Title: Article 66
Author: Saydria Wolfe
Fandom: Star Wars
Relationships: Galactic Senate/Consequences, background Padme Naberrie/Anakin Skywalker
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: (kinda?)Off-screen Major Character Death (Palpatine), Dark Themes
Author’s Notes: 1.) Pretty sure I encountered the idea of Coruscant’s Senator being their Governor in Luminous We Are by AppoApples and I loved it so. They put Mace Windu in that seat so I did too as an homage. He’s not my first choice because I love him as Head of the Order but I’m not mad. 2.) If the clone army was created for the purpose of destroying the Jedi Order, it doesn’t make sense to me that the order to actually kill the Jedi is number 66. Shouldn’t it have been Order 1? If it was the reason the clones were created? So, I decided there had to be another reason the Sith named it 66 and because Sith are That Extra, obvs, it had to be a reference to the one thing the Jedi could have done to stop them. That’s why this is Article 66, because it’s the one thing the Jedi could have done to stop the Sith’s Grand Plan.
Word Count: 7,898
Summary: You know those Harry Potter fics where something outrageous happens and the ICW comes down on the British Ministry like a ton of bricks? This is that but in Star Wars with Jedi as the ICW.
“And now the Jedi have requested to speak with us before they go forth to protect us from the evil of the Separatists that would tear our Great Republic asunder.”
Padme closed her eyes at Chancellor Palpatine’s nonsense and the cheers he elicited. It was either that or roll them. How was it evil to exercise one of your constitutional rights? She couldn’t understand.
And none of the Senators that supported the war could be bothered to explain it to her.
The camera bots that broadcast everything so that every pod had a good view caught an amusingly dramatic scene as a pair of doors opened and through walked a half-dozen Jedi. Master Kenobi was in the lead and he was flanked on either side by a dozen masters.
Padme couldn’t recognize them all but the ones she did recognize, she knew were some of the best fighters in the Order—according to Anakin Skywalker.
“Master Jedi,” Sheev Palpatine greeted with a flourish, “the floor is yours.”
“Thank you for your kind welcome,” Master Kenobi gave a dip of his head that could be a bow but was probably just a nod as the Jedi pod flew up to the standard speaker position in the center of the room.
Padme noted he was looking rather Mandalorian, complete with well-secured hair and a helmet tucked under one arm.
In fact, all of the Jedi were wearing armor instead of their multi-layered robes.
“For nearly a thousand years, the Jedi have been the guardians of peace and justice for the Galactic Republic. It was the Ruusan Reformation that formally gave the Jedi Order this role even as it stripped the Order of its army and armor.”
Padme had a… strange feeling about this.
“The Ruusan Reformation gave the Jedi Order a measure of authority within the Republic, but it also laid very specific duties upon the Order should certain events come to pass.
“That is why, in accordance with Article Sixty-Six of the Jedi Accord within the collective body of works known as the Ruusan Reformation, the Jedi Order formally charges Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine with treason, murder, slavery, and child abuse.
“The Galactic Republic is hereby in stasis until the crimes of every corrupt official within it has been addressed and the guilty have been replaced with duly elected individuals.”
“What is the meaning of this?” Palpatine demanded.
Padme scrolled through her datapad of legal documents until she found Article Sixty-Six.
“Sheev Palpatine, evidence has been uncovered that proves you murdered your father and arranged an accident to kill your mother and older sister when your poll numbers needed a boost.”
He didn’t deny it, Padme’s stomach sunk, he just scoffed.
“Declaring war on Republic member states for utilizing their constitutional rights is a violation of your oath of office. Further. As none of the so-called Separatist movement has actually started the paperwork to leave the Republic, you have declared war on member states of the Republic for no documentable reason. That is treason.”
“And slavery?” Palpatine asked. Padme shivered at the cold-hearted amusement in his tone. “I have never bought or sold a slave in my life.”
“This is Master Sifo-Dyas.” Master Kenobi held out a hand and a holo of a laughing older man appeared.
“This is a shot from Kamino’s security footage of the man that commissioned the clone army in Master Sifo-Dyas’s name.” His other hand opened to reveal a holo of Palpatine himself. Cloaked and cowled but clearly him.
There would be no mistaking one for the other. There couldn’t be. Both were human or near-human but even in the blue of the projections, their skins were different colors, their faces were different—eyes, noses, cheeks, chins were completely different.
“Rather than address the issues you could clearly see as prelude to a war, you commissioned an army of slaves. You were already Supreme Chancellor at the time, you had every resource necessary and the responsibility to prevent a war. Instead, you encouraged it. You also instructed your apprentice, Darth Tyrannus to build a droid army to meet your slave army.”
“My apprentice?” Palpatine’s voice changed. It rippled into something deeper and menacing.
“Your apprentice,” Master Kenobi agreed. “Fortunately for both of you there is no law against being a Sith. Like secession, religious freedom is a sentient right guaranteed by the Republic Charter. It is the acts Sith tend to enjoy that get them in legal trouble—as with your murder, slavery, and treason.”
Palpatine laughed. It was a grating noise that burned along her nerves.
