an act of heroic self-sacrifice…”
Anakin looked at the smug young man, standing now on the podium of the main hall, who listened avidly to the tale of his deeds during the battle of Naumur. Yet another Jedi to be decorated in this ceremony of self-congratulation.
Somehow, Anakin had always thought that ‘self-sacrifice’ usually meant you did not live to pick up a decoration. But then this entire ceremony was teaching him new meanings for a good many things, ‘Uniform’ for example. He had thought he was in uniform, Anakin looked down on his well-worn pilot’s uniform, here this uniform was out of place, it did not seem to be a uniform at all. The uniform to be worn here was a drab, colour- and shapeless robe. This had been the traditional dress of the ascetic fringe of the order, those who kept the rules in the strictest sense. Now it had become de rigueur for anybody who wanted to become anything within the hierarchy of the order.
Anakin let his eyes wander over the congregation of assembled Jedi. Among the four hundred or five hundred people assembled here, there were probably not even ten who were not wearing robes, and most of these were probably spouses or relatives of the soldiers who were to be decorated. A few were the rebellious free thinkers, though most of them did not bother to attend.
As he looked around, he noticed just how many people were staring at him. By now the news that the hero of the Battle of Wayland was attending the conference and that he was the man in uniform - or rather in the wrong one.
Some of the people trying to see something of him, did so surreptitiously, curious to get a glimpse on him, dropping their eyes when he met them. There were however, a surprisingly large number of hostile looks, people who were also less embarrassed about being caught staring, and a few thought it their moral duty to let him know that they thought his appearance here – in those clothes – was inappropriate.
Anakin looked back to the front of the hall, where yet another ‘hero’ was receiving his decoration. Was there no end of this farce?
‘Patience is a much over-rated virtue,’ was what Shura’s brother would say. Lucas insisted that life was too short to endure more than the absolute minimum of tedious speech-making, and despite his repeated disappearing acts his career was flourishing. He admitted that he had by now attained a position in which he could afford to occasionally flout conventions.
But, dammit, Anakin thought, had he not reached a position where he too could on occasion break convention?
Of course, he was here to learn – and to do Ben Kenobi a favour. He wanted that his pupil saw the Jedi order in all its glory and grandeur.
Anakin glanced at his teacher, sitting next to him. Ben Kenobi was obviously enjoying himself, he listened to the accounts of heroic deeds and incredible courage in the face of death – as if there was any other courage in a battle – with rapt attention. He really was in his element here, in the bosom of this great order of fighters for justice and the Good.
Anakin was in fact learning a lot about the Jedi Order, but he doubted it was what Kenobi wanted him to learn, or he did not take the lessons in the spirit he was supposed to take it. He did see how powerful and influential the Order was. It was a great power in the military, in the government, but it was an unchecked power.
It was a closed club. The members helped each other and disregarded, in fact, looked down upon those less fortunate who were outside.
What was this entire ceremony but an enormous feast of self-glorification, generous back-slapping, self-congratulation and celebration that they were the noblest people in the universe.
Who were they kidding?
Anakin stared at the little weasel who now received his decoration. A moderate smile on his face, the young man held up his medal for all the media to see. Of course a Jedi was not fighting for fame or glory, no, far from it! Jedi were a better class of soldiers than those desperadoes and criminals in the regular forces.
Anakin had to force himself to think of something else. He stared down and told himself repeatedly that he had to polish his boots again.
In a room crammed full of Jedi, somebody would be bound to pick up his emotions if they became too strong. Somebody who would probably regard it as their duty to tell that Kenobi’s new pupil was not at all fit to be part of this noble Order.
He had to get out.
“Ben,” he whispered to his teacher, “I don’t feel well, I just go out for a minute.”
Kenobi looked at him with a worried look on his face, and for a moment Anakin was afraid he would either offer to accompany him or tell him that it was no surprise given the amount he had drunk the night before. In the end he only nodded.
Trying to keep his thoughts on his boots and whispering his apologies to the people he upset, Anakin made his way through the rows of seats to the mirror panelled doors of the hall. He could see the stares of the people reflected in the glass. Obviously, they must think, this man does not fit in with our noble Order.
Anakin carefully closed the door behind him, shutting out the next tale of heroism and at least some of the atmosphere of self-congratulations permeating the hall.
Gods, he needed a drink.
