Thundering Force: Chapter 08: “Fields, Cities, and Diplomacy.”

“Thundering Force”

Chapter Eight: “Fields, Cities, and Diplomacy.”

By Paul Cousins.

Copyright Disclaimer: All copyrighted places, characters, items, and events, within the story, are held by their current owners. No profit is being made on this work of fiction.

(_)

It has been a week after Padme, Mjolnir, Obiwan, Anakin, Ahsoka and the two droids, had departed from Coruscant for separate missions. Padme and Mjolnir left Coruscant on her transfer orders. Anakin, Ahsoka, R2, and C3-PO headed on their assignment. And Obiwan was sent on his mission.

It was late evening, just after sunset on the agricultural planet. Night had fallen and offered a very beautiful, starry sky as a backdrop for the landed Star Destroyer.

On board a Star Destroyer, landed on an agricultural planet, inside a Jedi recreational room. The room was structure and furnished in the same way the Jedi break room was on the Star Destroyer, Resolute.

The room had a kitchen area, a dining area, and a living area, with a nearby restroom.

There were presently two people in the room. Those two people were Padme Amidala and Mace Windu.

Padme was wearing a dark red short sleeve shirt, dark gray pants, black slippers, among other things. Mace was in his usual clothing, except for his Jedi robe, which he took off, and hung on a hook on a nearby wall in the room.

They were both in sitting on a comfortable couch, in the living area. Padme sat to Mace's left side.

In front of them was a large holo-monitor.

They had just contacted their friends. Obiwan, Anakin, and Ahsoka, from two different locations. So, the holo-comm was set to conference mode, with the monitor showing multiple holographic images at once. The same was for the other two holo-monitors on other ends of the transmission.

To their right was a hologram of Obiwan sitting in a chair. To their left, in the same holographic projection, was Anakin and Ahsoka sitting beside each other, in two separate chairs. Anakin was to Ahsoka's right side.

The meeting had been scheduled in advance. And everyone was now ready to talk.

Ahsoka was the first to speak, as she said, “Hi guys.”

Padme responded, “Hello Ahsoka. How are you?”

Ahsoka replied, “Fine.”

Obiwan commented, “It is good to see everyone is safe and trouble free.”

Anakin said, “I would not go that far. But we are okay.”

Mace stated, “Well that is comforting. Now while we usually debrief people in a more formal matter, when I learned that everyone here had finished their missions early, I arranged this little meeting. Given everyone here is within the same chain of command. With myself overseeing Obiwan. And Obiwan overseeing the rest of you. And none of these missions being classified. I figure we would have a more casual debriefing. Each group would tell the others how their missions went.”

Obiwan said, “I see no problems in doing this. Actually, I would enjoy having some input from you, on how my day went.”

Anakin stated, “So would I.”

Ahsoka commented, “Yes. We had an interesting day. Or should I say night?”

Padme said, “I look forward to hearing what happened. I always do enjoy having a forum to discuss matters.”

Mace stated, “Good. And we will go first.”

Obiwan asked, “How was your mission?”

Mace answered, “It went well.”

Padme commented, “Though, I had found that Master Windu here can be as reckless as I can be.”

Anakin cracked a grin, as he requested, “Really? Please, continue.”

Padme said, “Well, it all started during our trip to where we would be having our mission at...” Padme began her report.

(_)

Earlier that day, on board the same Star Destroyer, as it traveled through hyperspace, Padme was wearing her casual clothing, as she walked in the hallway towards a mission briefing room.

As Padme walked, she thought, 'I find it interesting that Master Windu requested for me to come on this mission briefing as Padme and not Thor. I left Mjolnir in my assigned quarters. And he asked me to dress casually. He likely do not want me to attract any more attention. As far as the crew is concerned, as Padme, I am a diplomatic whom is traveling in secret. And as Thor, I am here by orders of the Jedi Council and the Supreme Chancellor.'

'I wonder what is going on? We have been in hyperspace for a few days. So we are heading somewhere far off. But where? Either way, if I am correct, I am going to soon find out. And if I am correct. Fortunately, I should be right on time for this meeting.'

'I do know it was Master Windu whom assigned me to this Star Destroyer so we could work together. I have not discussed the matter with him. Though, I intend to ask him when I have a chance to speak with him in private.'

By then, Padme reached the door to the meeting room that Mace has requested she attend.

Padme used the panel by the door to open the door. The door slid open, and Padme walked into the room, to stand just inside the doorway.

As the door slid closed behind her, Padme look at around the room.

The room was well lit, with one side having windows that show the outside blue and white swirling lights of hyperspace.

There was a conference table, with several chairs around the table.

But, there was only one person in the room. High General and Jedi Master Mace Windu.

Mace was sitting in a chair, at the table, near the front of the room. Mace's chair was between the table and the window. Mace back was to the window, with the door to the room being to his right side.

Mace wore light brown long sleeve shirt, light brown pants and brown boots. Mace's shirt went down below his waist with a utility belt around his waist. The utility belt was similar to what trooper armor and Thor's armor used, with pouches for items. Mace had his lightsaber holstered on the right side of his belt. Mace also wore long brown gloves that went halfway up his forearms. There was a comlink system built into Mace's left glove. Mace wore brown upper chest armor and shoulder armor over his clothing.

Mace wore his brown his Jedi robe over his clothing and armor.

Mace turn his head to face Padme. Mace commented, “Ah, Senator Amidala. As punctual as ever.”

Padme responded, “It comes with experience. Master Windu.” Padme thought, 'I guess because it is just the two of us he did not want to attract attention by having me come to meet him as Thor.'

Mace agreed, “That is true. Now come have a seat. We have much to talk about.”

Padme walked over and sat down in a chair, nearly across the table from Mace.

After Padme sat down and got comfortable, both adults turned to look at each other.

Mace inquired, “Do you have anything to say before we get started?”

Padme commented, “Yes. I know you had me assigned to this mission so we could work together. I would prefer to know the reasons why?”

Mace asked, “Before I answer that question. I would like to ask you a question. Why do you think you are worthy to wield Mjolnir?

Padme answered, “I have thought about that. And I recall what Yoda said. That Mjolnir craves adventure, but to defend.” She mentally added, 'An outlook a Jedi should not have.'

Mace responded, “Yes. I remember that. Along with your mindset, I believe the reason you are able to wield the hammer is because of your convictions. As I have learned more about you, I learned when it comes to your goals, you do not quit. When you face an obstacle you are determined to overcome that obstacle. Both in the Senate and in battle.”

“While all of Obiwan's reports state you service has been professional. You have shown to be aggressive on the battlefield. As such, I want to get a full measure of your character during combat, in person.”

Padme requested, “Okay. There is another matter I would like to speak to you about. But, given you are my commanding officer on this mission, I would like permission to speak freely.”

Mace said, “You can speak your mind during this conversation.”

Padme stated, “Thank you. There is one matter we need to clear up before we go further. You do not seem to like the Senate much.”

Padme noticed that Mace's reaction to her comment caught Mace a little off guard. But, Mace quickly recovered and he composed himself

Mace commented, “I do not like people whom do not know the Jedi telling the Jedi what to do.”

Padme pointed out, “It is hard to know someone when you are very secretive.”

Mace conceded, “You may have a point. Perhaps if things were better the Jedi and Senate would communicate more. You have been a very good ally to the Order. It is It is unfortunate that we have to keep Thor a secret. We could use you as a liaison between the Jedi and the Senate.”

Padme commented, “I would not be against that idea. Maybe after the war is over, I might be able to arrange creating such a job.”

Mace smiled, as he stated, “It is good that we have some common ground.”

Padme grinned, as she agreed, “Yes it is.” She let her grin slip away, as she inquired, “So what is this mission about?”

Mace dropped his smile to a more neutral expression. Mace answered, “The mission takes place on the planet, Dantooine. In the Raioballo Sector. On the northern Outer Rim.”

Padme inquired, “Outer Rim... What makes this planet so special?”

Mace commented, “Nothing much. It is an agricultural world. The Separatists seized the planet near the start of the war. We have been planning to liberate the planet from them for some time. It just that one thing after another has kept us from doing so.”

Padme guessed, “Now you are ready to take back the planet?”

Mace stated, “Yes. This situation offers options that I did not have before.”

Padme said, “Mjolnir and myself.”

Mace responded, “Exactly.”

Padme asked, “When does the mission to take place?”

Mace stated, “We will be exiting hyperspace in ten minutes. In high orbit around Dantooine. The other Jedi Cruisers will follow soon after us. Reports state that the only Separatists forces in the area are the battle droids on the planet. There are no Separatist ships in orbit. Except for a ship or two stationed on the ground, they have no air forces. They have not even stationed anti-aircraft defenses.”

Padme commented, “Good for us. Bad for them.”

Mace said, “True. I guess they do not think they need a fleet parked in orbit of such a remote, low interest planet. Though this works for us. This is a target of opportunity for both them and us. The droids are located on a single group, several kilometers outside of the planetary capital city of Garang.”

Padme inquired, “Should we be worried about local populations?”

Mace said, “Not really. This area of the conflict is sparse. Mostly farm lands with homes occasionally dotting the landscapes. All the intelligence report state that the farmers that lived near where the droids are stationed left the area as soon as the droids arrived. For those farmers whom stayed, it is reported the Separatists have left the people alone for the most part, allowing them to farm their crops. Though, the Separatists are controlling where the crops are being shipped to off world. But, they are paying the farmers crops and other personnel for their work.”

Padme mentally lamented, 'So this is not a case of slave labor. This is good. After we take the planet for the Republic, the locals will likely remain free as long as they produce food for the Republic. I hope we pay them as well. We likely will. This world is so sparely populated to try to make unnecessary trouble. The Republic is not going to make this planet's population a political example like what happened on Balmorra.'

'At least I know my weather abilities do not radically alter weather patterns on a planet. Or I would worry about the fates of these farmers and their farms after I used my powers on their planet. Now to find out who will be going on this mission.'

Padme questioned, “So what forces will we using to take back the planet?”

Mace smirked, as he stated, “You're looking at them. We will leave as soon as we come out of hyperspace.”

Padme immediately realizes, as she thought, 'He wants just the two of us to fight an army, with me as Thor. I have done it a couple of times by myself. I have I joked about doing so with Anakin, Obiwan, and Ahsoka. But this is serious.'

Padme commented, “And you call Anakin reckless.”

Mace chuckled a little. He stated, “I was planning to send the 187th Legion to aid us, but I realized this is a good opportunity for us to work together.”

Padme pointed out, “There are more easier and saner ways to work together. If you want me to use my weather abilities to level the droid army. As long as everyone else is not nearby, I can do so without a problem. Though, if you are there I have to hold back.”

Mace smiled, as he stated, “Good point. But, I want to see what you are capable of when you cut loose. And you need to see what a Jedi is capable of when cutting loose. It is the one thing that Obiwan could not show you, because he was always one to focus on control, not raw power. And Anakin respects you too much to do so.”

Padme said, “If you want to see what I can do there are more safer methods than this. When I cut loose as Thor, with my weather powers, I become a literally force of nature. I do not like people to be near me when I do so because I worry I may easily harm them.”

Mace responded, “I can appreciate what you are saying. And I am not worried. I can handle myself. Besides, this type of battle is the best way to gauge a number of questions I have about your demeanor.”

Padme realized, as she flatly said, “This is a test.”

Mace admitted, “Yes.”

Padme inquired, “Okay. I know I am not going to be able to talk you out of this. So how do you plan to get down there? Usually, I dump my starfighter in mid-air. But that will not work with you aboard.”

Mace stated, “I had a civilian shuttle brought on board, in hangar bay one, that we can use. I have some clearance codes that will allow us to land on the planet, near the droid army without a problem. Then, we head to confront the droid army. Once the Separatists are dealt with, I will contact our forces to move in and take control of the planet.”

Padme commented, “If you get yourself killed, I am not explaining your death to Jedi High Council.”

Mace mentioned, “I already discussed this mission with the council and they supported my plan.”

Padme was not sure how to respond, as she stated, “I do not know whether to be comforted by that information, or worried.” Padme thought, 'The fact the council would go along with such a reckless plan is disconcerting.'

Mace said, “Do your job. I will do mine. And we will be fine.”

Padme responded, “I will do my job. Given we are not dealing with intelligent people this should not be a problem.”

Mace replied, “I agree.”

Padme asked, “Is there anything else?”

Mace answered, “I will be piloting the ship. Other than that. No.”

Padme pushed her chair back as as she stood up to make room for herself. Once she was fully standing, she turned to Mace. Padme stated, “Then, I best retrieve Mjolnir and get ready. I will see you in hangar bay one.”

Mace stood up from his chair. Mace had enough space between the table and himself that he did not need to push his chair back. Mace looked over at Padme. Mace said, “I will see you there.”

Padme and Mace headed for the door. Padme reached the door first. She used a button on the panel by the door to open the door. After the door slid open Padme was first to exit the room. Then, Mace left the room.

The door soon slid closed behind them.

Both adults went in separate directions down the hallway. Mace when to start the flight check on the civilian shuttle. While, Padme headed to her assigned quarters to retrieve Mjolnir, change to Thor, with her armor, weapons, and equipment.

After which, Thor would head to hangar bay one, to meet with Mace, wait for the Star Destroyer to come out of hyperspace over Dantooine, enter Mace's civilian shuttle, and begin their mission.

(_)

Soon the Star Destroyer made out of hyperspace into high orbit around the planet, Dantooine.

Fortunately, Republic intelligence was correct, and there were no Separatists ships in orbit to detect their arrival.

Soon after, Mace and Thor took the civilian shuttle down to Dantooine.

They in the cockpit of the ship. Mace sat on the left cockpit chair, while Thor sat in the right cockpit chair. Thor set Mjolnir beside the right side of her chair.

Mace piloted the shuttle to Dantooine.

Mace found that the codes he had allowed him to gain clearance to land, from the local spaceport, without any problems.

While Mace and Thor headed for the capital city of Garang, they pass near where the droids were located. They saw that most of the battle droids were B2 super battle droids. There were several hundred droids. And the droids covered the hills they were stationed on. The B2 battle droids were easy to see, with their dull silver armor standing out against the brown grassy ground.

Though, there were no vehicles, nor larger droids grouped with the battle droids.

In addition, Mace and Thor approached the city of Garang, they found the capital was a sparely populated city, with very few high rise buildings. Though, the city stretched for several kilometers.

Most of the large buildings in the city were food processing and packaging centers. These buildings were located near the spaceport. This allowed for quick turnover for the package products to be sent to their customers in other parts of the galaxy.

The spaceport and food processing centers were located one side of city. This prevented the crops coming into city from tying traffic for the population of the city.

When facing the city of Garang from that side, the spaceport being a few kilometers away to the left of the food processing centers. And to the right of the food processing centers was wear transport vehicles offload the crops. The package items were sent out on the left side, directly to the spaceport.

The side of the spaceport facing the city being the air control, passenger area, and cargo area. The other side of the spaceport, that went away from the city, was the large landing tarmac. The tarmac which ended at the rolling brown grassy hills surrounding Garang.

