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Wow, two posts in two days. Still, after that long hiatus, I have a lot of catching up to do, right? 😉

This chapter: Night falls, Obi-Wan reports to Qui-Gon, and meets an unexpected ally…

[11/2/2013: Changed tagging to reflect current story status; aka, completed.]

Chapter VIII

                Night had fallen hours ago, but Coruscant never slept.

Still, the palace was more calm and empty than it would have been during the day. Obi-Wan made his way briskly down to the cells, located in the subterranean levels of the palace. However, unlike the interrogation cells, these were built for the purpose of detention, impossible to get into or out of, without some sort of key or Force ability on the part of the outsider.

Obi-Wan closed his eyes and carefully concentrated, extending a thousand wisps of ethereal light outward. He felt a pull toward one particular cell… Walking toward the cell, he palmed the door open. He paused for a moment in the doorway, staring down at the prone figure on the floor at the other side of the cell. He advanced into the cell, up to the prisoner. Suddenly, the figure shoved itself up on its elbow, flipping over to face him, revealing a striking young woman not much younger than himself, with sky blue eyes and blonde hair. Her eyes glistened with defiance.

“Listen, Sith, I’m not going to tell you anything, so why don’t you just toddle off and do something more fitted to your abilities, whether it be destroying an entire planet or taking candy from Younglings.” the woman said defiantly. Obi-Wan was taken aback. For a long moment, he couldn’t find anything to say.

“I’m not a Sith,” he said at last. The woman eyed him with obvious distaste and disbelief.

“Prove it.” she said. Obi-Wan pulled in a deep breath. She seemed to be determined to make his job difficult. “How am I supposed to know that this isn’t a trick?” she demanded, distrustfully.

“Because, it isn’t,” Obi-Wan said, annoyed. He made a brisk bow. “Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, at your service.” Dropping his mental shields just enough to allow her to probe his mind, Obi-Wan braced himself. Occasionally, allowing less experienced people to access one’s mind could hurt. The movement was brisk, and over more quickly than he had expected. The young woman sighed and leaned back.

“I’m Siri Tachi,” she said.

“Pleasure to meet you. Now let’s get going.”

“Going?” she repeated, confused.

“Yes. I’m not going to leave you here!” he said. “Come on.” He gave her a swift hand up and led her quickly from the cell. He was not about to leave her to be tortured and interrogated.

Moving briskly, they passed quickly through more corridors and passages, all of them dark, dank, musty-smelling, and poorly kept. Siri glanced quickly at her inscrutable, mysterious new ally, curious. He wasn’t lying… but if he was telling the truth, then what was he doing here? And she had never heard of a fellow Jedi by the name he had claimed. She stole a quick peep at him. His face was oddly illuminated by the pale, flickering lighting of the corridor. Handsome, but somewhat disfigured by what appeared to be Sith-style tattoos on one side of his face. He seemed somewhat exasperated, impatient. Who was he?

Siri gave up her mental exploration and shuddered, her mind rambling along dark avenues, wondering what poor wretches lived here, what exactly was that lurking in the shadows… was that a rat? and why did this place even exist, unless it was a monument to pure evil? She pulled slightly closer to her guide, who did not seem unduly bothered by the darkness or disturbing surroundings. Perhaps he had gotten used to the dark all around. Finally, he led her to one room, which seemed even colder, darker, and more decrepit than the others. “You’ll be safe here,” he said, palming the door open. “No one will look for you here. I’m sorry I can’t do better for you.”

“It’s better than a cell,” Siri said with somewhat-forced cheerfulness. A brief flash of a slightly worried yet still dazzling smile, then his face sobered again.

“Where were you taken?”

“Kamino. We were… investigating… reports… reports of a clone army that was being formed. We sensed it… my master’s on the Seers’ Circle… and the Council ordered us to investigate. That was when… we ran into the Sith. They killed my master…”

“What was your master’s name?” Obi-Wan interrupted, leaning forward eagerly, eyes sharp, piercing, searching.

