Anakin Skywalker wasn’t happy.
Actually, he was pissed, but not in the way the kriffin’ Sith Lord wanted him to be. Oh no, he was pissed at the fact the man he trusted for a decade had been manipulating him, to make him into a mindless slave.
All he wanted to do was hug his Master, hand him off to Cody and tell him Obi-Wan was his problem, then take a nap next to Padmé for the next year.
The moment he had stepped into the Chancellor’s office, he felt the sticky darkness. How the kriff did he not notice it before?! He bit back the full body shiver, let it slide around him, hating that it slithered under parts of his shields. By the time the meeting was over, he had been fully convinced that it was a good idea that the two of them, and only the two of them, meet with the Negotiator.
“Do you trust your men outside?” The Chancellor nodded to where Fives and Echo were standing guard outside the office.
“With my life.” He answered with conviction. “The 501st has bled next to me, stayed through thick and thin, protected Ahsoka, they deserve more than they get.”
“And if the clones turned against your Master?”
“We don’t know that.” It came across more desperate than intended, but played nicely. “Besides, the 501st is different from the 212th.”
“Oh yes, they are more loyal.” Papalitine gave him a small smile.
Anakin bit back every scathing comment, instead leaned back in his chair, arms crossed over his chest looking like a petulant child.
“I’m sure the 212th was loyal, but the 501st is very loyal to you, then you are the better General.” Chancellor gave him another smile, before standing and patting him on the shoulder. “Stay nearby, I’m sure Padmé wouldn’t mind a visit. Once the Negotiator lands, we will finally know the truth.”
“I haven’t seen her yet, so that will be nice.” He hopped out of his chair, acting like an excited kid to go see his ‘secret’ girlfriend … that everyone knew about.
“I will let you deal with the Jedi Council, why they haven’t made you a Master yet is beyond me.” He escorted him towards the door.
“I’m not ready to be a Master.” He felt the anger at the Council start to build. The way things were going he was going to need years with a mind healer, just to discover what damage had been done by the Sith. Though killing him would likely make him feel a whole lot better. “They think I’m still reckless.”
“Hmm, maybe I should make them, for their own good.”
Anakin stepped away, giving him a look. “You’re not a Jedi, nor do you know the ways of the Force. That would be like Master Windu telling you who to appoint on your staff.”
“Oh my young friend, you still have a lot to learn about politics.” His smile faded, the facade dropped slightly. “I know more than the Jedi would like. They are blinded by their arrogance.”
“I could say the same thing about politicians.” Anakin shook his head, not likely how fogging his thinking had become. “It is a blessing that the Republic is controlled by a good man.”
“Yes. Now if only this war would end.” The door opened, to reveal Fives and Echo standing on either side, facing outwards. “I do hope your Master is alright, but my dear friend you should be prepared for the worse.”
In a rare show of defiance, Anakin laughed. “I have no worries for my Master, he’s died on me more times that I can count.” He stepped out of the office, and didn’t look back instead headed straight for the elevators with his ARC Troopers by his side.
The moment the elevator door closed. “Get me to Mace. I can still feel the slimy darkness in my head.”
Fives was tempted to just shoot the Chancellor, but had a feeling it wouldn’t end well for him or his brothers. Instead they escorted him directly to Mace, who took one look at the young Knight and dragged him off, to where they weren’t sure.
Rex had appeared before them, pushed them towards the healers. “It won’t take long to get the chips out, especially with the added Jedi Healing. Mine and Ponds chips are already gone, taken out while you were babysitting the General. Generals Koon and Depa went to discuss the situation with their Commanders, I’m pretty sure the screeching I heard was Wolffe though it could’ve been Grey. I’m not sure where General Yoda disappeared to.”
“What about those out in the field?” Fives asked as they made their way to the Healers.
“The Jetii have sent out word, not to answer any comms unless it’s from them personally. There was some confusion, as most of the Commanders had got Cody’s message. Bly is pissed, wants answers, but was willing to toss his comm and everyone else’s to keep General Secura safe. From what I heard she rolled her eyes at him, and requested Kit contact her when he could.”