Due to the remote location of Dantooine and the lack of a criminal presence on the planet, there was no fencing between the tarmac and the grassy hills.

Mace and Thor soon landed on the shuttle at the spaceport right outside of the city of Garang.

The spaceport was located on the same side of the city where the droid army was stationed further away from the city and spaceport.

After Mace landed their shuttle in their assigned hangar, Mace shut down the engines, and they exited the shuttle.

After they exited the shuttle, Mace shut the door behind them.

From the beginnings, with their Star Destroyer coming out of hyperspace in high orbit of Dantooine, to landing their shuttle on the planet, it had taken just over two hours to reach this point in their mission.

Presently, they had just exited the open hangar to stand on the tarmac of the spaceport. They stood by each other, with Mace to Thor's left side, as they looked around.

It was warm, sunny, mid-afternoon day on the area of the planet.

Thor had Mjolnir held her right hand at her right side. She looked around them, at the rolling hills of the plains beyond the city of Garang.

Thor thought, 'Even with my enhanced sight. Due to the hilly topography of the plains around Garang, I cannot see the droid army in the distance. Actually, I am not really sure which direction the droids are. And if I am spotting flying up to find out, I risk blowing our cover too early.'

Thor looked up at the clear sky. She continued her thoughts, 'And it is such a lovely day.' Thor commented, “It is unfortunate thou will have to ruin such a beautiful day.”

Mace turned to Thor, as he inquired, “I thought you could summon and remove the clouds at will?”

Thor looked over at Mace. Thor stated, “To a degree. But, thy finds it easier to summon a storm than to disperse a storm. Though, thy can do both. Thy prefers to let the storm burn itself out. Which only take a matter of minutes after letting go of thou's control of the storm thy created. Natural occuring storms are harder to disperse.”

Mace replied, “That is nice to know.”

Thor asked, “Does thee think we will need to be concerned with not checking into with the spaceport personnel?”

Mace answered, “Not immediately. By the time they decide to do something the battle should be over.”

Thor responded, “Thy hopes you are correct. Now how shall we confront the droid army?”

Mace cracked a grin, as he questioned, in a playful manner, “That depends. Do you feel up for a little jog?”

Thor pointed out, “Thy does not want you to be too tired to fight when we get there.”

Mace chuckled a little. Then, he said, “With the force, I can run a hundred kilometers in a single hour without being winded.”

Under her helmet, Thor raised an eyebrow in interest. Thor thought, 'That is better than I have seen Anakin do when we are on a mission.' Thor commented, “Thou would like to see.”

Mace's smile curled into a smirk, as he happily responded, “Then let us have some fun. From what we saw coming in, it is only about ten kilometers to the droids. Let us head over there and see what each of us can do.”

Thor responded, “Okay. But do not get killed.”

Mace maintained his smile, as he replied, “Watched yourself as well.”

Thor said, “Thou will.”

Mace turned away from the spaceport, at the hilly plains in the opposite direction of the city of Garang. Mace stated, “It is this way to the droid army.” Them, Mace started jogging at a slight faster than normal pace, as he used the force to enhance his physical abilities.'

Thor turned and she jogged, with Mjolnir in her right hand, at her right side. Thor followed about ten meters behind Mace, to Mace's right side. Thor kept at the same speed at Mace was jogging at.

While Thor could go faster, and even fly, she wanted to stay by Mace, so they would not risk losing each other before the battle began.

Mace and Thor soon made that way off the spaceport tarmac, as they continued up one of the rolling hills surrounding Garang.

(_)

Half an hour later, roughly ten kilometers from the city of Garang, storm clouds started to appear over the droid army, on the field of Dantooine. The clouds were dark, but not to dark to prevent sunlight from passing through the clouds.

There was thunder and lightning from within the clouds, but the lightning did not strike the ground. And while there was some wind along the floor of the fields, there was no rain.

Mace and Thor had just jogged over a hill top to see the droid army in the distance by nearly one kilometer away. The droids were located in the bottom of area between the hills. The flat basin part of the area stretching for a few kilometers around the hills.

As Mace and Thor approached the droid army, they saw that the droids army had yet to register them as a threat.

Neither were tired from their jog.

Thor thought, 'They have yet to register us as a threat. That is going to cost them.' She held up Mjolnir, as gripped the shaft of the hammer with both hands.

Thor caught up with Mace, to jog to meters from Mace's right side.

Thor looked ahead, as she asked, “How does thee which for us to handle this.

Mace continued to job, as he pulled out his lightsaber and ignited the violet blade. He held the weapon in of both hands.

Mace looked at the droids in front of them. He stated, “I want us increase our speed and run straight into the fray.”

Thor replied, “Yes sir.”

Both of them speed up their jog to run increased to inhuman speed. For Thor, this was due to her enhanced body, while make used the force to empower his body. For Mace, this was due to him using the force to enhance his physical abilities.

When the two adults came within half a kilometers of the periphery of the droid army, they jumped almost at the same time, into the army of droids, with both of them heading towards different areas of the droid army.

By then, the droids had held up their arm mounted blasters cannons and the droids started firing on Thor and Mace.

While in the air, Mace start using the force, training, and experience to begin deflecting shots with his lightsaber blade, with some of the shots reflected back towards the droid army, destroying some of the droids.

Meanwhile, Thor was not concerned with the blaster bolts hitting her, because she was not harmed by the energy attack. As the bolts hit her body and Mjolnir, the energy immediately bled off her body, armor, and weapon in small electrical arcs.

Due to the Black Solace and the scabbard to the vibro-kanata being attached to Thor's body. When a blast bolt hit the Black Solace or scabbard, the blaster bolt bled off the item in small electrical arcs without damaging the items. Though, the alloys used to make the two items made them almost indestructible But, it was nice the tassel at the end of the hilt of the Black Solace would not need to be replaced after every battle.

Soon, Mace and Thor landed in two different locations, and the battle truly started, as they began destroying the battle droids.

Both of them were aware of the location of the other, as the battled the droid forces.

Mace wanted to show Thor what he could do. And he had told Thor he wanted to see what Thor could do. As the battle progressed, Mace and Thor both decided to mix things up.

Given they were on relatively flat land, which was really gently rolling hills, and that there was no one else around, but each other, and a whole lot of battle droids.

Mace cut loose with his lightsaber and the force.

Thor cut loose with Mjolnir, while mixing in some rain to soften the earth and slow down the droids, whom were heavier than Thor and Mace, by bogging down the droids' feet. In addition, Thor used the wind to knock down the droids. And Thor used lots of lightning bolts at the droids. Both from the sky and from Mjolnir.

Though, as soon as the ground was just soft enough to slow down the droids, Thor had the rain quit, so as to know risk softening the ground to the point the mud would slow down Mace and herself.

Mace used the force to avoid blaster bolts enhance his physical abilities to the point he could dodge the blaster attack. The force enhanced Mace's strength, speed, and agility

While Mace dodged the attacks, he threw his lightsaber in a spinning attack, at the nearby droids. As he use the force to continued to dodge droid attacks, he mentally controlled his spinning lightsaber to move around and destroy droids.

While not at Thor's level of physical enhancements, Mace's physical enhancements were still impressive.

In addition, Mace's abilities to successfully split his attention in multiple directions was nothing sort of amazing.

While dodging attacks, and having his lightsaber attack droids to his left, Mace swiftly charged at the droids in front of him. Mace used his fists to physical punch and kick the droids. Each blow shattered a droid on impact.

None of the droids within physical reach of Mace had time to react, as Mace moved with frightening speed while he destroyed the droids with his physical blows.

But this was only the beginning of Mace's display of skill. Mace began to mix physical attacks with direct force attacks, by using the force to shatter, rip apart, and throw into the distance whole groups of battle droids.

Mace continued this for about a minute, while he also using his spinning lightsaber to attack at a distance. Then, Mace used the force to stop his lightsaber from spinning, and he pulled his ignited lightsaber, hilt first, into his right hand.

Once Mace gripped the hilt in his right hand, he had his left hand grip the hilt. With his lightsaber in both his hands, he charged at the droids in front of him. He used his violet colored lightsaber blade to deflect blaster attacks and to slice through the battle droids he approached.

Nearby, as Thor used the hammer and her elemental abilities to attack the battle droids around her, she had noticed Mace's display of skill.

Under her helmet, Thor smirked, as she began to use her abilities in more unique, creative and interesting ways.

Thor threw Mjolnir at some nearby droids. As Mjolnir flew through the air, Thor had the hammer start spinning with the axe blade pointing forward, towards the nearby battle droids.

While the hammer sliced through droids, to Thor's right side, Thor used her right hand to pull out the Black Solace and turn on the vibrations mechanisms to the vibro-katana.

Next, Thor turned to the large group of dull silver battle droids in front of her. While not physically attached to Mjolnir, Thor could control the weather through Mjolnir.

Thor sent a kilometer wide waves of rolling lightning bolts. From the storm clouds above, to the ground, a row of lightning, one after another, in front of herself, with each row a little further away from her, going a kilometer, destroying row after row of droids.

Though, Thor was careful do this in the opposite direction from where Mace was. And away from where Mjolnir was destroying droids.

The rolling thunder attack took less than thirty seconds to finish. When the attack was done, Thor noticed she had practically destroyed almost half the droid army with that one attack.

Also, many of the droids to her right were also destroyed by Mjolnir spinning attacks.

Thor had Mjolnir stop spinning and hover in midair. Next, Thor summon Mjolnir into her left hand.

Once Mjolnir was in her left hand, she gripped the shaft of the hammer, with the axe blade pointed forwards. The Black Solace in her right hand.

Thor turned to her left, and she charged at the droids whom were still standing near her. When she reached the droids, she began slicing her way through large groups of droids.

Mace saw these attacks by Thor. Mace decided to take his game up a notch. Mace used his the force and his lightsaber to deflect blaster bolts coming towards him from various sides, he used the force to throw dozens and dozens of droids into the air. When the droids landed, the force of the impact caused the droids to break apart.

Thor noticed these attacks by Mace. In response, Thor used her weather powers to create two tornadoes that spun around her, sucking up droids, and spitting them out at the top of the wind funnels.

It soon began to rain droids on the battlefield. When the droids landed, the droids shattered into pieces. Sometimes, one droids landed on another droids, destroying both droids.

Though, Thor was careful to make sure none of the droids would land near Mace and herself.

After a minute of doing this, Thor dispersed the tornadoes. Thor went back to hacking and slashing away at the droids with Mjolnir and the Black Solace.

While deflecting blaster bolts, Mace saw Thor's weather attack and Thor's attack gave him an idea.

Mace used the force throw some of the droids over in an arc that would take the droids in front of Thor's view.

Thor noticed saw the droids being throw in the distance in front of her. Thor realized what Mace was doing. That Mace wanted the two of them to work together.

In response, Thor used her wind powers to create a strong downdraft, along with gravity, to slam the droids in the air, into droids on the ground, shattering the droids on impact.

Mace noticed this and he realized that Thor understood his idea.

Mace used the force to send more droids to Thor, with Thor using her wind abilities to slam droids down at droids on the ground.

This continued for another minute. Then, Thor and Mace when back to dealing with the battle droids on their own.

Thor continued to destroy the droids she saw. One after another, until Thor used the axe head of Mjolnir to slide through a droid, and the blade of the Black Solace to destroy two other droids. Then, Thor looked around, and she saw only Mace standing with her, with Mace about a fifty meters from her.

Mace had stopped fighting as well. Though, Mace held his lightsaber at the ready, with both his hands.

Both adults look around them. They saw the rest of the muddy field was covered in destroyed battle droid parts. There was not one battle droid left standing.

Thor turned to Mace. Thor asked, with enough loudness in her voice to carry across the field, “Is this it?”

Mace turned Thor. He shrugged. Mace responded, in a slightly loud tone of voice, “I guess so. I sense no danger in the force. Your eyes are better than mine. Do you see any droids that are functioning?”

Thor looked the battlefield with her enhanced vision She saw no droids that were still active. She turned to Mace. She answered, “No.”

Mace cracked a grin, as he replied, “Good.” He deactivated his lightsaber and holstered his lightsaber hilt on his belt.

Meanwhile, Thor used her right thumb to flick the switch to turn off the vibration mechanisms in the Black Solace. Then, she used her right hand to sheath the Black Solace into the scabbard strapped to her back. After which, she swapped hands to hold Mjolnir in her right hand, as her right side.

By then, Thor noticed Mace walking towards her.

Thor thought, 'I might as well meet him halfway.' She began to walk towards Mace.

As they walked, they were careful not to accidentally trip on any droid parts.

While Thor came closer to Mace, she let her control of the weather relax, as the storm clouds began to break apart, allowing more of the sunshine to come through the clouds and onto the ground.

Thor asked, “How long have we been at this?”

Mace answered, “I would say around an hour.”

Thor questioned, “That quick?”

Mace replied, “Yes.” He continued, in a more concerned tone of voice, “Are you alright?”

Thor responded, “Of course. How is thee?”

Mace kept walking, as he said, “I am fine.” He looked down at his robes. There were a few burn marks. He looked back up at Thor, as he continued, “Though, my robe is a little singed.”

Thor stated, “If that is the worst thee has, then thee should count oneself lucky.”

Mace replied, “I agree.”

Thor kept walking as she looked around. She turned back to Mace, as she inquired, “This is going to be a large mess. Who is responsibility for cleaning this mess up?”

Mace answered, “Actually, the Republic military engineering corps will do that. Droid parts can be recycled into other electronics for the war effort.”

Thor said, “Thy will keep that in mind.”

By then, they had come to a stop, two meters from each other.

Mace stated, “Well it looks like this mission is accomplished.”

Under her helmet, Thor cracked a grin. She commented, “Thy agrees. We have destroyed everything. There is nothing left of the enemy to destroy.”

Mace chuckled a little from Thor's joke. Then, he said, “Sometimes it works out that way.”

Suddenly, Thor noticed something behind Mace, in the far distance, on top of a ridge overlooking the plains Thor and Mace were standing on.

Thor continued to grin, as she stated, “We have someone watching us?”

Mace turned around. He immediately looked for the person, as he inquired, “Who?”

Thor stated, “From his clothing and size, thy would say the person is a local child. A human boy. He is watching on a ridge in the far distance.”

Then, Mace saw the boy standing on a ridge, in the far distance. With the force enhancing his sight, Mace clearly saw the human boy.

The human boy was young. The boy had light tan color skin with brown hair that went to his neckline. The boy wore a green sleeve shirt, light brown pants, a black belt, and light brown hat the same color as his pants. The hat had a brim that went around the boy's head. And the boy was barefooted.

Mace commented, “I see him. Let him enjoy the show.” Then, Mace turned around and he noticed something in the distance behind Thor. He said, “Though, you might want to look behind yourself.”

Thor turned around to see what Mace as looking at.

In the distance, Thor saw a huge, brown spaceship hovering a hundred meters over the ground, heading their way.

The large brown ship, that had an elongated cube, that stretched upwards, with small flight wings on parallel sides of the top of the ship.

Thor inquired, “Do you know what that ship is?”

