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I kind of owe this to you for the delays, don’t I? Especially since the last chapter was so short… not my fault. It’s just the way this story is telling itself, I guess.

This chapter: Obi-Wan, Anakin, Shmi and Ventress make plans. Low angst levels–please tolerate ’em for the moment. 😉

Chapter II

                Alone now, Obi-Wan shuddered. His danger sense had been screaming beyond sound the whole time he had been speaking with Dooku, painful white lights flashing behind his eyes, a headache pounding in his temples. He hurried down the halls, his original destination forgotten, the errand ignored. He found the place where Ventress would be passing along, between training rooms, with the other prospective Sith, soon. He walked swiftly down the corridor, just as Asajj and her classmates were coming up it behind Kyrina, the Nightsister and Sith acolyte who was their floormaster. Passing through the midst of the unruly crowd at a swift walk, as if unaware of anything except his fictitious task, he collided purposefully with Asajj and fell, together with her, in a complex tangle, to the floor. Quickly, he whispered in her ear, “We’re going to escape tonight. Pass the word to Anakin. Details later.” Asajj didn’t even nod—the quick, unintentionally painful pressure of her elbow in his ribs was confirmation enough, without being dangerous. Struggling to his feet in an overtly ungainly manner, Obi-Wan calmly withstood the fearsome onslaught of Kyrina’s wrath, vanishing with extraordinary rapidity as soon as her verbal abuse was concluded. He hurried to find Shmi. Finding her in the kitchen, where she was peeling scalded tomatoes, he hurriedly pulled over a second pan of tomatoes and began to pop them neatly out of their loosened skins.

“They haven’t found Steela and brought her back?” he asked softly, glancing at the empty space in the kitchens. Shmi gave him the barest hint of a smile.

“No. She hasn’t been dragged back in chains yet. I think we can hope that she did get away clean after all.”

“I hope so. It’s been far too long since someone successfully escaped the palace. It will make the Sith’s heads spin when it happens twice in one week. We’re leaving tonight, Mother.” Shmi gasped quietly.

“I thought you said we weren’t going to go for some time yet—until you were absolutely sure that everything was ready.”

“I changed my mind. Dooku’s been showing some interest in me, and, well… the escape won’t go forward without me.”

“You’re right. We’d never manage to escape alone,” Shmi said softly. “I understand. I’ll be ready.” Tomatoes all skinned, Obi-Wan left the kitchens and delivered the message he had been running, albeit half an hour late. It earned him a brutal cuff about the ears, but he barely noticed it.

Tomorrow morning, it would all be done with, forever.

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