Now where is he? He can't remember this place off hand. Captured, obviously – he's floating a good meter in air over a ray shield generator, bound up in its force field, unable to move so much as a finger. The only part of him still mobile is his head, and even that he can only turn the slightest amount while the ray shield gently turns him around, spinning him leisurely on an invisible axis like a mannequin on a display case.
Ben looks around himself, trying to place the setting. How many times had he been captured in this exact entrapment during the clone wars? Too many to really wish to count it, really. This doesn't look like a ship which narrows the options down somewhat, though he can't place the architecture around himself. Stone, carefully carved, alien. He can almost recognize it – but it's been so many years now… it's been decades.
Closing his eyes, Ben tries to reach for the Force – but that doesn't help much. All he can sense is… chaos. That old, clouded chaos of the Pre-Empire times, when Force had been so muddy and so strange, filled with mixed signals and false premonitions. It's odd, feeling it now with the power of hindsight and nearly twenty years of training in opening himself to the Force in ways that went beyond the Jedi Order's teachings. It almost makes him feel dirty.
There are life forms about. Thousands, hundreds of thousands of life forms. A planet, then – but which one, at what point of time?
He'd aimed for a time when he could make the biggest difference into the course of future, to change it for better. He'd expected to find himself a padawan again, meeting Anakin Skywalker for the first time on that dated Naboo Mission, where pieces started falling to their damned, destined places and their doom was set into motion. Qui-Gon dead, Senator Palpatine just starting his reign over the Senate and the Republic… Anakin bitter with freedom with Padme Amidala standing as his shining, perfect, impossible goal. Opening notes of a symphony that turned into cacophony which turned into Imperial March one day.
That, Ben had felt, was the point where future could be derailed – where everything could be changed. It would happen at the cost of Luke and his sister, perhaps at the cost of thousands and millions of lives that would not be born, but… to stop the Empire before it could ever be conceived would be worth everything.
But that is not where he is.
He's not the padawan he had hoped to find himself as. He can feel it on his face alone – he has a beard. That places him at the very least five years after Qui-Gon's death. Perhaps more. That… changes things.
But when – and for that matter, where – is he?
His surroundings offer no more clues so Ben looks down at himself. Jedi tunics, utility belt, boots – nothing helpful there, he's never worn anything else and only switched to longer robes in Tatooine. He doesn't have armour on, though, therefore it's not the worst of Clone Wars yet – or it is and he's been stripped of the armour. Unhelpful.
Sighing Ben leans his head back a little – and then he feels it. His own hair, curling at the base of his neck. It's long. From the time when he'd thought to grow it out. But then that would mean –
A door opens and for a moment Ben can see creatures, spindly and insectoid – Geonosians? And moment later, a white haired and bearded man in black steps into the chamber and the door closes behind him.
"Dooku?" Ben asks slowly.
Oh. He's in Geonosis, at the very beginning of the Clone Wars?
"Oh my friend," Dooku says. "This is a mistake, a terrible mistake. They've gone too far – it's madness."
Ben stares at him in confusion, trying to place the words. Had he met Dooku before now? And who had gone too far – oh, the man means the imprisonment. Obviously Ben has been captured.
Frowning a little Ben tries to remember why did he enter Geonosis in the first place before the first battle of Geonosis, he'd been the first Jedi there. The whole thing had rather lost its importance after, with the Clone Wars themselves, but he had… right, he had been in pursuit and pursued his target to Geonosis. Jango Fett – the template of the clones.
An important moment in history, completely overshadowed by the hellish battle that begun right after. He can almost see why he'd be here, instead of his Padawan years, but not quite. At this time, the Emperor is already the High Chancellor, well onto his way to emergency powers he'd never forfeit again. The senate is already mostly under Sidious' control.
Why is he here? This time makes no sense. He's too late here.
Dooku watches him strangely when Ben says nothing, and in the end the captor speaks again. "Are you well?" Dooku says and walks around him as if to check he's unharmed. "I will petition immediately to have you released, I assure you – but if you have been mistreated."
"I feel no injuries," Ben says, rather distractedly while trying to scan his memories as to why this would be the key turning point in history. "So I suppose I'm fine."