Mace answered, “The very top of the ship has the basic profile of a Separatists landing craft. But I have not seen that type of ship before.”

Thor looked more closely. She saw that there was nothing under the ship. She then focused on the top of the ship. Where she saw into the wide window in the top of ship. Inside the wide window was a large cockpit, and in the cockpit she saw B1 Battle Droids piloting the huge ship.

Thor thought, 'It is a separatist ship. But given it is not something even Mace cannot had identify, the intelligence reconnaissance likely missed classified it as something else. Actually, if it landed it could easily be mistaken for a building.'

Thor commented, “As long as it is a Separatists ship, it does not matter.”

Thor turned to look at Mace.

Mace looked at Thor.

Under her helmet, Thor smirked, as she stated, “Thy has this.”

Both Thor and Mace turned back to look at the large ship which was still some distance away, as it slowly approached them.

Thor tighten her grip on Mjolnir in her right hand. Then, she raise the hammer over her head, as she summoned a storm.

Mace watched as a powerful storm suddenly form in the distance over the large brown ship. But, the storm came nowhere near Thor and himself. Nor, did the storm come near the boy standing on the nearby ridge.

Then, Mace watched waves of dozens and dozens of lightning bolts came from the storm to strike the top and sides of the large ship.

Within less than a minute, the ship began to explode and crash into the ground, away from any people and structures.

Thor watched the ship crash into the ground, the ship was high enough to see over the hilltops. With the ship destroyed, Thor stopped with the lightning attack, and the storm clouds soon cleared into a partly cloudy sky.

Thor lowered Mjolnir to her right side. She turned to Mace.

Mace noticed this. He looked at Thor.

Thor asked, “So how did thou do for this mission? Did thou pass thee's test?”

Mace stated, “Yes. You passed my test. I hope I gave a respectable showing compared to you.”

Thor complimented, “Thee did fine. Thy was impressed with thee's abilities.”

Mace commented, “I am glad you feel that way. I believe we had our fun.” Mace held up his left arm. Mace used his right hand to activate the comlink his his left glove to the encrypted channel the fleet in orbit of Dantooine used. Mace stated into his comlink, “Admiral. Bring down out forces.”

A voice on the other end of the line said, “Right away, High General Windu.”

(_)

A little while later, Thor and Mace watched Mace's fleet of Star Destroyers began to land in the distance from them and away from the city of Garang. The Star Destroyers were a few kilometers from Thor and Mace.

Thor held Mjolnir to her right side. Thor turned to Mace. Thor offered, “If thee desires, thy can fly thee over to the ships? Thy would have no problems in carrying thee on thy's back.”

Mace looked over at Thor. Mace responded, “If you do not mind, I would prefer we walk. There are some things I would like to talk to you about?

Thor inquired, “Such as?”

Mace started walking towards the Star Destroyers landing in the distance. Thor walked with him, to Mace's left side.

While they walked, while being careful not to trick on the droid ruins around them, Mace responded, “Politics. About our earlier conversation. I sometimes wonder why does the Senate have such distrust for the Jedi Order?”

Thor commented, “Thy believes the secretive, and exclusive natures of both the Senate and Jedi Order have bred distrust through lack of proper communication between the two organizations.”

Mace said, “That is a possibility. Given your unique point of view on matter, what would you suggest on how to solve these issues?”

Thor stated, “Thy has a few ideas.”

Then, Thor and Mace had a casual, civil conversation, on various topics, as they made their way to the Star Destroyers in the distance.

(_)

Back in the present, inside the Jedi break room, on the Star Destroyer, while sitting on the couch, with Mace sitting on the couch, to her right side, Padme concluded their story, “And we had a pleasant conversation, while we made our way to the Jedi Cruisers, without a problem.”

Mace commented, “Also, we came to an understanding on a great many things.”

Obiwan guessed, “You discussed politics. Didn't you?”

Over the line, Ahsoka giggled a little.

Mace stated, “Yes. And we came to an understanding on a few matters.”

Padme said, “There are a few things in the Senate that could help with on communicating with the Jedi Order.”

Mace commented, “And there are a few things in the Jedi Order could do to help keep the peace between the Jedi Order and the Senate.”

Anakin asked, “You two did not amend the Ruusan Reformation during their mission?

Padme said, “No. But we have a framework of ideas that we agree on.”

Mace stated, “Though, this is for later. We would like to hear how your missions went.”

Anakin stated, “I will go next.”

(_)

At the moment, in another part of the galaxy, a Jedi Diplomatic ship was traveling through hyperspace, to its next destination. The ship was on autopilot.

Inside the living quarters, Anakin and Ahsoka sat in chairs beside each other, with Anakin being to Ahsoka's right side.

There was a holo-monitor placed on a table in front of them which showed to holograms, side by side. The left hologram showed Obiwan, and the right hologram showing Padme and Mace.

R2 and C3-PO stood to the side of the room, to Anakin and Ahsoka's right side, just outside of the camera system of the holo-monitor.

Anakin said, “While our fight was not so intense. We had our own battle to deal with as we investigated the disappearances of Jedi on the planet Daalang.”

Obiwan inquired, “Isn't that near Hutt Space?”

Anakin answered, “Yes. Daalang is on the eastern Mid-Rim, near Hutt Space. Daalang is where the hyper-routes of Gamor Run and Bothan Run meet. While reports state the Separatists have shown an interest in Daalang, The Separatists have left Daalang alone due to the Separatists holding further to the southeast and northeast parts of the Outer Rim. The Separatists do not want to stretch themselves to thin.”

“The planet is mostly populated by humans. The planet's climate is mostly mild winters and hot summers. It is not a city planet, but it has some fairly large cities on it. One of such city is where we went to. The city of Daalin.”

Padme asked, “How many people disappeared? And why?”

Anakin stated, “Five Jedi in all disappeared. The first two were sent to investigate possible dealings between the Hutts and the Separatists, with the Hutt selling arms and technology to the Separatists. Daalang would make a good neutral planet for such dealings. The trail of the investigation lead the two Jedi to Daalin, where they disappeared. Then, three more Jedi were sent to look for the two Jedi and they disappeared in Daalin as well.”

Padme commented, “I am glad you two did not disappear.”

Anakin said, “While we were suppose to find out what happened, we were under orders that if there was any signs of major trouble, we were to immediately escape, and contact the Jedi Order for help. Fortunately nothing happened that we could not handle.”

Ahsoka could not help but snort at Anakin's comment.

Padme pointed out, “You two can handle a lot.”

Ahsoka giggle a little from Padme's comment.

Anakin admitted, “That is true.”

Padme groaned, as she inquired, “How bad was the fight?”

Anakin casually answered, “Not bad. Honestly, I had had worse sparring matches with you. Anyway, by the time we landed in the spaceport in the city of Daalin, it was night time. We left the droids on this ship. Soon after leaving the ship, we went to check on a lead we had found out about at the spaceport. The lead directed us a dark alleyway in the populated city.”

Padme's hologram rolled her eyes for a few seconds, before turned back to look at Anakin and Ahsoka.

Anakin noticed this. He went onto say, “But, like many things, it is not what you would expect. Or, in this case, who you would expect...”

Anakin continued to give his report.

(_)

Earlier that evening, after dark, on the planet, Daalang, in the city of Daalin, Anakin and Ahsoka made their way into a deserted alleyway. The alleyway had two street entrances, on opposite sides. The alleyway was wide as a two land street. And there was enough light coming from street lights from both entrances of the alleyway to see within the alleyway was itself.

The alleyway was paved with concrete.

The sky was clear, and the temperature was cool, but not cold.

Anakin and Ahsoka slowly made their way through the alleyway, they walked side by side. With Anakin to Ahsoka's right side.

While they walked, Ahsoka asked, “Master? Are you sure your lead told you to head for this alleyway?”

Anakin stated, “I was told the entrance to the weapons dealer was a door in this alleyway.”

Ahsoka looked in front of her. She commented, “Well I do not see doors in this alleyway.”

Then, they heard an electronically modulated voice behind them state, “And you won't.”

Anakin and Ahsoka stopped walking. They looked at each other.

Ahsoka asked, “Trap?”

Anakin answered, “Trap.”

Both master and apprentice turned around to face the person that had spoke. About ten meters from them, at an entrance of the alleyway, they saw a person in covered in a closed white cloak, with the white hood pulled over to high the person's head.

The person pulled back his while hood and opened his white cloak, to reveal that he was the chrome colored, cybernetic horror know as General Grievous of the Separatists.

In response, as they stood beside each other. With Ahsoka being to Anakin's right side. Anakin and Ahsoka pulled out and ignited their green lightsaber blades.

Each of them took an offensive stances with their lightsabers.

Anakin held his lightsaber with both his hands. While Ahsoka held her lightsaber with her right hand, in an underhand style.

Ahsoka and Anakin did not take their eyes off of Grievous, as Ahsoka asked, “Is that General Grievous?”

Anakin answered, “Yes.”

Ahsoka inquired, “Why haven't we faced him before?”

Anakin said, “Because we have spent much of our time with Thor. And Grievous is intelligent enough to know not to directly face Thor.”

Grievous commented, “It is sometimes wiser to not face a strong storm head on.”

Anakin replied, “Exactly.”

Ahsoka continued to look at Grievous, as she questioned, “We might as well get this over with. Are you the cause of the disappearances? And are Jedi we are seeking dead?”

Grievous answered, “Yes. I killed them. And I took their lightsabers as my latest trophies.” Then, he used his right hand to gestured at six lightsabers attached to his waist.

Ahsoka all but spat out, “Why did you kill them?”

Anakin kept his eyes on Grievous, as he sharply stated, “Ahsoka. Reign in your emotions. This is not a situation you want to lose you cool. You could get us both killed.”

Ahsoka heard what Anakin said. She realized the seriousness of the situation, as she took control of her emotions. Ahsoka looked at Grievous, as she firmly said, “Yes. Master.”

Grievous commented, “Listen well to your teacher, young one. Though, to answer your question. They interfered in Confederacy business.”

Ahsoka asked, in an even tone of voice, “And the three Jedi that came here looking for the first two Jedi?”

Grievous chuckled evilly. Then, he said, “You could say I made this a working vacation.”

Ahsoka replied, with slight disgust her tone of voice, “You're sick.”

Grievous stated, “Either way. You are too late, I am already finished my business on this planet.”

Anakin cracked a grin, as he said, “We can still take your head.”

Grievous responded, “You can try. I was about to leave the planet this evening, when I learned of a Jedi ship landing at the nearby spaceport. I decided to investigate. Still, given you recent promotion to Jedi Knight, I believe your lightsaber will be a worthy addition to my growing collection.”

Anakin and Ahsoka watched as Grievous' two arms and two legs each split apart, with Grievous now having eight limbs.

Grievous stood on his two lower limbs, as he used his other six clawed hands to grab the six lightsabers around his waist. The lightsabers were all single blade, and varied in color.

Grievous ignited the lightsabers. Then, he charged at Anakin and Ahsoka.

While Grievous ran towards them, Anakin and Ahsoka stood their ground, waiting for Grievous to reach them.

When Grievous reached the two Jedi, both Jedi clashed with Grievous. It was six lightsabers versus two lightsabers.

As their battle quickly progressed, Grievous saw how skilled Anakin and Ahsoka were with their lightsabers. The master and apprentice were fighting in tandem with each other. Both of them supporting the other, as they tried to get the upper-hand against Grievous.

Though, while Anakin and Ahsoka used the force to guide their attacks, Grievous had cybernetic enhanced reflexes and he was a skilled swordsman. This allowed Grievous to bridge the gap for the moment.

But then, as they fought Ahsoka tried to use the force to hold Grievous in place.

Grievous quickly realized what was happening. In response, Grievous immediately use his right foot to grab some of the concrete from the ground, break it apart, and throw it at Ahsoka.

Ahsoka dodged out of the way, but as she did so, she had to telekinetically let go of Grievous.

Still, no one was able to take advantage of the situation as Ahsoka was not harmed and she swiftly rejoined the battle in aiding her teacher, Anakin Skywalker.

While they fought, Grievous stated, “Nice try. Though, I was meaning to ask. Your underhand style. I usually only see that used with two lightsabers blades.”

Ahsoka commented, “I am working towards that.”

Grievous said, “That will not happened should you die in this battle.”

Ahsoka saw a gap in Grievous' defenses. Ahsoka attacked the gap in Grievous' defenses, as she stated, “Mine your defenses.”

Ahsoka exploited the opening in Grievous' defenses as she used her the green blade of her lightsaber to cut off Grievous' middle right arm at the elbow. The robotic arm and lightsaber fell to the ground. Lightsaber deactivating as the severed robotic hand relaxed its grip on the lightsaber, with the lightsaber falling out of the robotic hand and onto the ground.

Grievous immediately jumped back, away from Anakin and Ahsoka. He landed ten meters away, at the entrance to the alleyway.

Anakin and Ahsoka did not follow Grievous.

Grievous looked at the two Jedi, as he thought, 'I have underestimated these two. Especially the younger one. She is going to be a handful when she gets older. Still, I am outmatched. And I must escape. Though, if they follow I have other plans in mind for them.'

Grievous turned and ran out of the alleyway, as fast as he could. He turned to his right, as he exited the alleyway, and onto the nearby sidewalk.

Anakin saw that Ahsoka was about to chase after Grievous.

Anakin ordered, “Do not follow him?”

Ahsoka turned to looked at her teacher. She asked, “Why not? We have him on the run.”

Anakin pointed out, “But, we do not know where he is running too. Grievous is as skilled strategist. Both in one on one battles, and in naval space battles. He baited us to come to this alleyway in the first place. He would likely lead us into an ambush, or some other type of trap.”

Ahsoka realized her mistake. Ahsoka said, in a slightly embarrassed tone of voice, “I understand Master.”

Anakin responded, in a comforting tone of voice, “Do not worry. It took a long time for myself to learn to think things through. Though, keep your guard up and follow my lead.”

Ahsoka replied, in a more upbeat tone of voice, “Yes Master.”

Both of them stood at the ready for a full minute. By then, they sensed no more danger in the force.

Anakin deactivated his weapon. And Ahsoka followed suit.

Though, both of them continued to hold their lightsaber hilts.

Anakin turned to Ahsoka. He commented, “I noticed you tried to use the force to hold Grievous.”

Ahsoka looked over at Anakin. She said, “Yes. I tried. But, it did not work.”

Anakin stated, “You almost had him. And he knew it. But, you need to be aware when using the force in such a manner, your opponent will become more desperate, dangerous and unpredictable. Just as you just saw.”

Ahsoka responded, “I will keep that in mind.” She turned to looked at the robotic hand next to the deactivated lightsaber on the ground.

Ahsoka walked over to the lightsaber. She crouched down. She held her own lightsaber in her right hand, as she used her left hand to pull the other lightsaber by the robotic hand.

Ahsoka held the other lightsaber in her left hand as she stood up.

Anakin noticed this. He turned to Ahsoka. Anakin commented, “We need to take that lightsaber with us. With luck it will be identified to which fallen Jedi it had belonged to and interned in the Jedi vaults.”

Ahsoka turned to Anakin. She said, “It is to bad that I cannot keep it.”

