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Walking Shadow [2.17]

Authors: Emma Grant, Jedi Rita, Elocin Oco, and Ms Swift
Rating: NC-17
Summary: The Senate investigation into the Gollin 3 mission begins....
Warnings: This episode describes acts of non-con and chan sex within the context of the hearing.
Disclaimer: Most of these characters belong to other people.  Their creators probably wouldn't recognize our versions of them anyway...
Feedback: Sure!

Note:  This is the finale to season 2, written by the entire QAJ team. Thanks to all for reading this season and to Helens for her contributions to the season.

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4


I reach and grab at the headboard as Obi intensifies his thrusting into me. I'm on my knees, head forced hard against the end of the bed. He's not normally this rough on me, but I like it. And he needs the release.

His fingers dig deeper into the flesh of my waist, and I try not to wince. If he tightens his grip anymore he'll either bruise me or draw blood. The friction of that hard, incessant motion is beginning to burn, but I've had it rougher. Much rougher.

I hear the rhythm of his breath quickening and I know he's about to come. I curl my fingers around the frame of the bed, bracing myself for that final hard thrust as he releases. I've had mine; he stroked and sucked orgasm from me some time ago. The sex, the penetration has only been for him. I feel the tension in his body even as he pushes, groaning out his release. I'm not sure this has helped.

He collapses onto my back, panting. I feel the warmth of his sweat against my skin. For the briefest of moments he relaxes, then he pulls free and flops down beside me on the bed, silent.

I slide down beside him until we're lying face to face. He avoids my eyes, so I grab him and pull him close. Words would sound trite at this moment, so I just hold him, trying to offer him comfort through the proximity of our bodies. He buries his face against my chest, curiously childlike after the animalistic way he fucked me. I hold him that way for a while, willing him to loosen up. He doesn't. Finally I glance at the chrono over his head, sighing when I see the lateness of the hour. I loosen my hold on him.

"Obi," I say gently. "Better get up and shower. We have to report to the clerk in less than two hours."

He stiffens instantly, and rubs his face vigorously with the heels of his hands. Then after exhaling a long, resigned breath, he slides from the bed. I watch as he walks, shoulders slumped, out of my room and toward the fresher.

I sit up and sigh again. He's been dreading this day, and I can hardly blame him. It's tense for them all; Xan, Siri, Bruck too. But Obi - he knows what they're going to ask him, and he knows he has to talk about it in front of Bail. Xan left us alone last night, and I'm grateful.

The Jedi participants in the hearing have been allotted a private room, close to the committee chamber where the hearing is taking place. I walk there with Obi-Wan. He's disappointed that I won't be able to sit with him, but I've been asked to sit as an official observer on behalf of the Jedi. Obi's barely spoken all morning, and he seems to be hovering on the edge of his control. I hope that he can hold it together through his questioning. He's up first, along with Siri. I'm not sure if that's good or bad; at least it gets it over and done with, I suppose.

We enter our room, and Master Faelin and T'nell greet us. Like me, Faelin is to be an official observer of the proceedings. T'nell must have come to give Obi moral support. I watch as he hugs Obi warmly and whispers something in his ear. Obi gives him a half-smile then pulls away and stands to one side, his arms clamped defensively across his chest. Siri is here already, too, sitting in a chair beside Adi Gallia. She seems fine, calmer than Obi at least. Xan and Bruck aren't here yet; they won't be expected until at least this afternoon. The committee want to question Obi-Wan and Siri about what happened on Gollin 3 before they speak to either Xan, the mission leader, or Bruck, the object of the recovery.

Faelin lays a hand on my arm. "Come, Qui-Gon," she says. "We should report in now. They'll be ready to start soon."

I nod, glancing across at Obi. He returns the look, his eyes flickering through a series of emotions, before he settles and composes himself fully, adopting a cool façade that belies the tension he's clearly feeling. I hate to see him this way, and, without caring who's watching, I cross the room and engulf him in a hug. His arms snake around my waist and he squeezes me in return.

"Good luck, Obi-Wan," I whisper. "The Force will be with you. It'll be fine. You'll do fine."