Padme winced and wished he wouldn’t.
“Will you come quietly?” Master Kenobi asked.
Palpatine stopped laughing in an instant, like someone threw a switch, and glared. “No.”
Palpatine held up both of his hands and out shot lightning! Black, malevolent lightning! And were the Chancellor’s eyes yellow? Padme had a horrible feeling about what that meant.
That ghastly Maul had had yellow eyes as well.
Master Kenobi caught what could only be Sith Lightning on his shining blue blade but it was clearly an effort.
Palpatine screamed insanity and fired again. This time Master Kenobi fell back and the purple blade of Master Windu caught the unnatural storm. Further, Master Windu gathered himself and pushed the lightning back off of his blade, returning it to the Supreme Chancellor.
Palpatine shrieked as his own weapon turned on him.
When the light cleared, he had collapsed on the only chair in his pod. He was panting, teeth bare, eyes blazing with a hate unlike any she had ever seen.
Palpatine lifted his hands.
Her pod wobbled and Padme held on as pods all over the Senate Chamber rippled until three came lose—all were empty. The pods of Separatists.
Palpatine threw the pods. Not just at the Jedi but in the directions of Bail and Garm bel Iblis as well—going for maximum damage.
Different Jedi caught all three before they could hurt anyone and started lowering them to the maintenance house at the base of the Chamber.
She heard more lightsabers snap on and something that sounded wet and smelled like burning. By the time she looked up, Palpatine was nowhere to be seen. In his place were two Jedi wrapped in black. They had their lightsabers moving over something on the floor of the pod.
A third black-wrapped Jedi faded into view. “The dark lord known as Darth Sidious is dead,” the third announced in a voice that screamed vocoder-induced anonymity to Padme. “We will need to burn the corpse to ensure there will be no return through the vilest of Sith Magics.”
“Thank you, Shadow,” Master Kenobi acknowledged. “Guard the body carefully until we can attend the pyre.”
The Shadow closest to the pod’s controls began lowering Palpatine’s seat down and out of the chamber.
“Would anyone else like to protest the Jedi Order completing their sworn duty under Republic law?”
Padme chimed in and waited to be recognized.
“Your Highness Amidala Naberrie, Senator of Naboo, is recognized by the Jedi Order.”
“Master Jedi, may we have a brief recess to review Article Sixty-Six and the pursuant protocol required of us?” Padme asked. “I did a brief search and found that this Article has only been activated once in the last 700 years. I cannot be the only one unfamiliar with it.”
The Jedi exchanged silent looks.
Master Kenobi nodded at whatever silent decision they made. “We will grant a thirty-minute recess for you each to familiarize yourself with the Article but no one will be allowed to leave their pods without a Jedi escort until they are either cleared or jailed for their crimes against the Republic—this stipulation does not come from me, but from the Article itself.”
“My thanks,” she nodded and hit the button to retract her pod.
There were over a thousand senators they had to deal with before they could leave. This was going to take a while.
“I’m surprised the Jedi didn’t put you on the jury panel,” Bail offered as he sipped his wine.
“I’m not.” Padme snorted. “I share a planet with Sheev Palpatine and, if you recall, my direct actions as queen ended with him in the Chancellor’s chair. I’m also known to be wildly pro-Jedi after the Trade Federation’s Invasion of Naboo. They couldn’t include me unless they wanted to deal with conflicts of interest and favoritism.”
“I would have preferred you to Tarkin, any day,” Bail sighed. “But I take your point.”
“At least we’ll all be involved in the trial in absentia of the Trade Federation,” Padme offered.
“The paperwork doesn’t lie, they never filed their secession,” Bail sighed. “Why a business was considered a member state of the Republic is still something I can’t understand. I know they’ve been voting in our body for over two hundred years but it still confuses me why it was allowed in the first place.”
“Two businesses,” Padme corrected. “The Intergalactic Banking Clans also held a seat and voted in the Senate.
“The question now is what to do with them.” They couldn’t sanction a business the same as they would a planet or sector. They couldn’t actually punish anyone for using the votes they were given by the Senate in the Senate without setting a ghastly precedent.
And the consideration had to extend to those that legally had no right to a vote but had been given one regardless. The Senate acting like these businesses had the right to votes in the Senate had functionally given those businesses the right to vote in the Senate.
“It’s our fault, isn’t it?” Bail frowned. “Not ours, specifically, but our predecessors that gave these entities a voice among us they shouldn’t have had.
“Though it must be acknowledged that we never spoke against it.” Bail sighed.
Padme acknowledged that with a tip of her head. “The Trade Federation’s invasion of my planet would have certainly gone differently if the Trade Federation had not held equal standing with Naboo in the Senate.”
“Certainly,” Bail agreed. “I wonder how many other planets they have walked all over as they tried to do with Naboo. You said the terms of the so-called treaty they wanted you to sign were deeply unfair. I can recall Lott Dod announcing perhaps a dozen such trade treaties since I took the front seat for Alderaan. Were they all so unfair?”
Bail pulled out his datapad and Padme watched him send a research request to his support team.