Anakin crossed the lounge, followed by the stares of those conference attenders who were as usual occupying the plush chairs there, and descended the steps from the entrance hall to the bar of the hotel. He was relieved to see that the bar was almost empty, with the exception of a group of ancient jedi seated in the far corner there were only a handful of ordinary people. They seemed to be the kind of travellers that occupy the few left-over rooms when the complex was taken over by a large organisation.
None of the ‘grey’ Jedi he had talked to last night were here. For a moment Anakin felt disappointed, he had looked forward to find like-minded people here, but it was probably better that they were not here. For all their rebellious talk, they were still part of the club.
Anakin sat down on one of the stools at the bar. He felt like drinking himself silly. Forget that he was here at this bastardly conference, make the time pass faster before he could leave. If only he had not come here.
Staring down on the polished wood of the bar, he wondered what Ben would think if he did not return to the ceremony. He would surely concoct some neat lecture when he found out that his famous pupil had fled to the bar to get drunk.
“How can I help?”
Anakin jumped with surprise, staring at the young women standing on the other side of the bar. He had not noticed her coming at all.
“You gave me a fright,” he started when he realised why he had not sense her presence, she was not really a woman but an android. “A double kahy.”
The android smiled. “Anything particular?” she asked, indicating to the row of bottles behind her.
“The strongest.” He couldn’t be asked to decide which brand he preferred just now.
Anakin watched, as she deftly poured a double measure of the dark, amber liquid into a glass. How many people did not realise that she was not really human, he wondered. He doubted he would have noticed it, had he first seen her.
“There you are,” she said, putting the glass down in front of him. She sounded like a normal human being, moved like one. Only the fact that she had managed to sneak up on him had made him notice that she lacked the distinct aura of a living human being.
“Thanks,” Anakin muttered.
It was strange, he realised, that he subconsciously used his ability to sense people around him, and that he had been so surprised when the bartender materialised in front of him without him noticing.
Though, it was not really that peculiar. It was just like any other sense, he had it, he used it. It was a part of him, and the fact that the Jedi were – as far as he was aware – the only people who trained and used this ability did not make it bad in itself. They did not own his ability to use this mysterious thing called ‘the Force’.
Why were there no other groups using this ability perhaps in a different way?
Anakin took a sip of his kahy, relishing the warm sensation as it slid down his throat.
Why had he never thought of it himself? Surely, if this ability was a general if rare phenomenon found in all species all over the galaxy, would not other groups have developed, religions in the primitive days, where people who could move objects, read thoughts and had the ability to see into the future would be seen as prophets or saints. Was it possible that there were other ways of using the force that Ben had never told him about because it did not fit in his neat construct of the universe, where the Jedi were Right and everything else was wrong?
He should look into this.
Taking another sip of his drink, Anakin looked around the bar, suddenly frustrated that he had to spend his time here on his own. Why had he come to this godawful conference?
The four ancient jedi, were just sitting in their corner, not talking, not even drinking from the cups sitting on the table in front of them. They probably just felt great being here, being what they were. This was one great self-appreciation society.
At the other occupied table an intoxicated couple were all over each other, while the third person looked on, envious and forlorn.
A prim and proper looking business man at the bar, was busily typing into the computer he had propped up on the bar. Well, he couldn’t be that proper, otherwise he would do his work elsewhere not with a big, fluorescent drink next to him.
The last person, a middle-aged, non-discript man, was flirting with the bartender.
Anakin wondered whether he should give the man a hint that the lady was not all she appeared to be, but he decided against it. After all, the android was probably designed specifically to work at a bar, and drunken guests hitting on the bartender was as much to be expected as them throwing up. The man might even know, it was even possible that he liked it.
The brown-haired man turned around and looked at Anakin, who raised his glass in a silent toast. The man nodded in reply.
There was something oddly familiar about the man’s face, and particularly his eyes. Anakin frowned into his glass, he was sure he had seen the man before, but could not remember where, or even whether he had met him in person or just seen his image in the news. Damnation, there weren’t that many humans with yellow eyes around, were there?
Anakin emptied his glass with a large gulp. He might be able to find out who this person was by touching his mind, he might as well just go over and ask him.
No, he decided, what he really wanted was another drink. And being somewhere else, preferably with his wife. Without thinking his eyes wandered back to the intoxicated couple, who by now were all but actually having sex and that seemed only to be due to their intoxicated state and the resulting inability to undress enough. Their forgotten companion had disappeared.
