Chapter Five -- Mission


"Bail Organa must not reach Alderaan. This meeting must not take place." -- Chancellor Palpatine

No less than 10 miles away, Anakin Skywalker awoke from his own nightmare. He had been standing on the slope of a mountain, calling for Padme, who was nowhere in sight. When he finally found her, she was not alone, but was surrounded by Tyrannus’ clone troopers and the Dark Lord himself.

Padme’s scream reached his ears with devastating effect, much as his mother’s had the day she died at the hands of the vile Tusken Raiders.Unable to move in the dream, Anakin watched as Tyrannus drove his crimson saber through Padme’s chest, a fatal blow. The Sith laughed deep in his throat as Anakin’s bride’s body crumpled to the ground, but when he turned, his face had changed to Obi-Wan’s, and the laughter threatened to drive Anakin mad.

A faint beeping awoke the young Jedi, and he rolled over to see his private line comlink blinking at him. The message was from Palpatine himself, urging Anakin to meet him at his chambers at once.

This was a first for Skywalker, and he felt a surge of importance at being summoned directly to the Chancellor’s office. It must be important! He kissed Padme’s head as she slept beside him and hurried to dress, then took his private speeder rocketing through the night sky on Coruscant. to the Chancellor’s chambers.

Anakin was admitted to the office without a word, and found the Chancellor gazing out the window. When Palpatine turned, he seemed even older than Anakin had remembered him two days ago during a briefing concering the upcoming offensive against Tyrannus.

"How are you this night, young Skywalker?" Palpatine intoned, as if they were settling down over a cup of tea.

"The night finds me well, Chancellor, how may I be of assistan--"

"And how is your young bride tonight?" Palpatine cut him off with the question that chilled Anakin to the bone, and rendered him speechless.

Palpatine turned and offered Anakin a half smile, "Oh don’t worry, my young friend, I won’t reveal your secret to your fellows at the Temple, I find it charming that the Republic’s finest young general has found love with a striking woman from my own system."

Anakin caught his breath and nodded, relieved that Palpatine had something else on his mind besides Skywalker’s highly-condemned and previously-believed secret marriage to Padme.

"I have called you here tonight, young Skywalker, because I feel you are to be trusted with valuable information. We have been betrayed." Palpatine stared pointedly at Anakin as he emphasized the last word.

Skywalker gasped involuntarily. "Betrayed? By who?"

Palpatine’s faced looked heavy as he replied. "By one of the finest politicians in the Senate, Bail Organa. I would not have believed it myself had not I been given this video disc by Republic intelligence earlier tonight."

Palpatine cued a monitor and Anakin watched Bail Organa’s assistant, Doren Flask, opening the front door of his residence to allow in a cloaked, hooded menacing figure. After checking the doors and windows of the room, the figure had pulled back its hood to reveal Count Dooku, the former Jedi Master who had become the Sith Lord Darth Tyrannus.

"The audio transmissions are scratchy at best, but my agents have told me that Flask and the Sith arranged for a meeting with Senator Organa on Alderaan in two days. If the Sith learns of our attack plan, months of preparation will be wasted, Anakin. I need your help."

Anakin nodded, "What can I do?"

Palpatine’s voice lowered considerably. "Bail Organa must not reach Alderaan. This meeting must not take place."

Skywalker’s eyes widened. "You want me to murder the Senator? Surely, there is another way, we could have him detained or arrested or simply reasoned with."

"NO!" Palpatine barked. "Surely he is even now under the protection of Tyrannus’ men. Only a Jedi Knight can do this job, and Masters Adi Mundi and Koon are too recognizable. Please, Anakin, the job must be yours."

Anakin visibly wavered at the prospect of killing a man who he had fought alongside in the Clone Wars not two years ago.

Palpatine glared at the young Jedi. "I did not wish to play politics with you Anakin, but with Senator Organa exposed as a traitor, a position would open up on the Senate’s Sanctioning Committee, a position I believe your bride would be perfect for."

The mentioning of Padme and the Senate had its desired effect. Anakin’s wife had long struggled in the subcommittees to which a young senator from an out-of-the-way world was often assigned to. When she did complain, it was often that she felt her contributions were miniscule and of no real value to anyone. Sitting on the Sanctioning Committee would put her directly in the limelight, working side by side with the top senators in the Republic, and she would have Anakin to thank him for all of it.

That sort of committment to her betterment would surely convince her that he was maturing as a Jedi and that the rumors of his dabbling on the dark side of the Force were nonsense.

And yet the murder of another man, even the traitor, did that not lure Anakin down the dark path a little further? He hesitated in his answer, but Palpatine finally found the right angle.

"Of course, should I assign someone else to the task, I would have to reconsider just who is to be trusted and who is to be promoted. Perhaps a more experienced Jedi, one not afraid to take action should lead the assault against Tyrannus... Perhaps even young senators who blatanly lie about their involvement in illicit marriages should be removed from my government."

Anakin had no experience in politics and bluffing was something he hadn’t had need for since his days of growing up in Mos Espa. He immediately consented to Palpatine’s bullying, suddenly fearful that if Padme found out that he was the reason she was forced out of his office, she would leave him, and he would be alone all over again.

Palpatine’s feral look of aggression eased as he saw Anakin’s face bend toward complacency. He smiled up at the lanky Jedi, "I do not wish to spar with one of your powers, Anakin. I only want what is best for you. You must simply learn to trust me on matters political, they really are my strength."

Anakin assented and Palpatine fairly beamed. "I assume the Jedi have schooled you in a number of weapons, yes? For the lightsaber must stay home for this assignment, I will have intelligence provide you a sniper rifle to execute the tratior as he leaves for Alderaan this morning."