“I’m sure the Jedi will know,” Padme offered.
She was a bit miffed, if she was to be honest about it. She thought the Order had been taking the month since Geonosis to heal and organize themselves for the Chancellor’s War but no. They had been investigating the entire Senate, the entire Judiciary, the planetary government on Coruscant, as well as Kamino and the clones.
They had even informally agreed to an armistice with the burgeoning Confederacy of Independent Systems.
“Something I think it would be good to point out,” Padme started. Then she hesitated. Mostly because hesitating would gain her Bail’s undivided attention.
“What?” He demanded as he put aside his pad.
“The Coruscant governor’s office was folded into the Chancellor’s position nearly seventy years ago. The problem with that, of course, is that the planetary governor is also Coruscant’s senator.”
“And a planet or sector’s senator has voting rights, something the Chancellor is strictly prohibited from doing.” Bail sighed.
Padme nodded. “The Coruscant Governor’s office oversees the only law enforcement body with the power to investigate and arrest sitting senators. And they vet members of the Senate Ethics Committee—a committee that was disbanded not long after the governorship was folded into the chancellorship.”
“Well, that’s a cockup start to finish.” Bail scratched his chin. “Chances we can get a Jedi to run for the governorship? Once we get it all untangled?”
“Depends on the Jedi.” Padme didn’t mind the idea. There was no reason someone’s religious affiliation should stop them from holding an elected office. As long as the election was clean and the Jedi in question obeyed the law while in office but the same could be said for any political candidate.
“Too bad we can’t convince Master Kenobi to take it,” Bail offered wistfully.
“Why not?” Padme sat forward to argue in favor.
If his Master took an elected position on Coruscant, her husband would certainly spend more time on planet. Something she was entirely in favor of.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi is the Jedi with the most war experience in the entire Order,” Bail told her. “Every war that has broken out in the galaxy since he was thirteen years old, he was part of. Including the Stark War, the Mandalorian Civil War, and the Naboo Invasion.
“The Order has control of a few million soldiers, Kenobi is the ideal candidate to take control of the Jedi Defense Corps or whatever they will end up calling it.”
“Because the Army of the Light is so passe?” Padme offered drolly.
“Honestly, though, we need to find out what the Order plans to do now,” Padme reminded her friend and ally. “You and I know the Jedi have no interest in conquest but it wouldn’t bother someone like Tarkin in the least to spin the galaxy in the opposite direction.”
“They need more independence from the Senate,” Bail said, to her surprise. “The Jedi Order does.
“Breha and I were chatting throughout the session.” Bail tapped the case his datapad was in, clarifying what he meant by chatting. “Alderaan has long held the goal of making food and water—or the species equivalent—an intrinsic right for all beings. Before the Ruusan Reformation, the Jedi Order was our most active ally in the effort.
“Their AgriCorps were the largest single employer in the galaxy and they fed city-planets like Coruscant entirely, for free.”
Padme sighed. “Add in the Education Corps and Medical Corps which were cut almost as extensively as their Army and the Reformation hurt quite a few people, didn’t it?”
“More than we’ll ever know,” Bail agreed. “All because the senate was afraid. Of what amounts to a religious charity.”
“We’ll fix what we can now,” Padme decided.
They both pulled out their pads and got to work on drumming up support from their allies.
“I must admit,” she continued after they both sent off several messages. “I’m not fond of armies. Not even with the Jedi in control of them.”
Bail frowned and set his pad aside once again. “Why?”
“I suppose my concern is,” Padme paused to consider whether she actually wanted to discuss them, “what would anyone do with millions of soldiers that answer only to them?”
“Historically, the Army of the Light did relief work when they weren’t hunting down slavers and freeing slaves.”
Padme snorted. “No wonder the Senate didn’t want them to have their army back then. They must have jumped on the excuse at the end of the war. How many of our former colleagues are now in prison or about to be executed for participating in or profiting from slavery?”
“Too many,” Bail said solemnly. “By far too many.”
“Now, this body will elect an Interim Chancellor,” Master Kenobi announced and, indeed, it was the last thing on the itinerary projected holographically over the Chancellor’s pod that the Jedi had taken over to handle their current situation.
“We remind this body and, of course everyone watching along,” Master Kenobi nodded to one of the broadcast drones circling him, “that this is an Interim election to last only until every member government of the Republic has been investigated and cleared of corruption per Article Sixty-Six. Only then will Republic member states be able to elect replacement Senators. The newly elected senators will then elect a new Chancellor.
“With all of the prerequisites, we unfortunately provide a timeline for how long the interim chancellor will serve nor when the election of the new chancellor will take place. Their entire term of service depends on the cooperation the Jedi’s investigators receive from various member governments.
Padme watched Tarkin chime in.
“Senator Tarkin from the Sesweena Sector has the floor,” Master Kenobi called.
“I know I speak for my sector and I am certain I speak for many others when I request periodic updates on the Jedi’s investigations,” Senator Tarkin said pompously.
Clearly, he hadn’t read Article Sixty-Six when time allowed.