Damn Ben Kenobi, and damn that entire Jedi Order. Was there any way he could possibly just leave and go home?
“With the compliments of one of our guests,” the android bartender said, once more startling Anakin with her sudden appearance. She placed something that looked like a triple kahy in front of him.
“Which one?” he asked automatically. The android nodded toward the non-discript man she had been flirting with.
There were two possible reasons why the man had decided to buy him a drink, he either knew who he was and wanted to meet the famous war hero, or he didn’t and wanted to make a pass at him, or actually, he might know who he was and make a pass at him. Neither reason was going to make Anakin go over to talk to him. If the man wanted to talk, he had to come himself.
“Give my thanks to the noble donor,” Anakin instructed the bartender, not minding at all that he sounded rather sarcastic.
It was good kahy, he noted, as he sipped his drink. Probably Resarian, or even a properly aged Selenian kahy. Whatever else was wrong with this place they were stocking the right stuff. He had to remember to ask for more of the same when he had finished this one.
Whoever this mysterious stranger was, he knew the good stuff too.
Anakin looked over to the other side of the bar, finding the donor of his drinks watching him over the rim of his own glass of kahy. Anakin was sure he had seen his face before, if only he could remember where.
Lucas would be able to tell him, he never forgot a face or a name.
Anakin sighed, why had he listened to Ben and come here? It was a damned waste of time. And he had to stay here for another two days at least. Just the thought of it made him sick.
Ben would also be horribly disappointed if his latest student would remain in the bar or in his room for the rest of their stay here. He had already been very upset when Anakin had told him about his meeting with the ‘grey’ Jedi. Just being seen with them cast a shadow over anybody. They did not fit in.
Neither did he, Anakin thought, as he contemplated the sinking level of kahy in his glass.
There was a commotion at the door and a group of young jedi apprentices came in. The five young men, they must have been seventeen or eighteen years old, Anakin thought, sauntered to the bar, full of themselves and their importance in the great scheme of things. One did not even have to have any special abilities to notice that.
It was just his luck that the young men had to decide to sit at the bar right next to him. Boys of that age were tiresome at the best of time but he was not in a mood to bear their overbearing behaviour.
All he wanted was to have a quiet drink, several quiet drinks, but with these people jostling with each other and nosily demanding the attention of the bartender this was impossible. It almost seemed as if there was a conspiracy to stop him from enjoying any part of this damnable conference.
And his glass was empty again.
Perhaps this would be a good time to go somewhere else to drink, somewhere where there would be no bloody jedi.
But he would not let himself be pushed aside by some adolescent louts, damn them. Anakin looked over to where the strangely familiar man was still quietly sipping his drink. He had a better idea.
He got up from his stool and stretching over the counter – on occasion his height was a true blessing – picked at random a bottle of kahy from the shelf. Adding two glasses to his equipment, he walked to the man on the other side of the bar.
“Hey, you can’t do that!” the bartender shouted after him, when she finally noticed what was going on.
The jedi apprentices fell quiet, obviously unsure whether they should come to her aid and challenge Anakin, or keep out of this.
“You can put this on my bill,” the strange man said evenly but with an authority in his voice that showed he was accustomed to be obeyed.
The apprentices immediately returned to their own drinks, while the bartender nodded. “Of course, Senator.”
A senator? That would explain, why Anakin had met the man before, but he was still not any wise about who the man was exactly.
“Shall we sit somewhere more quiet?” he asked the senator, indicating one of the tables.
“Yes,” the senator drained his own glass.
Without further conferring, Anakin and the senator walked to one of the tables farthest away from any of the other guests.
Anakin poured himself and the senator a well-measured drink and automatically lifted his glass for the usual toast, “Swift victory.”
“Swift victory,” the senator replied. “Though,” he added after he had had a drink, “neither of us believe that this is likely to happen.”
Anakin shook his head. “No. Not even if there is a miracle.”
The senator laughed, “you know, people would get quite upset, if they heard one of the heroes of our glorious fleet be so horribly pessimistic about the war effort.”
Anakin frowned. “I am in no mood to lie, not today.”
“Oh,” the senator said, “but you do believe we are going to win the war?”
“Yes,” Anakin looked up, “but not swiftly. This is going to be a long war.” He watched the senator, wondering who he was, and what he knew about the war. This was a polititian after all. “A very long war. And in the end whoever has the longer breath is going to win.”
“And you think we have we have ‘the longer breath’?” the senator asked.
