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starshine & clay

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“Oh no,” T’ra says with resigned dismay, and opens her eyes.

It helps nothing at all that Stass, across from her, is already laughing, not even bothering to pretend to meditate. Her tendrils are shaking, and her eyes are bright with mirth as she sinks back into the grass of the Gardens of Meditation, amusement rippling off of her in waves.

“The only person in existence who makes you take that tone is Agen,” she says, giggling. “What has he done now, then?”

T’ra reaches for her communicator, already very sure what she’ll see. And, indeed, the message she sent Agen remains stubbornly unread, even though he must be finished with his mission by now. “I don’t know,” she says, and shakes her head, a few leaves fluttering loose. If she were Human, she’d accuse Agen of trying to make her lose her hair. “But whatever it is, I have a very bad feeling about it.”

Stass hums, rising to her feet and brushing down her robes. “Bad as in bad for the stability of Hutt space, or bad for your composure?” she asks.

“Yes,” T’ra says mournfully. She’s long since ceased trying to stop Agen whenever he gets one of his bullheaded ideas, and switched to trying to contain him instead. Sadly, now that he’s a member of the Council in his own right, it works even less well than it once did, and it was never one of T’ra’s most successful missions.

Stass laughs. She offers T’ra a hand, and says, “I was planning to meet Adi for lunch, if you’d like to join us, T’ra. She may at least know what sector Agen is in.”

“That I already know. He’s in whatever sector provides the most things to hit,” T’ra says, amused despite herself. Agen is her pride and joy, one of the best swordsmen the Order has ever seen, a fierce defender of those who need him, devoted to the Order in a way most other Masters could only hope to be, a kind man who lets nothing stop him. But he’s also a terror, and nothing will ever change that.

Stass grins at her, and when T’ra takes her hand, she pulls her up. “Cursed with troublesome padawans, Master Saa. Your life is one of trial indeed.”

T’ra laughs a little, carefully detaching her roots from the earth and letting them slide back into a more Human shape. “Mace was only ever half my padawan,” she says, “and half the trouble, besides.”

“Master Tholme’s padawan seems like he was an equal amount of trouble to Agen,” Stass observes, and T’ra falls into step with her as they head back towards the main part of the Temple.

“Quinlan?” T’ra tips her head, considering. “I suppose, though in a different way. Agen’s heart is always in the right place, now, but I believe sometimes Quinlan is…overwhelmed.”

“Like Mace,” Stass murmurs, smile wry. “Quinlan’s new padawan should ground him, though. She seems the sensible type.”

T’ra chuckles. “Aayla is a light and a wonder,” she agrees, “and Quinlan deserves every moment of her.” The number of times he’s already come banging on T’ra’s door with desperate questions and frantic worries does T’ra’s heart good; Quinlan cares deeply, always, but sometimes it’s harder for him to show it. Aayla reminds him well enough.

It does remind her, though, that she’s been intending to introduce Aayla to Obi-Wan’s new padawan. Anakin is a rough-edged boy, desperate to please but furious at himself for wanting to, and it seems that a warm, kind presence like Aayla might smooth out some of his jagged edges. Aayla needs more outlets for mischief, too; Quinlan could do with a few more heart attacks on a regular basis.

If she remembers correctly, they’re all in the Temple right now, even. Something to see to as soon as she speaks to Adi, perhaps.

“Plotting, Master?” Stass asks, amused, and as they round the corner she waves to her cousin. Adi raises a hand in return, making for them.

“Only for the good of the Order,” T’ra says benevolently, and smiles at Adi. “Master Gallia. Good afternoon.”

“Master T’ra.” Adi bows to her, perfectly polite. “How are you today?”

“Unsettled,” T’ra admits wryly. “Is there a chance the Council has heard from Agen of late?”

“Kolar?” Adi frowns faintly. “He commed us a few hours ago, saying he was looking into a matter in the Raioballo sector. Has something happened?”

Raioballo. The name makes T’ra frown, but—

Fay was in that sector, the last time T’ra heard anything about her. And while Agen would hardly shirk Council duties to meet with her, it’s a coincidence T’ra doesn’t much care for. Fay is usually in the midst of some kind of trouble, after all, even if it’s rarely of her own making.

Truly, it’s a shock that T’ra survived either of them, let alone traveling with Fay and raising Agen at the same time.

“No,” T’ra says deliberately. “Not yet, perhaps. But I think Agen is going to be in rather over his head soon.”

