Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by hlc88, Sep 8, 2012.
i cant wait for the next post!
This Sith mask sounds quite frightening. I love Anakin and Ahsoka's interactions, and how Ahsoka is dealing with the war. Here's hoping Anakin will be able to rescue Obi-Wan soon! Great update.
@Jade_eyes I'm always worried how I write action as it isn't one of my strong points so I'm very happy that you liked!
@Hans lil girl Here is the next chapter!
@Luna_Nightshade Thank you!
@Jedi_Liz Hopefully your worry won't last for much longer
- - - - -
Day 1 of the Christophsis Campaign
Rushing into battle always gave Anakin a thrill. It helped him feel in control of his fate. It was the uncertainty when he wasn’t doing something that he hated.
Lightsaber gripped tightly in one hand, Anakin led a charge into the first barrier the Separatists had constructed to withstand the Republic forces. The reinforcements Ahsoka was escorting down were still fighting their way down to the planet, so he had little time to play with a full battalion of troops capable of taking the city.
But they had to make some headway otherwise the Separatists could easily destroy them before they got on their feet.
Anakin was a good planner; he and Obi-Wan had made a formidable team. He had learnt from the best to consider every option and to be sneaky when planning attacks. That was why Anakin had decided to lead the main charge while two smaller platoon of clones would use the sewage system to sneak underneath the first layer of Separatist security and come at them from behind, thereby giving the Republic the advantage they so desperately needed.
The Separatists would not be expecting that.
Standing atop a bridge as they entered the city, Anakin pointed his lightsaber towards the lines of Separatists droids that awaited them. They were too far away to begin shooting at but it wouldn’t be long before they’d be in range. Anakin had provided the two teams of Clones with a tracking device so he would always know where exactly their position was. Right now they were moving quickly beneath the fledging Separatist army.
“Forward march everyone!” he yelled, leaping off the bridge and running forwards, his lightsaber held up in an attack position. The clones followed him, weapons raised.
Ahead the droid army began to march forward.
Swinging his blade left, right and centre, Anakin deflected each bolt that came close to him, managing to shield a few of the clones close to him but some were not as lucky as they fell to the onslaught that opened up to them as they came in firing range.
But the clones had been trained to cope in situations like this and they bunched up into a defensive attack position, taking it in turns to shield one another while shooting at the enemy. It was a slower progress but it helped to maintain their numbers.
Anakin didn’t care for his role; his goal was to ensure the Separatist leader was captured however he’d be hiding with the final line of defence and not in the first attack position. Anakin didn’t feel like being careful, the Force whispered to him to go for it. He leapt into the air, somersaulting through it, twisting his body round, battling away shots as the droids tracked him.
He landed in their midst and swung his blade, taking down five droids in one go. His left hand swung out to the side and with a powerful Force shove he sent the droids flying, crashing into others and wrecking their security. Then he leapt again as the droids closest to the carnage turned on him, but as he leapt their shots hit their own droids, shattering them. He leapt back further into the line, completing the same manoeuvre again and again; the droids falling for the same trick. He knew his tactics would be analysed and they’d be ready at the next defensive position. All the same, this attack was going well.
Falling into the Force, Anakin listened to its prompts, swinging around quickly as he tracked his opponents. The clones were upon the defensive line now, taking them down quickly before the droids had any chance to react.
A Jedi always proved to be a distraction.
He ducked and rolled beneath a volley of blaster shots, bringing his lightsaber up through the legs of a droid, cutting it neatly in half. He rolled again and did the same again and then leapt up high, jumping down upon four droids, swinging his blade round in a circle and destroying them in one swift motion.
He fell, landing on the balls of his feet and sheathed his lightsaber as he looked around the at the destruction he and his clone troopers had caused.
Defensive position one down and taken.
He grinned and then flicked his comlink on, opening up a channel to the clones still within the sewers. They hadn’t come up to aid as Anakin had not signalled them. That was the beauty of his plan: if he thought he was going to lose he could rely on them to back him up but this time he didn’t have to. Probably with the second defensive line, which involved tanks then they would have to attack.
“Keep moving forward to the next position. We’ll begin our attack shortly. I’ll send a signal when we need you – if we need you,” he ordered.
“Yes, sir!” was the response.
He turned back towards his troops.
“So, first line of defence is down. According to our intelligence, the Separatists have four layers of security. We’ve destroyed the first layer. This was a test and they’ve likely analysed our tactics and thinking of ways to counter-attack them. That is why we need to stay one step ahead of them. They’ll now expect me to come at the head of the pack but this time I won’t.” He turned to Captain Cody. “Cody, you’ll be leading the charge. And I’ll be utilising the spare armour we have.” He grinned wolfishly.
After all, who would expect a Jedi masquerading as a clone?
- - - - -
“Ahsoka, where are you?”
Ahsoka gritted her teeth. “I’m busy here, Master!”
“You should be here by now!”
Ahsoka rolled her eyes and flipped her fighter to the right, twisting it around as the lasers from the droid star-fighters swooped over her. He tactic allowed the clone defending her to destroy her attackers swiftly. Pulling out of her spin, Ahsoka levelled off and re-joined the escort squadron. They hadn’t lost anyone yet but the ferocity of the attacks meant she had to plan carefully in the little time they had.
The Separatists did not want her getting reinforcements down to the planet to boost their already landed troops.
“Haven’t you got your own battle to win?” she snapped back.
Anakin chuckled over the comm. “The first line is down. We’re moving onto the second.”
Wow that’s quick even for him! Her Master always continued to amaze her. He was an incredible Jedi, able to fight back efficiently and the enemy constantly underestimated him. “I’m trying my best up here but we have the slight problem that they don’t want us to get down to Christophsis! I’ll be there as soon as we can!”
“Fine, just be careful,” replied Anakin. “When you get here, make your landing point the area after the hundreds of destroyed droids. That’ll be my mess. You’ll be able to join us quicker that way. Leave a few troops for the rear flanks in case the Separatists decide to loop around us but I get the sense that the commander we are dealing with isn’t that bright.”
She clicked off of the communication and re-laid the message to her squadron and the transports they were escorting. They were close to the atmosphere now; it was just a matter of escaping their pursuers. Her targets flashed off and she issued instructions before peeling off to counter the three squadrons of tri-fighters that were en-route to their position.
“Ok boys… select your targets and go in with full power! We need to get these transports down to Master Skywalker now!”
Grinning broadly she engaged the enemy.
- - - - -
Nine weeks since the Battle of Jabiim, con-current with the Battle of Christophsis
“Why do you continue to fight? Give in and the pain will stop. The mask will be taken away.” Ventress ran her fingers down his cut cheek, the wound hidden by the fabric.
He whimpered. “No…” Barely able to speak through the mask, all he had in him was a simple denial. He was exhausted. The mask kept him in torment. It was on instinct for him to reach for the Force and whenever he did the mask simply reached for him, wrapping him in its cold embrace.