“You tell me,” Anakin replied. He did not liked being questioned, particularly by somebody he did not know. “You’re the politian, you know these things.”
The senator laughed again. “Do I?” He laughed so hard that he almost spilled his drink over the table.
Anakin wondered how much the senator had had to drink already.
“I’m afraid,” the senator said as he calmed down, “I’m afraid, you over-estimate my importance. I have no idea about the war.” He looked evenly at Anakin, “you’re in the midst of things. You know how things are going in the ranks. How the feeling is there.”
Anakin nodded, and filled both their glasses again, “I have an idea,” he admitted.
“That is where the war is fought in the end,” the senator said, emphasising each word poking his finger in the air.
“Yes it is,” Anakin said, a feeling of admiration for the senator overcoming him. Here was somebody who understood the nature of war. “That is so true. Unfortunately, many people, and a lot of polititians don’t see that. The outcome of the war will depend on whether our people are going to remain convinced that we are winning.”
The senator nodded gravely.
“False promises of quick results are just going to hurt in the long run,” Anakin continued his tirade, “and the elevation of some part of the troops above the others will distroy the spirit of the regular troops.”
A wide grin appeared on the face of the senator. “I’ll drink to that.” he said, raising his glass.
Anakin was somewhat taken by surprise, he was not quite sure what the senator wanted to drink to but whatever it was –. He raised his glass too.
“A toast that somebody will find the courage to put the damned jedi in their place,” the senator announced with feeling.
For a second Anakin hesitated, then he clinked his glass against the senator’s. “Damned jedi.” he echoed.
They both emptied their glasses, and the senator poured them more kahy.
“Gods,” Anakin sat back, “put the damned jedi in their place? There seems to be no love lost between you and the jedi.”
“No,” the senator shook his head, “but neither do you seem to be particularly fond of their exalted status in the grand scheme of our armed forces.”
“No, not at all.” Anakin stated. “I think you have to be there to understand this, but these people seem to think that they are better people, and of course better soldiers. Their so-called elite troops expect that all the other armed forces accept their superiority, that they get the best place wherever they are and that their troops are particularly rewarded and awarded.” Anakin shook his head. “It’s not only the practical difficulties that arise from their ‘special’ status, it’s the attitude they have. They think … They really think that they are winning the war.”
Anakin paused, to catch his breath. It was strange, he had actually never really thought of the situation in these terms.
The senator watched him closely, nodding in consent.
“How dare they,” Anakin exclaimed. Somehow he had manged to put the subconscious irritation he had felt about this entire award ceremony, and increasingly about the entire order into words. “Who do they think they are?”
“I have been asking myself the same question,” the senator mused, “do they think they are the next step in evolution or just the gods gift to mankind?”
“They are so full of themselves,” Anakin continued, “they really believe that they are better people. Great Lord, this entire conference is just another occasion for them to feel great about themselves. And to think that withouth them the Republic would be losing the war.”
“They are our best troops, don’t forget that,” the senator stated, his voice full of sarcasm.
“Hell, give anybody the newest ships, the best weapons, the latest technology and the best training, and you have an elite,” Anakin ranted. “But these people, they think that makes them better.” He had to pause to have another drink. “And,” he continued, focusing again on the man sitting opposite him, “they do not even have the guts to admit that.”
The senator smiled serenly, and nodding vigorously, raised his glass, “A man after my own heart,” he stated. “It is good to talk to you, –” he paused for a moment, “I am sorry, what rank do you have now? It seems everytime I hear about you, you got promoted again.”
“Commander,” Anakin answered, chinking his glass against the senator’s.
“Commander Skywalker,” the senator said, “it is a pleasure talking to you.”
“Thank you,” Anakin to his own surprise felt very flattered by the senator’s compliment, “it is good to find a politian who knows and cares about our regular forces. – I think the only politian I have met before who did, and I don’t think you can really say he is a politian, just an ambassador without a post at the moment is Lucas.”
“Lucas?” the senator frowned, probably trying to remember who that was.
“Lucas Talassa,” Anakin explained, “my girl-friend’s brother.”
“Rear-Admiral Talassa is your girl-friend?” the senator sounded genuinely surprised.
“I thought everybody knew that.”
“I didn’t,” the senator shook his head, “I met her a few weeks ago and thought that it had to be a brave man indeed who dared to ask her out.” He smiled at Anakin. “But you are a brave man, aren’t you?”