He nods mutely, and we draw apart. He sucks in a deep breath, and I know he's preparing. He will be fine. I have every confidence in him. With a final glance at my padawan, I follow Faelin from the room, and we head to report to the hearing clerk.

The Senate Hearing Chamber is formal and imposing. A long heavy table set upon a dais dominates the room, looming over a smaller table where the witnesses will sit. I try to imagine Obi sitting there in his current state. It's definitely not a set up designed to put those being questioned at their ease.

There are stalls of seats on either side of the room, and Faelin and I are directed to seats in the front row of the left hand stall. At least I'll be reasonably close to Obi. There are several other people present - invited observers from the Senate, although the hearing is ostensibly closed and the proceedings are entirely confidential. Unlike the outcome. I've already heard a buzz around Coruscant about this hearing; this could prove to be a huge problem for the Jedi.

Faelin and I settle into our seats, and I gather up my datapad and insert the chip that informs us of the running order of the proceedings. It's fairly straightforward: an opening address, the calling of witnesses for questioning and then an adjournment during which the committee members will debate the findings. It's no more specific than that. It doesn't clearly outline their remit or what actions the conclusions of the inquiry may bring. It's paramount that Faelin and I monitor the proceedings well, ensure that the Jedi point of view is given fair consideration. The atmosphere in the room alone is enough to fill me with a real sense of foreboding. I scan down the page and find the names of the Senators participating: Senator Palpatine, Bail Organa, of course, then three other names that I've not heard before, one other Junior Senator and two Senior.

A small, dark-haired girl enters the chamber and instructs us all to stand while Senator Palpatine leads the committee members in. Bail is directly behind Palpatine, followed by the other Senators, Nyla Mallix, Lethro Ziracch and Zaphone Bahr. All are male, all humanoid. I expected a wider representation.

Once everyone is seated and settled, Senator Nyla Mallix officially opens the proceedings.

"Welcome everyone to this Senate Investigation. Our aim is to study the events of the recent Jedi Mission to Gollin 3, with a wider interest in investigating the deployment of Jedi Padawans in activities relating to the exposure of slave rings within the Republic."

I draw in a breath and glance at Faelin. The look on her face tells me she clearly didn't expect that either.

The Senator continues. "We will begin by establishing the facts of what occurred on the mission by interviewing the key participants and reviewing the available evidence. Following that we will look into the background events that led to the mission by interviewing Padawan Bruck Chun about his own failed mission."

The introduction continues with a drawn out description of procedures and legal positions with regard to the inquiry. I try to concentrate on each detail, tapping what I think may be important into my datareader. Faelin and I must be sure that we have our own comprehensive record of the proceedings. I no longer even trust the vid recorders that are installed in this room.

Finally, the Senator winds up his opening. "This investigation, I assure those Jedi present, is merely concerned with the well-being of the vulnerable Padawans serving your Order."

I nod at him calmly, but beneath the surface I'm simmering with anger. Our Order has always been concerned with the well-being of our Padawans. These people have no idea of what happens within the Jedi. How can they presume to judge us? My sense of foreboding and dread for Obi-Wan deepens. I don't like this at all.

"We are acting in the best interests of all concerned. Now, Ms Naberrie, please call Padawans Kenobi and Tachi into the chamber, and we can begin proceedings proper."

The dark-haired girl stands and scurries to the side door. My stomach pits; this is it. I shoot a furtive glance at Bail Organa, wondering if he feels the same sense of dread for Obi-Wan that I do. He's intently studying a datapad, no emotion visible on his face. During the one proper conversation we had last night, Obi said to me that Bail had his reasons for being on the committee. I only wish I knew what they were.

The door swishes open and Bail doesn't look up. I turn and watch as Ms  Naberrie re-enters, followed first by Adi Gallia and then Siri and finally Obi-Wan. His eyes sweep the room, rapidly absorbing his surroundings, searching me out. I see the relief when his gaze rests on me, and I give him a tight-lipped smile.

