Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DeathTalker: Chapter 7

"Weren’t you wearing an Army uniform the last time I saw you?" Anakin smiled self-consciously at Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. "Yeah, well, it was the only one I could find last time." "Please, please! Have a seat." Walking around his desk, Palpatine took a seat in the char opposite Anakin, who waited until then before taking a seat himself. Silently, the Chancellor’s advisors surrounded Palpatine. "Before you left Coruscant, I just wanted to talk with you about home. It’s so rare that I get to talk to someone unconnected with politics, with no agenda of their own…" Anakin noticed that the advisors seemed to be human, but very, very pale. All four were staring intently at him. "I’m…I’m sorry?" "I was just asking you if you followed Gungan football – it’s one of my vices you know." "Oh…well, actually my wingman er…ah bets on some of those. Which team?" "We’ll kill you too." Anakin looked up sharply at the advisor who had spoken. The man had a sickly half-grin half-smirk on his face. "Would you like to see it?" "What?!!" "I have a jersey from one of the Mud Slugs! I know, people in the Republic really shouldn’t deal with the Hutts, but I saw the add for it and I just couldn’t resist…" The Supreme Chancellor had gotten excitedly to his feet and scuttled over to a framed picture. Glancing surreptiously about, the moved it and began opening the safe behind it. Anakin was craning his neck since one of Palpatine’s advisors was in the way. Glancing up at him, Anakin watched one of the man’s hands move slowly to his face. As it neared, the fingers of his hand curled so that he was pointing. Anakin looked around but did not notice anything. He looked back and realized, to his discomfort, that the man was going to pick his nose. Anakin glanced quickly away, trying to latch onto the jersey that Palpatine was proudly displaying. A bead of sweat started rolling down his brow. "Wow! That’s great!" Anakin desperately tried to keep focused on the Supreme Chancellor as be babbled on about how this was the jersey that the great Gungan player, Fwippo or something. Anakin’s eyes were drawn back to the nose-picking advisor. With a start, he realized that the man had something on his index finger. He was smiling an evil, loathsome smile. He slowly moved his finger back towards his face. Anakin shook his head involuntarily. The advisor locked eyes with Anakin. Slowly, deliberately, the man ate it. "Gross! That is just plain nasty!" Anakin was on his feet, keeping his chair between himself and the advisor. "So." Anakin glanced back at the Supreme Chancellor. Palpatine was no longer smiling. "He can see as well as hear us." "This cannot be allowed." "Sooner or later, he will inform them." The Four advanced on Anakin, who backed away. "What the hell is going on here?!" "A moment." The Four stopped. Palpatine was at his window, gazing out at the city. He turned and faced the boy once again. "Gentlemen, please." The Four glanced at each other, then looked back at Palpatine. Like dogs told that no, they cannot eat the baby, they slunk back to the Supreme Chancellor and took up their positions. Palpatine sat down at his desk, steepled his fingers, and gazed at Anakin. "Who are they?" "Friends…allies…advisors…" "Are they…that is, have they…" "They are very old, powerful, and wise. Only people who are…gifted as you and I can see them." Palpatine fell silent and gazed at Anakin. "You were born into slavery, weren’t you?" "Umm…yeah." "My homeworld was occupied by the Trade Federation. That gives us something in common." "What?" "Nothing." "Excuse me?" "That’s what the Republic did for us. That’s what the Jedi did to help us. Nothing." "Well, when you put it like that, yeah." Anakin was still gazing warily at the Four, but it was hard to keep his eyes on all of them, all the time. "In fact, I do believe Newt Gunray was recently acquitted by the courts…again." "What?" Anakin tore his gaze away from the Four to look at Palpatine. "And how did the council react when they discovered that you were a ‘Deathtalker?’" "Not too pleased." Anakin looked away. The Four exchanged glances. "Anakin, the Jedi are in many ways amoral, but in some areas they will intervene directly. Regardless of what they say, they do not tolerate Sith." "But I’m not a Sith! They’ve even admitted that there would be no way for me to have become one without them knowing!" "That may be good enough for some of them, but the council has many members. One of them may act on their own." "What about you?" "I’ve given up on leaving my fate in the hands of others, in trusting in good intentions. I have to struggle to simply survive, let alone to preserve Naboo from being attacked again. In order to do that I have to make…sacrifices." Palpatine gazed ahead, staring at nothing. His face was strained, the muscles tight. "Right now, the council does not know of my alliances. Were they to find out, their response would be swift and merciless. If they already know that you are a Deathtalker, your options are very limited. My advice would be to flee Coruscant, immediately. Better to live as a hunted man than to leave your fate in the hands of others." "No." "We will not allow it." The Four turned and faced Palpatine. While none of them moved, Anakin could feel that some sort of struggle was taking place. While staring straight ahead, the Supreme Chancellor spoke with some difficulty. "I will hold them off…as long as I can. Run!" Anakin ran. Oddly enough, there was a shuttle bus port near the Senate, as if such august persons would deign to use such a means of transportation. Anakin stood by the stop and waited. Time passed. Irritated, he paced back and forth, contemplating his situation. Those damn creepy advisors seemed dangerous, but so was the whole situation… At the thought of the advisors, Anakin jumped and turned around, glancing wildly, but there was no cause for alarm. The whole situation had put him on edge. Just then, the bus arrived and he got on. At least he tried to. As he was boarding, a blaster bolt blew his head off. Had Anakin survived, he would have been happy to know that the bus was undamaged. Previous Chapter, Table of Contents, Next Chapter

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