“So they say,” Anakin replied. He liked the senator more and more. “But I have to admit that it was her who asked me out.”
“A brave man, and an honest one!” the senator exclaimed, “We have to drink to that.”
He filled their glasses with the remnants of the kahy and drank to Anakin’s courage and the senator’s wisdom.
“It seems we have run out of alcohol,” the senator said then, miserably staring at the empty bottle.
“Let me get some more,” Anakin offered, getting to his feet. He had to grab the table, to steady himself. He was more drunk than he had thought.
“Let me get it,” the senator said, then added, “I mean, let me pay for it. You fetch it, I pay for it.”
“But you already…,” Anakin started, but the senator shook his head, interrupting him. “No, I’ll pay. I am sure I earn more than you do. But, we are going to have the good stuff this time, not cheap stuff like that.” He waved dismissively at the empty bootle. “This meeting has to be celebrated with something better. Tell her to give you a bottle of Darkplain, at least twenty years old.”
Anakin opened his mouth to remind the senator that this would cost him dearly, but then he thought that the senator would know that, and who was he to argue? If the senator wanted to good stuff and was willing to pay for it, that was fine by him.
“As you wish,” Anakin said instead.
Making his way slowly to the bar, he thought that this meeting was indeed worth celebrating. Perhaps coming to this blasted conference would have some positive results after all. He could not remember anytime when he had hit it off so quickly with anybody he had never met before. The fact that they were both increasingly drunk helped but that was not the reason. He was sure he would have gotten along with the senator even if they were both stone sober.
“What is the oldest bottle of Darkplain you have,” he asked the barmaid.
“Let me check,” the android said.
There were still only a few people in the bar, Anakin noticed as he looked around. The gaggle of apprentices had retired to one of the tables close to the ancient jedi. A few of the other tables were now occupied by more jedi, the award ceremony might have come to an end, and there were a few of the grey jedi too.
“Twenty-seven years,” the barmaid told him, holding an expensive looking bottle for him to look at.
“Good,” he said, and held out his hand.
“You want the entire bottle?” the woman asked incredulously.
“I do,” Anakin answered, “you can put it on the senator’s bill.”
He did not wait for her answer, just took the bootle out of her hand and turned back towards the table.
The senator smiled serenly at him, when he saw the bottle.
Anakin had met a few people critical of the jedi, but few of them had been in positions of power, few had any objection to the role the order played in the military and as far as he rememberd none had expressed their dislike in such strong terms as the senator. Anakin thought that had to ask what his grudge against the order was.
Anakin sat down at the table again, handing the bottle to the senator.
“Thank you,” the senator said, holding the bottle for a moment, as if savouring the anticipation. “I was just thinking,” he said, as he pulled the cork out of the bottle. “Ah, that’s the real thing,” he interrupted himself as he smelled the bottle. He proceeded to pour himself and Anakin a drink. “I was just thinking, do you realise that you always refer to the jedi as ‘them’? Aren’t you one of ‘them’?” the senator wanted to know.
“Do I?” Anakin asked in return. “I do I guess.” Turning his glass around in his hands, he tried to explain his invovlement with the jedi order. “Well, I am receiving training from a jedi, to help me use my skills. But I am not really invovled with the order.” He looked down on his uniform again. “I am not part of their troops, which apparently is very unusual. Not outright forbidden but very unusual. But the more I see of the order and have to deal with their contingents the less I like what I see and the more I am determined to stay away from their organisation.”
“They won't like it,” the senator said grimly.
“No,” Anakin shook his head. Ben would have hysterics. So far Anakin had only postponed his eventual joining of the jedi troops. What would Ben say if he was told that Anakin refused outright? “But,” Anakin continued, “do I care?”
“That’s the spirit!” The senator beamed with delight. “Let us drink to that.”
They raised their glasses and the senator said, “to not caring about the jedi.”
Anakin took a deep sip from the kahy. The liquid slid down his throat like spicy fire, the warmth seemed to spread through his body to the tips of his fingers and toes. This was really the good stuff.
The senator seemed to savour his drink equally, closing his eyes with an expression of delight oh his face.
“May I ask you a question,” Anakin asked.
“Of course,” the senator smiled at him, “I have been asking questions all the time, I think you have a right to ask questions.”
For a moment Anakin contemplated to ask him what his name was, but he decided to stick to the question he had wanted to ask in the first place. “What are you doing here?” he wanted to know. “You don’t seem to be overly fond of the jedi order, so what is a man like you doing at the grand conference of the order?”