“How did the 212th get around it?” Echo asked.
“Dragon. Dude. Dragon.” Fives rolled his eyes. “Technically General Kenobi isn’t always a Jedi.”
“Yeah but, he would’ve had to be in…”
“Shut up both of you!” Rex glared at them before they could start arguing schematics in the middle of the hall. “I’m sure Kote stubbornness and the General dragonness was enough. Into the healers you go, why do I even put up with you!”
Before they could argue they were dragged into the healing wards by a determined Twi’lek and Mon Calamari.
The moment they received word the Negotiator was in orbit, everyone moved into position. Anakin escorted the Chancellor to the docking bay furthest from the rest of the GAR. The ship reported damage, and had been sent to one of the repair docks.
When Commander Fox stated he and a few of his men would be coming along, Anakin tried to persuade him not to, only to have the Chancellor agree to the escort, smiling in a way that made them all uncomfortable.
Fox was very thankful that General Windu had shown them how to shield, keeping their emotions behind a wall. He opened a line to his men, adding in Ponds, Rex and the two di’kuts from Torrent, he hoped Kote would tap in the moment he disembarked. Right now the Jedi were far enough away not to be noticed or suspected of being in the area.
Fox was also pretty sure the Guard was the Chancellor’s back up.
If what happened didn’t go to his plan he would order Sixty-Six. He smothered a smirk. Well, someone was in for a surprise.
“There seems to be a lot of damage.” Papeltine gave a worried sigh, watching as the Star Destroyer lumbered into the docking station.
“I’ve landed worse.” Anakin crossed his arms over his chest, smirking slightly. The extra time with Mace had been helpful. Shields were tighter, just low enough in one area to let the ooze of darkness slide around, but not hinder him. “Actually, considering the fires and sparks, I got to give credit to the person on the helm.”
“I’m sure the men and women who work for the GAR are very qualified.” He patted Anakin’s arm. “Now I want you to be prepared for the worst.”
“Oh I am.”
Fox wasn’t sure how the Chancellor missed the snarl in that particular comment. Then again he likely thought it was for the ‘uncontrollable clones’.
As the disembarkment ramp lowered, Anakin glanced back at the Coruscant Guards. There was a subtle hand signal, asking if they were ready. Fox gave him a nod.
He focused back on the ship, if he hadn’t known Obi-Wan was fine and that Stage seriously deserved an award for this whole performance, he would’ve been terrified when Admiral Block and Commander Cody walked down the ramp together, and stopped in front of them. He couldn’t remember anytime a member of the GAR stood side by side with the clones, let alone both of equal ranking.
Then he saw Cody’s new paint job.
But then Paplatine likely didn’t know about Dragons, let alone Obi-Wan, or for that matter even remotely paid attention to the clones armour.
It was also one of the most awkward moments in Anakin’s life, and he had some odd ones over his apprenticeship. He still would not talk about the diplomatic incident from Alor Five, nope he erased that from his memory.
“Admiral.” The Chancellor barely acknowledged the Commander. “We were worried, it seemed that the clones had taken over the ship.”
‘What the hell is painted on your armour?’ Fox demanded over their private comms.
‘Not now.’ Kote’s tone indicated there would be no discussion.
‘We’ll be having that talk later. Right now quick recap. All men in the vicinity have been de-chipped. Reinforcements are only a few cliks away.’ Fox made sure he was aware of the players and where they were on the battlefield.
‘What’s on his armour?’ Fives butted into the conversation.
‘Seriously?’ Kote growled.
‘Some type of lizard.’ Fox answered with ease.
‘Oh Kote.’ Rex’s voice held more of an awe, than surprise.
‘What does that mean?’ Ponds demanded, no one answered him.
‘We all know this whole situation is going to go to osik, so follow my lead …’ there was a small pause ‘… just in case – Do NOT shoot the lizard.’
‘No, bad. Bad idea. Do not shoot the lizard.’ Fives added to the conversation. ‘If you do I will only take bets on which one will hurt you first, General Skywalker or Cody.’
