajj Ventress." Buffy told them. "She's more dangerous to you than he is, though. For some reason, she hates the Jedi with a passion, and she's got a real hard-on for Kenobi and the Skywalker kid."

"Excuse me?" Windu was confused. He had never heard such terms before.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "She really, really wants Kenobi and Skywalker dead."

*Anything more, can you tell?* Yoda asked.

"I work on a need to know basis." Buffy shrugged. "I only know things if or when I'm supposed to actually do something about them. Other than that, I just go about my business."

Like most people, the Jedi Masters immediately filled in their own blanks, assuming that she didn't know anything more than what she'd already told them. It was beyond their experience to think that someone would know the truth of the matter, and do nothing about it.

Buffy stood, her mates joining her a moment later. "Look, I've told you about the kids. We really don't have anything more to talk about, so I think it's time we left."

"Please, remain for the evening." Windu leapt to his feet as well. Even if she would not be an ally to the Jedi, they could not afford her as an enemy. "It is late already. I would like to speak more with you about the issues that you have with our Order, and we would still like to know how you have managed to elude both our Jedi and the Sith for so long. It may be that our enemy is doing the same thing."

:Maybe he's not as dumb as he looks after all.: Shar commented.

~~~ BtVS ~~ Star Wars ~~~

"You wanted to see me, Chancellor." Anakin said as he entered the Chancellor's office.

"Ahh, yes, my boy." Chancellor Palpatine greeted him enthusiastically. "I wanted to make sure that you arrived safely."

"I am fine." Anakin assured him. "There was a minor issue with the leader of the Jabiim army, but I handled it."

Palpatine smile internally, knowing exactly what 'issue' the boy referred to. He had felt Skywalker tapping into the Dark side of the Force.

"What is our status?" He asked.

"I do not believe that Jabiim will be able to hold out much longer, whether the 'kill all' orders are rescinded or not." Anakin told him. "We have won and lost in such equal measures, that we are practically at a stand still with the Separatists."

"What of additional assistance from the Jedi Order?"

"The Order is helping where we can, but our ranks are spread thin. We took a heavy loss at Genosis before Master Yoda's arrival with the clone soldiers."

"Then we shall need to be strategic in our placement." Palpatine said.

When Anakin finally took his leave of the Chancellor, the first thing he did was call his wife.

"Hello, my love." He said to Padmé when she appeared. "How are you?"

"Anny." The sound of her voice and the appearance of her delighted smile soothed some of the tension still knotted in her gut that lingered from the confrontation with the Jabiim soldier and the unsettling words of the women that he'd dropped off at the Temple. The only thing better would have been in she was physically there, but she'd had to return to Naboo to attend to her duties as Senator. However, he still hated that nickname, and scowled, which just made her laugh. "Are you back?"

"For the moment." He nodded. "I'm on Coruscant. I've just left the Chancellor, and will be heading to the Temple, but I wanted to see you. I've missed you."

Padmé looked at him lovingly. "I've missed you, too. I wish that this senseless war was over, so that you could come home to me."

"If it were up to me, I would destroy the Trade Federation completely, but the Chancellor is still hoping for a more peaceful resolution."

If Anakin noticed the unease that crossed his wife's face at his words, he gave no indication. He simply basked in her presence and the sound of her voice. He told her about the strange women that he had escorted to the Temple, and the things that they had said to him. Not about their obvious contempt of himself after they'd found out who he was, of course, but about their feelings towards the Jedi Order and how they hadn't known who he was. Padmé listened, but refrained from offering her opinion. While she loved and trusted in her husband, there were times when even she felt that the instant fame and notoriety within the Jedi ranks had not been healthy for the former slave. They talked for a bit longer, then Anakin reluctantly ended the call, knowing that he had to return to his duties. In truth, he should have gone to the Jedi Council before going to see Palpatine, but he had figured that they would be occupied with the women, and he wanted to be prepared for the questions that he knew they would ask regarding Jabiim.

He did not understand why they couldn't just trust in his judgement, and that of the Chancellor. He was the one out on the front lines of this war, while they remained behind. He stopped himself right there. Taking a deep breath, and shaking the thoughts away as unworthy of his Order, he made his way quickly to the transport area and took off in his speeder.