The senator laughed. “Good question,” he answered. “I wonder myself. - No, the sad truth is that I have a meeting with some of the high ranking officers of the order tomorrow. I have been selected to the budget commission for the jedi forces, needless to say, I am the token non-jedi on that commission, and there is a meeting tomorrow which I have to attend.” He emptied his glass in one big gulp. “I am trying to forget that.”
Anakin filled their glasses again.
“And that on top of everything else,” the senator said and sighed.
Anakin was wondering whether he should ask what that everthing else was but before he could take a decision, the senator continued. “I just got divorced.”
“Oh,” Anakin said. “I am sorry.”
The senator shrugged and pulled a face. “It’s better for both of us,” he stated. “All of us, the children too.”
Anakin tried to remember whether he had heard anything about a senator getting divorced recently, but he usually did not follow the society news. It was hard enough to keep track of what was going on in the armed forces without trying to keep up to date on the personal life of politicians and so-called celebrities.
He just wished he could think of something to say, to cheer the senator up. The senator sipped from his glass, apparently lost in thought. He seemed to regret that his marriage had failed.
“You know,” he said, “I think I miss the idea of being married more than the actual thing. After all for most of my married life I was separated from my wife. It was in fact only when we were not separated that things started to go wrong. Who would have thought that, he?” He grinned, or tried to. “For ten, or was it twelve? years I only saw my wife a couple of weeks a year and we got along splendidly, and then I got a job back home and everything went to hell and gone.”
“Hm,” Anakin made, nodding sagely, even though he had no idea what the senator was talking about.
“When I worked away from home, everytime I was there, it was like – well, it was something really special. If it was at all possible, my wife would take her vacation at the same time as I was there, and if she couldn’t, I would do things with the kids, and we would do special things in the evenings, go out for dinners, or … just stuff. But you cannot keep this up for more than a fortnight and when I was home all the time – . It was just different and we all I think had to realise that I did not fit in. My wife and I – I mean we are very different.
"And I think she never realised how much time my position consumes. She got really angry with me for not being there more often. And, there were just little things that started to get really in the way. We argued, the kids were unhappy and –,” the senator looked down on the table, “well, one day, we were fighting again and my wife, she said that I was never at home and that my job was obviously more important to me than my family and it was as if I had not come back to be closer to them at all. And I said, I never said that I had come back to be closer to them.” He looked at Anakin with a bitter smile on his face. “It was one of those things that you regret even as you say it. As your mouth says the words, your brain starts shouting, no, no, don’t! But it’s too late, and there is nothing you can do to take it back.”
“And?” Anakin asked.
“I think this was the last time we ever spoke,” the senator said. “I stayed in the house for another week and then moved into my office, I spent most of my time there anyway, and the next election I got re-elected to the Senate and …. That’s it.”
“But the election was over a year ago,” Anakin could not stop himself from remarking.
“It was,” the senator nodded. “I think, Susan, my wife, my ex-wife, thought that I would file for a divorce, and I thought about it, I wanted to do it, but I just forgot. And divorce proceedures on my home-planet are very, very lengthy.”
“I’m sorry,” Anakin repeated, feeling slightly foolish that he couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“You know,” the senator said, “the first thing I would do when I become head of the republic would be to simplify divorce laws – and then I’d dissolve the jedi order.”
Anakin almost choked on his drink as he was overcome by a laughing fit, so bad, that he had to hold on to the table to avoid falling off his chair. Tears were streaming down his face, and his stomach hurt from the excertion.
The senator laughed as well, the kahy in his glass splashed all over the table and on his clothes.
“If anybody can do it, it must be you, Senator Palpatine,” Anakin finally managed to say, only belated realising that he suddenly remembered the senator’s name.
“The day, I can pull this off, is when the Grand Master realises that he may be wrong on occasion,” Palpatine replied.
“Who knows by the end of this war, …” Anakin said, “no, that would only happen if we lost, and even dissolving the damn order is not worth that.”
“No, that would be too bad,” the senator shook his head, vigorously, “it won't happen.”
“No, Senator Palpatine, it won't,” Anakin stated, “we won't allow it.”
“Ah, and what a team we’d make, Commander Skywalker,” Palpatine said, filling their glasses again. “Let’s repeat our first toast,” he said, raising his glass. “Swift victory.”
They drank to that.
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