Ventress smiled through her dark eyes at him. “You must enjoy the pain then.” She circled him and quite suddenly pressed her hands onto his shredded back. He tried to ignore the pain but a sound was torn from his throat. Satisfied, Ventress lifted her hands once more and came round to face him.
The guards had whipped him many times and Ventress had scarred him with her lightsaber. The wounds were probably infected by now from the amount of times they had started to heal and then torn open once more. Obi-Wan didn’t want to look at the woman that was making his life hell but he forced himself to.
Struggling to talk he wheezed out: “No…matter… what… you… do… to me…. I won’t… ever… submit. I’ll… die before I… cower… at your feet!”
Ventress laughed. “I won’t let you die. You are mine, Kenobi. I control your fate. Remember, I saved your life.”
“Death … would … have … been … preferable.” If it meant saving him this pain then so be it.
She grasped his chin. She seemed very fond of doing that.
“Why do you … hate me?” In the months Obi-Wan had been a prisoner, Ventress had never satisfactorily explained why she had saved his life or why she wanted him broken. The last time they had met she had sworn to kill him and he’d been hanging off a cliff at the time! There was something more to her hatred of him… something that had made her keep him alive despite her promise to kill him.
“Why do I hate you?” she hissed. Her eyes flashed dangerously. She spat saliva into his right eye. “Because he wants you. He values you more than me! You are just a Jedi but I deserve to be his apprentice! I want to prove to my Master that you are unworthy of the attention he has on you… He will realise I am his true disciple when you lay broken at my feet! He will see that his faith in your worth is nothing more than delusional!”
Obi-Wan shook from the anger radiating off of the woman.
Finally an answer.
Dooku had an interest in him. And Ventress loathed that she was not valued by Dooku enough to be trained properly by him in the ways of the dark side. Her hatred of him stemmed from Dooku’s desire to have him on his side. But he would never join Dooku: his allegiance was to the Republic and to the Jedi Code. He’d never betray what he had sworn to protect.
“Dooku … will … always … be … disappointed. I will … never … join him,” whispered Obi-Wan.
“That doesn’t matter,” growled Ventress. “He sees you as more worthy then me! Once you are broken I prove his assertion wrong!”
Obi-Wan panted as he struggled to stay conscious, the pain overwhelming him, the mask attempting to wean itself into his very soul. “Kill me … and … you … achieve … the same … result.”
“He doesn’t even know you are alive,” she hissed. “Like everyone in this galaxy, they think you are dead. He has not come to me yet to take me as his apprentice. I am inferior to you in his eyes; when you break it proves you are weak.”
You are weak, Jedi! No one cares enough for you to save you!
The Mask was whispering to him again and he shuddered, whimpering in his chains.
Ventress smiled. “You can hear it can’t you?”
He wouldn’t answer her. He just couldn’t. He was losing control.
“You are weak, Kenobi… the Mask knows this too… give in…”
It took him a while to answer as he sought to shield his inner core from the manipulations of the torture device. “No…” he grated out.
His captor’s eyes flashed angrily. “You are breaking, Obi-Wan. Slowly but surely, you are…”
Obi-Wan couldn’t deny that. He knew he was. No one could survive this ordeal and not be scarred. A Jedi wasn’t infallible. They could break and they could fall. The scary part was, was that Obi-Wan knew he was at the brink. Eventually he would break… What kept him going were the thoughts he had of Anakin. He still clung to the belief that his former Apprentice would find him and rescue him from the hell he was in. If he couldn’t rescue himself, he had to believe that Anakin would see through the trickery that their clouded bond was projecting and seek his missing mentor.
I just have to be strong…
- - - - -
Day 4 of the Christophsis Campaign
Ahsoka stood beside Anakin as they surveyed the damage they had inflicted upon the second line of defence. The Separatists hadn’t anticipated Anakin’s tactic of disguising himself as a Clone Trooper and the commander had instructed the droids to be on the look-out for him. This had been an advantage to the Jedi forces, however Anakin’s advanced skills on the field had back-fired.
The Force flowed through him strongly but he was still capable of making mistakes and he had failed to accurately judge when to hide his skills. The droids had quickly cottoned on to him being a clone trooper and he’d been forced to reveal himself quicker than he had intended.
They’d also had to bring in the reinforcements hidden under the sewer which Anakin had hoped to hold off on until at least the third layer of defence however the Separatists had provided an even tougher force then before and it was more difficult to defeat the army.
It hadn’t been until Ahsoka had joined the fray with reinforcements that they had succeeded in overwhelming the force. She had finally managed to make ground-fall and had quickly taken control and came to the rescue of Anakin and his men.
Now both armies were at a stalemate after nearly three days of fighting back and forth with one another. The taking of the second line of the Separatist’s defence shouldn’t have taken that long.
However the Separatists were now responding to the threat that the Republic posed.
The commander of the Separatist armies had employed a deflector shield which prevented Anakin from being able to bring up the big guns he had kept in reserve and which Ahsoka had brought down with her. The guns would be ineffective against a defensive shield which was a problem for the Republic forces as it prevented them from advancing on the next line of defence.
The Separatists had yet to make a move on their position but they knew they were marshalling together to march against Anakin’s forces and he was desperately trying to work out a way to destroy the shield generator.
Bending over a map with Captain Rex and Commander Cody, Anakin considered the options he had.
“This would be easily solved if I had Obi-Wan here with me,” said Anakin.
Ahsoka moved up beside her Master. “Why?”
Anakin threw her a sharp look.
She backtracked. “I want him back too but why do you need him here?”
Anakin grinned. “Because he is always the bait.”
Ahsoka frowned. “Oh. You need someone to act as bait then?”
“Someone who would be considered a worthy target, yes,” he explained.
Ahsoka raised her eyebrows as if the answer was obvious. “How about yourself, Master? You are considered a thorn in the Separatist side.”
“Because I have another task in mind,” replied Anakin.
“And I can’t do it?” she suggested indignant that her Master hadn’t even considered her. “If the Separatists need a good target to divert attention from another task completely then the only option is for you to be that target and I step into the place you had reserved for yourself.”
“You don’t have enough experience,” said Anakin quietly.
“You don’t trust me?” she snapped back, feeling offended. She had thought that they were finally beginning to understand one another. “This isn’t my first mission. I can do this!”
He remained silent contemplating her suggestion. She could feel the worry across the bond that was preventing him from saying yes right away. He was afraid to lose her like he had lost Obi-Wan. He didn’t want her to risk her life for something that he could do without endangering himself.
“Master,” she began, “whatever decision you make will put someone’s life in danger. The troops need a General, not a Commander who has barely seen field experience.” She looked at the map, an idea forming in her head. “We can’t use the sewage system to get past them now, they’ve probably realised that is where some of our reinforcements came from.” She pointed towards the smaller roads that dogged the city. “They’ll be expecting us to deviate around their army and will be ready for us if we try that. But…”
“Would you like to hear my plan?” her Master requested.