“Transparency is a requirement on Article Sixty-Six,” Master Kenobi said, politely calling Tarkin out on his lack of understanding without actually calling him out on it. “As every investigation is concluded—by individual or group, not planet—a report will be tendered to the Senate and the Republic’s News Network.
“Other news networks and, of course individuals both within and outside of the Republic can request to have these reports sent to them as well. They merely need to contact the Order’s Outreach Office to be placed on the distribution list. No requests will be denied.”
“Very good,” Tarkin said with severe dignity as his pod retreated.
“As outlined in Article Sixty-Six, the Interim Chancellor will be elected by blind ballot. Each one of you will list three members of this assembly in order of preference for them to stand as Interim Chancellor. Your choices will be weighted—first on your individual list will receive three votes, the second will receive two, and the third will receive one.
“The individual with the most votes, should they accept, will serve as Interim Chancellor.
“Every list will be visible on the holographic display, along with the running total. The official count will come from the Official Counting Droid.” Master Kenobi rested a hand briefly upon a glorified mouse droid that he had placed to the left side of the control panel for the Chancellor’s pod. “But you are all welcome to plug in your own droids to verify the count for yourselves.”
Padme signaled Threepio to plug his fingerjack into the appropriate plug in her pod.
Master Kenobi activated the OCD and three lights came on the front, all yellow for active but waiting.
“You may begin.”
For Padme, the first choice was obvious. Bail had nearly twenty years’ experience in the Senate, and even as a junior senator he had been a calming influence on the senate and the general public. He was near-universally trusted. He had intimate ties—was, in fact, married to—his planetary leader. He was pro-Jedi, but not in an extremist fashion.
And he was from a truly pacifistic culture setting him firmly against the war Palpatine had worked for years to start.
For her second choice, Padme chose Yarua of Kashyyyk. Like Bail, Yarua was a pacifist. More, he was a Constitutionalist meaning he would be sure to know all of the ways the Senate had wandered from the intended model and set things straight. Which guaranteed that no businesses would be allowed to buy voices in the Senate while Yarua was in the Big Seat.
For a third choice, she went with Mon Mothma. Mothma had been the junior senator from the Bormea Sector until her senior partner wad been arrested for involvement in a sexual slavery ring on Coruscant itself—which rather explained why Mon Mothma had been doing the work of both seats since she had been elected.
That Supreme Chancellor Palpatine had also been partaking in the sex ring rather explained why none of Mothma’s or any of her predecessors’ dereliction of duty complaints about their superior never gained any traction.
Mon Mothma was a pacifist and a loyalist. Padme felt good marking Mothma down for even just her third pick.
Padme sent her selections in and looked up to different voting cards flash on the screen before shifting to a summary page. Amusingly, the summary page had only six names despite nearly half of the body’s votes counted.
Clearly, she and her fellows were of a like mind—all three of her choices were on the board well before her own vote card flashed to life in holo.
A seventh name popped up: Tarkin.
He had three votes.
Padme bet herself a serving of carbs for breakfast that Senator Tarkin had placed himself as his first choice. She’d have to check the official database to see if she won but Corellian Hot Cakes were worth it.
It took three hours for all of her colleagues to tender votes. Because three names were a lot to ask for, apparently.
A sharp whistle cut through the air. Everyone stopped their chatter and faced the center of the Senate Chamber. The OCD had three blinking red lights on it.
Master Kenobi hit a button on the top of the droid and the three top-voted named formed in the air above him.
Master Kenobi laughed and activated his pod’s microphone. “While I thank this body for its display of faith in myself and in the Order I represent, as I am not a sitting member of this body, I cannot accept your nomination for Interim Chancellor.” Kenobi paused. “Please do not elect me to a seat within this body. The planet my species is from is not a republic planet and I am quite happy with my…career path, thank you.”
Kenobi hit another button on the droid. His name went away and another name slithered into the holographic display.
Specifically, her name slid into third place.
Having already been the ultimate authority on her own planet, the last thing she wanted was that duty again. She particularly wasn’t interesting in it this time as the responsibility was multiplied to a Republic-level. No way.
“Senator Bail Organa of the Alderaan Sector, do you accept this body’s nomination of Interim Chancellor for the duration of the current Article Sixty-Six?”
“I do,” Bail agreed. “I thank my fellow senators for expressing faith in me. I will not let you down.”
Master Kenobi changed the configuration of the Chancellor’s pod into a platform and Bail’s junior senator dropped him off on it. Queen Breha holo-conferenced in to stand behind her husband from across the galaxy and Bail swore him oath of office on Master Kenobi’s lightsaber.
Typically, it was expected a Senator swore their oaths on their own life, going back to the belief that if they broke their vow, they would die. As the entire galaxy had just watched hundreds of senators still alive to be arrested for breaking their vows in various ways, Padme could understand why Bail would go for a more significantly binding option.
In every human culture Padme could think of, swearing his oath on another person’s weapon gave that person the duty to use their sword on the maker of the oath should they break it.
More, as Kenobi was the current spokesperson of the Order, Bail was charging the entire Jedi Order to take him down if he broke his oath.
Once the oath was made, Bail stepped back from Master Kenobi.
