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Hi! I’m back again, and here’s the next chapter. (Please, please, please give me some feedback on this one–I need the inspiration–continuation is proving difficult. As in, I don’t have another full chapter to post after this one!!! Chances of survival: Over four million to one. :-P)

This chapter: Dooku grows curious, an escape, a rescue attempt, and a failure. May the Force be with you (and the same to me, I sure need it…)

Chapter III

                Dooku walked into the med center, nodding to the receptionist as he did so. He made his way into the lab, curtly acknowledging the technician. He handed her the blood sample he had obtained earlier, while Kenobi was being interrogated.

“Ninane. I need a run-down on this blood sample. The midichlorien count is the most important thing.” Ninane sighed, shrugging.

“I’m sorry, my lord. The equipment is off-line—it won’t be until tomorrow that I can get it back to you.” Dooku gave no sign of irritation.

“Very well,” he shrugged off-handedly. “Time is not an object, as long as I get the midichlorien count.” With that, he left.

 

The sun had set hours ago, and the confines of the Imperial Palace had quieted somewhat. Obi-Wan’s eyes shot open, and he raised himself from the bed where he had laid down an hour ago, until the night gathered and worked its magic. Carefully, he took a long knife that he had sharpened before lying down from its hiding place beneath the mattress, and steeled himself. Taking a deep breath, he cut his upper arm, touching the slave transmitter and flicking it out with a combination of the knife point and the Force, to keep it from activating. He slid it under the mattress and bandaged the wound as best as he could. That done, he slipped out of his room and went to Shmi and Anakin’s quarters. The door slid open silently. The Skywalkers were prepared and waiting.

“Come on!” he wshipsered, grabbing the bundle out of Shmi’s arms, as the exited the quarters. “Hurry!” he hissed. “It’s already late. We have to go!” Silently, they rushed down the deserted corridors of the palace.

Suddenly, Obi-Wan froze. “Wait…”

“Come on! Hurry!” Anakin said, rushing forward.

“No, Anakin, wait!” Obi-Wan cried, leaping after Anakin, grabbing at the collar of the boy’s shirt. Too late. The two of them barreled together into a patrol of the royal guards.

Obi-Wan grabbed Anakin and hit the ground with the boy underneath him, shielding him with his body. The first barrage of their fire spent, the guards retreated momentarily. Obi-Wan leaped to his feet, kicking out, his boot connecting solidly with the targeted guard’s jaw, felling him, as the young warrior struck another smoothly in the stomach with the same motion. In an impressive display of martial arts lasting for the next thirty seconds or so, the remainder of the guards were all on the ground, unconscious. Obi-Wan flicked his hair back out of his eyes. “We should go. We still haven’t—” He swayed. “We haven’t even picked up Ventress yet.” He hurried them along at a brisk pace. Shmi moved quickly to his side.

“Ventress?” she asked. Obi-Wan nodded.

“We’re taking her with us.” Suddenly, the young man clutched at his side, his footsteps faltering a little.

“Are you all right?” Shmi asked, concerned.

“Fine,” Obi-Wan managed, cheerfully. He staggered. Shmi was almost scared now.

“Obi-Wan, you’re not ‘fine’,” she said.

“I’ll be okay—we have to get Ventress, and go!” They ran on for a bit, then Obi-Wan suddenly fell, without a cry or gasp or any other sound. Shmi gasped.

“He’s been shot!” she said, fingers ghosting over the burn mark on the fabric of Obi-Wan’s tunic.

“Let’s get him to the ship!” Anakin exclaimed, grabbing one of the unconscious Jedi’s arms and struggling in an attempt to pull him onward.

“But what about Ventress?” Shmi wanted to know.

“There’s no time. Let’s go!

Shmi did not notice, as they lifted Obi-Wan’s unconscious form, the odd, unnatural yellow tinge in her son’s eyes.

 

When Obi-Wan did not come for her, Ventress began to worry. Her overactive imagination supplied myriads of macabre images of the daring young Jedi found out—captured—tortured—killed. She waited an hour—an hour and thirty minutes—after curfew.

