"What about Padme?" Anakin demanded, his throat suddenly dry.
"She seems to be on top of things." Replied Obi-Wan with a quick glance over his shoulder towards the senator in her tight little white number, wriggling her way up to the top of the pillar.
Anakin blinked. "That's rude, master!"
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. "Look, stay focused…"
The gates suddenly started to crank open, accompanied by a terrible squealing noise. Slowly, inexorably, the metal bars raised to reveal three large and sinister shapes silhouetted against the dark background of the tunnel. Obi-Wan felt his eyes instantly drawn towards the largest of the three creatures, it's wicked gleaming gimlet eyes and nasty, pointed teeth aimed straight in his direction. The second of the two loped towards Anakin with its head lowered, ready to charge.
Up on the terrace Dooku looked on at the scene with a mixture of horror and disbelief. He turned to face one of the termite guards who had, in his own insectoid way, the grace to look faintly embarrassed.
"What is this?" Nute Gunray bellowed in Dooku's ear. "This is supposed to be an execution!"
"Click-click-click." Replied the termite with a shrug. "Clickkkk-clikk-cliiikkk-click."
"What did he say?" Gunray demanded.
"He says it was the best he could do at short notice." Dooku thinned his lips, greatly displeased. "The pet emporium was clean out of Nexu. The Acklay they sold them ate the Reek and then promptly died of chronic indigestion. So they had to improvise."
"And this," Gunray waved his arms in a flourish of unbridled fury, "is their idea of a replacement? I want Senator Amidala's head on my desk! Shoot her...or something! Do anything! She's making a fool of us all!"
"Click-click-clickkkity." Huffed the termite.
"He says these three rabbits are extremely vicious when provoked." Dooku didn't look entirely convinced. "And that they have been assured that they are famous killers!"
"What are their names?" Gunray snapped. "And why haven't I heard of them?"
Dooku chewed fretfully at his lip. "Flopsy, Fluffy and Flossy…"
Gunray held his hands up in the air, despairing. "My Lord, your 'trained killers' aren't interested! They're not even nibbling their tunics! Look - Senator Amidala is petting the white one with the twitchy nose! She's making fun of us!"
"Patience, my friend. Patience! She will die." The count attempted to placate the separatist leader. "As will the Jedi. I have a plan that will most assuredly work."
Dooku turned to the termite, who brought himself smartly to attention.
"Tell Poggle to halt the executions whilst we dress Kenobi and his friends as carrots, would you?"
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