“Go on then…” she answered.
Anakin pointed towards the road they were currently standing in on the map. “Right we are here, the Separatist forces are up here and they will be moving towards us. They’ve employed a shield generator which makes attacking them very difficult so they will be able to guess where we will come from if we try to deviate around the main force. Lucky for us we don’t have to. We let them pass over us.”
“What do you mean?” asked Ahsoka confused by his plan.
Anakin grinned and pointed towards a box that lay to the side of them. “That. We can use it as cover. We crawl with that on top and the droids will simply march pass.”
“That’s your plan?” Ahsoka was gobsmacked by the daring of the plan. “Wouldn’t they sense life-signs?”
“No. Well,” Anakin halted his smile, “I don’t think so anyway.”
“And once the army has gone past us we just go to the shield generator and destroy it?”
“You catch on quick,” pointed out Anakin. He laid a hand on his hip contemplating his apprentice. “Ok, years ago Obi-Wan trusted me with a mission, my first ever mission and I succeeded. It would be wrong of me to condemn you because you haven’t had enough experience. So, Ahsoka, your task is to do exactly what I’ve just explained and destroy the shield generator. I’ll provide the distraction.”
Ahsoka nodded. “I can do this, Master, trust me.” She hoped to prove that she was capable. Checking that she had her com-link on her, Ahsoka turned and ran towards the box Anakin had pointed out. Using the Force to levitate it ahead of her she rushed down the road.
She’d do this; she had to for the sake of the planet she had to succeed in destroying the generator.
- - - - -
He felt bad that he had dismissed Ahsoka instantly from his mind when he had thought of his plan to destroy the shield generator. He had figured she wouldn’t be up to the task but the hindrance that had stopped him from thinking of her most of all was that he was coming to care about her as much as he cared about Obi-Wan, Padmé and his mother.
I need to stop thinking of her as being incapable. She survived Jabiim and that was one of the worst battles I have seen in this war.
He had given her a tracking beacon so that he could keep an eye on her progress and if she got into trouble he would be able to help her; that was if she wasn’t too far away.
Standing with the battalion of clones, with Captain Rex at his side, Anakin waited with his arms crossed against his chest. The droid army had started advancing, protected from enemy fire by the deflector shield.
“Commander Cody, are you in position?” commed Anakin.
“Yes sir. We’re positioned on the bridge. The Separatists are marching towards us. The edge of the shield is nearly upon us.”
“Good. Once ten rows of battle droids have passed begin your attack. They’ll be expecting us to make our move.” Anakin’s plan involved positioning clone battalions at various different points in relation to the Separatist army. The gist of it was so that they could do a lot of damage in one go as they tried to disrupt their march. He turned to Rex. “Once Ahsoka has succeeded in her mission, use the heavy artillery to bring them down. We won’t be able to use it if they get too close to our base camp however.”
Rex acknowledged his orders. “What about you sir?” he added.
“As for me,” grinned Anakin, “I’m going to go and join the forefront of the action.”
And he sprang away, lightsaber hilt gripped in his right hand as he bounded away.
- - - - -
The box had shielded her from detection by the enemy forces however Ahsoka had run into a problem. She hadn’t considered that the Separatists would leave destroyer droids on patrol. The droid army was behind her, still marching onward, with no idea that a Jedi had made it past their lines of defence.
But the problem of the destroyer droids was proving to be her undoing. She hadn’t faced many of them in her time as Anakin’s Padawan. Jabiim they had mostly been fighting against the locals and battle droids and super droids. The terrain of Jabiim had made it impossible for destroyer droids to function accurately.
She had worked on simulators against them to hone her abilities but having not faced them in a real battle before was a situation she hadn’t considered to find herself in.
If I hadn’t been trying to prove myself I wouldn’t have run right into them!
Her green lightsaber held in a reverse grip, Ahsoka bounded backwards, flipping over as she deflected the bolts flying at her from two positions.
To the right of her was a pole, and she leapt up to stand atop it. The droids redirected their fire upwards. She nearly stumbled as the onslaught proved to be too much for her.
“I have to act now!” she hissed to herself. “Think Ahsoka think!”
The only option available to her was to leap down and hope that her trajectory would enable her to get close enough to the shielded destroyer droids for her to cut them down.
“It’s a risk I’m going to have to take,” she muttered, adjusting her grip on her lightsaber hilt and mustering the Force before leaping and somersaulting off of the ledge she perched on and descended quickly towards the closest destroyer droid. She landed centimetres from its shielded casing and before it could react, she swung her blade in a vertical thrust, cutting it neatly in two.
She rolled to the side as blaster-fire from the other droid redirected to her position. Her arms moved fast as she blocked with her lightsaber. With the shots ricocheting back at the droid she took advantage of her position and rolled forward once more and slid right underneath the droid’s shield. A quick slash of her blade and the droid tumbled.
She wiped the sweat from her forehead. “Phew.” That had been tricky to deal with.
Running towards the shield generator, Ahsoka continued further into enemy territory.
- - - - -
“GENERAL! Look out!”
His instincts took over as his legs moved at their own accord, leaping away from where he stood as a missile from one of the Separatist tanks exploded where he had been standing. He’d had his back to thing! Anakin gritted his teeth and searched for the clone that had warned him but the overwhelming amount of battle droids attacking them made it impossible for him to identify the clone.
The deflective shield had long since passed over them so the heavy artillery they had in reserve could not be used, however they were managing to keep the droids march at bay.
Anakin grinned ruggedly as he swung his lightsaber in a circle, spinning on his toes, taking down eight droids at once. He Force-leapt high and flew downwards bringing his lightsaber down over his head as he cleaved a super battle droid in two.
At least they had managed to stall the march forward. If Ahsoka succeeded they’d be able to bring the military canons to bear and defeat the army quite quickly.
If they were going to defeat the Separatists they needed to capture the General in charge. He’d had to start considering his options.
First I have to get through this lot to get there!
- - - - -
She was surprised by the lack of security surrounding the deflector shield generator. “They can’t be that lax can they? Or are they that sure that they will win this battle that they don’t think someone could have made it passed them?” she mused quietly.
She sunk into the Force and assessed the area. A technique Anakin had put her through on Jabiim. She had learnt to listen to the small prompts that came her way. There was danger here, she could feel that. But what?
She didn’t want to move but she had to get to the generator and plant the bombs around it.
Staying in tune with the Force, Ahsoka stepped forward. No warning came to her.
The second step did and she changed her trajectory nearly off-balancing herself in the process but she saved herself from toppling over.
“They must have some sensors here…”
She gripped the back-pack tightly that her Master had given her that was filled with bombs. An idea began forming in her mind. “It could work…” she muttered.
Stepping forward once more she stood up straight and pulled the back-pack off, unclipping it and pulling out one of the makeshift bombs. Levitating it with the Force she sent it slowly towards the shield generator. With a bit of strength she planted it on the side of the shield generator. It didn’t fall off, the magna clamps at the bottom clipping to the metal easily.
