When Acacia and Obi Wan arrived, they found most of the summoned Jedi already in attendance. They had received a few scowls and curious glances while walking through the temple. In contrast, the gathered Jedi and Bail Organa’s team were very reserved and more worried about the matter at hand. Once they had found their places, Mace Windu moved to front of the room and raised his hand to gain their attention.
“Republic intelligence received a tip that has led us to who we believe is the Sith Lord Dooku mentioned to Master Kenobi on Genosis. The only reason I say that is because of the evidence provided by the tip and self evident reason why we haven’t discovered the spy in our midst sooner. I know this will be a shock to all of you, so I want you all to know before hand that we have fully investigated the matter. Evidence indicates that Chancellor Palpatine himself is responsible for the breach.” Mace Windu informed them, to gasps of shock. Anakin felt his stomach drop as Acacia handed him a data pad and whispered: “I compiled it myself. I am sorry.”
“Kenobi will supply experience to the sting team over comms, while Padawan Tano is with the 212th and 501st standing by. The Council would prefer to be able to take this matter to court, but acknowledges that it is an unlikely outcome. Therefore, our assignment is to capture or if necessary kill The Sith Lord.” Mace Windu continued evenly.
“What happens if we are wrong?” Anakin asked meeting Windu’s gaze unflinchingly.
“The Jedi Council believes it is worth the risk. However, any Jedi who disagrees is not required to participate. I realize this will be difficult for you Skywalker, but we need your skill for this mission.” Windu said and moved to the holo-table.
“I understand, Master.” Anakin responded his doubts replaced by anger as he looked back at the data-pad he held in his hand.
Anakin wasn’t sure what exact had gone wrong. Either Palpatine had been warned or he had sensed their intentions. Either way, he, Acacia, and Windu were the only Jedi left standing. Acacia had shown just how good she was with her swords and had given Anakin a new respect for Mandalorian training. Just as the lull in the fight had given Anakin a few seconds to reflect it had also given Sidious time to recuperate. As Palpatine raised his hands, they all sensed the surge of darkness. Windu and Acacia both instinctively took a step back and raised a hand to block the lighting, but Anakin chose to stand his ground. Meeting the lightning barrage head on, Anakin reflected most of it back into Palpatine’s face. Even as distracted as he was, Palpatine had one more card to play. As he lay gasping from the impact of Anakin’s defense, Sidious reached out with the Force.
Acacia cried out in shock and pain. As she fell to the floor, Anakin recognized Sidious’ strategy. He had hit her nerves right where the explosion of Dooku’s Force energy had. Acacia didn’t move. Palpatine (Darth Sidious) used the distraction to open one of the hidden doors in his office wall and run, his face disformed by the lighting Anakin had blasted back at him. Windu moved to follow him, but Anakin ran to Acacia’s side and lifted her in his arms.
“Skywalker! We are going to lose him!” Windu bellowed over the noise of the alarm.
“If she doesn’t get attention now, she could die! And she isn’t the only one!” Anakin shouted back, as he knelt by one of the other Jedi and began ripping his own garments to staunch the blood flowing from where her arm had been.
“Ahsoka, can you hear me! We need an emergency med-evac now! Come through the window if you have to!” Anakin called loudly into his now unblocked comm-link.
“Already on our way master. What about Sidious?” Ahsoka’s voice answered through the static.
“He got away. We’ll have to deal with him later.” Anakin replied gruffly.
Acacia woke up and was surprised to find herself in her bedroom in her uncle’s house on Concord Dawn instead of a medical bay in the Jedi Temple. Immediately the change struct her as oddly logical. With the entire Temple upset by the revelation about her father, it made sense not to have her in the temple. But why all the way home to Concord Dawn?
“How are you feeling, little one?” Her father asked as he entered the room and sat down beside her.
“A little disoriented, but the dull ache is gone. Why didn’t we stay on Coruscant?” Acacia answered drowsily.
“The council was worried that the chaos in the Force would have an impact on your recovery. While the other’s injuries where physical and relatively easy to mend, your injuries are mental. Any extreme imbalance in the Force in your surruondings would be detrimental.” Obi Wan explained gently as he adjusted her blanket carefully.
Coming in just as the last words left Kenobi’s mouth, the Jedi Healer Luminara smiled at his words. “With time you will heal completely, but you should be able to go back to your less strenuous duties as soon as your parents let you.” Luminara added her amusement clear. Though Acacia was unsure what either of them had done to amuse Luminara. Obi Wan seemed to know as he returned the smile with a mischievous grin.
“Where is mother?” Acacia inquired as her mind registered her mother’s absence in the Force.
“She is attending an emergency meeting of the Neutral Systems Council. I wouldn’t be surprised if it last longer than expected considering the matter at hand.” Obi Wan responded his tone and expression reflecting the buried concern Acacia could sense in him. Acacia opened her mouth to ask what could be so important to warrant an emergency meeting. However, her returning memory provided her with the answer.
