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Once again, the Hero’s Dream returns. Sorry about the wait, I was delayed… *sigh*

This chapter: Sidious makes a disturbance and Obi-Wan uncovers more evidence in the Sith plot. Enjoy!

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

Chapter IX

                Obi-Wan paused in the kitchen, leaning on one of the counters and smiling at the cook. “Hello, Steela.”

The Onderonian woman gave him a slightly pugnacious stare. “I suppose your being here means His Nibs wants his breakfast?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. Please don’t try poisoning it. You should know better by now.” Steela huffed. Obi-Wan chuckled. “Don’t worry, the day will come when all our wrongs will be righted. I promise you that.”

Obi-Wan made his way to Sidious’s room, pushing the door open by pressing his back against it, then slipping deftly in before it could close, hooking his foot around the jamb and pulling it closed slightly faster. When he walked in, the Sith looked no less angry than he had before. Obi-Wan heaved a mental sigh behind tight shields. I should have known what was coming.

Sidious was sitting at his desk, acidic yellow eyes staring down at his papers, as if to burn holes in them with his gaze alone. Unfortunately, looks could not kill or destroy, and the papers remained as they were. Obi-Wan walked forward, icy mask in place, and put the tray down on the table. A split second later, Sidious had him by the hair, fingers twisting tight into the ginger locks on the left side, winding the thick auburn hair around his hand, pulling the young man’s face down onto a level with his. “You’re late,” the Sith ground out. Obi-Wan stared defiantly back at his tormentor, not offering any apology. Sidious suddenly let him go, flinging him back. Obi-Wan picked himself up off the floor in complete silence. He had outgrown childish temper tantrums years before. Sidious scowled at him. “You had better not be late tomorrow. I’m going to Naboo, and you will attend me. Be on the landing platform by the shuttle at dawn, or else I’ll have my guards drag your sorry hide on board, and add in a few whip lashes, to clinch the bargain.”

Obi-Wan stood up. Drawing himself up to his full height, which was not much compared to many, but was still taller than Sidious, he exclaimed, “You have a lot of nerve to show your face there—on Naboo—after what you did to them, kidnapping their queen-elect.”

“Enough, boy!” Sidious snarled.

“I suppose you’re headed there to offer your condolences for their loss of a leader, and to ‘suggest’ one or two candidates—all of whom are practically in your pocket! Well, not all people are yours to command, Sith. You may enslave our bodies and our minds, but our souls are still free!”

“I said enough, boy! Be silent!” Sidious roared.

“I won’t be silent!” Obi-Wan returned, shaking with cold rage. “Many people have died in speaking out against you, and I suppose I’m next, but I won’t be silent. You can’t kill us all and one day, someone is going to put an end to your tyranny—” Obi-Wan was suddenly cut off as his airways constricted. Instinctively, his hands went to his throat. Sidious stood up, getting up from his seat as he maintained his Force choke. Sidious was wheezing for breath, fuming with anger, but still controlling himself—the stranglehold on Obi-Wan was not too tight, just enough to keep him from inhaling, without causing permanent damage.

“Now you listen to me,” Sidious hissed. “I’m not going to kill you, Korzu. I can feel it—your anger, your hatred. For me? Ah, no, what a pity, it’s for that name, isn’t it? The Dark Side is within your grasp, and yet, it’s just out of reach. You’re not going to die. You’ll go on living, you hate this wretched existence, don’t you? I am going to make your life a living hell.”

“That’s what yours is, already, and I’m not going to give in,” Obi-Wan gasped. “I can’t suffer like you… I’m not evil like you.” Sidious almost tightened his grip, but he regained control again and released it instead.

“You are going to suffer,” Sidious hissed. “You will live with everything denied to you, the use of your gift, the light and dark both… and if I decide to kill you, you will die screaming, begging to die, just so that the pain will stop.”

“I will never beg you for anything,” Obi-Wan said contemptuously. Then the Sith attacked. The world went gray. Darkness rose up and consumed everything.

“Obi-Wan?” The voice penetrated the fog in Obi-Wan’s mind like the beams of a lighthouse. Obi-Wan didn’t move.

Go away, leave me alone, his mind pleaded. Let me sleep. I just want to sleep!

