Chapter Seventeen --Escape

You however, carry the keys to the future of this galaxy within you." -- Mace Windu

When Obi-Wan Kenobi had left Coruscant following his duel with Anakin, he had taken few possessions with him, but the most valuable of all besides his lightsaber was Anakinís astromech droid, R2-D2, who had travelled with Anakin and Padme at various times in the past decade.

In that time, the droid had developed a definable personality that sometimes circumvented standard robot limits for thought. Obi-Wan had always dismissed Anakinís claims that the R2 unit had that much of a personality, but a few months with almost no other companionship had convinced him otherwise.

That relationship proved very fortunate for Obi-Wan, for he had asked the diminutive droid to do some decidely immoral things in the past six months. Breaking into comptuer databanks to monitor troop activity, hacking communications lines to send messages to Masters Yoda and Windu, along with Bail Organa and Padme.

When he heard of Dascheís betrayal to her unseen Master, Obi-Wan had taken the gambit to alert Yoda and Mace Windu, along with Bail should he need Alderaan as an asylum for the newborn child and his or her mother.

Both Jedi Masters had agreed that the Jedi child could not fall into Palpatine or Dookuís hands, and for the first time in what Obi-Wan felt was far too long a time, the Jedi moved into action.

Now, hovering above Dooku, shielding Padme and her entourage from his wrath, he was thankful that Anakin had never gone through with a memory wipe on R2D2, for the little droid, tucked firmly in the Jedi fighterís astromech slot just off Obi-Wanís left flank.

The astromech recognized Dooku from his memory banks as a dangerous being, and thus did not try and override Obi-Wanís commands as the Jedi powered up the shipís laser cannons and opened fire on Dooku.

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Dooku was rather stunned when the Jedi actually fired. He had expected Kenobi to stall him while the others escaped, not lash out at him with firepower.

The laser blasts hit just in front of Dooku, hurling him backwards against the doorway leading back into Amidalaís residence. By the time he had regained his senses, the starfighter was on top of him again. Kenobi fired and this time Dooku simply stepped off the walkway, plummeting down and down.

Obi-Wan almost plunged the starfighter down after the Sith Lord, who he was certain would stop his freefall at some point with the Force and work his way back uplevels in pursuit, but he also knew the Nubian vessel had no weapons and would need an escort out of Coruscantís system.

Grimacing at his escaped quarry, Obi-Wan wheeled the starfighter around and took off after Padmeís ship as it roared out of Coruscantís atmosphere.

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Padme and her two remaining handmaidens moved quickly into the main seating area of the ship. They took off without incident, and after assuring Markk that she and the baby were fine, she moved forward to the cockpit to thank the pilots.

Her worried look turned to a smile of recognition as the man in the co-pilotís seat turned when she entered.

"Captain Olie!" Padme exclaimed, instantly recognizing the native of Naboo who had piloted the same starcraft with her onboard as Queen a dozen years ago on their wild escape from Theed, and later from Mos Espa on Tatooine when she had first met Anakin.

Her face clouded at that, even as Olie wrapped in her a warm embrace.

"It is my pleasure to serve you again, MíLady." Olie, a veteran of the Battle of Naboo where her people had first won their freedom from the Trade Federationís invasion, said. "When I heard Kenobi needed a pilot for some fancy flying, I figured I might as well volunteer."

Padmeís smile faded to shock as she caught her first glimpse of Olieís hooded co-pilot. The other man rose and pulled back his dark hood, revealing the bald head and deep, penetrating eyes of Jedi Master Mace Windu.

"Master Windu, oh, you should not have risked your safety for me."

The older manís mouth turned up slightly at the corners.

"My safety has not been a concern in many years, Padme Amidala. You however, carry the keys to the future of this galaxy within you."

Padme cocked her head quizically to one side.

"Keys, Master Jedi?"

The cockpit door slid open, and Padme turned to look down at the newcomer. The diminutive Master Yoda, who Padme had met just twice in her life, stared gravely up at her.

"Much to discuss, we have, Padme Amidala. Come."