Anakin stated, “If you want another lightsaber. You build another one.”

Ahsoka agreed, “True.” She smiled, as she continued, “I hope my display here has convinced you that I am ready to start training in using two lightsabers at once.”

Anakin said, “You're close. Though, you are not there yet. But, you are close. Now, I want us to head back to our ship, and be off this planet within the hour, before any other surprises happen to us.” Anakin thought, 'Once we are in orbit, we will jump to hyperspace for a nearby Republic military spacestation where we can refuel our ship.'

Anakin turned and he began walking towards the opposite exit to the alleyway to the exit Grievous used.

Ahsoka walked right behind Anakin.

While they walked, Anakin looked around for any signs of danger. As Anakin did so, he asked, “So, we both know you are eventually going to build a second lightsaber. What color crystal are you planning on using with her new lightsaber?”

Ahsoka answered, “I was thinking of using a blue crystal. I believe that green and blue would go well together.”

Anakin responded, “I agree. Green and blue would go well together.”

Less than an hour later, without any further difficulties Anakin and Ahsoka made it back to the spaceport, and to their ship.

A few minutes after boarding their ship, their received clearance for Anakin to pilot their ship into the air and in orbit of Daalang.

Soon after, Anakin had R2 set course for their next destination, a Republic military refueling spacestation. Once R2 had the coordinates inputted into the Jedi Diplomatic ship's navigation computer, Anakin set the ship to the proper trajectory and he had the ship jumped to hyperspace.

(_)

In the present, aboard the Jedi diplomatic ship, inside the living quarters, Anakin finished his reported, “And soon after we entering hyperspace, you contracted us.”

The hologram of Mace Windu stated, “It is lucky you were able to have such a brief encounter with Grievous.”

The hologram of Padme turn look at Mace. Padme said, “Luck had nothing to do with it. They are very well trained.”

Ahsoka stated, “Thank you.”

Anakin said, “We appropriate that.”

Mace turned Padme. Mace replied, “I will concede the point.”

Both Padme and Mace turned to look forward.

The hologram of Obiwan stated, “Also, this confirms Grievous has been intentionally avoiding Thor.”

Mace said, “That is because Grievous is many things. But, he is clearly sane enough not to take on such a suicidal task.”

Padme giggles at the comment. Then, Padme inquired, “So Obiwan, how was your mission?”

(_)

At that moment, in another part of the galaxy, in orbit of a plant, inside another Jedi diplomatic ship, Obiwan in his personal quarters. Obiwan was sitting in a cushioned armchair at his desk, using the holo-monitor built into his desk to show the two small holograms on top of the desk. The right side hologram showed Anakin and Ahsoka, and the left side hologram showed Padme and Mace.

Obiwan said, “My mission had mixed results. While both of your groups had the luxury to fight with lightsabers and the force. I had to do battle with my wits and my sharp tongue against a clear master of both. I was sent on a diplomatic mission to meet with Duchess Satine Kryze, leader of the Neutrality Alliance, and her Council of Neutral Systems, whom oversee representational government of the Neutrality Alliance.”

Mace commented, “I recall that when you were younger, you spent a year as Duchess Satine's bodyguard.”

Padme raised an eyebrow, as she questioned, “Really?”

Obiwan calmly said, “Yes. Though, that was a long time ago. Still, we are friends. Which is one of the many reasons the Jedi High Council requested that I be sent on this mission.”

Anakin teased, “I thought you were sent because you are one of the best negotiators the Jedi Order has. Whom will not use Jedi mind tricks during such delicate negotiations.”

Mace groaned at what Anakin was hinting at. While Padme and Ahsoka giggled at little.

Obiwan conceded, “That too. Anyway, Duchess Satine is also the leader of the New Mandalorians. As they call themselves. She and her subordinates are pacifists by choice. They do know how to fight. We do not provoke a fight with them. Even us Jedi would find ourselves in trouble if we did so.”

Mace stated, “Yes. The Mandalorians can be a handful. Even with those trained in the force.”

Padme requested, “Obiwan. Please continue.”

Obiwan responded, “With pleasure. The meeting was held yesterday. Within the huge domed city of Sundari, on the wasteland desert planet of Mandalore, the capital planet in the Mandalore System.”

“While Sundari located under a dome. The gigantic curved dome contains a very much a large city with its own weather and temperature control. The windows of the dome allowing sunlight to come into the city.

“The buildings are honeycomb within the dome. Like several skyscraper buildings put together in various angles. There are areas within the dome that opened up to allow ships to come and go from within the city.”

“I had no problems entering the dome and landing my ship at the local spaceport, within Sundari. Also, renting and driving a speeder to the government building was not difficult. In addition, I was running ahead of schedule.”

“The trouble was that while I was sent to representative the Galactic Republic, the Duchess also invited the Separatists to send a representative to the meeting, as well. For both sides to debate the war. And instead of a quiet discussion, it became a very, lively debate.”

Padme smiled, as she commented, “I love a good debate. Were holo-recordings made of the meeting?”

Obiwan said, “Yes. And obtaining copies of the meeting should not be a problem. The meeting was publicly broadcast across the galaxy.”

“Though, security was tight at the government building the meeting was being held in. The Council of Neutral System was not taking any chances. But, once I was able to identify myself, reaching the floor of the meeting easy. As I made my way down the hallway on the floor, where the meeting was to be held, I found myself alone. This allowed myself a chance to collect my thought. And I must say, while the Mandalorian culture is a warrior culture, they can be true artisans when they want too...”

Obiwan began his report on his mission.

(_)

The previous day, it was in early afternoon, on the side of Mandalore that Sundari was on. Sunlight poured through the dome's windows, into the honeycomb city of Sundari. The temperature within the city was comfortable for humans and near-humans.

Within the domed city of Sundari, on a high floor of a skyscraper government building, Obiwan was walking down a hallway, with windows being to his right on the hallway. The windows showed the illuminated honeycomb cityscape of the interior dome of Sundari.

The windows were tinted so that one could look outside from within, but someone outside could not see into the building through the windows. Though, for those within by the windows within building the tinting only slightly shaded the outside light.

Obiwan was in one of his formal Jedi uniforms. He also wore a Jedi robe he rarely had the chance to use. This included a long sleeve white shirt, white pants, black belt, and black boots, over a white robe.

As per the request for no weapons by the Neutrality Alliance leadership, Obiwan not did bring his lightsaber with him to the meeting. Though, Obiwan was not upset. Actually, he was looking forward to the meeting. Obiwan's lightsaber was in a hidden safe, his personal quarters, in the Jedi Diplomatic ship he used to come to Sundari.

Obiwan continued walking, as he happily thought, 'It is good that I arrived here at the spaceport so soon. I had two hours before I had to head to the meeting. I left my ship for this meeting an hour ago. If I am right, I will be a few minutes earlier to this meeting. Which would be a wonderful way to make a good impression.'

'It has been years since I have seen Kryze. I am so looking forward to seeing her. Our time together had always been pleasant.'

Obiwan kept walking, as he looked at the windows to his right, at the skyline of the honeycombed cityscape under the curved dome ceiling.

Obiwan mentally reflected, 'The mandalorians really do know how to build with an artistic touch. From what I have learned, given the Kryze's pacifistic ways, art and writing is openly supported by the ruling government. This is nice. And Kryze's pacifistic ways have kept the mandalorians, and many other systems from entering the war. The Jedi quietly support. Because that means the war will not spread to those worlds.'

'If the Republic or Separatists attack one of the worlds in this group, they risk the Neutrality Alliance siding with their enemies. Or worse, entering the war as a third party. And that those are two possibilities that everyone in charge wants to avoid.'

'Given the Neutrality Alliance controls over fifteen hundred worlds, they hold in check a lot of power and influence. They have enough power and influence to prevent anyone from trying to force the Neutrality Alliance to do something by force.'

Obiwan looked in front of him, as he continued his thoughts, 'If I cannot convince the Neutrality Alliance to rejoin the Republic. It would be best if I convince them to continue to stay out of the war. By doing so, they can continue to help war refugees whom flee to their worlds. So there is at least that.'

Then, Obiwan came to the end of the hallway, which turned the corner to his left, with the windows continuing down the hallway, to his right.

The hallway was a intersection where the guards were located. The hallway continue further straight pass the guards, until several meters later, where the hallway turned a corner to Obiwan's left side. Also, there was a hallway that going deeper into the building across from the doorway the guards were standing next to.

After Obiwan turned the corner, in the distance, directly in front of him, he saw a door, to his right, with two mandalorian guards.

The guards were members of the Duchess Satine's personal bodyguard, whom were part of the Mandalorian Royal Guards.

The guards wore a mix of royal blue, light brown, and white clothing, mix with chrome armor on the forearms and chrome armor over the shins of their brown boots. The guards were large chrome helmets that covered their face, with the chrome metal flaring up both sides of the helmet. Also, white feathers covered the backs of each helmet. Each helmet had a horizon slit across the upper face plate to allow the guards to see. There was a small, yellow metal grill attacks at the lower part of the faceplate of the helmet. The yellow grill had small vertical slits where the mouth was located so the guard wearing the helmet could more easily breath.

Each guard held a chrome two meter long force staff in their right hand, with the bottom of the staff set on the ground. The force staff could fire a stun pulse out of each end of the weapon to render a person unconscious. The staff was durable enough to withstand a blaster bolt and keep function.

Obiwan saw that the windows turned a corner to his left a few meters from the door, where the wall turned outward for the room the door went to.

As Obiwan approached the guards, the guards turned to face him.

When Obiwan was a a few meters from the guards, the closest guard to him stated, “Jedi Master Kenobi. You are expected.”

The other guard turned towards the door. The guard used his left hand to press a code into a numerical pad by the door.

The door slid open.

As Obiwan passed between the two guards, he said, “Thank you.” Obiwan thought, 'Security probably already alerted these two guards that I was coming.'

After Obiwan passed through the doorway, he came to a stop.

As the door slid closed behind him, Obiwan looked around. Obiwan saw the room was not very big. The room was rectangular. From the door to the far was was fifteen meters. The room was ten meters wide. And three meters high from the floor to the ceiling.

The light from within the room came from the sunlight filtering in from the windows and from small dropped canister lights mounted throughout the ceiling in a grid pattern. Though, the lights in the room were dimmed to balance out the sunlight through the windows so as to not be to bright for those present.

When facing the room from the door to the hallway, there were windows to the right side of the room and on the far side of the room. Like the windows in the hallway, the windows in the room had tinting to provide privacy from possible observers from the outside.

In the center of the room there was rectangular table, with the short end facing Obiwan. To Obiwan's right and left sides, running beside the table, were two couches, that faced the table. There was also couch on the far side of the table facing Obiwan.

There were people of various ages, genders, and species. All of whom were wearing formal clothing, whom sat on the two couches to Obiwan's sides. And in front of Obiwan, sitting alone on the couch facing Obiwan, across the table from him, was the Mandalorian Duchess Satine Kryze.

Satine Kryze was a human mandalorian, with fair skin and blond hair that went down to her shoulders. She was a middle-aged woman, with a slender physical build. She was wearing a formal dress which covered her from almost head to toe. The only parts of Satine's body that Obiwan saw was Satine's face, blond hair, and hands.

Satine's dress was a mix of blue, green, and violent.

Satine's dress was in layers. On the interior layer, she was a violet long sleeve shirt which also covered her neck. She also were blue stockings on her feet and legs. She word blue heels, with the heels being a few centimeters high. On the next layer, she were a long sleeve green gown that went down to her feet. Though, the sleeves of her green gown pealed away from her forearms to show her violet undershirt. The outer layer was a sleeveless blue gown that went down just below her knees.

Over the blue gown was metal bodice around her stomach and lower torso. The metal bodice had a red metal layer over her stomach and over the red metal layer was a cyan gem in the center above her belly button.

Satine's helmet was even more intricate. The interior layer was a violet skull cap that covered the top of her head and her ears. Though, Satine's face was fully shown.

There was an opening at the sides of the skull cap to all for Satine to show off a earring hanging from each ear, with each earring being a large curved cyan tusk shaped crystals. The two earrings were identical.

The next layer were white flower bulbs arranged in a feathered pattern that were mixed in the sides and back of her blond hair.

On the outer layer was to horns that were attached at the front neckline, where a cyan gem was shown. The horns went up and between the white bulbs on the sides and on the back of the skull cap. Each horn curved inward to just above her head. The horns mirror each other.

On the top of the violet skull cap was headdress with red circular metal piece set against the front of her forehead. The red circular metal piece had a large cyan gem in the middle of it.

There was also a red metal piece sticking up a few centimeters at the top of her skull cap. The red metal piece was shaped with a rectangle, with a rounded edge at the top. There was blue inlaid crystal in the red piece. The red metal piece had two teal metal pieces which were set around the red metal on the sides and the top. The teal pieces were attack at the bottom of the sides and at the top. Though, the two teal pieces did not touch each other.

Also, three meters in front of the Obiwan, to his right side, standing just in front of the sitting Council of Neutrality Planets, was a fair skinned, black haired, human looking woman. The woman looked to be a young adult. Somewhere in her twenties. The black haired woman had a slender, slightly athletic physical build.

The black haired woman wore full green scale bodysuit that covered everything but her v-neck line along her chest and her head. Over her bodysuit, she had a fur coat draped over her back. And she wore knee high brown leather boots.

As Obiwan had entered the room, everyone in the room went silent, as they turned to look at Obiwan.

The woman with black hair, in green garb was the first to speak. She asked, “I would hazard a guard that you are Jedi Master Obiwan Kenobi?”

Obiwan turned to the black haired woman. He commented, “Yes. It seems my reputation has proceeded me.”

Loki introduced herself, “From a certain point of view it has. I am Loki Laufeyson. Diplomatic Representative of the Confederacy of Independent Systems.”

Obiwan questioned, “The same Loki Laufeyson that took hostages at a bank of Coruscant? And whom attacked Thor on Coruscant?”

Loki replied, “Yes. Though, the hostages, nor Thor were seriously harmed in that altercation. And that is how I received this job.”

Obiwan sarcastically said, “My, you certainly move fast.”

Loki cracked a grin, as she joked, “Only outside of bed.”

While Obiwan did not respond, there were a few chuckles among the council members. Obiwan noticed that even Satine giggled a little.

Obiwan decided to reply. Unfortunately, Obiwan was so ill at ease with Loki's joke, he stated, in off-putting manner, “Be that as it may. That is neither here, nor there.”

The others people present chuckled a little more at how clearly Obiwan was uncomfortable with Loki's joke.

As the council members calmed down, Satine stated, “It is good to see you, Master Kenobi.”

Obiwan responded, “Likewise, Duchess Satine.”

Obiwan walked up to stand next to Loki, to Loki's left side.

Loki and Obiwan faced the Satine and the rest of the council.

Satine calmly said, “Now a reminder. This meeting is not private. It is being broadcast to our member planets and governments.”

Obiwan did not show any outward expression, as he thought, 'Meaning it is likely being broadcast across the galaxy. I did not know this. But knowing Kryze, she likely did this to force us to remain civil.'