“Obi-Wan, come on. You have to wake up!”

Obi-Wan fought the urge to go back to sleep. Come on, Kenobi, he argued with himself, you’re a fighter. Don’t just give in and concede the battle! Listen to her!

Obi-Wan opened his eyes, blinking at the dim light in the corridor. Shmi was kneeling beside him, leaning over him. He was at the center of a worried-looking ring of slaves. Shmi sighed with relief as he opened his eyes. “Thank Heaven! I was afraid we’d lost you, sweetheart.” She turned irately toward the others. “Go on, go about your business. Give him some room to breathe. He’ll be all right.” Some of the others hesitated, but an angry look from Shmi scattered them like butterflies in a gale. “Go on, you!” she snapped. Shmi turned back to her adoptive son. “Why do you have to antagonize him like that?” she demanded. Obi-Wan sighed, sitting up.

“I don’t know. I just… I’m disturbed by the injustice surrounding this place. I can’t stop myself.” Obi-Wan slammed his fist into the wall in helpless rage; Shmi winced as his hand pounded the wall, making it shake slightly. An ornate mirror on the opposite wall cracked at the anger washing off of him in hot, furious waves. “When? When will all this evil, this vicious circle, end? When will the galaxy be free again?” Shmi pulled him close, holding him tightly.

“It’s human to be angry, son,” she whispered, “but you must also be patient.” A tear ran down Obi-Wan’s cheek, to be lost in her dark hair.

“I know. I just feel so sick inside. Why was I born like this, Shmi? I wasn’t born for this. If I can’t be free, if I can’t be a Jedi, then I’d be better off dead!” Shmi hugged him fiercely.

“My precious son,” she whispered. “No one deserves this, least of all you. I don’t have all the answers, sweetheart, but you’re the strong one. One day, things will be different. Knowing you, I feel sure that soon things will be changing. I wish you could be safe, but the danger would follow you wherever you go. You’re fated, somehow, Obi-Wan. You were born for just such a time as this, my son. And I can not help but believe that you were born to be our deliverer. Please, son, don’t let us down.”

“I won’t,” Obi-Wan whispered. “You have my word, mother.”

Obi-Wan slipped, wraithlike, through the halls, so well-shielded and concealed that he was almost a void in the Force, following Sheddra Azhrahai. The Sith Lord made her way through the halls and passages of the palace, completely unaware that she was being followed. Obi-Wan had an instinctive feeling about the Sith. He knew that, somehow, she was important. Beneath her lust for power—his power—her desire to have him her willing, mindless pawn—there was something else; something else was going on, beneath the surface. Obi-Wan’s intuitions were seldom wrong.

Finally, Sheddra found her way to a less-used part of the palace. Obi-Wan slipped into a curtained alcove behind her as she glanced around herself, checking to see if she had been followed and looking for someone. From the curve in her lip, a vicious snarl, Obi-Wan thought that, even if the follower had been a Sith like herself, the tail would have been instantly and mercilessly slain.

Obi-Wan sensed rather than saw a cloaked figure stepping out of the shadows ahead. Sidious. “Is the army prepared, Lord Azhrahai?” he asked.

“It is well prepared, though the clones will take time to complete their growth cycle,” Sheddra said. “The droids, however, are mostly already built. The Geonosians have been most obliging.”

“You have done well, Azhrahai,” Sidious said. Obi-Wan could hear a ghastly smile in the Sith’s voice.

“One thing worries me, though, my lord,” Sheddra said. “From what Xanatos said, I fear that the Jedi may not be as extinct as we once thought. The Jedi he accosted on Kamino was not a lone pair of saboteurs, working solo, but a team of spies. Who were they working for? Who were they reporting to? Who were they answering to? This points to organization, my lord. With no hierarchy, and leaderless, the Jedi are hardly a threat, not a very dangerous force to be reckoned with. However, organized, the Jedi become a very serious threat indeed.”

“Keep your mind on the army, Azhrahai,” Sidious advised, in a ghastly mockery of a fatherly tone. “The Jedi are my concern. I will take care of them. Continue with your work, Azhrahai. You are doing well indeed.” Obi-Wan did not wait to hear any more; he slipped away, back to his room.