Adi raises a brow, but doesn’t try to argue. “Agen wouldn’t notice, even if he was,” she says, faintly amused. “Are you joining us for lunch, Master T’ra?”

“No, but thank you for the invitation,” T’ra murmurs, and bows to both Masters. “I think I had best meditate on this matter further.” And, potentially, plan her response to it; a whisper in the Force tells her that she might need to find him, and soon.

“It was a joy to see you again, Master T’ra,” Stass says merrily. “Good luck with your padawan.”

T’ra sighs, which makes Stass laugh and Adi crack a smile, and leaves them to their meal, heading back towards the training salle where Quinlan and Aayla usually are at this time of day.

Her worry isn’t because Agen is incapable. Far from it. T’ra trained him well, and he shows it, but—

He’s reckless, and blunt, and he has a tendency to take people at their word. If someone asks him for help, he’ll help, regardless of the difficulty or circumstances, and T’ra is just…concerned.

Fay would help him, if she knew he was nearby, but T’ra can’t reach her and has no way of knowing if Fay has even realized Agen is in the same sector. Once upon a time, that might have been an aggravation, but now T’ra just feels a trace of sadness. Fay is a wild thing, even for a Jedi, and T’ra—

Well. It’s been a very long time since she let herself grow wild. Trained to a trellis, Fay would call it once, teasing, but T’ra can't quite say she was ever wrong.

Firmly setting the old ache aside, T'ra keys open the door of the training salle and steps in, sweeping a look across the floor. There are a few pairs of Knights scattered across the wide space, Depa and her newly-Knighted padawan sparring near the center, Plo stretching by the far wall. The pair she’s looking for are closer to him, tucked back in a corner as they run through their own stretches, and T'ra has to smile at the sight of Quinlan carefully, gently pressing Aayla deeper into her stretch, looking like he’s concentrating intently.

No one would ever make the mistake of calling Quinlan gentle, but he’s kind. And, in T'ra’s book, that counts for just as much in the long run.

“Well now. Warming up or cooling down?” T'ra asks warmly as she approaches them, nodding to Plo in easy greeting. “Because if you're warming up I might have a little extra time on my hands for my favorite padawans.”

“There’s only one padawan here, and it’s not me,” Quinlan retorts. Under his hands, Aayla giggles, and he scowls at her. “Aayla, shut your mouth.”

“I wasn’t saying anything,” Aayla says cheerfully, and twists out of Quinlan's grip, up into a handstand, and then curls over to flop to the mats on her stomach, leaning on her elbows. “Master T'ra! We were just cooling down. Maybe you can come back and spar with us tomorrow, though. Master Quinlan gets boring.”

Quinlan hisses in immediate and soul-deep offense, and T'ra has to hide her smile. “I would enjoy that, Aayla,” she says, and sinks down to sit with them, crossing her legs under her. “Your mission went well? It looks like you're both in one piece.”

Aayla grins, the immediate and merry mischief of a girl who knows she can get away with anything eventually. “Master Quinlan fell off a building,” she says without hesitation.

“A small building,” Quinlan says pointedly, leaning back on his hands. He turns a scowl on Aayla, who beams in return, unbothered. “It was one small building and I was fine.”

“You landed on your back,” Aayla observes. “It wasn’t very graceful.”

With a growl, Quinlan grabs her discarded robe and tosses it over her head, then pins it there as she squawks and struggles. “Did you want something, Master T'ra?” he asks loudly, over the sound of her curses. They make T'ra raise a brow, because Aayla has a mouth like a deep-space trader and there's only one person she could have picked that up from.

Apparently realizing the direction of her thoughts, Quinlan flushes faintly and lets go, allowing Aayla to scramble out of the robe on her own. “Well?” he asks grumpily, crossing his arms over his chest, and is promptly hit by some thirty kilograms of padawan as Aayla launches herself at him with a cry. They go down to the sound of Quinlan's offended shout, and T'ra laughs as she leans back out of danger.

After a few moments of struggle, Quinlan emerges the victor, mostly by virtue of being able to pick Aayla up and toss her over his shoulder. She immediately twists around, flipping downward onto her feet and throwing herself against his back, arms around his neck, and Quinlan grumbles but reaches up to grip one thin blue arm, so clearly he’s not as put out by it as he pretends to be.

“Master T'ra?” he asks again, curious. “What brings you all the way here?”

“Boredom,” T'ra confesses, which is at least partially the truth. “And I wanted to see how you were, with Tholme elsewhere.”

