Chapter One -- Reunion


"You donít have to be a general to lead." -- Anakin Skywalker

Long before he could see the broad-shouldered younger man, Obi-Wan Kenobi could feel Anakin Skywalker through the Force as he walked toward the Jedi Temple.

There was tension there, no doubt, as well as excitement, both to see his master and learn of news from the forefront of the war. Anakin had stayed behind when Obi-Wan left to renew the fight against Tyrannus, ostensibly to heal his psyche and his right arm after he and Obi-Wanís near-fatal battle with the Sith, but Kenobi knew the true reason behind Anakinís sudden lack of interest in fighting.

The reason was two-fold, one forced and one secretive, neither to Obi-Wanís liking. After hearing how Anakin had lashed out, both at Dooku and at himself during their duel on Genosois, the Jedi Council had decreed Skywalker dangerous and wished to keep him out of action. The death of his mother Shmi just days before the Battle of Genosois had damaged Anakinís sense of the world and he had responded with anger.

The second reason that Anakin stayed on Coruscant was known to just a handful of people .. he had broken the Jedi Code by marrying Senator Amidala, the former Queen of Naboo . Although maintaining separate residences, Anakin spent most of his time with the young senator, though Obi-Wan had heard rumors that the Supreme Chancellor had been seen walking the Palace walls with Skywalker at times, perhaps Palpatine was looking for a future ally on the Council?

Tyrannusí forces had been pushed back across two sectors in the last month, and Obi-Wan needed insight as to how the Sith Lord and his Trade Federation allies were continuing to fund their outpouring of ships, clones and droids. Bureaucratic nonsense was a difficult read for even the most powerful of the Jedi, and Obi-Wan hoped the Chancellorís people could shed some light on this mystery.

Obi-Wan and Anakin had not parted on the best of terms, as the Master had urged his apprentice to eradicate his dark-side tendencies in this time away from duty, while Anakin seemed content to spend all his time with his new bride, and very little seeking the advice of the four Masters who remained after the slaughter at Genosois.

Anakin was not just smiling, but beaming as Obi-Wan approached him and clasped his hand. Only moments of pleasantries later, Anakin launched into his news.

"Intelligence has found the factory of cloning technology where Tyrannus has holed up in hopes of rebuilding his army," Skywalker gushed. "Chancellor Palpatine wants to send a Jedi strike force to eliminate him, and he wants me to lead it!"

Obi-Wan halted in mid-stride and turned to his former Padawan. "You?" Kenobi asked, unable to keep the surprise out of his voice. "Why, you?"

Anakinís scowl, all-too-prevalent during lessons he didnít understand right off the bat during his training, flashed to the forefront of his features. "I should have known youíd be jealous," Skywalker nearly spit at his Master. "You donít have to be a general to lead."

Obi-Wan took a half step back, trying to placate Anakinís anger. "Thatís not what I meant at all Anakin, itís just that you have not fought in this war in more than a year ... and the last time you faced Tyrannus, you were nearly lost." Both men looked unconciously at Anakinís now mechanical covered with syn-flesh right forearm, where Tyranusí red blade had caught him near the end of their duel.

Anakin flexed the arm and said, "Iíve been training at the Temple every day. Master Windu said Iím the best swordsman there now. The Chancellor said the Republic needs a young hero to look up to to keep the spirits of the war effort going."

"I didnít realize this war had become so commercial," Obi-Wan scoffed, but he did see the logic in the move. Anakinís rise from slave boy to Jedi Knight had been well-publicized two years ago when he helped turn the tide at Genosois before both he and Obi-Wan had to be saved by Master Yodaís arrival.