Chapter Six -- Assassin

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"Skywalker squeezed the trigger gently and loosed the destructive flash of light down at its prey ..."

In the cold, relatively clean air of Coruscantís morning, Bail Organa felt a kind of breathy nervousness in his bones that he used to get on the Senate floor when he felt his opinions could still change menís minds.

He tugged his cape around his shoulders for a degree of physical warmth, his spirit would find no such companion until he was safely back on Alderaan. In the days since his defiance of Palpatine, he had been filled with emotions bordering on fear.

Organa, a physically-strong man, had cut his teeth at Alderaanís finest university as both a scholar and an athlete, but he kept expecting to turn a corner or open a door to find some dark-eyed assassin waiting with a drawn blaster to end his existence.

Now, his fears were lightening a bit as he walked briskly out onto the landing platform where the shuttle awaited. He was flanked by four guards with sidearms holstered, although he hoped none of them would have to draw them.

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Anakin Skywalkerís hands were moist as he configured the sniper rifle to its highest and most deadly setting. He stood near the rear window of a mobile shop, recently vacated by its owner under durress by Imperial Clonetroopers who claimed he was breaking several mercantile restrictions and would have to stand trial in a weekís time.

Anakin had arrived at the shop two hours before dawn with a small case markedly similar to a standard emissaryís briefcase. But his case was anything but standard, as Anakin found out when he opened it. A long tubing case, a charged energy pack, a trigger and a high-powered sighting scope combined to form one of the most lethal looking personal weapons Anakin had ever seen.

He had spent nearly half an hour testing it, making use of the features on the scope, switching the field of vision from normal spectrum to infrared, should the target arrive before sunrise or if the morning was particularly gray.

The young Jedi had taken to calling Organa "the target" over the course of the last three hours. It made it seem more like a task and less like the murder of a man who was good friends with both his Master and his wife. He wished he had had time to inform Padme at least of this treachery, she certainly would have argued the decision, but at least she would know where he was.

In the hour before the target was scheduled to arrive, Anakin tried to relax himself and made his shadow as small as possible within the Force. He doubted any Jedi would be happening by at this time of morning, Coruscant was a big planet, and plenty of Knights were scattered across the galaxy fighting Tyrannusí forces directly or trying to convince other governments to unite with the Republic and bring the war to an expedient end.

But he knew the murder of a senator would likely involve a Jedi investigator here on the Republicís capital, and he also assumed that Obi-Wan would make at least a precursory overview of the crime scene to see if he could aid in the solving of his friendís murder. The less of Anakinís tint on the area, the better it would be, and the easier his eventualy explanation to his Master would be.

Seeing the lights of a low-altitude Senatorial transport alerted Anakin and he cracked the window and took his stance, well-practiced from weaponsí training with Obi-Wan during his teenage years at the Temple.

Ideally, a Jedi Knight always fought with his lightsaber, but when Jedi were forced into combat, it usually meant stakes were high and things could happen that would coerce even a master of the Force to pick up a different instrument to exert his will.

Anakin was doing his best to convince himself that this was that kind of time, and forcing down the thought that he would do anything to keep his secret marriage to Padme just that. Two helmeted guards stepped out of the transport first, followed by the target, and then two more guards, identical in step and dress to the first two.

The quintet of men was perhaps 60 yards from the shuttle when Anakin drew the perfect shot on the targetís forehead. Taking a deep breath and trying to fill his mind with thoughts of his bride, Skywalker squeezed the trigger gently and loosed the destructive flash of light down at its prey.

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Of the five men on the platform, four of them had no idea what had happened. In fact it wasnít until much later in their journey, watching a recording from the senatorís shuttleís external camera, slowed to 1/64th normal speed were the four men able to discern what had actually transpired.

Those four men included Bail Organa, who was oblivious to Anakin Skywalkerís intentions as he walked toward his shuttle. In a flash of blazing light however, the guard behind him and to his right shouted "DROP!!!" and Organa had fallen prone to the steel platform.

In the next five seconds he heard a low buzzing sound, followed by the eerie ringing of a blaster shot against some sort of reflective surface, then felt the added weight of two of his security guards, who lay across him as a human shield.

High above the action, Anakin followed the piercing rifle blast down toward Organaís forehead through the telescopic lense when he felt a surge in the Force and the blue-white light of a lightsbaer filled the scope.

Stunned, Anakin pushed the rifle to one side, fumbling for his electrobinoculars and focusing in on the five men. Two of the guards were strewn akimbo on Organaís body in classic human shield technique. A third had drawn his sidearm, attempting to ascertain what direction the attack had come from.

The fourth ... the fourth made Anakinís throat close up and nearly choked him as he tried to steady his hands on the binocs. The fourth man stretched his hand out to call back the lightsaber that he had thrown from his side to intercept Anakinís blaster bolt. The lightsaber slid gently back into the manís hand and he pirouetted in a circle, obviously calling out for danger signs through the Force.

Sensing nothing, he moved closer to the downed Organa and removed his helmet.

It was Obi-Wan.