Loki thought, 'What a brilliant calculated move on your part, Duchess Satine Kryze. Intentionally springing this on us at the spur of the moment prevents us from being prepared. With neither Obiwan, nor I, willingly trying to overtly pull something as long as everyone in the galaxy is watching.'

'Duchess, your organization is all about openness. If one of us does try to pull something, such a move will likely increase your membership and weaken both the Republic and Separatists, and the war effort as a whole on both sides.'

'Well played on your part, Duchess.'

'Though, I guess this means that Sidious and everyone else will soon know my name and what I prefer to look like. Not that it matters...'

Loki warmly smiled, as she said, “I love an audience.”

Obiwan commented, “I have never been one to get stage fright.”

Satine replied, “Good.” She turned to Loki. She continued, “And since Representative Laufeyson arrived here before you. Jedi Master Kenobi. She will be the first to have the floor.”

Loki faced Satine and the council members. She calmly said, “Thank you Duchess Satine and honored council members of the Neutrality Alliance. I come here to humbly request that you reconsider your stance on the war and for you to join with the Confederacy of Independent Systems.”

Obiwan thought, 'I cannot sense Loki's thoughts, nor emotions. I can sense the presence of her thoughts and emotions, but not what exactly those thoughts and emotions are. She can shield her thoughts and emotions from those that use the force. This means she is more dangerous than Padme could have expected. Also, I better keep my mental shields up. Just in case she can sense my thoughts and emotions.'

Loki went onto say, “It is obvious that divisions have been slowly growing for centuries within the Galactic Republic, which has ultimately lead to the separatist movement which created the Confederacy of Independent System. Like cracks forming in a giant rock. The cracks will only widen with time, until the rock eventually splits and crumbles.”

“Even if the Galactic Republic won this war, there would still likely be aftereffects in the form of internal rebellions from the divisions created by this war.”

“In addition, the Galactic Republic may lose itself to tyranny in trying to keep itself together. But, if the Neutrality Alliance sides with the Confederacy, this would create a level playing field for both sides. Thus forcing the Republic to the bargaining table.”

“We are not asking you to fight our war, but to help us stop this war, with all of us remaining free.”

“Though, if some of you wish to officially come over to the Confederacy side, and aid us in more conventional manners. You are more than welcome to. Should you join the Confederacy, your worlds will be given the same rights and representation within the Confederacy as the other members worlds of our galactic nation have been given.”

Loki turned to Obiwan. Loki stated, “Keep in mind that it was the Galactic Republic whom made the first opening shots in the war with their newly created clone army and fleet.”

Obiwan turned to Loki. Their eyes briefly met before Obiwan looked away. Obiwan thought, 'That is not exactly true. But, I am going to have to work to reach to that point to state that fact. Though, I will start with...' Obiwan stated, “Actually even if there was an armistice between the Galactic Republic and the Separatists...”

Loki thought, 'Now to have some fun.' She interrupted, “Confederacy. Not Separatists.”

Obiwan replied, in a confused tone of voice, “What?”

Loki firmly stated, “We are the Confederacy of Independent Systems. We are not the Separatists. This is a formal meeting. As such, you will afford those present the respect they are due. I could call your so-called Galactic Republic an Empire. If I so desired. But I will not. I call the nation you representative the Galactic Republic. In returned I expect the same level of respect from you.”

Obiwan firmly pointed out, “The Galactic Republic has a policy of not acknowledging illegitimate governments. You are Separatists. Not an independent, sovereign nation.”

Satine spoke up, in a firm tone of voice, “Enough.”

Obiwan and Loki immediately went silent, as they turned to look at Satine.

Duchess Satine stated, in a more dignified tone of voice, “For the sake of protocol. We will refer to the Galactic Republic as the Republic. And the Confederacy of Independent Systems as the Confederacy. We will not use the term Separatists during the rest of this meeting.”

Obiwan realized, in thought, 'I am not going to win this argument. And if I allow this to drag out, it will only hurt my side and help Loki's side.'

Obiwan calmly replied, “Fine.” He turned to Loki Obiwan said, “Confederacy it is.”

Loki calmly said, “Thank you, Duchess Satine.” She turned to Obiwan. She smiled, as she requested, “Now please continue.”

Obiwan turned to the council. Loki looked towards the council as well.

Obiwan stated, “As I was saying. Even if there was an armistice between the Republic and the... Confederacy, the Republic will not be able to protect those planets that side with the Confederacy from being taken advantage of by the more exploitative parts of the Confederacy leadership.”

Obiwan continued to look at the council. His face was a calm mask, as he thought, 'Let us see how you get out of this trap, Loki.'

Loki looked at the council. Loki eloquently pointed out, “Like the Republic was able to protect the planet Naboo from the Trade Federation. Or, more aptly, they did not.”

Obiwan thought, 'Nice try.' Obiwan continued to look at the council, as he stated, “If I remember correctly, many of those behind that incident are now leaders of the Confederacy.”

Loki admitted, “Yes. Though, I am sure Count Dooku does enjoy reigning in such foolishness.” Loki turned to Obiwan. Loki questioned, “Speaking of the invasion of Naboo, I believe you were present, during that incident?”

Obiwan looked at Loki. Obiwan retorted, “I was. Were you?”

Loki responded, “Fortunately, no. Though, lessons were learned on both sides during that incident. Still, I found those events inspiring. You were able to raise an army from the planet, and then use that army to repel the invaders. This shows that even when the Republic fails to offer aid, that the planetary populations can take care of themselves from invaders. This concept of independence is at the heart of the movement I represent.”

Obiwan immediately realized he had fallen into Loki's verbal trap. Obiwan conceded, “You may have a point there.” He thought, 'While I was setting up a trap, she was leading me into a larger trap. She is good at this. Maybe better than even me.'

Loki looked around those in the room, as she stated, “I know the thought of leaving a unified organization for a more decentralized system is scary because there will be places that fall through the cracks. Though, by the same token there will be places where people will do better.”

“I can see that your council and the organization you represent are already doing much better without the Republic, simply by refusing to be a part of this war. All I am offering is a way to end this war in a manner that will stop the escalation before more worlds are entirely burned to ash. Where entire populations, entire civilizations are snuffed out over the petty stubbornness and arrogance by those within the halls of power on Coruscant.”

Obiwan turned to Loki. He commented, “If you feel the war should be over. You should offer to negotiate with the Galactic Senate, instead of insulting them.”

Loki turned to Obiwan. She stated, “It is only an insult if it is not true.” Loki continued, with a hint of bitterness in her tone of voice, “I find politicians rarely listen to the requests of those they hold beneath them. No matter how dire the circumstances are.”

Obiwan noticed the bitterness, but he did not say anything.

Loki went onto say, in a calmer tone of voice, “Let us talk about Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Even now he refuses to listen to those he claims to represent. All he does is use this war as an excuse to consolidate his power. It is strange how the worse the situation gets for the rest of the galaxy, the more politically powerful that man becomes.”

Obiwan face was a mask, as he firmly stated, “Chancellor Palpatine is great man. He is the voice of reason for the Senate.” He thought, 'Not really. But since I represent the Republic in this meeting, I have to support the Republic's government, which included Palpatine.'

Loki calmly stated, “Believe what you want.” She continued, in a more serious tone of voice, “Still, that fact remains we have a war. A war of dominance. On one side we have the Confederacy trying to break away from the bureaucratic madness. On the other side we have an aging, corrupt Republic refusing to yield power.”

Loki look around the room, as she said, “And everyone else is caught in the middle of this insanity. Make no mistake. Eventually the Republic will tire of your stance. They will turn their fleets on you. And when they do come for the Neutrality Alliance, you will have no way to defend yourselves from such power.”

“If you try to build an army in anticipation of the coming Republic invasion, the Republic will come down on you even more quickly.”

Loki continued, in an even more serious tone of voice, “When they take control, they will declare martial law. They will disband your government, and put the Senate's sycophants in charge. They will seize your properties and wealth. They will strip your planets bare. They will enslave your populations. Those whom are not imprisoned or executed will be made to work as slaves in the refineries, to till your fields, and mine your resources until there is nothing left but ruin from your once prosperous worlds. We of the Confederacy will protect you from that possibility.”

Obiwan turned to the council. Obiwan said, “If you wish for protection, the Republic and the Jedi have protected you for countless millennial. And we will be more than willing to continue to do so.”

Loki turned to Obiwan. Loki questioned, “But, protection from whom? Before Ruusan Reforms. The people of the Republic lived during a dark age, where the Galaxy was ruled by the Jedi, with the Jedi constantly fighting each other. The rest of galaxy caught in the middle of a religious war between fanatical armies. And these fanatical armies made sure the rest of the galaxy having no say in their own fates.”

Loki inwardly smiled, as she thought, 'Always hide a lie in a truth.'

Obiwan turned to Loki, as he began, “That is not exactly true...”

Then, Obiwan caught himself, as he stopped talking. He realized, while he thought, ' But, if mentioned that during those dark times, it was the Sith the Jedi were battling, I would be publicly revealing the existence of the Sith to the galaxy.'

'The Jedi High Council expressly forbid members of the Jedi Order from publicly acknowledging, disclosing information about the Sith. That is what little the council information the shares about the Sith with the members of the Order.'

'Though, from what I have learned. The Jedi went to a lot of trouble removing all mention of the Sith of the history books of the Republic. Because half of the problems from the Sith were due to people that read history books and records pertaining to the Sith. From those records, they were able to find information and relics that allow them to learn about the dark side of the force. This lead to this people causing mayhem and trouble for everyone else.'

'This is why the Jedi erased all knowledge of the Sith from the rest of the galaxy. Save the Jedi Order, itself.'

'While I do not know if you know about the Sith or not, Loki. Though, either way I cannot risk divulging such information.'

Obiwan turned to the council. He choose his words carefully, “A thousand years have passed since then. And the Jedi have stood by the Russan Reformation. We of the Jedi Order have respected the authority the Senate were entrusted to have over the Jedi Order.”

Loki turned to Obiwan. She complimented, “True. The Jedi have kept to their bargain with the Senate on the matter of the Russan Reformation for around a thousand years. This is not an easy task to accomplish.”

Obiwan turned to Loki. He thought, 'She is throwing me a bone to keep an argument from starting.' He said, “Thank you.”

Loki replied, “You are welcome.” Loki turned towards the council. She stated, “I believe it is time for Obiwan to make his case.”

Duchess Satine commented, “I agree”

Obiwan looked over at Loki. Then, he turned to Satine. He turned back to Loki. Obiwan thought, 'And by you supporting this request, Loki. You will gain even more support in this debate. Everything you have said is calculated to be to your advantage. Though, I will make my case. And this is my chance to do so.'

Obiwan look over at the council members, though Obiwan focused on Satine.

From the corner of Loki's left eye, Loki noticed this.

Obiwan said, “Honored council members of the Neutrality Alliance. The Republic has stood for countless generations. Together we of the republic have had our good times and our bad times.”

“But, to allow the Confederacy fully break away from the Republic would lend to precedence, where the Republic would further erode until the Republic completely collapsed.”

“The Neutrality Alliance, the Republic, and the Confederacy are not the only powers in this galaxy. The Hutts are a formidable force in their own right. There are other powers in Wild Space,and the Unknown Regions. And this is not taking into account any invasions from outside of this galaxy.”

For just a second, Obiwan sensed intense fear from Loki. Though, while he made mental note of it, he continued with his comment, “If the Republic fractures and completely collapses, the Republic may take the Confederacy with it, leaving a lot of disorganized worlds picking up the pieces. Keep in mind that slavery is still practiced in Hutt controlled space.”

“Also, other powers may decide it is time to move in and invade, with the former Republic and Confederacy worlds ripe for conquest.”

“Now, I realize that the whole point of the Neutrality Alliance is that your worlds do not have to be a part of the bloodshed. As a person I can respect your sentiments. But, if you were to join back with the Republic, with our combined strength we can end this destructive war and bring order to the galaxy, by confronting the Confederacy with our overwhelming power and forcing the Confederacy to surrender.”

Satine pointed out, “Representative Laufeyson just made the same request, with the same justifications for the Confederacy, as you presented for the Republic.”

Obiwan thought over what Satine said for a few seconds. Then, he admitted, “You are right. She did.” Obiwan maintained a mask of calmness, as he mentally berated, 'How could I have made such an amateurish mistake. I hope my mistake does not dearly cost the Republic.'

Loki confirmed, “Yes. That I did.” She turned to Obiwan. She smiled, as she complimented, “The combined strength comment was a nice touch on your part.” She looked back at Satine and the council members.

Satine stated, “I believe you have both adequately stated your view points. And you have both shown to come to the same point of view from opposite sides of the war. You both desire us to join you side so your side can force the opposing side to acquiesce to the demands of your side.”

“I believe it is time that this debate be adjourned. You both shall leave and wait for our response to what you have just said. We require time to allow us to debate among ourselves, on what you have just said. And for us to confer with the member governments of our organization.”

Loki inquired, “When should we expect a response?”

Satine said, “You should receive response by tomorrow morning.”

Obiwan asked, “Will your meeting be broadcast as well?”

Satine answered, “Unfortunately, no. The debate was meant to show the core beliefs of the opposing sides of this war. But our discussion among ourselves will be held in private.”

Obiwan stated, “Then, I will take my leave.”

Loki said, “I shall, as well. May you all have a pleasant day.”

Obiwan and Loki turned and headed to the door.

When they reached the door, they came to a stop. Obiwan touched a panel by the door, and the door slid open. Obiwan turned to Loki. He took step out of the way. He said, “Lady's first.”

Loki turned to Obiwan. She replied, “Thank you.” She turned towards the threshold of the door, and walked into the hallway.

Obiwan followed behind her.

The two royal guards did not response to visiting dignitaries as Loki and Obiwan walked pass the guards. The door soon slid closed behind the representatives.

An idea then occurred to Obiwan. Obiwan stopped walking a few meters from the guards, near the entrance to the hallway that went deeper into the building, which was opposite to the door to the meeting room.

Obiwan turned to Loki. He offered, “If you want to talk further about this, I would be more than happy to listen.”

Loki came to a stop a meter from Obiwan. She turned to face Obiwan. She responded, “If it was any other Jedi, I would consider the possibility of such an offer might be a trap. But from you, I believe you offer is genuine. Though, I will have to decline your offer. Let us see how they decide, before we talk. I will let you know if I wish to speak to you later. Before we both leave the planet.”

Obiwan replied, “That will be fine.”

Loki turned to her right and she walked down the hallway in the opposite direction Obiwan came from.

Meanwhile, Obiwan turned to his left and he walked down the hallway in the direction he came from.

Meanwhile, from within the meeting room Loki and Obiwan had just left, those council members of the Neutrality Alliance whom were within room began to turn off the holo-cameras and listening devices. After they had turned off the cameras and microphones, the council held a meeting about the debate they had just witnessed between Loki Laufeyson and Obiwan Kenobi.

(_)

Later that evening, during sunset, Obiwan had been summoned from his Jedi Diplomatic ship at the spaceport, to come to the Duchess Satine's private quarters, to meet with the Duchess.