“Tola Finn. He… he… he tried to fight them, to protect me… but there were too many of them…” A tear escaped Siri’s eye and rolled down her cheek. “He died… so slowly… they were mocking him… I tried to fight them but they held onto my sword hand… and the leader threatened that if I didn’t surrender, they’d kill him… so I dropped my lightsaber… what could I do? And then, with no reason… none at all!… they killed him anyway!” Obi-Wan’s eyes were hard, grim.

“Scum.” he gritted out, through clenched teeth. Tears streamed down Siri’s cheeks. Her rescuer’s eyes softened, and he almost hesitantly pulled her close, awkwardly trying to comfort her. “Go on,” he said, somewhat unwillingly. “What were your findings? Who was the leader? I need to know all the details… to report to the Council.”

“We found out that the rumors were true. I think someone… one of the Kaminoans… had been bribed for something, though. That can’t mean anything good… can it?”

“No, it can’t, conceivably, mean anything positive,” he allowed. Slowly, he looked up at the walls. “So they’re preparing for war at last. They should have begun earlier, should have known it earlier. They left it unconscionably late. But who was the leader? Did you see his face?”

“Yes, I did. He was human, tall, with a sort of marble and ebony complexion, not really sallow, but unnaturally pale, clear skin and jet black hair. He had horribly cold, icy, pale blue eyes that seemed to look right through me, as if I was completely transparent… Oh, and he had a scar on one cheek, the right one, I think. It was like an incomplete circle, like a hex or a pentacle in a horror novel.”

“Xanatos. He has a heart of stone. And about how long ago did this happen?”

“About a week ago, I’d say. We arrived on Kamino August 22, standard.”

“That’s five days ago now,” Obi-Wan murmured. “Thank you, Padawan Tachi.”

“Please, call me Siri,” Siri said. “How did you know that I’d been captured? How did you get here? And why are you still hiding me in the Palace? How did you get in?”

“Getting in… that wasn’t a problem. I was born here.” Obi-Wan gave a humorless, bitter laugh, then prepared to depart. “I’ll come back again when I have news. Until then…” He raised a hand and slipped off into the darkness, vanishing in less than a moment. Siri gave a deep sigh and went further into the room, closing the door behind her. She sat down on the bed, thinking over the recent events. She had been a Jedi for far too long to trust anyone overly easily, even someone who had rescued her; deception was rampant in a galaxy controlled by the Sith. And yet, she found that she did trust Obi-Wan, for some reason she herself did not truly understand.

Obi-Wan entered his room, deactivated the listening device that he had discovered there years ago with a swift wave of his hand, and removed a holoprojector from its hiding place. Quickly, he activated it. It was a short time before he received any answer, but at last he was rewarded by the image of Qui-Gon Jinn coming into focus. “Obi-Wan, what is it? It’s the middle of the night. Has your cover…”

“No, Master. It’s not that bad,” Obi-Wan said hastily. “Would you please inform the Council that Master Tola Finn is dead and his Padawan Siri Tachi was captured, but I’m preparing to complete a rescue now. The Sith have commissioned a clone army on Kamino, and one of the Kaminoans has accepted a bribe of some sort. Xanatos headed the group that took Padawan Tachi prisoner.”

“They’re preparing for war?” Qui-Gon asked.

“Well, we’ve known for a while that war was coming. I’m just surprised that they left it so late.” Obi-Wan paused. “I’m also afraid that Sidious might know that we aren’t just a scattered group, but an organized and dangerous rebellion. Why else would we be investigating Kamino, moving in the coordinated way we are? He’ll be looking for our leaders.”

“I’ll inform the Council. Well done, Obi-Wan. Be careful, stay safe.”

“I will, Master.” Obi-Wan smiled reassuringly.

“May the Force be with you, Obi-Wan.”

“And with you, Master.” Obi-Wan shut the com, then relaxed, settling down for a few hours’ rest before the next morning.