Quinlan rolls his eyes. “Master Tholme is always doing something,” he says. “Who even knows how long he’ll be gone this time.”

That is very like Tholme. T'ra hums, smoothing her robes, and then asks, “Have you seen Obi-Wan recently?”

Raising a brow at her, Quinlan lets go of Aayla, then says, “Not recently. I think he and that new padawan of his were on a mission to the Raioballo sector last I heard.”

“Oh,” T'ra says, startled, and pauses. Something curls, uneasy, in her chest, and she folds her hands in her lap with a careful breath. The Force moves in unpredictable ways, strange and unassuming at first glance, and T'ra has made a Neti’s lifetime study of paying attention to the seasons of it. But this—

This is remarkably blunt, for the Force.

“Master?” Quinlan asks, and there's something sharper in his voice this time, more overtly concerned. He straightens, Aayla slipping down off his back to kneel beside him, and looks T'ra over with narrowed eyes. “What’s wrong?”

T'ra weighs what to say for a moment. “Agen is in the Raioballo sector,” she says. “And I have a bad feeling about how his mission there will go.”

Quinlan looks at Aayla, then asks, “You think Obi-Wan’s getting in over his head there, too?”

T'ra hums. “I think that there are quite a lot of things leading me there,” she says. “And I won't ignore the Force when it gives me such clear signs.”

Aayla looks back at Quinlan, cocking her head. When Quinlan raises a brow at her, she nods, and Quinlan huffs. “All right,” he says. “If you're headed there, we’ll go with you. I've bailed Obi-Wan out of plenty of tight spots before, so that shouldn’t be too far out of the ordinary.”

“Master Tholme says you pull his pigtails,” Aayla observes, and Quinlan huffs and shoves her head down lightly.

“Master Tholme is a jerk and needs to keep his nose out of other people’s business,” he says haughtily, as if he’s ever kept his own nose out of anything at all. “Anyway, Master Kolar’s on the Council, right? Shouldn’t they be the ones dispatching help?”

“It’s nothing but a bad feeling telling me he’s in trouble,” T'ra admits. “He was my padawan, though, and that isn't a bond that ever fades entirely. I would rather not ignore this premonition.”

Aayla sways towards Quinlan, like a lodestone drawn towards a magnetic pole, and Quinlan glances at her. His expression softens, just faintly, and he raises his head again, then nods to T'ra.

“We’re coming,” he says determinedly. “I’ll get us a ship. Aayla—”

“Supplies,” Aayla finishes cheerfully, clearly accustomed to this sort of thing, and scrambles to her feet. In a moment she’s across the salle and out the door.

In her wake, Quinlan lets out a slow breath and leans back on his hands. His qukuuf catches the light from above, a flash of gold that’s almost startling, but the expression on his face catches T'ra’s attention more.

“You look tired, Quin,” she says softly.

Quinlan groans, rubbing a hand over his face. “I'm sure I gave Master Tholme even more problems,” he says, “but Force, sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.” He grimaces, and says, “I just worry about her. Constantly. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I get mad at her? What if—”

T'ra chuckles. “The trial of every Master,” she says, and rises to her feet, offering Quinlan her hands. He takes them with a huff, and she pulls him upright. The way he immediately leans down to collect Aayla’s discarded cloak makes her smile. “The worry will never go away, Quinlan. But it will ease eventually.”

“Until my padawan goes haring off to the Raiobello sector and gets in over their head?” Quinlan asks dryly.

T'ra inclines her head. “The perils of becoming a teacher,” she acknowledges lightly. “Thankfully, however, it is not only Agen who is likely in trouble this time.”

“No,” Quinlan says a little sourly. “Obi-Wan’s good at trouble. At least this time it won't be another Sith or something. Kriff, I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I heard about that.”

Of course. Because Quinlan has few enough friends, and those he does have he considers all the more precious for it. Not quite a soft heart, T'ra would say, but—he’s a good Jedi.

“It was a particular shade of alarming,” T'ra agrees, and can't help but laugh a little. “Thankfully, the odds are infinitesimal. If there was another Sith there, we would likely have to find Agen and sit on him to keep him from doing something reckless, and that’s far too much trouble even for three Jedi.”

 

 

Dantooine is just as sparsely populated as Anakin remembers, quiet and sleepy and well-removed from practically every other part of the galaxy. The spaceport they set down in is almost empty, and the trader who brought them this far, a Mirialan woman with plenty of tattoos, gives Agen a look as she opens the ramp.

