Star Wars
According To Jack

Episode II
Attack of the Clones

Scene 21: Interview with a Trooper

The soldiers' quarters are no more than countless rows of compartments no larger than coffins, stacked five high. The aisles between them recede out of Obi-Wan's sight as Prime Minister Lama Su leads him through them.

"Ah, here we are," says Lama Su, examining the stock number on the front of one of the cases. "Commander Cody Fett."

"Commander?" asks Obi-Wan. "You created officers?"

"They are not true leaders. Think of him more like a communications device. Give him an order, and he will relay it to the units under his command with the speed of a thought. Ask him a question, and he will report all that they see."

"Useful," Obi-Wan mutters to himself.

Lama Su presses a button and a bunk extends out from the wall. Even without his armor, the clone within is an imposing sight to behold, pure muscle bulging underneath his sleeping shirt and shorts. Unlike Jango, his swarthy face is unscarred. His eyes bolt open, and he is on his feet and standing at attention with unnatural swiftness for a waking creature.

"Commander Cody," says Lama Su, "I would like you to meet Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi."

"Sir!" says Cody, saluting.

Obi-Wan is not sure how to respond. At first he thinks the emptiness in the trooper's eyes is the vapidness of an automaton, but then he senses that he is rather standing before one neuron of a much larger brain, the attention of which is focused on thousands of tasks throughout this underground city.

"Commander, you speak for all of the clones?"

"Sir, I am assigned to the 7th Sky Corps, but with authorization I am able to speak for any Fett, sir."

"I order you to do so now," says Obi-Wan, in part to determine if the clone will recognize his authority.

"Sir, yes sir!"

"Uh, very good," says Obi-Wan. "Tell me, Commander, have any Fetts ever been off planet?"

"Sir, no sir!"

"Are you sure about that? You've never been to, say, Toydaria?"

"Sir, none of us have ever left Kamino, sir!"

"I assure you, Master Obi-Wan, we will not release them from this facility until their deployment is officially approved by the Senate," adds Lama Su, misjudging Obi-Wan's concern. "We have no desire to use this product for ourselves. Our interest here is purely economic."

Obi-Wan brushes her off and continues to address the trooper.

"Does that include Jango Fett?"

The clone glances briefly at Lama Su before responding.

"Sir, I do not know, sir."

"I told you, Master Obi-Wan," says Lama Su, "The link to the original has been broken!"

"Then you are not aware, Commander, that Jango Fett is dead?"

Lama Su gasps.

", sir."

It is clear to Obi-Wan that this is news to the prime minister. As for the clone trooper, he seems to be speaking honestly, but the soul beneath that face is too immense for Obi-Wan to suss out a lie.

"This is most unfortunate," sighs Lama Su. "I'm afraid this means we will have to find a new template to create further troops. This may delay the next generation's shipment."

Obi-Wan is perturbed to hear a shipment is already planned for the next generation. His ability to hide his convictions is wearing thin; he cannot keep up this charade much longer. But the prime minister's last comment raises one more question in his inquisitive mind, and now may be his only opportunity to ask.

"You couldn't clone a second generation from one of your troopers?"

Commander Cody looks down in shame, the first emotion he has shown.

"I'm afraid that's impossible," says Lama Su, "Jango Fett did not meet the Prime Requirement for multiple generation cloning."

"What requirement is that?"

"Why, he wished to procreate," Lama Su sings as if it's the most obvious thing in the galaxy. "No being that seeks physical union with another can be sustainably copied; the integrity of their identifying pattern diminishes over time. It is a rare thing to find a host truly suited for eternal replication."

"That explains why you're not selling clones to every wealthy sentient that wants to live forever."

"It would be most profitable if we could."

"And I guess that makes Queen Amidala a particularly unique subject for your work."

Whoops, too far. Lama Su rears up to her full height and speaks sternly. "With all due respect, Master Jedi, Amidala would not wish me to discuss this, even with you."

Obi-Wan decides to lay the truth bare.

"You have been deceived, Prime Minister. Whoever it was that ordered this army, they were no Jedi Knight. I came here to investigate an assassination committed by Jengo Fett, in league with at least one of his clones, who I saw with my own eyes on Toydaria. This army you have created comes as a surprise to me, and I'm sure it will be a surprise for the Jedi Council as well."

"I don't understand," mumbles Lama Su, "Master Sifodyas had power that only a Jedi could have. Master Kenobi, he told us you were coming..."

"Have no fear, Prime Minister, I believe you. If you cooperate with our investigation, I'm sure you will be absolved of your role in this crime."

"But...what are we to do with the product?"

"Keep the clones here for the time being, and tell no one else of their existence until you hear back from me. If it is known that the Republic has an army at its disposal, war may be inevitable."

"Oh," cries Lama Su, "Oh, Master Jedi, forgive me! It is too late for that!"

"What do you mean?"

"We have already sent a delegation to Chancellor Palpatine to announce the completion of the army and arrange for final payment. The meeting is already in progress; we expected to be sending troops with you when you left. I am so sorry! We didn't know, none of us knew!"

Obi-Wan scowls. "Perhaps it is not too late, if we act quickly. I'll need some privacy to contact my peers."

"Of course, right this way..."

As they turn to leave, Commander Cody calls out, "Sir!"

Obi-Wan turns. "What is it, soldier?"

"Sir, I am looking forward to working with you, sir!"

Chills run down Obi-Wan's spine. The trooper seems oblivious to the conversation that has just occurred in front of him, yet his words weigh on the Jedi Knight like prophecy as he walks away.

Next Scene: Jar-Jar's Big Day