Obiwan was wearing the same clothing as he had on earlier in the day. Obiwan did not have his lightsaber with him.

Obiwan took a speeder he had rented to the building the Duchess Satine was living in.

When Obiwan reached the building where Satine lived, in the honeycomb shaped city, he parked his speeder in a nearby parking lot. From there, Obiwan headed toward the nearest entrance to the building.

When Obiwan reached the entrance, he was met met by the Royal Guards stationed at the entrance.

Obiwan found that the royal guards were very polite to him. The guards used their comlinks to confirm with their superiors that Obiwan's audience was requested by the Duchess Satine.

Obiwan noticed the royal guards were in their uniforms and helmets, with each guard holding a force staff in their right hand.

One of the guards stationed in the building lead Obiwan up to the floor Satine was living on, and into Satine's home. The floor level to Satine's home was high up in the building.

From there, Obiwan was lead through the living area of the home, and towards a large balcony that was attached to the living area. The balcony was connect to the living area by a set of double-doors. The doors during with knobs and opened into the interior living area.

When Obiwan reached the living area, he saw that both balcony doors were pulled fully open.

In addition, Obiwan saw the living area was fulling finished with furniture and small tables and large floor rugs with intricately weaved patterns.

As Obiwan and the mandalorian guard approached the balcony, they saw that Satine was standing on the far end of the balcony, by the parapet. Satine was out of her uniform and she did not have white flower bulbs in her head. In addition, she was not wearing any earrings.

Among other items, Satine wore a loose, white, silk long sleeve shirt. A teal, silk pair of pants. Her shirt was tucked in and she had a red belt around her waist. And she wore a pair of flat sole teal slippers on her feet.

Satine was looking away from them, and out at the sunset coming through the outer windows of the dome, illuminating the honeycombed cityscape in orange and red hues. The sunset was low enough to safely look at.

The guard and Obiwan came to a stop just inside the entrance to the balcony.

The guard stood to Obiwan's left side.

The guard stated, “Duchess. I present to you, Jedi Master Kenobi.”

Satine heard the guard. She turned to look at the guard and Obiwan. She focused on the guard, as she ordered, “Leave us.”

In response, the guard nodded once. The guard turned and left the apartment to resume his duties.

Satine turned to Obiwan. She calmly requested, “Please come here, Master Kenobi.”

Obiwan walked over to stand by Satine, next to the parapet, on the balcony. Obiwan stood to Satine's right side. There was less than a meter's distance between the two of them.

Obiwan and Satine turned to look at each other.

Obiwan asked, “You wished to see me? Duchess?”

Satine stated, “Yes. First, I hope you are not upset about what I said during the meeting.”

Obiwan responded, No. You have an organization to represent. And you were correct. Both Loki and I were basically asking you for the same things. I did not realize that until you pointed that out the fact.”

Satine replied, “Good. At least some wisdom came from that meeting.”

Obiwan inquired, “Yes. Much was learned from all sides during that meets. Also, I realize you desired this conversation for more than my own feelings. As touching as this is.”

Satine smiled, at Obiwan's compliment. She replied, “You are correct.” She dropped her smile, as her face to on a mask of concern. She responded, in a sober tone of voice, “I have some bad news. I believe you need to hear it from me. I am hearing from various representative of planets that belong to the Neutrality Alliance. They are seriously considering on joining the Separatists.”

Obiwan questioned, “Not Confederacy?”

Satine let out a small laugh. She calmly said, “Politics require a curtain measure of decorum. You know this.”

Obiwan agreed, “This is true.”

Satine pointed out, “Yet you almost had an argument with Representative Laufeyson in public. You know better.”

Obiwan responded, “While you have been playing peacemaker, I have been on the front lines fighting a war. I have fought a lot of battles against the Separatists. While fighting the Separatists, a lot of good people have died under my command. My feelings towards the Separatists are likely a little more heated than your feelings on the matter.”

Satine commented, “You would be surprised about my feelings towards the Separatists. It takes two to sides to have a fight. I equally hold both the Republic and the Separatists responsible for this war.”

Obiwan asked, “Do you hold me responsible for this war?”

Satine stated, “Only so far as the orders you have followed concerning this war.”

Obiwan conceded, “That is a fair judgment.”

Satine responded, “Yes it is. But, that is a discussion for another time. I am trying to keep the Neutrality Alliance out of this war. And I need to know. If these worlds leave to join the Separatists, will the Republic consider this an act of war by the Neutrality Alliance, and use this as an excuse to drag all fifteen hundred worlds into this war?”

Obiwan thought, 'You need to know how this will effect the people under you protection. I always respected this side of you. And I do have some good news.'

Obiwan commented, “I do not believe so. The Republic will not consider the actions of a few worlds to be representative of the whole of the organization you lead.”

Satine let out a breath of relief.

Obiwan sensed through the force, as Satine felt relieved.

Obiwan thought, 'I hate to give you the bad news.'

Obiwan said, “Though, it is only a matter of time before the Republic attacks those worlds that do join the Separatists.”

To Obiwan's surprised, he sense not serious emotional reaction from Satine save for some sadness from the situation.

Satine sighed, “I guess some things cannot be helped.”

Obiwan inquired, “Has anything been officially announced?”

Satine answered, “Not yet. The representatives are waiting for a reply from their planetary governments. Right now, they are checking to see how their planet's populations will react. While weighting the pros and cons of such a move. Though, a decision should be reached by many of them sometime tonight. The council will reconvene in the morning so we have discuss the responses we have received from the various member worlds. We will call for you when we are ready.”

Obiwan commented, “Okay. Though, receiving and correlating the responses of over fifteen hundred worlds within less than a day is an impressive feat.”

Satine lips curled into a slight grin, as she stated, “You would be surprised how efficient Mandalorian bureaucracy can be. I lead the council, and thus I am responsible for how efficient this organization is run. I expect nothing nothing less than the best from those whom serve me. And in return I do my best to lead those under my authority.”

Obiwan responded, “Your leadership skills has always been top notch. I will admit that Loki made a very compelling argument. Still, I know many of the Separatist leaders. They are no salvation from this situation.”

Satine dropped her smile. She calmly replied, “I realize that. But some of the other members do not. Even a few members of the council disagree with me on this matter.”

Obiwan stated, in a comforting tone of voice, “Well, there is only so much one person can do.”

Satine quietly agreed, “I know.”

For a few seconds there was silence between the two of them.

Satine turned to look at the sunset. Satine commented, “What a lovely sunset.”

Obiwan thought, 'She wants to change the subject. I might as well let her.' He looked at the sunset. He agreed, “Yes it is.” He mentally added, 'It really is.'

Satine looked out over the city, as she asked, “Obiwan, do you ever think of the past? Of what could have been?” She turned to look at Obiwan.

Obiwan looked at Satine. Obiwan realized what Satine was alluding to. Obiwan said, in a sober tone of voice, “Yes Satine. I sometimes think of what could have been. But now we must remember that we have our duties, which we must adhere too.” He thought, 'I need to leave before we do something we will later regret.” He continued, “I will take my leave, Duchess Satine.”

Obiwan turned and began walking away from the balcony and into the living area.

Obiwan abruptness took Satine off guard. Though, she the realized why he was leaving. She thought, 'He still cares for me. I need to know. I will never live with myself if I do not ask him now while I have a chance.' She inquired, “Back then. When we were young. If I had asked you to stay with me would you have done so?”

Obiwan came to a stop just before he reached the threshold between the balcony and the living area.

Obiwan kept his back turned to Satine. Obiwan closed his eyes, as he admitted, “Yes.” He opened his eyes, with his back turned to Satine, as he continued, “But that is in the past. We both have responsibilities. I have three students to watch over, a battalion under my command, and a war to fight. You have over fifteen worlds to hold together and keep out of this war.”

Obiwan could no longer fight back his sad emotions, full of heartache, as tears rolled down his cheeks.

Obiwan took a deep breath, and he slowly let his breath out. A few moments later, Obiwan went onto say, “Though, if we courted each other now, the scandal from doing so would not just effect us. The scandal would be a devastatingly blow to both organizations we represent. The Jedi Order will be seen as siding against the Republic. While you will be seen siding against the alliance you built.”

“The Jedi Order will be disgraced, and our influence in the Republic will wane even further. Allowing the Chancellor to take more direct control of the Republic more quickly. And your organization may collapse and shatter. Both of these incidents will cause power shifts in the balances of power across the galaxy in unpredictable ways, with countless worlds, populations, people being destroyed directly because of what our actions could be. Here. Tonight.”

Behind Obiwan, tears also streamed down Satine's face, as she realized that Obiwan was correct. She forced herself to admit, in a defeated tone of voice, “You are right. We cannot allow our personal feelings to jeopardize the fate of the galaxy.”

Obiwan said, in a sad tone of voice, “And now you know what it is like to be a Jedi... I did not mean for my audience to bring you... Such pain.”

Satine realized, as she thought, 'He can sense my heartache through the force.' She commented, “I realize such pain is the least thing we would want to give each other. I will live. And you will live. For now that is enough for both of us.”

Obiwan kept his back turned to Satine, for fear that if he faced her, at that moment, he would change his mind and stay. Obiwan stated, “Yes. It will have to be enough. Have a pleasant evening, Kryze. Right now, that is all I can give you.”

Obiwan walked through the threshold, into the living room.

Satine remained silent, as she watched Obiwan walk away. She knew she would recover from what just happened. And she did not blame Obiwan for what had happened. For the moment, she wanted to feel that pain as justification for how much she cared for Obiwan.

Meanwhile, Obiwan exited to Satine's apartment. Obiwan soon made he way out the building, and to his speeder. From there, Obiwan headed for the spaceport, to spend the remainder of evening resting in his private quarters, on the Jedi Diplomatic ship he was assigned too.

(_)

The next morning, Satine summoned Obiwan and Loki to return to the Council of Neutral Systems, with the two representatives being informed that a decision had been reached concerning the debate they had the previous day.

The meeting took place in the same meeting room as the previous day.

Obiwan and Loki stood next to each other, with Loki to Obiwan's right side.

Both Obiwan and Loki were wearing a fresh set of the same style of clothing as the previous day.

Both representatives faced the Council of Neutral Systems. The council members were sitting on the couches around a table, as they did the day before. The Duchess Satine sat on the couch across the table from Obiwan and Loki. Satine sat alone on the couch.

The Duchess Satine wore her blue, green, and violet outfit and headdress, while the other council members were wearing their formal clothing.

Satine stated, “This meeting is being broadcast to our member planets. I will keep this brief. There has been much discussion which happened during the previous day. Both within the council, from the governments of our member planets. This morning we held further internal meetings. I am here to notify the representatives of the opposing sides of this war that on behalf of the various governments of the member planets of our organization that the Neutrality Alliance will not be siding with neither the Republic, nor the Confederacy.”

Obiwan was tempted to feel relief, but through the force he felt that Satine was sad. He wondered in thought, 'If they decided that. Satine, why do you feel so sad? And what about what you told me last night?'

Satine said, “Though, we also have been informed of a splinter group within the Neutrality Alliance, composed of various planetary governments, whom have decided to request their member planets to leave the Neutrality Alliance, with the interest in petitioning to join the Confederacy. The number of planets that wish to do this are over three hundred worlds.”

Obiwan hid his emotions, as he thought, with concern, 'Oh no. This is bad. Very, very bad.'

Satine went onto say, “Though, the populations and governments of these worlds have long since had leanings towards the Confederacy. There are still over twelve hundred worlds within the Neutrality Alliance whom are all still firmly committed towards the goal of peace. In addition, we of the Neutrality Alliance only wish those planets and their people, whom are leaving our organization, peace and prosperity in their actions.”

Loki thought, 'I wonder. Duchess Satine, did you set this whole debate with you already knowing the outcome? That the debate was a way to push some of your more troublesome worlds into joining the Confederacy, to solidify your own power base. If so, this is a shrewd move on your part. If not, the Confederacy, and especially myself, will still benefit from this decision. I am sure that Dooku will consider this a successful mission, without question. Also, I can have some fun with this.'

Loki looked around the council members, as she happily stated, “I look forward to coordinating with those members planets whom wish to join the Confederacy, to allow a peaceful transition between the change over from the Neutrality Alliance to the Confederacy.” She turned to Obiwan, as she commented, in a calm tone of voice, which masked her mischievous nature, “Though, I hope that this does not cause any immediate military action by the Republic against the Neutrality Alliance. Especially not those worlds whom wish to join the Confederacy.”

Obiwan turned to Loki, as he said, “I would hope not.” He thought, 'Though, I am not sure, myself.'

Instead of replying, Loki turned to look at Satine and the council members. Then, Obiwan turned to look at Satine and the council members.

Loki and Obiwan saw Satine looking back at them, with a slightly stern look on her face. Satine firmly stated, “So do I. Unlike the Republic, we will respect the decisions of those member states that leave our organization. And we will not try to force them to stay. As such, we will be setting an example by allowing these populations to leave us in peace.”

Loki thought, with admiration, 'This is smooth. When faced with the same choice, you are basically using this situation to go the opposite way the Republic did. This is political slap in the face of the Republic for starting this war, while solidifying your support in seeking peace. This is a very politically savvy move on your part.'

Satine focused on Obiwan. Obiwan noticed Satine's focus on himself.

Obiwan could sense in the force that Satine was serious.

Satine maintained her austere look, and grim tone of voice, as she warned, “We will request a six month armistice for these member planets seeking to join the Confederacy. This will give time for those citizens that do not want to be a part of the Confederacy to make arrangements to leave their homes and transfer their wealth to other member planets remaining with the Neutrality Alliance. We have already made contingency plans for just this situation. We have arrangements within our organization to allow such citizens to leave the planets which break away from the alliance, and for those citizens to move to those worlds that are still neutral. While the citizens retain all the rights they had before. And for them having permanent immigration status until this war is over and they may return to their worlds. If their worlds still exist after this war is over.”

“Any military action by the Republic against these worlds, within the next six months, would force the remaining twelve hundred planets within the Neutrality Alliance to lean towards siding with the Confederacy of Independent Systems.”

Loki thought, 'Now that is what I call a skilled hat trick. I will have to keep and eye on you, Duchess Satine, and you organization. There is clearly more to you than I expected.'

Obiwan look at Satine. Obiwan thought, 'I do not need to the force I can tell that she is not bluffing.' Obiwan chose his word carefully, as he stated, “I believe this will not be a problem. Six months should be more than enough time to sort out such measurements.”

Obiwan thought, 'I hope that I can convince the Jedi Order to support the armistice. With the Order pressuring the Chancellor to go along with this. Or, this war is going to become a lot more difficult to fight.'

Satine flatly replied, “Good.” Her face relaxed, as she said, in a calmer tone of voice, “This meeting is adjourned. I hope both of you have a safe journey back to your respective nations.”

Obiwan said, “Thank you, Duchess.”

Loki commented, “Duchess. I appreciate the good will and hospitality you and your people have shown me. And I hope your reign is long and peaceful.”

Satine said, “Thank you, Representative Laufeyson.”