“Sure you know where you're going, Jedi?” she asks.

Agen inclines his head, frowning at the quiet spaceport. “The Force will guide me,” he says, and heads down the ramp, boots ringing on the metal.

Anakin smothers a groan, and the woman smirks. “Good luck with that one,” she tells him. “People have stories, out here.”

On Tatooine, all the stories of Jedi sounded like Qui-Gon, wise and kind and gentle and fearsome. Anakin never got this particular strain. “Thanks,” he mutters, heading down, and follows Agen out into the small port town that surrounds them.

“So who exactly are you looking for?” Anakin asks suspiciously, eyeing a pair of probable bounty hunters outside an inn. “Who comes to Dantooine? Another Jedi?”

Agen grunts, eyes flickering ahead of them. “We’re in the right town,” he says. “And yes. You said we needed backup.”

Anakin would have preferred if that backup came in the form of the whole High Council, and he huffs, drawing the hood of his jacket forward over his face a little further. They’re being watched, and while that’s not unusual in a place like this, it still puts the hair up on the back of his neck. “We do need backup, but somehow I think that whoever you find out here is going to be as likely to shoot us as help us.”

“You, perhaps,” Agen says, offhand, and Anakin stops, narrowing his eyes at him. Agen had seemed perfectly willing to fight him alone, but if this is a plot of some kind to get Anakin where he’s outnumbered—

Well. It’s a terrible plan. It’s worse than a lot of Anakin's plans, and that’s probably saying something.

And yet, when Agen turns to face him, he just looks confused, like Anakin's reaction is perplexing. His brow furrows, and he looks at Anakin with a frown. “Yes?”

“He’s going to shoot me?” Anakin demands, outraged.

Agen rolls his eyes. “You’re a Sith,” he says. “You should be used to people making attempts on your life.”

“That’s not the point,” Anakin snaps, but forces himself to take a breath. “Who are we looking for exactly?”

With a grunt, Agen turns away again. “Cad Bane,” he says.

Somehow, that’s not the most ridiculous thing Anakin's heard today. He takes it, digests it for a long moment, and then asks, “You're going to hire Cad Bane?”

Agen snorts. “Cad Bane is a monster,” he says coolly, “and the only thing I would give him is my blade. No, my contact is here hunting him.”

Someone hunting Bane, second-best bounty hunter in known space, is impressive, and Anakin pauses. That’s…potentially a good sign, right?

In the distance, something explodes in a ball of flame, practically shaking the buildings.

“Oh,” Agen says, pleased. “He’s nearby.”

Of course. 

Anakin frowns, judging the direction of the blast, and then turns down a narrow side-street and picks up his pace, even as Agen goes straight at a run. He worked with Bane enough times to be able to guess how he’ll react to being cornered, if that’s what that explosion was. Bane’s a proud man, but also practical; if he can get away from someone dangerous, he’ll default to that, especially if he’s not getting paid to kill them. And—

In the billowing smoke, movement.

Cursing, a shape plummets down out of the sky, jet boots spluttering and one practically nonfunctional. Bane lands hard, staggers, and straightens his hat, then takes a breath.

Deliberate, slow, Anakin shifts to block his path.

Instantly, Bane’s head snaps up, and he has a pistol out and trained on Anakin in a heartbeat. “Hey now,” he warns. “This isn't the kind of thing you're wanting to get involved in, stranger.”

Anakin thinks of Cad Bane trying to kidnap Palpatine, how everything would have been so much better if the bounty hunter had just shot him there and been done with it, and smiles thinly. He still hates Obi-Wan a little for that trick, but—well. It hasn’t happened yet. And beyond that, Bane is the enemy here, not Obi-Wan.

“I think it is,” he says coldly, and Bane scowls.

“Last warning,” he says, and when Anakin doesn’t immediately move, he takes the shot.

It’s impossibly, perfectly simple to call his lightsaber to his hand and block the bolt, and with it in his grip, Anakin almost feels like he can breathe better. Natural, he thinks, and hates it in equal parts to the relief he feels.

Bane pauses, red eyes narrowing as he stares at the red blade of the lightsaber. There’s a long, long moment of silence, and then he steps back and tilts his hat back just a little.

