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Dec 04, 2022 7:51 AM
Padmé Amidala asks no boarding operations of her people that she won't ask of herself. Meanwhile, Kina Skywalker and Count Dooku talk.
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"Well, the worst case is that he is, in fact, the Sith Lord.  Which he should already know that we know, and that we know he knows we know, unless Sith are especially self-blinded on sharing information that people actually need to know with the people they're aligned with, and while I wouldn't rule it out, I think it's unlikely.  So we control who does the approach - Masters Windu and Yoda, perhaps?  Selecting for personal combat prowess - and that solves that problem.  Any other case, he's just an ambitious politician.  We can handle ambitious politicians.  What worries me is the chance of the biologist getting to go to ground, but - we can't leave a Sith in charge of the Republic.

"...Okay maybe we could if it was the one who's focused just on immortality research, if there was some necessary strategic tradeoff, because I don't think his harms will scale to any particular degree, so he'd just be an absent ruler sort of type if he wasn't just trying to get the tiresome business of ruling out of his hands, but I wouldn't want to.  And it's definitely not him who's going to go couping.  Short of new evidence, utilitarianly-speaking he basically gets lost in the noise of the galaxy's problems - like slavery - by himself.

"Honestly if he is doing actual medical research - mm.  No.  Politics Sith's the main topic.  If that Sith is Palpatine...Honestly, I think showing up to 'speak with him about investigating accusations of bribery made during the recent election for the position of Supreme Chancellor' will get us through his door.  He's won, by now.  He's not going to be as cautious as he would've been.  And he'll see the opportunity of using the Jedi to dispose of political opponents, and want it.  I don't know if Sith are powered by schadenfreude but I think they'd love the idea of turning well-meaning people's best efforts into tragedies, just in general, because they're cruel and vicious even when that's harmful to them, judging by present examples."

"...Anyone catch something I missed?"

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"I suppose that the primary problem is that we have several possible situations we could be in - a politician with a pretty ordinary amount of crime, someone who's working for the Sith, a Sith Lord who we can ambush, and a Sith Lord who knows we're coming and has something planned to beat Jedi. I don't think there's any action at all that would succeed in all of those. If we try anything that can beat an active Sith, we risk a massive scandal if he's not one. If we try anything more subtle, then it'll give him chances to get away."

"Honestly, telling him we're investigating the Senate does seem like our best option at the moment. It'll cover any case where he's not a Sith, since we can keep an eye on him, and we can probably trick him like you said. But if he knows that we suspect him of being the Sith, he'll probably get a chance to escape, unless we put a ton of guards on him, in which case that only increases the chances of him knowing we're onto him, and the size of a potential scandal... there are a lot of tradeoffs here."

He looks around at the rest of the Council, and then to Kina. She's probably the one who'll have a great idea, isn't she.

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"Hmm.  ...Well, what if we put a ton of guards on the Senate and not specifically him, at about the same time as we approach him?  We do have credible intelligence that a Sith is trying to meddle with the workings of the Republic - did someone contact Senator Teem?  I'm assuming that if he's the political Sith Lord, he knows for sure that we know he exists, and will have taken - has he given the Jedi Order any gifts? - he'll absolutely have some preparations, even if they're just general principle sorts of things.  On the other hand, being a Senator actually does constrain his ability to...I don't know, rig his office with traps.  So I think expecting him to know we're coming, but be unable to mount significant preparations for assault within the Senate chambers - hm, if I were him I'd try and spin this as the Jedi betraying the Republic.  It would hold together long enough if he could survive to spin it or had some way of releasing information after his death, and he does have his boss...  But at the same time...I think two Jedi, and perhaps a Padawan, is not an unreasonable amount of Jedi to, especially, meet the new Chancellor and discuss investigations.  And five of you captured an entire battleship."  Kina grins.  "I think that especially if we stack the deck, whether or not he's predicted us moving, he can't win now.  He might not lose as much as we'd like...but his plan is blown up."