‘Kote.’ Fox and Rex said at the exact time.
‘Lizard?’ Ponds again spoke up only to get ignored. When this was over with, and if they all lived through it, he was going to slam heads together to get information.
“I do apologize if that was how it came across.” Block made sure to clasp his hands behind his back, alluding to being a good GAR Admiral, and falling into parade rest for the Supreme Chancellor’s presence. “We received word that there was a traitor in our midst.”
“They caused the damage to the ship.” He waved his hands towards the sparks flying and smoke filtering out from the Star Destroyer.
“You could say that.”
Palpatine was getting annoyed fast, Admiral Block was being elusive and wasn’t showing him the respect he deserved. “CC-2224….”
“That would be Field Marshal Commander Cody to you.” A voice called out from the top of the ramp.
Anakin felt the cloying hostile anger coming off the Chancellor, as he gripped his arm holding him by his side. “Kenobi.”
Obi-Wan made his way down the gangplank, settling next to the Commander. “That would be Master Jedi to you.” Though he looked calm, as if this was a normal every day meeting, the tension in the air was so thick one could taste it. “Why, Chancellor, you seem surprised to see me. You must know by now I’m not that easy to kill.”
“It would seem you can’t follow orders, Commander.” He knew there was no working his way out of this. He had no idea how the command failed, but it would not stop him.
“I don’t take orders from traitors.” Kote snarled, hand resting on his weapon. “Neither do my men.”
“Well then.” With ease, he lifted his hand and waved it towards the Coruscant Guard, then back at the traitors. “Commander Fox, Execute Order 66.”
“I also don’t take orders from traitors.” Fox flashed a hand signal, his men moved out, surrounding the Chancellor.
Anakin pulled his arm out of his grip and stepped away, hand moved towards his lightsaber. The hatred that spilled out from Palpatine was dark, twisted and filled with pain. It pushed against his shields, demanding his surrender.
“You have turned these men against the Republic!” The Chancellor pulled himself to full height, a twisted snarl on his face as he pointed at Master Kenobi. “I should have you arrested.”
“Once the evidence I sent has finished uploading into the comms of the Jedi Council, along with a variety of Senators, I think it will be you who will be arrested.” Obi-Wan dropped his robe at the end of the ramp.
He ignored Kote’s exasperation, and the Admiral’s eyeroll.
It might have been a bad idea to let those two become friends.
A mental nudge towards Anakin had him moving further from the Chancellor, while easing closer to Block and his men, they were the most vulnerable in the situation.
Obi-Wan put himself between the Sith and the 212th, though the argument with his Mate was long and loud, Kote had to concede that his men were not equipped to deal with a Sith of this magnitude. They on rare occasions held their own against Ventress, and painfully had to admit as the war progressed she was less about hurting the clones, and more about flirting with Obi-Wan to annoy everyone.
His lightsaber was in his hand, gaze focused on the Chancellor. How he had never seen the evil pouring out of him, will haunt him for years. “You’re under arrest for crimes against the Republic.”
“I am the Republic!” He seethed, the facade of a nice gentle old man dropping, showing his true nature.
“Your game is up Palpatine. You have no power here. You have lost your influence over my Padawan. My men will no longer die at your whim, nor will they be controlled.” He settled into a defensive position. “It’s over.”
The laughter sent shivers down everyone’s spine. It was the laugh of a man, who had nothing to lose and everything to destroy.
With a flash of his wrist a small dart shot out from under the long elaborate robes striking Kenobi in the leg. “Now the Republic will see their true enemy.”
“Obi-Wan.” Kote knew instantly something was wrong. Instinct’s were screaming his Mate had been poisoned, but by his expression – it was far worse.
“Take this.” He handed off his lightsaber, before staggering away from anyone he would harm.
Besides manipulating the situation to make them look weak, a second benefit of a crippled ship was getting them assigned to the furthest repair dock, away from civilians, but more importantly gave them more maneuverability.