Filled with confidence she levitated each and every bomb to different points at the bottom of the shield generator. Smiling at her success she stepped back… but that was a mistake as a droid appeared in front of her – sensor droids, ready to appear if any movement was detected in the area.
More and more came up from the ground and turned towards her, their arms raising to strike her down.
Ahsoka flipped backwards, igniting her lightsaber as she did so, struggling to reach into her pocket for the activator for the bombs. She blocked the shots coming towards her but she was practically surrounded.
“Where is the blasted thing?” she cursed.
Then she found it and pulled out of her pocket the activator.
She sprung backwards and with it clenched tightly in her hand she pressed the big red button.
She closed her eyes tightly as the generator blew up in a ball of fire. She ducked as pieces of metal flew her way and the droids that had been advancing towards her were crushed beneath the falling debris.
Not daring to look back, Ahsoka ran for her life as above her the red shield protecting the attacking Separatist armies began to dissipate.
- - - - -
Fuelled with success at the shield falling, Anakin called for the artillery tanks to move forward and begin their attack. Everyone was now involved in this battle. He knew exactly where the Separatist General was located. He was in the middle of his attacking army. All Anakin had to do was capture him and the battle would be won.
Again he thought of Obi-Wan. He’d be a great asset here. Always the Negotiator… he could distract the enemy long enough to surprise them: that was his Master’s speciality. It was probably one of the main reasons why he had been elected to the Jedi Council.
He signalled to a group of clone troopers closest to him to follow his lead.
They would win this battle, he knew they would.
He could feel success on his tongue.
And perhaps once we’ve secured this planet there will be some news of Obi-Wan. He couldn’t help but think of his Master. He wanted him back for himself despite how selfish it made him feel. Without the team in the war, it made winning battles far harder.
A small smile came to his face. Though I don’t think Obi-Wan would have done a better job than me here. Even together we would have had our work cut out for us.
He continued to move through the field towards the location of the Separatist General… and victory.
- - - - -
Nearly five days he had been living with the mask on his face, trapping him in its dark grip.
Still Obi-Wan Kenobi refused to submit. He refused to break.
He was alone in the cell, his arms stretched above his head. He didn’t dare try to touch the Force in a big way. Each time he did the mask grasped him, delighting in his horror of the hell it gave him. Obi-Wan wasn’t going to give up – he had been trying to slowly access the Force, just a little twitch here and there, not enough to trigger the mask… He would soon be out of here, it was the only hope he had left.
The door to his cell opened and Ventress stalked in.
“Still not ready to submit, Kenobi?” she scoffed.
She grasped his chin. “I am tired of your continued defiance. I will try something new. I’m sure you will enjoy it…” She called over her shoulder. “Bring the prisoner in!”
Ventress stepped away from him so that he could see who the guards were dragging in.
It was a man, a human, with floppy dark hair that reminded him so much of Anakin’s recent hairstyle. The man was dumped on the floor, trembling, curling up on his side in an attempt to not be noticed. Ventress kicked him.
“This, Kenobi, is a traveller that dared to fly near this planet. I have taken him into custody for breaching my airspace without authorisation. His life is in your hands now. Jedi protect the innocent, if you do not submit I will make you watch as this man suffers,” she grinned mirthlessly. “You know how the mask works… just imagine how terrible it can make you see or believe… This poor man’s life is in your hands.” She laughed shrilly as she left the cell.
Two guards entered the small, damp space that was Obi-Wan’s prison. They grabbed the prisoner by the arms and hauled him up so that he too was chained like the Jedi.
The man was young, possibly younger then he was. He looked to be a trader, a trader that had unknowingly stumbled into the clutches of a mad woman. The man was sobbing, mumbling incoherently under his breath. The two guards punched the man several times in the stomach before leaving them both hanging in the cell.
After a while the man’s sobbing stopped and he whispered: “Who are you? Why does she think she can use me to get to you?” Had the man been feigning weakness so that the guards would leave the cell quicker? He certainly didn’t look so weak now that Obi-Wan were getting a good look at his face.
Obi-Wan closed his eyes briefly. Ventress had him cornered. She was right: a Jedi was meant to protect others and by letting this man suffer he would not be doing his duty.
“I’m a Jedi,” he whispered, his throat scratchy. “If you know… of us… you’ll understand why she thinks… what she does.”
If the man’s face could have paled even more in the dim light that remained in the cell, it would have done.
“Who are you?” the man whispered.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi,” he replied. He owed the man at least his name.
The man’s eyes widened. “I know of you… You’re a hero to the Republic… but it was said you were dead!”
Obi-Wan hung his head. “I’m not… I’ve been here for a while. I don’t really know how long it has been since I was brought here.” He felt weak but he had to be strong.
“You can’t give in,” the man said stubbornly. “I won’t let you.”
“I can’t let her hurt you…” whispered Obi-Wan.
The man shook his head. “I’m nobody important. As long as my wife and children are safe, that is all what matters. What that woman wants from you, don’t give it to her. I don’t want the Republic to lose a man that is considered to be a great person to die because he tried to protect me.”
“The Jedi Code…”
Obi-Wan sighed. This man was stubborn. “Who are you?”
The man seemed taken aback by his question. “Taren. Taren Jykes. I’m a free-lance trader in the Outer Rim. My ship suffered a malfunction in hyperspace and we ended up coming out above this planet.”
The man tried his best to shrug. “It’s not your fault. My ship is old. It had to fail at the most inconvenient place though.”
Obi-Wan had to agree to that. How could he let this man suffer because he wouldn’t give in?
Taren seemed to sense what he was thinking. “No. Don’t do it.”
“You don’t even know me…” How could this man willingly want to be tortured to save him? “Why do you want to preserve me? If I watch you get hurt then I’m harming myself.” Physical wounds may hurt and heal but mental wounds might never heal… They’d be scars among his memory…
“And what if you give in? What then?”
Obi-Wan simply didn’t know. Ventress would deliver him to Dooku, that was for certain. Then he’d probably be paraded on the holo-net and publicly executed as a show to prove that ‘the great Negotiator’ that the media had built him up as wasn’t as strong as they had assumed, that he had broken… that he was weak…
But the man had to know that there was probably no hope of rescue. “I’ve been here for a long while; no one has come for me yet… The likelihood of anyone finding me and rescuing the both of us is low.”
“I know,” Taren replied. “But my sacrifice would be worth it. The Republic needs you. It doesn’t need the likes of me who barely contributes to it. It needs people like you.”
Obi-Wan lowered his head; he couldn’t bear this. He couldn’t sacrifice this man to save his own skin. But the man was urging him to. How could he live with himself if he allowed Ventress to utilise Taren against him?
He was a Jedi; he simply couldn’t let that happen.
Silence fell between them as neither knew what to say to one another, both stubborn in their assertion that they would be doing the right thing to save the other. They had only just met one another but both men shared the conviction to save the other.