Master Kenobi, for his part, activated the lightsaber and saluted Bail with it.
There was thunderous applause. And this time, Padme was pleased to participate.
The Jedi pod came and retrieved Master Kenobi. Once they were gone, Bail held up both hands, requesting silence.
“Thank you all,” Bail said. “Again, thank you.
“If our Jedi friends would please remain, we—all of the senate—need to speak with you before you return to your temple.”
Master Kenobi merely bowed acceptance.
“It has been brought to my attention that the governorship and senate seat for Coruscant were folded into the Chancellor’s Office nearly a hundred years ago via a Senate Security Committee’s Safety Decree.
“For my first act as Interim Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, I strike down Safety Decree 956C. Further, I move that this body review all Safety Decrees on record and if they are active either strike them down or in act them as law. All in favor?”
The holograph for votes lit up with the first unanimous vote Padme had ever seen. She rather hoped the Jedi’s holographic vote display remained part of the Senate’s process.
“As the Coruscant Elections Committee was dismantled due to Safety Decree 956C, I appoint Jedi Master Mace Windu to the position of Senator and Governor of Coruscant for a period of two years during which he will re-establish both offices and the Coruscant Elections Committee.
Master Windu stepped forward to stand at Master Kenobi’s side and gave a bow. “I am honored by your trust, Chancellor Organa.”
Bail inclined his head in acceptance and moved on.
“Now for the question the entire Republic wants the answer to: what will the Jedi do next?”
Masters Kenobi and Windu exchanged a look.
“I suppose that rather depends on how this body feels about Jedi independence,” Master Kenobi eventually offered.
“Meaning the loyalty of a Jedi is to the Force, to life,” Kenobi explained. “Our goals have always been to provide for the less fortunate and defend the weak.
“Before the Ruusan Reformation, we were the largest employer in the galaxy—in the Republic and outside of it. We provided healthcare, education, and food for little to no cost, but providing these things requires a large workforce. One that goes beyond mere Jedi. One that requires every willing hand we can get.
“When the Reformation stripped the Jedi Order of the army, it chained us to the Senate because the senate at that time was afraid of us but it cost the galaxy more than that senate understood.
“Yes, the so-called Army of the Light could be and was mustered for tactical purposes but its original mission was disaster relief—a service niche the Republic never replaced. Second to that, was anti-slavery campaigns.
“The AgriCorps provided food for city-planets like Coruscant at little or no cost for decades. Once our…hiring practices were limited to Force-sensitives only by the Reformation, over a million farmers were out of work and feeding Coruscant became a logistical nightmare.
“The EduCorps and MediCorps were similarly affected. The MechanaCorps were seen as an extension of the Army and completely shut down.
“But,” Master Kenobi paused dramatically. “With the restrictions from the Reformation gone or at least reduced, the Order can return to its original purpose of helping life as we know it regardless of political lines on a starchart.
“This body already put their slave army in the Order’s hands. Surely you can allow us to hire farmers and teach students as well.”
Padme blew out a heavy breath. That was… a lot.
“This body—or, rather Supreme Chancellor Palpatine—did entrust you with his slave army,” Bail acknowledged. “What are you going to do with them?”
“We freed them, first of all,” Master Kenobi said. “Then we reviewed their… physical specifications and found that there were slave chips in their heads controlling their hormones and enhancing their physical development.
“After a thorough discussion with all of the Marshal Commanders, we started removing the chips in the youngest clones first as the accelerated aging process causes extreme physical discomfort. We were forced to remove all of the…cadets and tubies, as the men call them, from Kamino due to the cloner’s refusal to cooperate with these efforts.
“Once we removed the chips from the cadets and tubies, we started with the fully grown troopers.
“Unfortunately, for all involved, removing the chip causes some withdrawal symptoms as their natural brain chemistry struggles to kick on and regulate their mood.”
“Once their chips are removed?” Bail prompted.
“The issue is complicated. Every graduated trooper is physically and mentally an adult—fully capable of making their own decisions. Chronologically, however, the oldest of them is barely twelve years old. A child by the standard of their species, which is human.
“For now, the issue is moot as they have decided for themselves that the care and raising of their little brothers must be their focus. We are giving them all the educational opportunities we can and are supplying their physical needs of food and shelter.
“We are treating them as refugees because that is, in fact, what they are.”
Tarkin chimed in and was recognized.
“What about those big, armed ships they come in?” Tarkin demanded.
“Those ships are theirs until or unless they decide otherwise,” Master Kenobi returned easily. “These men are not Republic citizens. In fact, under a number of laws Palpatine slid into place while he was in office, they would be considered ordinance, rather than sentient beings within the Republic.
“Naturally, we are not bringing them into Republic Space. No law can change the truth. These men are human. They are sentient. They are refugees.
“They deserve education that isn’t centered on war. They deserve choices.
“The Jedi Order with guarantee they get them. Period.”
“First of all, Anakin is fine.”
Padme blinked at Master Kenobi. He was sitting across from her in a decent, perhaps muddle-class, bistro looking the most human she’d ever seen him in a blue jumper and tan slacks, and yet he had never set her off her game in the time she’d know him.