They are invited to sit at the table beneath the scrutinizing gaze of the assembled committee. Obi-Wan has been involved in countless missions, negotiations, trials and hearings since the age of thirteen when he joined me, yet I'm taken at how young he looks sitting there. Siri, too. Dressed in their formal robes and tunics, there's no trace of the confident, sexual beings who frequent Rising. Both are exuding an appearance of calm, yet I know they've been troubled since they were formally called to attend this hearing.

"Padawans Kenobi and Tachi," Senator Mallix says, introducing them formally to the hearing. "You have been called to give evidence to this inquiry together, as you acted jointly throughout the mission until Padawan Kenobi's capture. We wish now to establish the facts that led to this occurrence and subsequent events. I'm sure that as Jedi, I have no need to remind you of the need for truth, and of the legal standing of this inquiry."

The interview starts routinely enough, going over the details of the first part of the mission, the infiltration of the slave ring, establishing cover. They answer the questions clearly and confidently, although Obi seems content to let Siri answer more frequently. If he's as tense as he was earlier, he's doing an excellent job of covering it so far. He looks a model of calm detachment.

I've heard all of these mission details before, and while I am listening to Obi-Wan and Siri's responses, I'm also concentrating on watching the Senators, on monitoring the flow of questions. Xan has expressed serious reservations about the motivations behind this inquiry and, I admit, I share them. He told me how Yoda has instructed him to proceed, to be truthful, but I feel that the Jedi should have objected to this whole procedure. The success or otherwise of a mission is entirely a Jedi matter, as are the methods we use in order to complete our missions. As I watch and listen to Obi, I'm amazed at how composed he is; he's been a ball of nervous tension for days, yet here he is, cool, dignified, every inch the Jedi.

The next question from Senator Mallix's brings my attention away from Obi and back to the hearing.

"And your cover story for entering the slave pens was that you intended to purchase Padawan Chun for sex?"

I look across at the committee members. This Mallix seems to be leading things, asking the most probing questions. Bail has been entirely silent so far, concentrating on his datapad, avoiding eye contact with Obi and Siri. Palpatine is serene, leaning forward on his elbows, waiting anxiously for Obi to answer.

"Padawan Kenobi? Please answer the question." Mallix says firmly.

Bail's face registers discomfort, then settles back to a mask of composure.

"Yes," Obi-Wan replies. He closes his eyes briefly, thinking through his response. That's good; it's very important that they answer carefully. "Our mission was to locate and recover the missing operatives, " he continues evenly. "Attempting a purchase was the logical approach. We were able to pinpoint Padawan Chun's location, and then by arranging the purchase we would be afforded the opportunity to make contact and plan the next phase of the mission." I notice that Obi has begun lacing and unlacing his fingers in his lap. It's a nervous habit only I would instantly recognise. I will him to stop.

Mallix nods, regarding Obi-Wan critically. "So, if necessary, you would have had sex with Padawan Chun in the interest of pursuing the mission outcome?"

Obi-Wan holds Millax's gaze. "Yes."

"And the use of sex was endorsed by the Jedi Council?"

I flick my eyes back to Obi. How will he handle this?  His hands have stilled now, and he holds himself confidently. 

"When we are on deployment," he asserts, "we are expected to act on our own initiative and use whatever means we deem appropriate to ensure that the mission objectives are achieved."

"Even sex?" Mallix pushes the point again.

Obi glances across at me, as though he's unsure how to reply. I make an almost imperceptible movement with my eyes. It's enough for Obi.

"Yes," he replies. "Even sex."

There is a brief murmur from the stall behind me, and Mallix leans over his datapad, studying something intently. Silence hangs for a moment, then he looks up at Obi-Wan again.

"Only it didn't work out that way, did it, Padawan Kenobi? During the rendezvous you were captured yourself?"

I close my eyes and suck in a breath. When I reopen them, I see Obi's fingers picking at his tunic hem, and the cool detachment falls from him. I will him to maintain his composure.

His voice is quiet when the answer comes. "Yes." It seems to be all he can manage.