“Duchess Satine, I understand that you have your reasons to trust the Jedi. The Republic has yet to declare the end of the war and the Separatists have not surrendered. Until these things happen, we cannot consider rejoining the Republic.”, said one of the other rulers on The Neutral Systems Council in response to Satine’s suggestion.
Satine sighed resignedly. She and the other members of the council had been arguing over the matter for several days. Distracted by her worries for her daughter and exhausted by recent events, Satine decided to let the matter drop for now. At least from a certain point of view.
“The council is dismissed.” Satine informed them with a wave of her hand. For a few seconds, her colleagues just sat there looking at her. Then they cleared the room, whispering to each other as they went.
“How is she?” Sir Patrick Katan inquired from behind her chair as the distant echoes of the leaving dignitaries died down.
“She hadn’t woken up when I talked to Ben, I mean Obi Wan, this morning.” Satine replied standing up to greet her old friend. Sir Patrick didn’t respond, but simply put a hand on her shoulder and gave her a fatherly smile.
“Your ship and family is ready whenever you are, Duchess.” Fenn Rau reported as he came into the room with his son in tow.
“Come Sir Patrick, it is time I returned to Concord Dawn.” Satine said as Sir Patrick gave her his arm.
“I don’t know who is more stubborn, you or your father. Speaking of whom, where is he? I need to speak to him.” Luminara commented when she came upon Acacia sitting outside her uncle’s hut.
“Mother always said that I got my stubbornness from Father. He and Anakin are talking about security measures in my playroom right now.” Acacia answered cheerfully. Rising from the crate she had been sitting on, Acacia led Luminara to a small room at the back of the house. One of the walls was covered with shelving which had an assortment of toys, sculptures, paintings, weapons, armor pieces, and other things the young Acacia had created. The opposite wall had large windows overlooking the village garden with a door that led to Acacia’s room. The rest of the room was empty, except for a rocking chair and a small holo table. Sitting on the floor around the small holo table sat Obi Wan and Anakin. The holo table had been made for a small child to stand at, but it worked just as well for adults if they sat on the floor.
“Master Luminara.” Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin said in unison, both rising.
“Sit, Obi Wan, Skywalker.” Luminara instructed raising her hand, “Does this holo table have a room display?” she added as she joined them on the floor as Acacia started to sit in the rocking chair.
Acacia immediately stood back up and went over to the shelf. Reaching behind a stack of books, Acacia pulled out a small box. Walking over to the holo table Acacia opened the box and place the small data clear crystal it contained in a special data port. The room flickered to life with what appeared to be a combat simulation in the bridge of an old Mandalorian flagship. The simulation started as if it had been paused mid play, but as holo of a younger Acacia began taking on the Sith Empire soldiers they realized it wasn’t.
Acacia stood transfixed as the memory came back to her. Obi Wan walked through the door looking exhausted and worried. For a moment, little Acacia didn’t see him as she used one of the techniques he had taught her on the child sized soldiers. Suddenly seeing him the child’s face lit up and she called to him in Mandalorian. As the holo image of Acacia ran into her father’s arms, the image froze. The image of her father’s tired face reminded her of the one expression he had been wearing in the medical bay of the Twilight.
“That was right after your master died, wasn’t it Obi Wan.” Luminara observed giving her friend a sympathetic look.
“Yes, it was. I wasn’t looking forward to telling my little daughter that she had lost yet another mentor and friend.” Obi Wan answered, putting an arm around his daughter who had sat next to him.
“Or that you wouldn’t be able to come home very much anymore. It wasn’t till I helped you on Zhar that I discovered why.” Acacia added sadly, looking up at him with an understanding expression on her face.
“I wondered why your codename sounded familiar.” Anakin commented in way that indicated it had been bothering him for some time.
“I don’t remember hearing that part of the story.” Luminara commented looking from Obi Wan to Anakin and back again. “Not that it matters now. I have a message from Yoda for you and a recording from the archives he would like all of you to study.” Luminara added, handing Obi Wan a small blue data crystal and exiting the room.
“Considered your stories, the council has. Accepted you still are. A mission for you, I have. Found, Palpatine must be, if to end this we are. Your mission, this will be. Return to Coruscant for now you must not. Stay with your families you will. Less suspicious it will be. May the Force be with you.” Yoda’s holo image explained, looking more worried than Anakin had ever seen him. As it flickered away, Obi Wan glanced at Anakin.
“I gather you told him.” Acacia commented, looking from one to the other.
“I needed to be honest with them, especially for Ahsoka’s sake.” Anakin answered their silent questions.
“Speaking of Ahsoka, where is she?” Obi Wan inquired studying his young friend.
“Working with Rex on coordinating the Republic security for the ceremony last I heard.” Anakin responded sounding oddly resigned.
Ahsoka stood on the bridge of the Relentless watching the Mandalorian space traffic. Behind her, Rex was waiting for an answer to the more subtle part of his question. Was she ready to face her master and her own decision? There was only one way to tell.
To be continued