Kote would be able to use the ship to keep the men protected from the power of the Sith, with the last option to get everyone back on board, and away from the area.
“General?” Block glanced between the Jedi then the Commander, sensing something had gone horribly wrong. “What’s going on?”
“Pull back, set up Negotiator Protocol. Use the ship as cover, make sure all personnel are out of harm’s way.” Kote ordered barely noticing that Fox had started to move, following his lead. ‘Fox get your men out of there.’ There was a slight pause. ‘Remember when I said about not shooting the lizard.’
‘Actually you never answered any of my questions about that.’ Ponds’ irritation was evident.
‘I meant it. DO NOT shoot the lizard.’
Obi-Wan pulled the dart from his leg and tossed it to the ground. He should’ve seen this coming. Dragon Hunters had poisons that forced a Dragon to transition, it was how they located one in a crowd of people. Being forced to turn was difficult on the mind and body, it was very disorientating and put the Dragon in a vulnerable state.
He had no doubts that Kote, his men, along with Anakin would protect him, but he also knew the ramifications were going to go beyond taking down a Sith Lord.
Staggering further away from the ship, and those who were vulnerable, he turned towards the Sith, a snarl on his face as the transformation took over. He shook his head, trying to clear the disjointed feelings, and focus inward, pulling the Force to him, purging the last of the poison from his systems.
“The Jedi have been harboring Dragons. Creatures who hunt and kill innocents!” Chancellor looked towards Anakin, hand reaching out to him. “The Jedi, and your Master have been lying to you. They’ve been hiding such a foul creature. It was a blessing that a loyal GAR Captain informed us of this treachery.”
“Glad to do my duty sir.” Captain Henries knew his day would finally come, when he would finally be recognized and promoted to a position worthy of his rank.
He had only taken a few steps forward before he fell to the ground dead, a blaster shot to the chest.
‘I ordered you not to take the first shot!’
‘It wasn’t us.’ Boil tilted his helmet towards Admiral Block who holstered his weapon. ‘We may have to adopt him. Just saying he’s one of us now, he killed to protect the General.’
“I don’t tolerate traitors on my ship.” He focused back on the Chancellor. “Your actions here have proved you are a traitor to the Republic. As a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, I hereby order your arrest, Commander Fox …”
“I have worked too hard to be taken down by this patheticness ” He let his own lightsaber drop into his hand, as he advanced towards the Admiral, only to have the Dragon block his path, a low rumbling growl verberated around the area.
“I would prefer you to face the consequences of your actions, but I will drop you where you stand if you take another step towards my protectees.” The Dragon crouched low, ready for an attack, claws extended, tail twitched in a way none of them had seen before.
“Anakin!” Paplatine stepped back, lightsaber hidden once again. “It’s going to kill me! You must save me from this vile creature.”
“Sure let me get right on that.” Anakin gave the Chancellor an incredulous look. “Master, can you not eat him, we do not know what it will do to your digestive system, and we know how Snap feels about making yourself sick.”
“I would never!” Obi-Wan didn’t take his eyes off the threat. “I may chew in self defense, but would never swallow, I have some taste. Unlike you, who think bugs are a perfectly acceptable snack.”
“He’s manipulated you, Anakin.” The Chancellor tone softened, as if talking to a diluted child. “Dragons are evil creatures…”
“This coming from a Sith Lord!” He spat back at him, as he ignited his lightsaber. “You failed Paplatine. I will not fall, but you will die.”
‘Kote, I have a clear shot.’
Fox didn’t hesitate, only to dive to the ground when the bolt was shot back at him. The Chancellor laughed as the red lightsaber glowed in front of him. “It will take more than that to defeat me!”
Kote lifted his hand, made it into a fist, then pointed it at the Sith. ‘We’ve practiced this. Distract and deflect. Let the Jetii do their jobs.’
‘I’ve got the high ground.’ Longshot stated as he settled from his perch on top of the Negotiator. ‘Also LAAT’s coming in hard and fast, looks like our backup has arrived.’