Mallix notes the change and he pushes harder. "Were you placed at unnecessary risk by the nature of this mission, Padawan Kenobi? We have seen surveillance footage, and it seems that both you and Padawan Tachi were dressed somewhat... provocatively."

Color drains from Obi's face, and his fingers tighten around the fabric of his tunic. He's taken aback, unable to speak. I bite down my anger, but the datapad shakes in my fingers. Faelin places a calming hand on my arm.

Siri jumps in, breaking the awkward silence, her voice shrill, defensive. "We were undercover . We had to blend into our surroundings."

"And did that include drinking? Taking recreational drugs? Participating in orgies?"

A series of still images flash onto a screen behind the committee's table. Obi-Wan and Siri in their undercover costumes; pierced, leather clad. The two of them drinking all manner of intoxicating spirits, then lying entwined, apparently having sex. I know that they didn't, but to the casual observer it could certainly appear that way.

Obi and Siri stare at the screen. Siri's face tightens a little, and she clenches her jaw. Obi is still shaken, shifting in his seat as the images flicker past. They exchange a tense glance.

"Padawan Kenobi and I took some drugs in the early part of the mission, but we are trained to purge such substance quickly from out systems," Siri says evenly. "And we were simulating sex. We had to play the part, fit into our surroundings or else our presence would have been easily detected."

"But Knight Xanatos took strong recreational drugs, didn't he?" Mallix asks.

Siri nods. Beside her I see Obi struggling to regain some composure so that he can support Siri, but he is clearly rattled. It's hardly surprising; if they have this footage, what else do they have?

"He did that in order to deflect attention from Padawan Kenobi and myself. To protect us."

"Well, it seems that he failed, doesn't it? Padawan Kenobi was captured."

"I was captured because our cover had been compromised.  I chose to take a weapon into the slave pen for my rendezvous with Padawan Chun."

"Were you instructed to do so?"

He looks across at me again. I know that Xan has offered to take the blame for this. He holds his eyes firmly on me as he answers Senator Mallix. "No. That was a decision I made alone."

"And was that prudent?"

He breaks the eye contact with me, his gaze dropping to the table before him, before he replies. "No." He raises his head again, and I see him regain his equilibrium a little. "But it was the decision I made. I can blame no one but myself."

"So, it was a lapse?"

"Yes. A lapse in concentration."

"And was the lapse caused by intoxication? By being under the influence of drugs?"

"No," he says firmly, "Padawan Tachi has already told you that we only took drugs right at the beginning of the mission, and I had not had any alcohol directly before my rendezvous with Padawan Chun."

"But none the less," Palpatine begins. I snap my head up. It's the first time he's spoken in the questioning, and I want to hear exactly what he has to say. "I fear that this gave the slavers the chance to add another vulnerable Jedi Padawan to their collection."

I see Adi Gallia lay her hand lightly on Obi's leg, a quiet gesture of support. I bite down on my lip. It really should be me there beside him, supporting him. I should never have agreed to do this observation duty. I should be beside him, supporting him. Faelin mirrors Adi's gesture, sensing my simmering anger.

Palpatine nods tersely at Mallix, and he resumes the questioning.

"And what happened after your capture?" Mallix asks.

Obi's head visibly droops. "I passed out when they implanted a device in my neck that disconnected me from the Force. I awoke in a cell with Padawan Chun."

"And when you awoke - what then?"

"As well as Padawan Chun, there were two guards," Obi is speaking quietly and his voice is unwavering, but I can see the tension in the way he's holding his jaw, in the increased intensity of the movement of his fingers. "They forced him to perform sexual acts. To initiate me."

"He had sexual intercourse with you, Padawan Kenobi?" Mallix continues. My body shakes with pent-up energy.

"Yes," Obi-Wan confirms. "Several times."

"And he did this in the interest of protecting you, isn't that right?" Mallix asks, unshaken by the obvious effects his questions are having on Obi-Wan. "Just as you would have had sex with him in the interest of freeing him. The two of you were forced into public sexual intercourse by the very nature of the missions that the Order had sent you on."