“Guess you're the new apprentice, then,” he says. “Look, stranger. I did some work with Maul—”

“Kidnapping padawans,” Anakin says flatly. “I know, Bane.” He’d heard about it, when Bane was talking about previous jobs. He’d been doing the same things, then, and there was no way to care, no chance of it. But—

“Among other things,” Bane drawls. “Yeah. So you see, I'm not your enemy here—”

A dark shape lunges out of the smoke, as fast as Anakin has ever seen a Force-user move. Instantly, Bane wrenches around, jet boots firing again, but a tree leaning over the street suddenly moves like it’s a living thing, boughs lashing out in mimicry of arms to knock Bane right out of the air. Startled, Anakin jerks back, because he’s only ever seen one Jedi use that trick, and she was—

Not this person. They're too broad, for one, where Dark Woman was whipcord lean. But the surge of intent in the Force is precisely the same, as sharp as glass and ready to cut, with a thousand dagger edges and a current of something Dark underneath.

With a cry, Bane crashes into the side of a building, hits the ground, rolls to his feet as the stranger lands. “Damn Jedi,” he says, and spits. “A soul’s trying to make an honest living out here and you just have to go sticking your noses in it.”

“You're hunting Force-sensitive children,” the stranger says darkly. Anakin can only see the bottom edge of his face under the deep drape of his hood, but he can feel the weight of a suspicious gaze flicker over to him. Feels the way the Force curls up through the tree’s roots—

“Antilles,” Agen says, stalking out of the smoke with his lightsaber ignited. “I see you caught him.”

There's a startled pause as Antilles looks from Agen to Anakin and back. “Kolar,” he says at length. “One of yours?”

“Yes,” Agen says shortly, and eyes Bane like he’s sizing him up. “Do you need assistance?”

Antilles huffs, low and amused. “You don’t trust me to survive against one bounty hunter?”

With a thin smile, Agen tips his head. “Any hunt is more enjoyable with friends. And besides, I have a mission I hope you’ll be interested in.”

“Well,” Bane says, and pulls a detonator from his belt in one blurred-quick movement. “Seems I should leave you gents to your own matters, since you're so busy and all.”

Jerking around, Antilles lunges, but it’s too late. The grenade detonates in a wash of blinding light and deafening sound, and without the helmet he’s worn for so long Anakin isn't prepared, even though he manages to jerk his head away just in time. He can feel the force of the blast hit him, nearly knocking him off his feet, and somewhere Antilles curses, muffled by the ringing in Anakin's ears.

This, Anakin thinks grimly, was a hell of a lot easier to filter out when he wore a mask.

Still, he can see well enough through the spots to find Agen, who was closest to the blast. He’s pulling himself to his feet, clearly blinded, and Anakin grabs his elbow, hauls him to his feet. There's one half-second jerk like Agen is going to fight back, but he eases a moment later, turning his head.

“Antilles?” he asks, with the carefully controlled volume of someone who can’t hear as well as normal.

“Fine,” the other Jedi says, shaking his head with a grimace. He presses a hand to his ear just briefly, and Anakin can feel the flicker of a quick and dirty Force healing flare and then fade away. “Bane?”

“Gone,” Anakin says, sweeping a look around the street. “Probably bolted.”

Antilles grimaces. “Like a swamp-rat in the light,” he mutters, and then gives Anakin another close look. “You're a Sith.”

Anakin hesitates, not entirely sure how to answer. “I was trained by the Sith,” he says finally. “And I was one. But I left.”

Antilles seems to accept that, though he doesn’t step closer. “It’s a philosophy,” he says, cool. “You stopped agreeing?”

Anakin swallows, and the only thing in his head is Luke on the Death Star, chin raised, looking so much like Padmé. Padmé who loved the Republic, who would have died for it a hundred times over.

At some point, even in the good days, that started mattering less than Anakin possessing her, and—he’s not sure when.

“I never should have started agreeing,” he says, raw.

Somehow, the tilt of Antilles’s head feels like understanding more than anything. “Master Jon Antilles,” he says.

The name sounds vaguely familiar, like Anakin should know it. He can't place it, though, just like with Fay, so he nods and returns, “Vader.”

“Vader knows of the Sith Lord’s plans,” Agen says, and carefully releases Anakin, straightening. “Do you need to go after Bane, or can you assist us in breaking them?”

Antilles pauses, but hardly for more than a heartbeat. “I already ended Bane’s operation here,” he says. “He won't be trafficking any more children for this particular buyer, and I have a feeling he’ll be leaving Dantooine as soon as possible.”