“What?” Padme asked weakly.
“Your husband?” Kenobi frowned. “Anakin Naberrie? He’s fine.”
“How do you…?” She was confused. Anakin had said their marriage had to be a secret or he would lose his place in the Order. And yet his teacher knew?
Kenobi shot her a shrewd look. “You do understand that as long as Anakin wears his padawan braid, he is considered a minor in my care by Jedi culture, correct? As his parent, I am notified of all formwork submitted to the Republic with his name on it.”
“Including a marriage license,” Padme realized aloud.
Kenobi inclined his head. “I was notified when you registered your intent to wed, actually.”
“And you didn’t stop us?”
“Why would I?” Kenobi looked honestly confused. “Love is allowed by the rules of the Order. Anakin is hardly the first of us to wed. Master Ki-Adi-Mundi is wed and he’s a high councilor. Master Windu would be wed as well but his home planet opposes same-sex pairings—I do hope he moves past his family’s expectations at some point, but it is honestly none of my business.”
“But— Anakin said—”
“Attachment is forbidden,” Kenobi explained. “Controlling, possessive love. Toxic love. Those a Jedi cannot indulge in without making themselves vulnerable to the dark side.
“I know Anakin well enough to be confident he would not go there.” Kenobi’s face darkened. “Not on his own, at least.”
Ice lodged itself in her heart. “What happened?”
“There is a sacred place within the Temple—the Chamber of Light. It’s were we form and changed the bonds between Jedi. It is where student-teacher bonds are made and severed. Where initiates become padawans, padawans become knights, and knights become masters. We are at our most vulnerable mentally and emotionally in this room. Because of this, it is protected, shielded to such a high degree it can be stifling to our Force senses.
“I took Anakin into this chamber to cut his braid, to knight him, but he did not make it much past the threshold before he collapsed.”
Padme gasped. She thought Anakin was on a mission! Not in— she didn’t know what was wrong, actually. “Why? Why did he collapse?”
“I was as shocked and horrified as you are,” Obi-Wan admitted. “The Head Healer could not find anything wrong with him and so called in a mind healer.
“The mind healer found dozens of dark tendrils plaguing Anakin’s mind. Small adjustments and implanted suggestions. Someone was trying to break Anakin’s mind.
“Someone was working to drive Anakin insane.”
Padme rubbed at her chest. Worry bubbled like acid up her throat, in her heart.
“Fortunately, from a certain point of view, one of the tendrils was a tether. One implanted when he was quite young—before Anakin learned to shield, certainly—that allowed the other person instant, constant, and intimate access to Anakin’s mind.”
“Palpatine,” Padme said. She wasn’t sure how she knew but she did.
“Palpatine,” Kenobi confirmed. “So, we began investigating him. Not that we had authority to do anything to him. Mind crimes are very hard to prosecute—impossible, really, outside of the Jedi Order or the courts of certain telepathic species—and he was Supreme Chancellor. How could we even arrest him?
“Then, Archivist Nu told the High Council about Article Sixty-Six.” Master Kenobi gave her a grim smile. “We would have all the authority we needed but only if the Supreme Chancellor himself had ordered us to do something entirely illegal.”
“Which he had,” Padme prompted.
“He had,” Kenobi agreed. “In writing, even.
“Article Sixty-Six required a great deal more work than expected but the Chancellor had already ordered us to cancel all other missions to prepare to lead the war. Instead, we canceled missions and set those Jedi on investigating various issues and Senators.
“I investigated Kamino, the Army, and their mysterious client that ordered an Army.
“Hego Damask II of Damask Holdings and the InterGalactic Banking Clans financed the order while Palpatine used Master Sifo-Dyas’s name to place the order.
“The conditions these men were created in were state of the art technologically but barbarous and grotesque morally. Staring from their genetic blending, if they didn’t meet certain arbitrary criteria, they were destroyed. Younglings were killed for failing any of the Kaminoans tests and standards.”
“Why have you not brought then before the Senate for sentient rights violations?” Padme asked. “For murder?”
“What authority, exactly, do you think the Republic has on Kamino?” Kenobi asked, brows drawn down. “They are not a Republic planet and they have no interest in becoming one.
“All they care about, as a people, is their science which is cloning on a scale that is entirely illegal withing the Republic. Their reputation as scientist is their second priority with profit being a distant third.”
“What about morality? Basic decency?” Padme had to know.
“Would you expect decency from a Hutt?” Kenobi asked. “Would you expect one to thank you for a service, for example.
“No, never.” Padme shook her head. “Huttesse doesn’t have an equivalent to thank you as most sentients know it.”
“Then you can’t expect morality or decency from a Kaminoan either,” Kenobi said. “Their mindset is so foreign to ours that their native language does not have words for morality or decency. Or rights, for that matter, their society is entirely caste based to what I would consider a detrimental degree.”
“But they aren’t our people,” Padme said softly.
“Right. And they never will be. So, what right do we have to judge them?”