Mallix pushes a button on his datapad. An image appears behind him of Obi, stripped, on all fours, Bruck behind him. Obi's face in the image is blank, disoriented, panicked, not that different to how it looks now he is forced to confront that terrible image. It takes every inch of my training for me to remain in my seat, to not jump up and drag my padawan out of the room. I feel the pressure of Faelin's hand increase on my leg, a tacit gesture of restraint.

Bail stiffens, as a gasp fills the room. He turns to face Mallix. "Senator," he says, his voice wavering. "We have seen the footage. Surely it is not necessary to show these images publicly?"

"On the contrary, Senator Organa," Mallix replies. "It is entirely necessary. Such images are the entire basis of this inquiry."

Bail turns to Palpatine. "Senator, you must agree that this is unnecessary?" he says with a touch of desperation.

"It seems a little extreme," Palpatine agrees. "Senator Bahr? What is your opinion?"

"I believe that Senator Mallix is correct," Bahr says. "The images are necessary in order for the public to see exactly what this inquiry is so concerned about."

Palpatine turns to the remaining committee member, Lethro Ziracch. "And you, Senator Ziracch? What is your opinion on this matter?"

"I agree with, Senator Mallix," Ziracch replies without hesitation. "The images must be seen."

Palpatine nods regally, a look of resignation on his face. He looks back to Bail. "I'm sorry, Senator Organa. We have been overruled. As painful as it is for the Padawans concerned, it seems we must show these images. They are essential evidence."

Bail sinks back in his chair in defeat. At least he tried. I'm grateful to him for that.  I look back at Obi. He's entirely still now, his eyes fixed on some distant point in the room, unseeing. I can't imagine how he must feel knowing that the committee have seen this footage, but anger is literally boiling inside me now. How dare they do this? How dare they? How dare they use my padawan as a pawn to further their agenda, to forward their corrupt political ambitions?

At a nod from Palpatine, Mallix resumes the line of inquiry. "You were forced to engage in some horrifying acts."

As he speaks a series of grainy images flicker behind him. Obi-Wan, my padawan, being hurt and abused. One look at his face tells me that he is being hurt and abused all over again.

"We are concerned that padawans should be endangered in such a way, " Mallix says, his voice dripping patronisingly. "These images have disturbed us all. It forces us to consider whether or not your Order should be sending padawans into such situations."

"It's what we do," Siri says sharply, jumping to defend Obi-Wan. "We are aware of the risks and we face them willingly. It is one of the terms of our service to the Order."

Her voice seems to snap Obi back to consciousness. "Padawan Tachi is right. It's a risk that we accept. I was given comprehensive counseling and support on my return to the Temple , as was Padawan Chun."

"But what of those who do not return, Padawan Kenobi?" Mallix asks. "You were lucky, you were rescued. Yet there are many who are not. We were shocked by the number of padawans who have been injured, damaged, reported missing or killed on such missions. Only this morning, we saw a report that a Padawan Keli Briggs and his Master Kim Tyleen are missing and presumed dead having been deployed on a similar mission. Is that an acceptable risk?"

I feel the air sucked from my lungs. I want to stand but my legs are strangely weighted down. I look to Obi and Siri. Both are white, all color drained from their faces. Obi sits rigid, staring opened mouthed at Senator Mallix. Siri is breathing sharply, harshly. I've never seen her like that, fighting to be calm, almost failing.

Adi Gallia looks across at the committee, shaking her head. There's a brief, whispered conversation between Mallix and Palpatine.

Palpatine rises to his feet. "The session is in adjournment. It seems that this news has come as something of a shock to Padawans Kenobi and Tachi, we do not want to subject them to more distress. We will resume tomorrow with the testimony of Padawan Chun. Thank you."

The committee rise and file out silently, followed by the observers, leaving us Jedi alone in the vast, soulless room. Siri sits motionless in her chair. Adi Gallia has hold of her hands and is speaking softly, soothingly to her. Obi jumps to his feet and comes to my side, a helpless look in his eyes. I place an arm around him, drawing him closer to me. Both he and Siri are struggling to retain their composure. We need to move, to get them out of sight of the intrusive cameras.

Then we can let them grieve for Keli. 

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