Still no sign of her would-be rescuer.

Taking a deep breath, Asajj hurried out into the corridor. No sign of Obi-Wan anywhere. Swiftly, Asajj searched all the relevant corridors. Still there was no sign of Obi-Wan.

Asajj rushed to the private hangar of the palace. She got there just in time to see a sleek corvette lift off the pad and take off. Her desperate waving and shouts went unheeded. The ship made for space, quickly disappearing into the distance.

Asajj stood, frozen to the spot, for several long minutes, feeling betrayed. Then, sadly, she turned and retraced her steps to her room.

There would be no rescue for her.

She had been left behind.

 

Somehow, between the two of them, they somehow managed to get Obi-Wan on board a spaceworthy craft and take off. As soon as they were a safe distance from Coruscant’s busy airspace, Anakin set the coordinates for a small Outer Rim planet in the middle of nowhere. As the ship made the jump to hyperspace, Obi-Wan blinked, opened his eyes. Shmi hurried to his side, concern coloring her voice.

“Obi-Wan? Are you all right?” she asked. “Other than the obvious, are you hurt?”

“I think I’m all right… What happened?” Obi-Wan groaned, holding his injured side.

“You were injured. We had to get you on board here as quickly as we could.” Shmi replied.

“What about Asajj?” Obi-Wan asked. “Did you find her? Is she here?”

“I’m sorry, Obi-Wan…” Shmi turned away slightly. Obi-Wan felt a sinking, sickening sensation in the pit of his stomach.

“And?” he prompted.

“I’m sorry,” Shmi repeated. Obi-Wan grabbed her arm.

“Please, Shmi. You have to tell me!” he urged.

“When you were injured,” Shmi began, “we thought it would be best to go as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to, but Anakin was worried about you…”

Obi-Wan put his head in his hands. “Oh, no,” he breathed. “It’s back.”

“What’s back?” Shmi asked, suddenly afraid. “What do you mean?”

“Vader. Anakin’s selfish, twisted side,” Obi-Wan replied, darkly. Shmi frowned.

“I thought he had it under control,” she said.

“He still has not learned control,” Obi-Wan ground out. “He needs more time, which is something we don’t have much of right now.” He gingerly probed the wound. “It’s not that bad,” he said, cautiously. “I must have gone into shock.” Even Jedi were not immune to the ravages of an over-reacting body. Obi-Wan stood, carefully checking his balance before he fully trusted himself to it. “Where are we headed?” he asked.

“Nagr, I think,” Shmi replied. “I’m not sure.”

“I’ll go ask Anakin,” Obi-Wan said, walking with surprising steadiness toward the cockpit. Shmi hurried after him.

“Wait… are you sure that’s such a good idea? You’re injured!” she exclaimed, unheeded.

 

Obi-Wan entered the cockpit. “Anakin,” he said softly.

“Yes, Master Obi-Wan?” Too prim, too smooth, too calm. Obi-Wan was instantly on his guard.

“Where are we going?” he asked deliberately. Anakin’s eyes shifted slightly to his left as he replied.

“I don’t know. We were in a hurry to get you away.” Obi-Wan leaned down against the center console, his weight on the heels of his hands, intentionally invading Anakin’s personal space.

“Don’t lie to me, Vader,” he said, purposefully. “I know that’s not Anakin talking. What’s your ugly little game?”

“Kenobi,” the Dark Side hissed. Obi-Wan gathered the light around himself, flinging all that he could muster at it. It vanished, but Obi-Wan knew that it was only temporarily routed, not permanently put to flight. The soft wisps of light, seemingly weak yet startlingly resilient, that he had used to drive out the dark were already returning to him. He leaned forward and grasped Anakin’s shoulders.

“Anakin. Snap out of it. The Dark Side—you have to fight it, Anakin!” No response. Anakin appeared to be sleeping. Obi-Wan slowly released the boy’s shoulders.

He had a very bad feeling about this.

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