“Judge them, maybe not,” Padme allowed, “but we can set up an economic embargo. Profit might be a distant third in their priorities but it is still a priority and its one we can take from them.”
“Once all of the clones are safe, I agree.” Kenobi sighed. “Back to Anakin.”
“If you knew we were married, why didn’t you tell me about his medical situation?”
Kenobi sighed. “For several reasons.
“It was a dramatic and stressful time—for me, especially—and by the time I realized I owed you a comm, I was on Kamino neck deep in a conspiracy and meditating every other hour to contain my temper.”
Padme didn’t know what to say to that. Surely, a Jedi Master…she didn’t know what to think.
Kenobi rolled his eyes a bit but didn’t do anything other than give his order to the server that had approached their table.
“I was a child soldier, left alone and unarmed in the middle of a bloody civil war,” he admitted once the server had left them. “And I was a slave more than once over my padawan learner period. These clones are child slave soldiers. The situation on Kamino hit every one of my known trauma triggers and some I didn’t know I had.
“I am no longer the very small child I was. I’m strong, healthy and in many was powerful now. Faces with monsters like those of my childhood…”
“I can see how that would be difficult,” Padme admitted. “And complicated.”
“Ever diplomatic,” Kenobi offered with a teasing smile. “Another reason I didn’t contact you was that Anakin hadn’t told me he had married you. I don’t know what I did to damage his trust in me but giving any of his secrets away to the High Council—as I would have had to to contact you—would only break his trust further.
“Maybe it was wrong but I couldn’t violate our mutual trust like that.”
“I thought he had gone off on a mission,” she admitted. “I reached out to him through…our private means but he never responded. Then I learned that you had left the planet and I just assumed…” Padme shook her head. “Thank you for keeping his trust. I’m sure he will appreciate it— is he unconscious?”
“Currently, yes. He is unconscious,” Kenobi confirmed. “We were keeping him in the Chamber to protect him from outside forces as a team of mind healers pried what they could out of his psyche.
“Part of the reason I was sent off planet was to encourage Palpatine’s assumption that Anakin was with me and that was why he couldn’t contact him.
“I have been assured that Palpatine’s tether to Anakin died when he did.”
“That’s good.” Padme felt she could suddenly breathe deeper though she hadn’t honestly noticed when her breathing had become shallow. “So, he’s safe?”
“As safe as we can make him,” Kenobi confirmed. “He’s in a healing trance. The Force is setting him to rights, basically.
“The healers want me there when he wakes to reinforce his positive bonds,” Kenobi said. He blinked at her for a few moments. “Would you like to be there? We will have to tell the Order about your marriage but it’s your choice. Your marriage is as much your secret as it is Anakin’s to tell.”
“Will it affect his place in the Order?” Padme asked. “Anakin seemed under the impression he would be kicked out.”
“No, it won’t,” Kenobi assured. “It is a bit of a…foul-up that he did not notify the Order of his intention to wed. There are procedures is in place so the mind-healers can guide the marriage bond and ensure the health of the relationship, but I’m sure we can all agree Anakin’s avoidance of mind-healing was certainly Palpatine-driven. He couldn’t have them disrupting his work, after all.”
Padme could agree to that. Palpatine was dead and couldn’t speak against the assumption.
She vaguely hoped without Palpatine’s influence that Anakin would be…calmer. She loved him for many reasons, including his intensity but she could use a break from it upon occasion.
“Personally, I would ask for your assistance in convincing Anakin to follow the Path of the Creche to his mastery,” Kenobi—Obi-Wan, she supposed—admitted. “Anakin has the biggest, most loving heart I have ever known. Long-term fieldwork would harden his heart and that would be a true loss to the galaxy. Working in the creche, however, would nurture his loving nature.
“His shields, once he learned to make them, are the most robust I have ever seen—something the creche is in desperate need of as younglings rarely have natural shields of their own and spend years in the creche before they are mentally mature enough to learn to shield. And it would keep him in one place—a bonus should the two of you decide to have children.”
“That does sound like a good fit,” she admitted. “But part of the reason Anakin did not wish to leave the Order was his uncertainty of what would happen to you.”
Kenobi waved that off. “I’ll be fine. I’m going to be organizing the Jedi Order’s Disaster Relief Corps—the new Army of the Light, I suppose you could say.”
“With the Clones,” Padme guessed.
“Those that are physically and mentally competent adults,” Kenobi agreed. “It’s an insult to what they have endured to treat them as the calendar age, though their calendar age does give them a number of protections.
“We will stick to relief work, and the care and education of their younger brothers until they are legally adults. Then…anti-slavery campaigns may join the docket. Depending on the level of independence the Order gains from the Republic.”
“You have my support for your independence,” Padme admitted. “I’m sure Bail, Mon, and I can get the Order where it needs to be.
“We’ll have to run a public relations campaign.”
“That’s fine,” Kenobi said. “A number of the High Councilors—new and old—have realized that we need to control what is known about us rather than allow the Senate to continue controlling our image. And we have a great deal of hiring to do for the various Corps so it makes sense to run a public education campaign about the Order itself.”
“New and old?” Padme asked. “Is there a great deal of turnover on the High Council?”