"You are taking this rather well," Dooku says, frowning slightly, as if this calm is unexpected. Probably is – in his youth Ben would have been more annoyed by the whole thing.
"Becoming emotional will hardly help me here," Ben says and gives him a thoughtful look. Dooku, Qui-Gon Jinn's master, Yoda's apprentice. One of the Lost Twenty. Obi-Wan had… not quite hated him, but he had disapproved him, severely, even before the Clone Wars. And in Clone Wars, Dooku had been the Enemy, plain and simple.
It had never made sense to him that one of Dooku's standing in the Jedi Order, with his Teaching Lineage, would fall to the dark side. Later, Ben hadn't paid much thought to it, it was merely one of those things that were part of the past and thus lost to his influence one way or the other, but now…
Dooku is older than Sidious – and yet Darth Tyranus was one of Sidious' unfortunate apprentices. Why? How?
"You have become a fine Jedi, Obi-Wan," Dooku says, giving him a solemn look. "It is a great pity we never had the time to come face to face before. Qui-Gon always spoke very highly of you."
"Did he, indeed?" Ben asks noncommittally – he can't for the life of him remember of Qui-Gon had ever mentioned Dooku.
"He did, we talked of you often," Dooku says and looks away – and his grief feels… genuine. "I wish he was still alive. I could use his help now, and his wisdom."
Ben says nothing for a moment, wondering. Qui-Gon's wisdom had been considerable – and utterly unorthodox. What kind of Jedi went after the Secrets of Immortality, after all? What kind of Jedi achieved it? Had Dooku known about Qui-Gon's… extracurricular studies, his search for mastery over powers that went so wildly beyond the scope of Jedi, even beyond the scope of the Sith? Had Qui-Gon spoken with Dooku about it?
"What would you need Qui-Gon's help with?" Ben asks slowly.
Dooku frowns a little and turns away, lifting his hands and then lowering them. "Qui-Gon knew all about the corruption of the senate," Dooku says slowly. "He would have never gone along with it if he knew the true extend of it. If he learned the truth as I have."
Ben arches an eyebrow but says nothing.
Dooku glances at him, gauges his attentiveness, and then continues, looking away again. "What if I told you that the Republic is now under the control of a Dark Lord of the Sith?" he asks.
Ben's arched brow descends and he frowns. That was… unexpected. Had Dooku told him that before? Had this happened in past – had he hung here, helpless while Dooku admitted that to him? How had he reacted?
With disbelief, Ben thinks wryly. At this point in time, his reaction would have been disbelief and denial and quite bit of suspicion.
Dooku looks to him for a reaction and Ben schools his expression into more neutral arrangement. "A Sith," he repeats.
"A Sith Lord," Dooku says slowly. "Hundreds of Senators are now influenced by the Dark Side, doing as he wills them – voting as Darth Sidious requires them. And each day his power within the Senate grows."
Ben stares at him silently for a long time, wondering. It could very well be a ploy – but to what end? Why would Dooku tell him this, why would he reveal this terrible truth? He was a Sith himself and under Sidious' control, isn't he? Revealing this now, at the verge of the Clone Wars, doesn't make any sense…
Unless he isn't under Sidious' control, yet.
"Why are you telling me this?" Ben asks quietly.
Dooku frowns up at him. "I need your help," he says and scowls, a sudden feverishness coming to his face at Ben's apparent compliance. "You must join me, Obi-Wan – and together we will destroy the Sith!"
Ben says nothing for a while, just watching him. Well that, if nothing else, is the Dark Side speaking. Dooku might not be fully under Sidious' control yet, but there is Dark within him. And yet, this whole set up, revealing Sidious like this…
This had happened before, Ben is starting to remember now. And last time, Obi-Wan had denied everything, disregarded every word, and happily mistrusted everything. The Jedi couldn't possibly miss something as big as this, he thought; surely they would've sensed it…
But in this murky atmosphere of the Force, how could anyone sense anything?
"What say you, my friend?" Dooku says and straightens his shoulders.
"I think I am likely here for a reason," Ben muses. Obi-Wan Kenobi – the Separatist. That would change the history, wouldn't it?