Kote grabbed the Admiral and moved him behind Ghost Company “Let them do their job, Admiral.”
“I’m taking that since our General looks like a big lizard but is acting like a big cat, is why Waxer has a ball and string painted on his armour?” He asked while taking shots along with the clones, despite knowing their aim was better than his.
“It keeps the men entertained.”
Block snorted, then grabbed his comn. “Grannet, bring the ship to full power, get our weapons online.”
‘I take it we’re not to shoot the big lizard that’s bouncing around?’
“Not unless you want to piss off the Commander.” Block answered, trying not to roll his eyes. At this moment he wasn’t even sure what his life had become. His General was a DragonTooka that was fighting a Sith Lord. While his men were working with the clones, setting up charges and traps along the perimeter of the ship.
‘Yeah, not a good idea.’
Block gave Cody a sideways look. “And here I thought the big secret was the two of you.” He waved his hand between the Dragon and Commander, before taking a few more shots. “Dragon wasn’t even on my top twenty of possible weird shit going on.”
“Well if it makes you feel better, we just labeled the whole Dragon thing as weird Jetii osik.” Boil commented, pulling another one of the Natborns away from the firefight. “Though really, can we honestly say that this is the weirdest thing we’ve seen?”
“Since I joined the 7th Sky Corp, specifically the 212th, no it’s really not.”
When it suddenly got quiet he looked over the barricade Ghost Company had created, under the ship. Boil and Waxer had secured his men behind them, though at least half wiggled their way to the front, ready to fight with the rest of them.
The Coruscant Guard had been scattered, he could see their distinct red regrouping behind stacked pallets and scattered machinery.
The Commander was giving orders, moving troops to surround the area. Closing up gaps, making it hard for the Chancellor to escape. He had always known Cody was a tactical genius, but had never seen him on the field.
The General was pacing slightly, the claws clicking against the metal, creating sparks and sounded menacing across the bay. Skywalker was nearby, looking murderous, but that really wasn’t a new expression.
The traitor on the other hand was way too calm for this to end any way but violently.
“This is going to go to shit.” Block took a deep breath, realizing he was likely going to die in battle with his men and the clones, to protect the Republic.
“When does it not.” Kote answered, moving up and over the barricade, signaling Ghost Company to follow at a slow and steady pace.
“Cover them.” Jacen ordered, proud that his own men didn’t hesitate as they filled the gaps.
If there was one thing he would never forget from this moment, was the utter silence. As if the whole universe held its breath, waiting.
In between blinks the world went into chaos.
Where the Chancellor stood, was now a large Dragon, twice the size of the General. “Shit!” He really couldn’t fault his Lieutenant, as a few crude words had escaped his own mouth.
“I will destroy everything you hold dear, Kenobi.” Paplatine laughed as the smaller dragon scuttled backwards. “The Jedi will be destroyed, your precious Temple burned to the ground. Stewjon will be annihilated. Anakin will kneel to my power, and we will build a glorious Empire!”
“I would rather die,” Anakin spat back at him.
“That can be arranged.”
“Get behind me!” Obi-Wan moved between his Padawan and the new threat just as a bolt of electricity hit the ground where Anakin had stood. He used his back paw to push his Padawan further away, directly into the protective arms of Kote and the 212th.
Kenobi dodged a second bolt of electricity, by jumping onto one of the massive crane’s. He scrambled up the arm, snagged the hook, pulling on it as he used the momentum to propel himself into the empty repair bay, next door.
He grunted in pain, not quite making the landing.
Just as he got his feet under him, he lost his balance when the Sith landed with a heavy thud not far from him. With a snarl he leapt at the bulky Dragon, claws sliding across his face, causing him to yell out in pain.
Jumping away from the Sith, his mind working every scenario, every option. Kote now had the high ground, and could get the men into position. He just needed to keep Paplatine occupied.
The Chancellor completely stilled, as his body began to glow.
This wasn’t going to be good.
The large foot slammed into the ground sending electricity along the floor, knocking Obi-Wan off his feet, plummeting him into unconsciousness.