Ventress had probably foreseen this. She knew what would happen, and dread built in Obi-Wan’s gut as he considered his fellow captives words. ‘As long as my wife and children are safe…’ Taren didn’t know it yet but it was a dead certainty that the man’s wife and children would come into play.
And Obi-Wan knew how much Taren’s stance would change if they were brought in here. He had to get out of here before the temptation to save others doomed himself.
To be continued...
Chapter 18 will be posted on Saturday.
Ahsoka -- rocks! Anakin does too. Fantastic forward strides. But Taren!!! Another pawn in Ventress's grand scheme/game. I hope both he and Obi-Wan can get quit of that place they're in.
OH, no, no, no! Far more reasons than his ability to distract enemies - he has SO MANY qualities that qualified him.
@Jade_eyes Taren may have his usefulness in other ways though that may or may not benefit Obi-Wan...
@Valairy Scot That is true, Obi-Wan does. Sometimes Anakin doesn't always think his thoughts through.
- - - - -
The destruction of the deflector shield had caused confusion to erupt within the Separatist army. They had not expected the Republic forces to be so sneaky. They had thought they’d be predictable but Anakin’s strategy had worked in succeeding to throw them off track. The Republic forces had quickly gained the upper hand, succeeding in capturing General Loathsam, the commander in charge of the Christophsis campaign. Anakin, himself, had been involved in his capture, charging into the party of droids that had protected his armoured tank.
But Ahsoka had been the real hero of that battle.
General Loathsam had not anticipated a lone Jedi Padawan to use her initiative and gain the upper hand. Distracted by Anakin – and the thought of presenting General Skywalker to the Confederacy – Loathsam had failed to keep a protective eye on all of his surroundings. He had thought his tank impenetrable.
Ahsoka had timed her attack perfectly.
Upon destroying the deflector shield she had escaped into the sewer system, following the tracking device Anakin had given her for ‘him’ to keep check on her whereabouts. It had worked both ways giving her the opportunity to track his current location and to make her way to his direct position. The pot-hole closest to her Master’s position had been overshadowed by General Loathsam’s tank. Supported by hover engines, there had been enough of a gap between the street floor and the botton of the tank for Ahsoka to slide the pot-holes cover to the side.
Activating her lightsaber blade she had plunged it into the bottom of the tank, drawing a hole and then leaping up into the tank to capture the General. Faced with his life at risk, he had surrendered; his actions sending the droid army into disrepute and they had scattered – the clone troopers chasing them down.
“You know… I’m impressed with how well you handled yourself today,” complimented Anakin to Ahsoka as they walked back to their hastily built command centre. Anakin had already given the order for it to be moved further into the city, however he was required to send a report to the Jedi Council first and he had to use one of the installed terminals first before the whole thing was packaged away and transported to their new base of operations. “I don’t think we’d have won if you hadn’t destroyed the shield generator.”
“Or surprised General Loathsam,” she pointed out, perhaps a little smugly.
Anakin couldn’t blame her. If he was her age and he’d done the same thing he’d feel like that too.
“That too,” he acknowledged.
She crossed her arms and gently raised her right eyebrow. “I hope you intend to report to the Council my contributions too?”
“Of course,” he returned. He would never take the glory for himself if others had contributed elsewhere. Claiming victory for Ahsoka’s success would belittle her achievements. He was not the type to do that. He sincerely hoped no Jedi Knight treated their apprentices like that. It was wrong. He wanted Ahsoka to feel like she had accomplished something because the simple truth of it was that she had. Acknowledging it helped her develop her skills and confidence and it also made him feel that he was doing something right in the choices he made with her training.
Anakin was one of the youngest Knights in the order and possibly the only one of the recently Knighted to be given responsibility of a Padawan. It was practically unheard of for a Knight to gain and apprentice mere months after obtaining their rank. The Clone War was changing things; changing the way the Order worked. Some Knights had been knighted because they needed more Generals on the field – those chosen before their time had a few months/years left of their training but as they were classed as Senior Padawans they were deemed ready to go out on their own. The war had just made them Knights younger than they should have been.
Obi-Wan had been a Senior Padawan until he was twenty-five, not considered ready by the Council to be gain Knighthood for another few years. It wasn’t uncommon for many Padawans to remain apprentices until their late twenties and early thirties. Anakin had assumed he’d be a Padawan into his mid-twenties, just like Obi-Wan had been.
If Qui-Gon hadn’t been killed on Naboo and Obi-Wan hadn’t killed the Sith, Darth Maul, then Obi-Wan would not have become a Jedi Knight at that time. Killing a Sith had classed as his trials, and Anakin’s Master had been elevated in the eyes of the Order as one to watch. Gaining a reputation he had never wanted, Obi-Wan had had expectation thrust onto his shoulders – the burden he carried was to train Anakin – and he’d succeeded, whilst implanting changes into the Jedi Order.
Some had thought Obi-Wan would fail.
How Obi-Wan had conducted Anakin’s training and how far the young boy had come in a short space of time had put Obi-Wan in line for early Mastery and a seat on the Jedi Council. To be promoted to the rank of Master and appointed a seat by the age of thirty-six was a remarkable achievement. Only ten years into his Knighthood, Obi-Wan Kenobi had become a Master, a position he shouldn’t have gained until he was well into his forties considering he had been a Padawan well into his twenties.
It was Obi-Wan’s example that Anakin hoped to emulate when training Ahsoka. Whatever task he had performed as an apprentice himself, Obi-Wan had always congratulated him when he had done well and given feedback to improve for next time, and if he did things wrong they sat and talked about the situation to try to find out where exactly things had gone wrong. It was what Anakin wanted to do for Ahsoka; he was proud to be her Master.
The nagging thought that plagued him was that he hoped his training of Ahsoka was well within Jedi standards. He knew that the loss of Obi-Wan had affected him and Ahsoka but he understood that his former Master wouldn’t want him to forget his lessons. This was why Anakin was determined to give Ahsoka credit for her actions today – she deserved to be recognised for the accomplishments she had achieved on Christophsis.
It would be wrong to belittle her, wrong to take the credit for something he hadn’t done. He never intended to let her down or make her feel worthless.
“Master? Are you lost in the sky or something?” Ahsoka’s voice knocked him back into the here and now as he pulled himself out of his own distracting thoughts.
“Sorry, I was elsewhere,” he admitted.
“I could see that,” she responded.” Got something on your mind?”
Anakin smiled gently. “I was just considering whether I was doing an adequate job in training you. Sometimes I feel I’m not doing the best job I can … especially recently with Obi-Wan going missing… He was dealing with a loss when I became his charge; you and I barely knew each other when Jabiim happened… Obi-Wan had no clue what to do with me for the first few months of my training, he literally went from Padawan to a Knight. He had no experience of being a Jedi… I was luckier than him, I had the chance to work as a Jedi in the war before the Council decided that I needed to take a Padawan. I had little idea how to go about it…” he swallowed. “Obi-Wan had no clue what he was doing with me… At least with my experience in this war before you were assigned to me, I had some idea of how much you should see or be involved in.”