Anakin snorts. Faced with three Jedi? Or, well, two Jedi and a Sith? Yeah, he can imagine Bane would get the hell away as soon as possible. Bane’s not a coward, but he’s also definitely not dumb, either. “The buyer’s dead?” he asks.

Antilles’s mouth thins with satisfaction. “Thoroughly.”

With a grunt that sounds pleased, Agen calls his lightsaber back to his hand, then clips it to his belt. “You have a ship?” he asks Antilles.

“For a given value of have,” Antilles allows, darkly amused. “The old owners certainly have no use for it now.”

That’s…not precisely what Anakin would have expected a Jedi Master to say. He eyes Antilles for a moment, and—

“You know Dark Woman?” he asks.

Antilles twitches, like Anakin just took a swing at him. His hands curl into fists beneath the drape of his sleeves, and after a long, long pause, he says quietly, “Yes. She was my Master. How did you know?”

Agen's eyes are on Anakin; he can feel the weight of his stare, like a warning.

“The plants,” Anakin said in explanation. “I've only seen one Jedi do that.”

Antilles inclines his head. “She has many unconventional abilities.”

Because right now she’s still alive. She didn’t die at Vader's hands, only to reappear to him as a ghost and call him Anakin. Didn’t drag all of his darker memories out into the light, trying to prove a point. Anakin takes a breath, pushing the thoughts down, and says, “I’m going to get rid of my Master. He has plans for the galaxy that will destroy the Jedi, and I need to stop him.”

“The Sith have always wanted to destroy the Jedi.” Antilles sounds mostly unbothered by the scale of the idea, and tilts his head at Agen. “The Council approved this?”

“No,” Agen says without hesitation. “They only know I'm investigating something alone.”

Anakin grimaces and looks at Antilles, wanting backup for when he tells Agen again what a stupid plan this is—

“Good,” Antilles says, and the line of his shoulders eases. “I’ll help.”

What,” Anakin says.

The curl of Antilles’s mouth is quiet amusement. “I don’t associate with the Council,” he says. “As long as this isn't one of their missions, I’ll do it.”

Anakin looks from Antilles to Agen, deliberately. “But—he’s on the Council!”

“He comes to the Outer Rim,” Antilles says, like that’s all that matters. “And the Force wants me to help you. So I will.”

“Kriffing Jedi,” Anakin says in mild dismay. Palpatine trusted the Force, but he saw it as a tool, not as—as some sort of guide and guardian. And—maybe once Anakin knew how to react to it like a Jedi, but it’s been decades. He’s been trusting Palpatine’s words for far longer than he ever trusted in the Force.

Agen snorts. “We are,” he agrees, and inclines his head to Antilles. “Let us go.”

“Where to?” Antilles asks, but he’s already turning, heading back past the scorched building and towards the spaceport.

Agen looks at Anakin, expectant, and doesn’t say anything.

Where to. Just like that. Anakin takes a breath, trying to marshal his thoughts, and is abruptly, entirely overwhelmed with choices. Sidious had so many plans, and breaking them will take a hell of a lot of doing, but—

Maybe it’s Antilles’s words about Bane trafficking children, but Anakin thinks of Sidious and all the people he used. All the manipulations, outright and more subtle, and there’s one group Anakin knows were hurt more for Palpatine’s plans than any others.

“A lost planet,” he says finally, the words scraping raw in his throat. He doesn’t want to face this, but—he’s going to have to at some point. He can't not. “It was erased from the Jedi Archives, but I know where it is. Twelve parsecs south past the Rishi Maze. Kamino.”

Agen looks at him for a long moment, frowning. “No one but the Jedi have access to the Archives,” he says, bullish. “No Jedi would have—”

“Agen,” Antilles says quietly. When Agen stops short, scowl deepening, Antilles nods to Anakin. “Who?”

“Sifo-Dyas,” Anakin says, relieved that they're not going to have to have this argument. “About four years ago now.”

Antilles frowns, too, but his is closer to thoughtful than anything. “I never met him. But the proof will be easy enough to find. Agen, do you know of Kamino?”

“No,” Agen says curtly, clearly not happy about it. “I investigated the Rishi Maze once. The system past it had no such planet.”

“Well, one of you is right.” Antilles sounds mildly amused. “Let’s see who. My ship is this way.”

This, Anakin thinks, resigned, is going to be karking awful. But—

Avoiding it will leave the clones in Sidious’s influence, chipped and ready to carry out his orders. And that, at least, isn't something Anakin is willing to risk.