"This is my only identity, trooper. You would do well to hope you never see it up close again." -- Mace Windu
Anakin trembled as he watched Master Kenobi leave the chamber -- for all their differences he had been certain that Obi-Wan would be swayed to his side when the time was right. That he would see that Yoda and Mace Windu were too set in their ways to understand that war had changed, politics had changed, and that the Jedi had to change with them.
If Chancellor Palpatine was aware of Anakin’s misgivings of the heated confrontation, he kept his feelings to himself as he murmured words of support and flattery to Master Adi Mundi and Koon.
"Thank you so much for your support, Master Jedi," Palpatine said to the two seated aliens sitting across from Anakin. "You will not regret choosing the right side."
Koon’s deep voice rumbled through the mask that both allowed him to breath in oxygen-rich environments and translated his speech into passable Basic.
"There are no sides between the Jedi, Chancellor," Koon intoned. "Different interpretations of the Force yes, but the Council shall endure this too."
"Of course it will, Master Jedi, of course it will."
Bail Organa found the Jedi trio waiting him at the end of the hallway, taking the lift. All three had looks of concern for the Alderaanian prince as he strode down the hallway to join them.
Obi-Wan spoke first.
"Your sympathy for our cause is admirable, Bail, but make no mistake, you are now in harm’s way. We have the Force to look out for our safety, but I fear making enemies with the Chancellor may shorten your stay in this world."
All four present acknowledged Obi-Wan’s thinly-veiled reference to the occasional mysterious lapses of mind of senators who at the time had been key to opposing plans of Palpatine’s majority.
It had happened to a Mon Calamari senator six months ago during Palpatine’s push for a larger class of Destroyer frigate to take the fight to Tyrannus. The senator, Adoba, had missed a key debate with then-General Tarkin that was to be broadcast visa holonet throughout the Core Worlds, and had been seen as the Republic’s best chance to avoid another step toward total militarization.
Adoba had simply disappeared several hours before the debate and in a mad scramble, Bail Organa had taken his place, only to be humiliated in the minds of most viewers as Tarkin attacked his pacifistic ideals as being outdated and naive.
Almost a standard week after the debate, Adoba had been found in his personal shuttle drifting aimlessly near Corellia. Logs showed he himself had launched the shuttle and cameras inside the vessel portrayed him as being in complete command of himself and the ship, but when recovered he had no knowledege of how he had gotten where he was or any of the events of the past eight days.
Intense probing from Master Windu had brought forth no conclusive evidence that Adoba had had his mind altered in any way, but it was most puzzling. Obi Wan prided himself on knowing the ongoings of a host of criminal sectors of the galaxy, and his contacts had never heard of any sort of elixir or drug that could make one appear totally normal while doing abnormal things, then forget them all upon completion.
While he had never voiced his fears to anyone beyond Master Yoda, Obi-Wan thought it sounded like the work of a Force wielder, but no Jedi would have been an accomplice to mind-manipulation. Even Anakin, who had sided with Palpatine’s causes frequently over the last two years, would not have attempted the feat. Skywalker’s view of the world as good versus evil would never have allowed the subtly involved to rationalize such an act for a political gain.
Adoba’s case was the one that stuck out most in Obi-Wan’s mind, but as he thought back there had been other senators and politicians who had been vehemently opposed to plans that sought to isolate more and more power in the central Republican government and further arm the Core against Tyrannus. In close votes, the count always seem to go Palpatine’s way, and having the clearance to examine voting records, Obi-Wan and others had been surprised to find some of the most strongly-opposed voting just the opposite when the day came.
Master Windu had been gentle but certain in dealing with Obi-Wan’s questioning that politics were far more about looking good than doing good. A senator’s people might not remember his vote on every issue, but if he stood before the SenCam and bellowed about restoring power to the people, he was certain to be re-elected.
This truth frustrated Obi-Wan, especially when he considered Palpatine’s bold claim to wipe out corruption in the Senate when he had taken over as Supreme Chancellor a dozen years ago.
Obi-Wan had spent most of those first 10 years of Palpatine’s rule on Coruscant, teaching Anakin in the ways of the Force to honor his promise to Master Jinn. From the get-go, Palpatine had been aggressive, ousting those senators, who despite long records or positions of power on their respective worlds, had been deemed corrupt, building themselves up to minor despots on Coruscant and forgetting all about the systems they had sworn to represent.
The more he thought about it, the more Obi-Wan realized he knew very little about the political goings-on, except what he watched on the Holonet. His life had been consumed with being a Jedi and gaining mastery of the Force, first to become a Knight, then a Master, then to bring help to those who needed it as the Clone Wars raged on.
Bail Organa was solemn but determined as he addressed the three Masters. "Being a pacifist doesn’t mean I cannot defend myself, Obi-Wan. Although I will take leave of you to return to Alderaan. I fear my government will need a show of solidarity to rebuke Palpatine if the rumors of his desire to plunder our natural resources for war materials proves true."
He clasped hands with Mace Windu and bowed deeply to the diminutive Yoda, who bowed in return. Organa clasped hands with Obi-Wan.
"Tell me when you will take leave so I might escort you," Obi-Wan said. "I trust your security, but not that of the Chancellor."
As the four prepared to exit the Senate Building, they were blocked by two red-cloaked guards, who blocked the way with their force pikes.
So lost in thought of the war-torn environment he had just left, Obi-Wan’s hand went naturally to his lightsaber, but Windu casually patted it down.
The Republican elite guard on the left said, "Gentlemen, as you have resigned from your official duties, I must ask you to turn over any official Republic credentials, security cards or badges of authority you may have on your persons at this time."
Organa slipped a thin metallic disc from his shirt pocket and handed it pointedly to the officer, who tucked it away inside a deep, unseen pocket.
The other officer took a step forward toward Windu and dared to demand, "I would search your person, sir."
Windu pulled his Jedi robe aside, showing he had no possessions save his lightsaber, appearing wicked and lethal even without the blade lit.
Windu leaned in close to the guard, his dark brown eyes penetrating the trooper’s blackened visor.
"This is my only identity, trooper. You would do well to hope you never see it up close again."
The trooper, for all his military training, took a stumbling, involuntary step backwards, with his pike momentarily stopping traffic in the building’s lobby as it clattered loudly on the Mervonian tile floor.
The other trooper had been moving toward Obi-Wan, but stopped and stepped aside with his head bowed, as the three Jedi and lone Alderaanian passed out of the building for the last time in their lives.