“Not typically,” Obi-Wan allowed, “but Article Sixty-Six requires the entire focus of the High Council that enacts it. We are in charge of the investigation. Once the investigation is over, the precedent is that we return to non-council duties within the Order.
“Running the Order during and after the investigation then falls to a completely new High Council,” Kenobi explained. “The new Grand Master of the Order is a Netti named T’ra Saa. She chose a Corellian Master Nejaa Halcyon for Head of the Order. They are in the process of seating the new High Council.”
“Fascinating. But I suppose it makes sense,” Padme allowed.
“Yes, both the investigation and running the Order are large jobs,” Kenobi agreed. “The High Council I am on discovered the problem so it is our duty to see it through.”
“How long do you expect the investigation in to the Republic’s corruption to take?” she wondered aloud. The Jedi had been savvy about not specifying a timeline to the Senate.
“Confidentially?” Kenobi asked.
“Three to five years. Depending on the level of cooperation we receive and whether those that have stated their desire to secede actually do.
“We don’t expect positive reactions from the Separatists once we start pressing charges against the Trade Federation and Banking Clans. And Mandalore is sure to lose their collective minds when they realize how much of their civil wars were orchestrated by members of the Republic. Hopefully the fact that most of them have either separated themselves from the Republic or already been executed will keep their destructive measures to a minimum.”
So, they might end up in a war anyway, Padme sighed. One they can’t count on the Jedi to fight for them as the Jedi themselves are seeking independence from the Republic.
Their food arrived.
“On to more pleasant things,” Kenobi declared. “What are your plans for the future?”
She was pregnant but it felt wrong to tell her husband’s teacher before she told her husband so she said, “We plan to have children, soon. I know Anakin read the duties of all members of the Royal Houses of Naboo before we married but I am not entirely sure he understands that they will apply to him once our first child is born.”
“Because he’ll be a member of the Royal House by the blood he shares with his children,” Obi-Wan correctly guessed. “Well, that will be amusing. I’m sure he’ll be a good king but I doubt he’ll serve more than a single term—assuming you manage to convince him he has to.
“Perhaps you can use the conflict of interest of the planetary Senator being married to the planetary ruler to keep him out of it?”
“That would put Bail in a strange situation, wouldn’t it?” Padme countered. “I don’t know about you but I’m hoping he holds on to the Chancellor’s seat after this is all over.”
“Agreed.” Obi-Wan gave a single firm nod. “Religious exception?”
“Does the Order prohibit its members from leading planets?” That might explain why Master Dooku had left the Order to lead his home planet.
“Unfortunately, not,” Obi-Wan frowned. “He has the potential to be a good leader. I just worry about his first time actively leading being his leadership of a planet. I suppose we wait and see what the future holds.”
“Agreed.” Padme quirked an eyebrow at her companion. “And you? What are your plans other than the Disaster Relief Corps?”
“I plan to take another student.” Obi-Wan eyed her speculatively. “Perhaps you can help me there.”
“Years ago, during my padawan learner days, I was on duty in the creche when Master Plo Koon returned from Search with a number of younglings for the creche. One of them was a togrutan female. I knew the moment I met her that she would be my first student. I even went so far as to lodge my intention to train her.
“She is fourteen,” he told her. “The Creche cutoff for togruta is fifteen and my claim will only be valid until she is fourteen and a half so I have to claim her soon.”
“Pretty much as soon as you knight Anakin,” Padme guessed.
“Exactly,” Obi-Wan agreed. “And I don’t think he will take it well.”
Padme hummed as she considered that.
“You love Anakin,” she said.
“He’s my brother,” Obi-Wan admitted freely. “I cannot think of anything I would not do for him.”
Padme grinned. “Including hiding his marriage from the High Council that you are part of.”
“As I have already proven,” he said haughtily.
“Will this new student be your sister?”
“No. She will be—Ahsoka is my daughter. The daughter of my soul. The only person I would surrender her training to—the only one I would trust her training to if I could not for some reason do it, is Anakin.”
“And he’s not ready to be a teacher,” Padme supplied.
“If it weren’t for Palpatine, I think he could be,” Obi-Wan admitted. “But that doesn’t change what was done to him or his need for time to heal from it.
“I know he is aware that I did not intend to be his master. Master Jinn intended to be his master but Master Jinn died and I don’t know what kind of insecurities he may have rooted in that situation.”
“Insecurities Palpatine no doubt too advantage of.” Padme sighed. “We have no idea how his healing will affect his reaction.”
They both contemplated that while they poked at their food.
“I would tell him about her before you knight him,” she said. “Make it clear how you felt about him, about training him, how he will never lose his place in your life. Make it clear you aren’t knighting him to get him out of the way for her and I think it’ll be fine.”
Obi-Wan closed his eyes.
Padme vaguely felt something moving around them—the Force, she assumed. She often felt it surging quite strongly around her husband and it was the main thing Obi-Wan and Anakin had in common.
Obi-Wan gave her a small smile. “Thank you.”
Padme discarded no less than three responses before she settled on what felt best to say. “May the Force be with us.”
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