She patted his arm as they continued to walk towards the communications centre. “I’d say Master Kenobi did a pretty good job with you. What I’ve learned so far tells me that I’m with the right Master. You and Master Kenobi are a formidable team. You work so well together because you trust one another implicitly and understand each other. I know this is new to us but I hope we can establish a partnership like you and Master Kenobi have done.”
“I believe we are on our way there,” he replied confidently. “The key to a successful partnership is recognising yours and your Padawan’s achievements, acknowledging their faults as well as our own, and to help them reach their full potential. I can already see you becoming a great Jedi. You take on board what I say and take the initiative – you carry on like that, Ahsoka, and we will flourish as a team together.”
The young Togrutan Padawan could sense the praise frolicking through the Force from her Master. It warmed her heart to see how much he valued her input. She didn’t want to let him down. “Thank you, Master.”
Reaching the command centre which was partially outside, Anakin input a series of commands into the console, requesting a communication link to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Whilst waiting for the connection to verify the signal, Anakin ran through the report he intended to give in his mind.
A few minutes passed before the Jedi Council responded and two small miniature holograms appearing in the air depicting Masters Yoda and Mace Windu.
“Masters?” Both Anakin and Ahsoka bowed.
“A report you have for us, do you?” prompted Yoda, indicating for him to continue.
Anakin acknowledged by inclining his head in a respectful bow before he began his report. “I am pleased to report that we have succeeded in capturing General Loathsom. The Separatist army is in disarray. They are still a threat with their warships in the better position to send reinforcements.” He glanced towards Ahsoka. “Without Ahsoka’s ingenuity and capability in destroying the deflector shield, we were facing defeat. With the generator down we could bring in the long range funs and do a lot more damage to the droid army then what we were managing to inflict without them. General Loathsom was using a tank as cover however Ahsoka came up from the sewers and surprised the General. My tactics prior to the deployment of the deflector shield was to come at the Separatists with different ideas in order to throw them off track and be unable to predict what we would do next.”
Anakin folded his arms behind his back. “Unfortunately I was overzealous with my tactic upon the second line of defence and they saw through my disguise as a Clone Trooper.” That had been a stupid mistake of his. “That cost us,” he admitted. “The battle for the second line went on far longer than expected; I had to bring in our reinforcements. We lost many experience troopers due to my compliancy on the field.”
He felt it was important to admit his own mistakes; he hoped his apprentice was taking note. “I could have handled this battle better but there is no question of us not needing reinforcements. If it is possible to dispatch more to Christophsis, I humbly request it. We might not be able to hold the city otherwise if the Separatist react to their loss here.”
Mace Windu leaned forward in the hologram. “Thank you, Anakin. The loss of the Clone Troopers could not be helped. You did what you thought was best at the time of action: war is unpredictable. Everyone is going to make mistakes that cause a loss of life. We will talk to the Chancellor about sending a second batch of Clones, however you and your apprentice will not be continuing with the campaign there.”
“What?” Ahsoka was shocked, surprised at that decision.
“Ahsoka!” hissed Anakin. “Be more polite!” He returned his attention back to the two Masters. “Can I ask why we are being pulled out?” It was clearly a decision that the Masters had come to before Anakin had even made contact – it didn’t have anything to do with the loss of Clone life he had caused.
Yoda chuckled as he saw Anakin’s quizzical expression on his face. “Promise you we did that when Master Kenobi was found, we’d involve you.”
Anakin’s heart began to beat very fast. “You’ve found Obi-Wan?”
“Knights Nerin and Hollar intercepted a communication between Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress,” explained Mace. “It appears that Dooku did not even know of Obi-Wan’s survival. He has only just discovered this.”
“Hear the communication you should,” advised Yoda gently.
“Go on,” accepted Anakin, as he twiddled a few buttons on the console, ready to receive a second incoming transmission. There was a flutter of fear in his stomach as Dooku’s voice reverberated over the communicator.
“Ventress, you’ve been hiding Obi-Wan Kenobi’s continued survival from me.”
There was a sharp hiss on the other end of the line. “Master, I was going to tell you soon; present him to you as a gift from me to my dedication to your noble cause.”
“He’s been missing for months,” was Dooku’s harsh reply. “You knew of my specific instructions regarding Kenobi – if he was to be captured he was to be brought to me. Alive and relatively undamaged.”
“Yes Master. I sought to prove that he is unworthy of your interest; that he is like any other Jedi: weak,” explained Ventress.
Dooku’s reply was filled with venom. “You’ve been torturing him!”
Anakin could feel his body shaking at that word. He had to close his eyes to retain his calm demeanour. The guilt flared up inside but he shook it off. Now is not the time to dwell on that.
“Master…” Ventress tried to project a sense of control.
“Enough! That was not my intention for him! Now my plans have been ruined by your impudence! You will be punished for your disobedience!” Dooku was very angry. “I have been instructed by Lord Sidious to terminate his life. I will see to it personally. You are to stay on Rattatak with your Jedi prisoner and await my arrival. Once Kenobi is dead and my Master is satisfied, we will discuss your punishment.”
The recording ended and Anakin took in a deep shuddering breath.
“As soon as they obtained that information, Knight Nerin and Hollar transmitted it directly to us. We received it one hour ago,” said Windu. “We do not know Dooku’s current location, however both og you are to dispatch immediately and get to Rattatak as quickly as possible. Take a clone battalion with you. I am sending a further encoded package with the co-ordinates of the planet in.”
“I’ve never even heard of Rattatak,” mused Anakin. “Is it far from here?”
“Closer to it you are then us,” articulated Yoda. “Little-known world it is. Not part of the Republic.”
“Masters, what about the rest of the troops here? They can’t function without a General. If a battle starts up again and we’re not here…” pointed out Ahsoka nervously.
“Deal with that, I will,” Yoda followed up. “Come to Christophsis to lead I will.”
Mace folded his arms. “Myself and Masters Koon, Gallia and Mundi have assembled a task force and we will join you as quickly as we can, Anakin.”
Anakin raised his head, giving the Jedi Master a piercing stare. “Yes Master.”
“Do not wait for us to arrive. Your priority is to get Obi-Wan out of there as quickly as possible before Dooku arrives. Normally we would advise caution but we cannot afford to lose Master Kenobi. We can only hope that the Force is with us,” continued Mace wisely.
“May the Force be with you, Masters,” returned Anakin as he and Ahsoka bowed as the holo-transmission cut off.
Ahsoka patted him on the arm, noticing his worried expression. “We’ll get there in time to save him.”
Anakin glanced at her. “I hope so. The last thing I need is to lose the man who is my brother on a permanent basis.” He turned to head back towards the battlefield. “Come on, we’ve got to assemble some troops and commandeer a vessel that will get us passed the Separatist blockade. We don’t have any time to waste.” His voice was hard as his eyes glittered. “Obi-Wan needs us.”