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"Maybe." Windu sighs. "So we put some Jedi on the Senate, try as hard as we can to phrase it as something other than what it is, as, say, Palpatine's helping us investigate Teem. We look around his office, try to find some proof, and if we find he's the Sith, then we attack. We'll just have to be as careful as possible to make sure Palpatine thinks he has a good reason not to flee."

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Yoda nods. "Then begin, we will. Master Windu, with me to the Senate, you will come, to, ah... investigate if Teem and the Trade Federation are working for the Sith, yes."

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"...I could 'run away' and play bait, as a fallback plan.  The Sith want me, enough to run risks for it.  But I think that's a bit too much risk, for not enough reward.  ...And if I'm not coming with you, one of you should take this.  Fires more shots than a lightsaber can block."

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"A blaster, we will not need," Yoda replies. "Handle this ourselves, we can."

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"...No what?"

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"Yoda, at this point, I think we both know she has to come," Windu says. "I don't like it any more than you do, but if we have to outwit a Sith, we're going to need her."

"Depa, set up a commlink system. Me and Yoda are going in. In case he is a Sith, all ten of you are going to be surrounding the building. The kid too."

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"...And speaking of outwitting Sith, we should see if we can get him to throw his master under the bus under the pretense of suspecting that the Muun is financing Senator Teem."

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"At this point, I'm not sure if we can afford to introduce any more complications. Let's just get started on Palpatine."

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"Yeah, it's not likely to be remotely possible, but if you see an opening to do it, it's worth taking."

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Within half an hour, the Jedi are set up, and Windu and Yoda enter the Senate building, where Chancellor Palpatine is telling Lott Dod that for the last time, he can't interrupt to talk about his ship.

"Chancellor. My apologies, but this is urgent. We suspect that the Senate has been infiltrated by a Sith Lord, either through an agent - or possibly even in person. We're going to need to conduct immediate questioning of anyone who might have witnessed or been involved in these events."

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"If it's an emergency, Master Jedi, then yes, we can accommodate you. How long do you anticipate this lasting?"

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"Quite a while, I'm afraid. During that time, we can't allow anyone to leave this building. There's a potential Sith Lord, and it could be anyone here."

His eyes meet Palpatine's for a fraction of a second, enough to leave him uncertain it even happened. But still, enough to warn him of something. The only way they can get Palpatine to reveal himself is if he suspects the Jedi are coming for him. Of course, he can't say it out loud yet, just in case they're wrong about all of this.

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Quite a few Senators seem to be upset by this, but no one wants to be the first to object.

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"It shall be done, Master Jedi. If I can help you in any way, I would be happy to do so."

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"Not yet, Chancellor, but we might need to ask you a few questions at some point. For now, we're going to need to speak with Senators Lott Dod and Ainlee Teem."

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Now they're actively resisting. But the Jedi convince them to cooperate, primarily by repeatedly dropping the word treason, and they soon file off to a private room.

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Palpatine watches them go. After arguing with the Senators for a while, making clear that no, they are not allowed to go home, he stalks off to his own room. To all external appearances - because obviously, the Jedi might have access to the cameras - he's simply sitting in his chair, massaging his head and reading reports. He actually is carefully tapping out a message, using the Force to press buttons on his device in the closet. The messages are cryptographically secured, and filled with allusions no one could possibly understand, and on a channel that the Jedi don't have any way to access, and there are a few other precautions that even he doesn't know the functions of.

This is the first trick he has prepared. The next few tricks are the six people he's communicating with. If the Jedi want to play dirty, he'll do the same.

The contents of the messages vary a little, and they're deliberately obscured. But there's one common theme.

The Jedi Council is trying to outplay him. And getting outplayed really isn't something Darth Sidious does! Granted, he may not know what game he's playing. He may not know the rules, or the goal, or even who's at the board. But what he does know is how many points he's going to score.

Twelve.

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