Obiwan and Loki both turned and left the room. Like the previous day, Obiwan opened the door, letting Loki exit first. Then, he exited the room. After which, both of them went their separate ways, down opposite directions of the hallway outside of the meeting room.

(_)

Nearly half an hour later, Loki was walking down a large, empty hallway, in the spaceport of Sundari. She was heading to her droid piloted shuttle that Dooku had given her to use for her mission.

The hallway had several windows to Loki's right, which allow the sun to illuminate the corridor.

Loki thought, 'This mission went well. And the droid pilot to my shuttle should take me back to Dooku's Castle, on his far off world. That sounds like a line from a fantasy story. Though, all this technology seems so much more like science fiction. But sometimes it is hard to tell.'

'I could just teleport to Dooku's castle. But, that could cause problems. I do not want anyone, not even Dooku to know I can teleport at will. That is one ability I wish to keep secret as long as possible. Though, while the shuttle is small, the ship is not too small. The ship provides my basic needs. And given my situation, I am not one to complain.'

'Still, I need to talk to Obiwan. I just wonder how I will be able to convince him to have the meeting he offered yesterday.'

The hallway then reached a four way intersection, Loki's ship was to her right. Loki turned a corner to her right and she saw Obiwan. Obiwan was is standing by a windowed wall to Loki's right, about five meters from her.

Loki immediately reigned in her thoughts and emotions behind her mental defenses.

Both adults looked at each other. Loki approached Obiwan, as she thought, with mild amusement, 'Speak of the Devil. Well, not devil. At least not to me. Though...'

By then, Loki came to a stop three meters from Obiwan.

Loki commented, in a sarcastic tone of voice, “I hope this isn't the cliched fight scene. I do hate cliches.”

Loki thought, 'I hope he does not want a fight. I do not see him carrying his lightsaber. But, with the force he could present a threat to me.'

Obiwan casually said, “No. I came to talk.”

Loki felt relief, which she hid behind her mental defenses. Loki responded, “Good. I guess I will be taking up your offer to talk from yesterday sooner than I expected. I was planning to contact you once I reached my ship. So we could agree to meet in person somewhere more formal than a hallway. But in some ways this could better due to the privacy.”

Loki thought, 'This way there are less ways for people to monitor us. Speaking of which, I can use my magic to keep any cameras or microphones around us from recording our conversation. And the way I will do it will keep the security from being alerted. Also, I can give you my note in person.'

Loki used her magic to cause the security system to stop recording them. As far as the security personnel in another part of the spaceport, whom were manning the cameras were concerned, the hallway Loki and Obiwan were in was empty.

Obiwan said, “I agree.”

Loki inquired, “What do you want to talk about?”

Obiwan asked, “Why are you doing this?”

Loki shrugged, as she admitted, “I have nothing better to do. Now why did you do this?”

Obiwan answered, “To help people.”

Loki responded, “Did it ever occur to you I might be doing this for the same reason? Most people are not evil. Sometimes misguided. But not evil.”

Obiwan replied, “I realize that.”

Loki said, “Good. Just because we are opposite sides does not mean we have to be bitter about the matter. There is no need for such hatred. It is bad for everyone. I know this from personal experience. This is one of the few times where a victory can honestly be claimed by both opposing sides. You managed to keep over twelve hundred worlds from joining the Confederacy. But, I was able to convince three hundred worlds to join my side. That is enough to make Dooku happy.”

Loki thought, 'If what I expect happens to die this power shift, these three hundred worlds are but the start of something far grander which I have planned.'

Obiwan pointed out, “Perhaps. For a time. Though, Dooku is still a Sith? Do you know what that means?”

Loki plainly stated, “He is a power hungry force user whom believes in domination over everyone else.”

Obiwan thought, 'This confirms that she likely knows some history between the Jedi and Sith. She may realize that I cannot share that information outside of the Jedi Order. Though...' He questioned, “While you know this, you still serve him?”

Loki said, “Right now, it is more of a matter of lack of options. I know of people on your side whom are worse than Dooku. The only real difference is that he uses the force and they do not. And at least Dooku presents some civility in his dealings.”

Obiwan conceded, “True.”

Loki asked, “Is it the fact he is a Sith that what worries you about the Confederacy winning?”

Obiwan admitted, “Yes. If the Separatists win, Dooku, or actually his master Sidious will destroy the Jedi Order. They will hunt down my friends, my family, and myself, until we are all dead.” He thought, 'If she knows this much. I might as well subtly warn her that Dooku is not the head person in charge of the Separatists.'

Loki thought, 'Given how secretive you Jedi are, you mentioning Sidious means you are warning me about him. That is nice of you. Now to allay your fears.' Loki pointed out, “That will only happen if by the time this war is over either of them are still in charge. A lot can happen in war.”

Obiwan conceded, “One can hope.” Then, Obiwan remembered something from the meeting. He inquired, “When I mentioned the threat of invasion from outside of the galaxy. For a moment, I sensed intense fear from you.”

Loki was silent. She thought, 'Damn. I know the moment he is talking about. I knew I accidentally let my mental defenses slip. I had hoped he missed that. Still, this is the best time as any to tell him. And I have to tell him. If I am die before someone else is informed of them, it could cost this galaxy any hope for a good future.'

Loki stated, in a serious tone of voice, “While I come a very far off place. I know of beings that may exist in this realm, whom might be much closer to you, in distance, that are outside your galaxy.”

Obiwan commented, “It is not surprising that such threats could exist, given there are sentient alien cultures in the Rishi Maze.”

Loki said, in a sober tone of voice, “I am not talking about the neighboring dwarf galaxy that is by this galaxy. I am talking further out.”

Loki looked away from Obiwan, to her right and out the windows. Loki looked out the windows which allowed her to see the outside dome windows in the distance. Beyond the dome windows a barren desert landscape. Loki took a deep breath and she let out her breath. Then, Loki looked at Obiwan, as she said, in a very serious tone of voice, “I pray that the species I going to tell you about does not exist in this realm. I only tell you this because should I die. This information is to important to die with me. There is a species out there. Beyond this galaxy, whom makes the Sith look like angels in comparison.”

While Obiwan could not sense Loki's thoughts and emotions, Obiwan could sense the emotional intent of Loki's tone of voice and from that Obiwan could tell that Loki was being serious with him.

Obiwan asked, in a concerned tone of voice, “Whom are you talking about?”

Loki looked at Obiwan, in Obiwan's eyes. Loki stated, in a serious tone of voice, “The species is called the Yuuzhan Vong. They are the stuff of nightmares. If the deepest, darkest, most terrible parts of Hell ever spat out a species to bring pain and suffering to the rest of existence, the Yuuzhan Vong are that species.”

“Like the Sith worship rage. The Yuuzhan Vong worship pain. Like the Sith, the Yuuzhan Vong wish to dominate all life.”

“The Yuuzhan Vong's rapacity for bringing violence, pain, and death is without peer.”

“But, unlike the Sith. Where the Sith are just happy to control the populations of the Galaxy. The Yuuzhan Vong seek to make their slaves suffer as much as possible.”

“The Yuuzhan Vong are religious fanatics, whom are organized in a caste system that worships Gods of Pain. The Yuuzhan Vong have no fear of death. The only people they cause more pain too than their slaves, is to each other. They mutilate themselves and torture themselves. They believe that suffering and pain, both to themselves and to other people are religious experiences for them.”

“The Yuuzhan Vong cannot be reasoned with. Any bargain made with them would be broken to further their religious agenda to bring suffering. They are demons and devils every definition of those terms.”

“They have some of the most advanced forms of organic technology which I know of. They make the Sith experiments on organic lifeforms look like the finger paintings of children compared to the complexities of a hyperdrive engine. The Yuuzhan Vong can turn peaceful animals and even sentient lifeforms into vicious, mutated monsters that would send rancors running away from them in fear.”

“Worst of all, they cannot be sensed through the force. You of the Jedi will not be able to tell that they are coming. And a few of them can use the force.”

Loki thought, 'I have to know.' Loki asked, “Have you heard of a wondering planet called, Zonama Sekot?”

Obiwan answered, “Yes. I have been there. The people there specialize in bio-technology.”

Loki put her hands up to her face, as she quietly said, “Oh no.” Though, she quickly composed herself. She lowered her hands to her sides, as she looked at Obiwan. Loki stated, “Zonama Sekot is one of the living planets of the Yuuzhan Vong. Zonama Sekot is a scout planet. Meaning the Yuuzhan Vong exist in this realm.”

“Though, the species you talked to on Zonama Sekot were likely the Ferroan and the Langhesi. The Yuuzhan Vong hide inside biological technological cave system within the planet. Though, the Yuuzhan Vong can wear a second skin and hair over their scarred bodies to hide what they truly look like. Also, while the Yuuzhan Vong excel in bio-technology, they have a rabid hatred of machines. Especially, robotic lifeforms.”

Loki reigned in her emotions, as she gravely thought, 'Just one more problem to deal with. But they are for later. Right now I have to focus on my current problems, and work on a plan to deal with the Yuuzhan Vong later.'

Obiwan thought, 'Not only did you just tell me about this possible horror. You clearly have an idea of how the force works.' Obiwan asked, “How do you know all this?”

Loki firmly stated, “It does not matter how I know. Only that I telling you what I know.”

Obiwan pointed out, “You have no evidence.”

Loki admitted, in a slightly deflated tone of voice, “No. I do not.” She continued, in a more stronger tone of voice, “But, you need to know. The Jedi Order needs to know.”

Obiwan guessed, “You did not tell Dooku of these Yuuzhan Vong?”

Loki responded, “I am not a fool. The Sith are so power hungry and arrogant. If the Sith know of the existence of the Yuuzhan Vong, they would try to cut a deal with them and attempt to take control of the Yuuzhan Vong. Though, for all their brutality, the Yuuzhan Vong also excel at deception, terror, and suffering. In this way, they are like the Sith dialed to eleven. Unlike the Sith, they are an entire species. Not just a few members of a small group.”

“The military of the Yuuzhan Vong could stack up to any military you know of. The dedication and skill of their soldiers, to their cause, is greater than with the old Mandalorians warriors were to the ancient Mandalorian code. Their intelligence and guile make the Chiss look like amateurs in the areas of tactics and strategy.” A thought occurred to Loki. Loki asked, “Do you know who the Chiss are?”

Obiwan coyly answered, “I have a passing familiarity with them.”

Loki replied, “Good.” Loki thought, 'I cannot risk being sidetracked by asking you for details on exactly how you know of the Chiss. Besides, it does not really matter. What matters is you understand what I am saying.'

Loki took breath. Then, Loki continued, in a pleading tone of voice, “As such, I do not want the Yuuzhan Vong to even suspect that we know about them. This information needs to be kept from the public. For now. So please, keep this in house. For right now, only the Jedi Order needs to know. Neither the Senate, nor the Chancellor should be informed. Though, it might be a wise idea to inform your hammer wielding friend.”

“Also, do not go investigate Zonama Sekot until after the war. And do so carefully. Tipping the Yuuzhan Vong off that we know about them could be disastrous for us. Especially, while the galaxy is at war with itself.”

Obiwan inquired, “I will keep that in mind. But I need to have an idea of the timetable. How long do you believe we have, before the bulk of their species and their military reaches this galaxy?”

Loki answered, “I hope a few decades. Because if they even come here, now, this war is over. The threat the Yuuzhan Vong will present to be so great that everyone has to work together, or we will all suffer a fate far, far worse than death.”

Obiwan said, “I will forward this information to the Jedi Council, later today.” Obiwan thought, 'There is nothing gained by not doing so. And if you are right, then this information might someday save the galaxy.'

Loki let out a breath of relief, which she did not realize she was holding in. Loki replied, “Thank you.”

Obiwan stated, “If this is as serious as you say. There is no need to thank me.”

Loki chose her next words carefully, as she said, “I still appreciate you doing this. Now I mean this in the most peaceful way possible. But anyone can see the way the Duchess looks at you. She deeply cares about you.” Loki continued in a sadder, more sober tone of voice, “Keep in mind, it is not the actions one takes that one most regrets. But the actions one does not take.”

Obiwan pointed out, in a slow, calm tone of voice, “I am a Jedi. And she is a politician.”

Loki lips curled into a grin, as she said, “It won't be the first time.”

Obiwan chose to change the subject. Obiwan commented, “Also, yesterday. I noticed a bit of bitterness in your tone of when you spoke about how politicians ignore the request of those they hold beneath them.”

Loki looked away from Obiwan. Loki stated, in a sober, soft tone of voice, just barely loud enough for Obiwan to hear, “We all make mistakes. I made the mistake of putting my trust in someone I was genuinely loyal to. That mistake cost me someone I love. And my response to that betrayal of my faith cost me everything else I held dear.” Loki turned back to look at Obiwan.

Obiwan was not sure how to response, and so he remained silent.

Loki walked over to stand in front of Obiwan. Loki extender her right hand.

Obiwan realized what Loki wanted.

Obiwan took Loki's right hand with his own right hand. Then, Loki placed her left hand over their handshake.

Loki looked Obiwan in his eyes, as Obiwan did looked Loki in her eyes. Loki said, in a calm, warm tone of voice, “Have a safe trip, Jedi Master Kenobi. You are one of the good ones. I would like to see you make it through this war alive.”

Loki let go of Obiwan's right hand. She turned around and headed down the corridor.

Obiwan silently watched Loki exit through a nearby door that took Loki to a landing pad where Loki's small Confederate shuttle was parked at.

Unbeknownst to Obiwan, once Loki had left the hallway, her spell over the security cameras and microphones in the hallway stopped, with no one else being the wiser.

Obiwan watched as Loki made to the landing pad and she soon entered the shuttle by a open door and ramp. After Loki entered the ship, the door slid closed and the ramp retraced back into the ship.

A minute later, Obiwan saw through the windows as Loki's Confederate shuttle take off, pass through one of the large outer hatches of the dome and departed for space.

Then, Obiwan looked down at his right hand.

There was a small folded piece of paper.

Obiwan pocket the paper, as he turned and walk back down the hallway, towards his own awaiting ship.

(_)

Later that day, Obiwan was on board his Jedi diplomatic ship. The ship was on autopilot, as it flew through hyperspace towards Coruscant and the Jedi Temple.

Obiwan was inside his personal quarters. Obiwan sat in a chair, at a desk looked at the piece of paper that Loki had given him.

Obiwan had just unfolded and looked at what Loki had written.

Obiwan quickly recognized handwritten lettering on the paper as the same as the inscription on Padme's hammer.

Obiwan thought, 'Given what Padme had reported from her fight with Loki, it is no real surprise that Loki is connected to Mjolnir. From Loki told me at the spaceport, this confirms that both the hammer and Loki are from outside this galaxy. Though, it is nice to have this confirmation. However small this confirmation is. Now, let's translate this piece of paper.'

The desk Obiwan sat at had a built in computer and equipment in it.

Obiwan quickly use a scanner in the desk to scan the text on the paper. Then, Obiwan used a computer program to translate the piece of paper.

Soon the monitor on top of the desk showed a translation of the text. Obiwan read the translation.