- - - - -He had to wonder why Ventress had placed Taren in his cell even though he knew the reason for it. She hadn’t returned in two days, preferring to leave Taren’s torture to her guards who came at a regular basis to beat him up. Obi-Wan himself had merely suffered a few scratches compared to what his fellow prisoner was experiencing. The mask made things much worse, taunting him about his inability to help and his lack of strength in being able to save himself. The mask was designed for two things: to either turn a Jedi or break them.
It terrified Obi-Wan what the mask was doing to him. He felt dirty from even being associated with it. At the moment, Obi-Wan loathed himself.
Taren had asked for him to not give in. Reluctantly, Obi-Wan had agreed, but he didn’t know how long he’d be able to watch as Taren was hurt in front of him. Taren had claimed that being beaten up wasn’t new to him. Trading on the Outer Rim was a dangerous living, was his reason for that.
“I hope you are not contemplating giving in,” said Taren, once the guards had left.
Obi-Wan was silent for a while, considering his next words. Perhaps he could get Taren to open up to the real reason why he was putting up with pain. He didn’t believe it was for the notion he had originally said. There was something more to Taren. “I’ve tried to guess why… you want to keep me… for what of a … better word… sane. My duty is to protect people like you. I’m a hero to you… no matter how much… I … don’t … believe … that. A hero … doesn’t… let others … suffer in … their place,” he panted, the effort in making his point beginning to tire him. His throat was raw. “I can … vaguely … sense … something … more to your asking … what you did of me…”
Bowing his head, Taren nodded. “I do have another reason. But it’s worth it.”
“Which is?” prompted Obi-Wan. He had to know.
Taren bit his lip, a small dribble of blood slipped down his chin. “My wife’s sister. You know her.”
Within the mask, the Jedi’s eyes widened in surprise. He swallowed the lump in his throat. “Who do I know that we have in common?”
A small smile tugged at Taren’s lips. “My wife’s name is Kyra. Her maiden name is Skywalker. Kyra Skywalker.”
“She divorced from her previous husband quite a few years ago and I met her on one of my trading routes. We fell in love and married. She already had two children and now they are my own,” explained Taren, watching the Jedi’s eyes. “I’ve heard of a Jedi called Anakin Skywalker. Since the outbreak of the Clone War the media has dug up his past. It wasn’t hard for us to realise that Anakin is related to Kyra. Kyra was eight when she was captured by pirates along with the rest of her family. Separated from her younger sister and brother, Kyra was sold into slavery; she remembers a sister called Shmi. She was freed by her previous husband who paid a lot of money to obtain her freedom. Your former apprentice is my wife’s nephew. That’s why I want to protect you because my wife would want me to…” he hesitated, unsure whether he should continue, “and… well … a few times … Kyra mentioned about trying to get back in contact with Shmi but our trading paths never passed near Coruscant.”
Obi-Wan took a deep shuddering breath as he considered the complications of this new information.
This couldn’t be a coincidence. His fate seemed tied to the Skywalker family. He had freed Shmi and had trained Anakin. But what Taren was suffering through was selfish of him. Taren’s motivation was to use Obi-Wan – if they ever escaped – to reunite his wife with her sister. It was not for his original reason that he had claimed: that he didn’t want the Republic to lose a hero, but because of Shmi Skywalker.
It made him feel angry that he was being used in this way. Hadn’t he suffered enough?
“Don’t try and tell me that I shouldn’t be asking this of you,” said Taren quietly. “I know I should have been truthful from the start… but my wife needs you to help her.”
Selfish. It hurt Obi-Wan to watch the man suffering. The mask was tearing his mind to pieces while he was forced to view the man’s torture. If I had known that Taren’s reasoning was for the benefit of his wife then I probably wouldn’t have agreed.
“And the Republic needs you too… That is still part of my reason why I am willing to suffer,” added Taren.
Even if it was still part of the reason, it hurt him mentally to see another human being suffer. Taren’s motivations had not been for the Republic’s well-fare but for his wife’s gain instead. How could he continue to allow this man’s suffering?
Footsteps echoed along the corridor. Soft but filled with purpose, Obi-Wan had long since got used to Asajj Ventress’s particular stride. The door to the cell opened and the bald witch entered, the shawls of her dress swishing behind her elegantly.
“Obi-Wan!” she clapped her hands in delight. “It’s been too long since we last saw one another!”
“Could … have … been … longer,” he muttered.
Her favourite tactic seemed to be to grab his chin which she did. “Ready to submit yet?”
“No!” His voice and answer was weak.
Ventress’s eyes flashed dangerously. “What a pity.” Her cold eyes turned to Taren. “His pain refuses to make you budge. I know it would eventually… but events have conspired against me and circumstances dictate that I move things along quicker…”
Obi-Wan didn’t like the sound of that and he swallowed, slightly in fear of what his captor had up her sleeve.
“Aidus!” she barked over her shoulder. “Bring them in!”
Taren’s face went from shock to outrage as Ventress’s main torturer entered the cell, dragging along with him a woman and two children who looked to be under thirteen years of age.
“You promised me they’d stay safe!” Taren objected loudly, pulling at the restraints binding him.
Obi-Wan had expected this. Taren was never meant to break him; his wife and children were. He felt sick that Ventress would even contemplate harming a child to get to him. But something was going on that it meant that her plans had to be accelerated. He felt a faint spark of hope course through him.
Was a rescue on its way? Dare he believe that he may be going home soon?
Ventress drew her lightsaber blades and ignited them. She turned to Obi-Wan. “Submit to me now or I will kill these snivelling children in front of you!”
He swallowed the bile in his throat as it rose. The children, barely teenagers, stood in the dark and filthy cell. Their faces were covered in muck and their clothes were torn, suggesting bad treatment though Taren had obviously been told that they’d come to no harm. The oldest child was a boy, who gripped his younger sister’s hand. The mother was being held by Aidus who was struggling to pull away to reach her children. She was gagged to prevent her from objecting. She looked so much like her sister that Obi-Wan thought that it was Shmi Skywalker in the cell with him rather than her lost sister.
Obi-Wan’s once bright blue-grey eyes were now dull and sullen, focused upon Taren.
If there was one thing that Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi would never do, and that was to allow the deaths of the innocent. He couldn’t let Ventress kill them. And she knew it.
A sly smile pulled at her lips… her twin blades edging closer to the youngest child.
But Obi-Wan had a secret. A secret that he knew it was time to use.
For months now he had been working on an escape plan, one that had been hampered by the mask and Ventress mostly blocking his connection with the Force, but now was the time to act.
It was either break or allow the death of a child.
Obi-Wan Kenobi chose to live.
- - - - -
They emerged from hyperspace at the edge of the system; Anakin killed the thrusters and slowed their approach. His eyes were fixed on the planet ahead. Beside him Ahsoka shivered. “Are you feeling what I’m feeling?”