The translations stated. “I already have what I want. Pre Vizsla of the Clan Vizsla is a traitor to the New Mandalorians. He is the leader of Death Watch, and he is plotting against the Duchess Satine Kryze, to kill her and overthrow her leadership. If you value her life and respect her authority, you will warn her of this.”

Obiwan thought, 'Could Loki be lying? No. There would be nothing gain in doing so. She does already have what she wants. Today was a victory for her. Considering her relationship with the Separatists, this information might be dangerous to share with me. This would help Satine's political position. Any coup would be a gamble as to which way the members of the Neutrality Alliance will go. Giving me this knowledge would keep the rest of the neutral worlds out of the hands of both the Republic and the Separatists.'

'Still, how would Loki know this? How is she and Mjolnir connected in all this? There is one possibility. For that matter I made an offer to have a conversation with her. But, she was clearly planning to arrange a private conversation between us so she could give this note to me. And she did this in a manner that would not complicate things for her agenda. The rest of the information she told me is useful in the boarder sense. Though, none of the information could be used to harm the Separatists. Nor, herself... It is clear that Loki is a far craftier and wiser woman than she lets on... Still, Loki is correct. It is the regrets on does not do that are the worst.'

Obiwan looked over at the holo-monitor built into his desk.

Obiwan thought, 'I have to give this warning to Satine. No matter how we feel about each other. She is a long time friend. I wish her only the best. And after I am done talking to Satine, I will write up my report to the Jedi Council about what Loki told me. And I will sent my report to the Jedi Order by way of an encrypt channel that only Jedi Masters within the Jedi Order are informed of.'

'I will include Loki mentioning the Yuuzhan Vong. Considering Anakin and I one time visited the planet, Zonama Sekot. It concerns me that if Loki is right. Because if she is, we were in great danger when we were there, and the force could not even warn us of that danger.'

'Once I am done, I will contact my friends, and see how their days have gone.'

Then, Obiwan made the encrypted call to the Duchess Satine Kryze.

(_)

Back in the present, inside the Jedi Diplomatic ship, in Obiwan's personal quarters, Obiwan sat in a chair, at his desk, as he finished his report, to his friends, which he talked to through the holo-comm in his desk.

Obiwan finished his story, by saying, “Less than an hour ago, I learned that Pre Vizsla has been arrested on charges of treason. If he wants to live, he will have to divulge what he knows of Black Watch.”

Obiwan thought, 'I am glad I omitted my private meeting with Satine. What we said there no one else needs to know.'

On the desk in front of him, Obiwan saw two holographic projects. The left holographic projection showed Mace and Padme. The right holographic projection showed Anakin and Ahsoka.

Mace stated, “That is good. Still, it troubles me that it is Loki whom leaked this information. I wonder how she knew all this?”

Padme said, “I doubt Loki learned this from the Separatists.”

Obiwan commented, “I am beginning to believe Loki may be from the future.”

Padme conceded, “Given what Mjolnir can do, and lets me do, I will say that is a possibility.”

Mace pointed out, “There has been a few cases of time travel. Though, such incidents are very rare. But that does not explain her powers. Nor, her connection to Mjolnir.”

Obiwan said, “Those are good points. Though, I believe we need to keep secret that it was Loki whom informed us of this.”

Mace replied, “I agree.”

Padme said, “I will keep this secret.”

Ahsoka commented, “I have no problem doing so.”

Anakin said, “Sure. I will keep quiet on this.”

Obiwan replied, “I appreciate your discretion on this matter.”

Mace inquired, “Though, this is a side matter. Three hundred worlds breaking from the Neutrality Alliance and joining the Separatists is our main concern. That is a major shift in the balance of power in not only the war, but in the galaxy itself. Do you believe the Duchess Satine will make good on her threat, if the Republic military steps in to stop these worlds from joining the Separatists, before the six month time limit has passed?”

Obiwan stated, “I believe the Duchess Satine was not bluffing. She was very adamant on giving those three hundred worlds a six month transition period. But, I believe this was more so those civilians on those worlds that do not want joined the Separatists would have enough time to leave those worlds for worlds which were still a part of the Neutrality Alliance.”

Mace responded, “Fine. We would rather lose three hundred worlds, than fifteen hundred worlds. I will have the Jedi Order pressure the Chancellor to allow this armistice. Six months is not so long. Also, it will be at least a year before the Separatists start to gain any logistical military aid from these planets. We might even score some good victories as the Separatists move their military around, and spread themselves out more thinly to guards these three hundred worlds.”

Obiwan said, “I believe using that point of view will help convince the Council and the Chancellor to support the six month armistice on these worlds.”

Padme stated, “I will do what I can from within the Senate. And as the Chancellor's...” She all but spat out, “Enforcer.”

Obiwan commented, “Padme. We all know you do not like being called that title. And we respect you for that.”

Padme replied, “Thank you.”

Obiwan responded, “I thank you for doing this. Also, there are a few other matters. On top of Loki's abilities and power, she can shield her thoughts and emotions from being read.”

Mace questioned, “Do you think she can read people's minds?”

Obiwan answered, “I do not know. But we need to be cautious. I believe the Jedi need to be informed that anyone whom faces Loki needs to keep up their mental defenses. That includes you, Padme.”

Padme replied, “Do not worry. I will.”

Mace said, “When is comes to Loki we need to be cautious. At least until we have a better understanding of what Loki is capable of. I will send out a warning later day on this matter.”

Obiwan stated, “Good. Also, while Loki did not say much on the matter. I have the feeling from our conversation that Loki knows about the Sith. Loki likely knows some of the history between the Jedi and the Sith.”

Mace commented, “This is troubling.”

Obiwan mentioned, “That is not all. She also knows Dooku is a Sith, and she still willingly serves him.”

Anakin asked, “If Loki knows Dooku is a Sith, why would she willingly serve him?”

Padme said, “I feel that Loki is playing her own game.”

Obiwan replied, “That is the only logical conclusion.”

Mace said, “It is possible, if the force wills it, Loki might be aiding the Republic in secret.”

Padme commented, “That would explain her actions on Coruscant. She wanted to convince Dooku to hire her.”

Obiwan said, “That is very likely.”

Anakin pointed out, “She still convinced over three hundred worlds to join the Separatists. Those are not the actions of someone helping the Republic.”

Padme said, “Actually, by Loki convincing those worlds to leave the Neutrality Alliance and join the Separatists, those worlds are no longer supporting the Separatists from within the Neutrality Alliance, and thus their departure would solidify the Neutrality Alliances stance of staying out of the war.”

Mace said, “I can see that.”

Obiwan commented, “That is very possible.” Obiwan thought, 'That might explain why Satine was not so upset about those worlds leaving the Neutrality Alliance. The members governments were likely trying to convince the alliance to join Separatists. Now that those worlds have left the alliance, Satine has solidify her support in remaining neutral... Satine is truly a skilled leader and politician.'

Ahsoka said, “If Loki is this clever, she likely realizes her actions may help the Neutrality Alliance. Also with Loki convincing those three hundred worlds to join the Separatists, Dooku will not suspect a thing.”

Mace agreed, “Exactly.”

Padme stated, “I really do need to pay more attention to the holo-news broadcasts. I cannot believe I missed hearing about all that.”

Mace pointed out, “You were busy. And things happen.”

Padme shrugged, as she replied, “That is true.”

Obiwan mentioned, “There is also something else. Loki told me about a species know as the Yuuzhan Vong, from outside of our galaxy. And the roaming planet Zonama Sekot is one of their scout planets.”

Anakin asked, “The planet with those fast bio-technology ships?”

Obiwan responded, “The very same. While this communication is encrypted, I do not want to want to give the details over the channel.” He thought, 'Because I do not want to give Ahsoka nightmares.' He continued, “But, I already sent a detailed discretion of what Loki told me in my report about the meeting with the Council of Neutral Systems.”

Mace stated, “I will read the report tonight. Before I get some rest. Tomorrow, I will have the council review the report. Over the years, we have had some Jedi disappear from Zonama Sekot, so we will look into the matter But, unless these Yuuzhan Vong present an immediate threat, they and the threat they may pose will have to wait. We still have to focus on winning the war.”

Obiwan said, “I realize that. Though, Loki warned that it was would be best not to investigate Zonama Sekot until after this war is over. That it would be unwise to risk letting the Yuuzhan Vong learn we know they exist. Especially while we are still fighting with the Separatists.”

Mace commented, “I agree. I will also suggest the council wait to investigate this until after the war is over.”

Obiwan stated, “Zonama Sekot is a rogue planet which travels the galaxy. This would make the planet a wonderful scouting ship. I believe we need to do a quiet warning for Jedi and Republic forces to avoid that planet. But, Loki is right. We do not want to tip our hand. We do not want to accidentally start another war, or create another front in this war. I just finished meeting with the Council of Neutral Systems to prevent that.”

“Also, Loki requested we keep this in house. That is why I suggested we keep it secret that Loki has given us all this information. Pre Vizsla was the tip of the iceberg. I believe the Yuuzhan Vong are the real secret that we need to keep.”

Mace replied, “Yes. The existence of the Yuuzhan Vong needs to be kept secret. To that end, those are good measures you have suggested. I will quietly have warnings issued to all Jedi and Republic forces to avoid Zonama Sekot due to possible biological dangers. That is honest enough without giving any details.”

Obiwan commented, “Even if nothing is done, the information on Zonama Sekot and the Yuuzhan Vong may become useful later on.”

Mace said, “Of course. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Padme requested, “Obiwan. May I also read your report?”

Obiwan stated, “Such a decision is up to the council. So, Master Windu would have to give you his permission for you to do so.”

Mace said, “I see no problem in you doing so, as long as you keep the contents of the report to yourself.”

Padme stated, “Thank you. And I what I read in the report to myself.”

Anakin said, “I will like to read the report, as well. I would like to know about the threat on Zonama Sekot that we missed when we visited that planet years ago.”

Ahsoka commented, “From what it sounds like, I may want to look at the report.”

Obiwan said, “Anakin, Ahsoka, wait on that until we can talk face to face.” He thought, 'I will give Anakin the full report. And I will give Ahsoka an edited report. Some stuff should not be known at Ahsoka's age.'

Ahsoka replied, “Okay. I can wait.”

Anakin said, “I look forward to the conversation we will have later on this.”

Mace asked, “Obiwan. Is there anything else you would like to add to your report?”

Obiwan replied, “No.

Mace stated, “Well it sounds like this meeting is done.”

Obiwan commented, “I will see you guys back at Coruscant in a few days.”

Anakin replied, “See you there.”

Padme said, “I look forward to us being back together.”

Ahsoka commented, “It is always fun when we are together.”

Obiwan smiled, as he happily said, “Have a good night, everyone.”

Then, Obiwan turned off the holo-comm. Next, he got up from his chair, got ready for bed, and went to sleep on the bed in his personal quarters.

(_)

Fortunately, a few days later. After Obiwan, Padme, Anakin, Ahsoka, and Mace, had reunited on Coruscant. Both the Jedi Order and Padme were able to convince Chancellor Palpatine to not take any military action against the Neutrality Alliance and the three hundred worlds leaving the Neutrality Alliance for the Confederacy of Independent Systems. That is was in the best interest for the Republic to respect the six month armistice.

Chancellor Palpatine saw the tactical wisdom of doing supporting the armistice. Because, he did not want all fifteen hundred worlds of the Neutrality Alliance to side with the Confederacy.

Since Chancellor Palpatine supported the armistice most of the Senate supported the armistice. And this was one of the few times that Padme and her group could genuinely agree with Chancellor Palpatine's actions concerning the war between the Republic and the Confederacy.

As Loki had stated. This was one of the few times that both sides could count the situation as a win. Or, in this case the Jedi Order, and Loki could count this as a win for them.

In addition, since the armistice did not extent to those worlds outside of the Neutrality Alliance, Chancellor Palpatine could still wage his war against the Confederacy and take advantage of any weak points in the defenses of the Confederate lines, as the Confederacy shifted their military assets around in anticipation of accepting over three hundred more worlds into their organization and protecting those worlds from the Republic.

The shift in power of over three hundred worlds siding with the Separatists would be felt in ways most did not understand.

Like a pebble falling down a mountain creating and avalanche running towards the bottom of the mountain. This shift in power had created a precedent across the galaxy. Which was exactly as Loki had planned.

(_)

“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” Joshua AI, 1983 film, Wargames.

To be continued.

(_)

Author's Notes:

This chapter allowed me to cover a lot of ground. We got to see Duchess Satine and the Council of Neutral Systems. We saw how dangerous Loki is concerning diplomacy. And I feel Obiwan was the proper person for Loki to debate. Obiwan has the right mix of wit, humor, and dare I say it... Dick for the job... I know what is sounds like. I don't care. And yes, that is a Jack Donaghy joke from the 30 Rock series.

I loved writing the scene, during the debate, when Loki called Obiwan on using the proper name of the Separatists, the Confederacy of Independent Systems. And how Loki could retort by calling the Galactic Republic and Empire.

The Council of Neutral Systems is the name of governing body of the organization it governs. The name of the organization itself was never fully made clear in the Clone Wars series. I considered, Neutrality Alliance, a good name. The name rolls off the tongue.

In addition, everything in the Star Wars movies points that long before the Clone Wars, the Jedi erased all the knowledge they could about the Sith from the rest of the galaxy. They even have branch of the Jedi Order whom hunt anything related to the Sith, so they can destroy all knowledge of the Sith.

In the end, that came back to bite them in the end.

It can be argued that the Jedi and the galaxy's ignorance of the Sith was one of the contributing factors that allowed the Sith to take control of the Galactic Republic and turn the Republic into an Empire.

The information Loki shared with Obiwan at the end of the chapter was to put matters in to perspective concerning the Clone Wars. The Clone Wars were bad, but not the worst possible war they could face.

Yes. The Yuuzhan Vong are that nightmarish.

Also, I got to show Grievous in the story. Given the change in timeline, and how Anakin, Obiwan, and Ahsoka, had mostly be fighting with Padme/Thor. Grievous is not going to willingly face Thor. Grievous is many things, but he is not stupid.

And yes, I use the Battle of Dantooine in the Star Wars Clone Wars Volume One OVA as inspiration for the battle that Mace and Thor were a part of in this chapter.

But, this was one of the few battles I could use that Mace was a part of, that would allow Mace and Thor to cut loose without serious consequences.

And if a Jedi was going to have a contest of oneupsmanship between someone with the powers of Thor, that Jedi would likely be Jedi Master Mace Windu. Mace has enough spunk, arrogance, and good humor to partake in such a contest and be a good sport about the matter. And Padme/Thor was a good sport about the context, as well.

With at the end of the battle, the contest turned into Padme/Thor and Mace working together to defeat the droids.

One a side note. Anyone that has played the video game, Jedi Outcast, would note that the spinning lightsaber attack, when the force user doing the attack wants to pull back their lightsaber, they have it stop spinning and come back to their hand, hilt first.

And the crew telling about their stories allowed me to do a more casually relaxed chapter with these storylines.

There is a time for drama. And there is a time for fun. And this was a fun chapter to write.

Until next time. Have fun.



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