She nodded, a little shiver running down her body. “The Force feels dark here … and I sense pain.” A tear seemed to mist in her eyes. “Suffering…” she swallowed. “Do you think its Master Kenobi?”
Anakin didn’t want to think about the possibility that what he was sensing Obi-Wan’s hurt. He decided to be reassuring. They were closer to Obi-Wan then they had been in months. He could survive a little longer, he was certain of it. “We’ll get there in time to save him. He’s just on that planet.”
“Then why are we slowing?” his inquisitive Padawan asked. “Count Dooku could already be here!”
“He isn’t,” replied Anakin confidently, shaking his head. “At least there is no Separatists ships in the area.” He assumed if Dooku was already in the system there would be some hint of the Confederacy in orbit above the planet. “Though it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. He might not come with a fleet.” He bit his lip. “Take the controls, I’m going to attempt to reach Obi-Wan.”
Transferring the controls over to Ahsoka, he closed his eyes and sunk into the Force. It swirled around him, reacting to his presence. He sought the bond. Still it felt inactive … but it wasn’t silent as it had been for months…
Instead the bond itself wasn’t active but something was. The part of the bond that Anakin knew was Obi-Wan was pulsating wildly as if a large amount of energy was about to be unleashed. In this energy he could sense his Master’s emotions. Hate, fear, pain … and hope? Hope? Why hope? Anakin couldn’t understand it. Did his Master have a feeling that a rescue was imminent?
He figured it unlikely his Master would hear him due to the bond being silent but he whispered over it. Just hold on. We’re here. You’ll be going home soon. With it, he sent a burst of Force energy. He didn’t know if it penetrated the darkness that was still clouding over the bond but he had to try…
Anakin opened his eyes. “He’s there,” he reported. “Something is happening. Our connection feels different… We have to get there now.”
“Do you want to take her down?” asked Ahsoka, poised to give him back the controls.
He shook his head, his fringe falling into his eyes. “No, you do it. Get us as close as you can to the castle. I’ll brief Rex and the others.” Unstrapping himself, Anakin left the cock-pit, trying to ignore the fear that was culminating in his chest.
- - - - -
Just hold on. We’re here. You’ll be going home soon.
He recognised that voice though the Mask tried to distort it. For months, even in the weeks since had been affected by the Mask, he had been trying, ever so subtly, to reach for the Force, just to use it a bit at a time, to weaken the structure of the cell. When he’d first been imprisoned Ventress had used the Force to block his own connection but the weaker he had got she had used less and less power to reduce his own ability and he had slowly regained use of the Force, but his connection was still hampered. The introduction of the Mask and Ventress had withdrawn her Force powers blocking him, relying on the Mask to dissuade him. Her tactic had ultimately failed, his connection had been weak but his will to escape was stronger, and if used sparingly he’d eventually get out of his prison.
Now was the time to act.
The weakness of the Force swirled around him; the darkness of the Mask haunted him as he mustered his strength to reach out. He’d been saving what little energy he had for this – he knew he’d tire himself out with what he was about to attempt to do, but it was his only option.
Familiar presence leaked into him and he felt a boost coming from his former apprentice. Anakin was close, and he was actively reaching for him. Hope spurred him on.
Obi-Wan kept his gaze on Ventress. She held out one of her shining red blades in front of the youngest child. “You wouldn’t dare allow me to kill a child…”
Taren turned his full attention to the bound Jedi. Pleading was evident in his eyes. He hadn’t considered the possibility that this would happen… and as Obi-Wan had predicted, the man’s children would be victims of a callous murder just to break him. Taren wouldn’t want him to keep his promise if it meant the death of his children. Taren wanted Obi-Wan to save his children. He wanted him to give in despite what he had asked of him before.
Obi-Wan didn’t respond, instead he reached up with the weakness of the Force he possessed towards the pipes that ran through his cell. Clutching the weakest point that had been rusting away for years and which he had been manipulating, he pulled. Months he had worked on weakening the structure and it paid off as his over-exertion of the Force surprised Ventress, as the pipe tore from the stone wall and dirty water gushed out, splattering all over her.
Ventress shrieked in fury as shards of metal from the pipe flew into her, causing her to stumble back in shock and surprise at what her weakened foe had done.
Weak! Weak! Weak! You are nothing! The Mask screamed in his mind, dredging him with dark memories and all the horrible hurts it had taunted him with, bombarding him in one go. He felt like screaming…
“No!” he grunted out. “I’m not weak!”
Ignoring the images that flashed through his mind and keeping hold of his perilous connection to the Force, Obi-Wan concentrated on the chains holding him captive and tore hard at them. Imbued by his success from wrenching the pipe free, his determination to save himself and the family gave him the continued strength to free himself from the bonds that had imprisoned him.
As the chains fell from the ceiling, the metal still around his wrists, Obi-Wan brought his right arm around and tore the dark Mask from his face, scrunching it up in his hands as he threw it into a dark corner. The Force flooded into him completely, enveloping him in the light it offered him. Though still very weak from his treatment, regaining his full connection to the Force strengthened him.
He lunged for Ventress, who was struggling against the splurge of dirty water and the crumbling, dusty pipe, and grabbed her right wrist and with his right hand took possession of one of her red light saber’s, wrenching it out of her left hand. He bounded away as she slashed at him with her other blade, but he Force-pushed her back into the wall. Sweeping the blade high he released Taren from his binds, slashing the long chain trails short before completing his own.
“Come on!” he yelled, rushing for the open cell door, even as Ventress’s guard tried to stop him, but Obi-Wan cut down and the right arm connecting to the man’s shoulder fell free.
Ventress staggered to her feet and leapt at Obi-Wan as he pushed Taren and the two children and his wife through the door into the corridor. “Go! I’ll hold her off!” He doubted he’d succeed in holding her back for long but he had to try.
His muscles were weak from lack of use, and his legs ached already; he chose to ignore the weakness and focused on the enemy in front him. The Force coursed through his body; tearing the Mask off had opened the gates and he was sensing everything for the first time in a long while. He knew Anakin was near, possibly in the facility already. For the first time in months he felt complete – the Force a part of him once more.
Well, maybe not complete just yet… I’d rather be using my own lightsaber then Ventress’s.
“Give that back, Kenobi!”
Obi-Wan raised the red blade as Ventress launched an attack, bringing her blade down above her head. The red blades met in a flying of sparks. He started to move back out of the cell, desperately trying to counter-attack against her vicious blows.
All he could do was hope that he could hold her off long enough to give Anakin the time to reach him. He was sure than ever that his former Apprentice was here because their bond was pulsating widely. He could sense Anakin’s resolve to rescue him and the reassuring presence filled him completely. He didn’t dare respond, he needed all the strength he had to hold off Ventress for as long as possible.
Come on Anakin!
- - - - -
“I can sense him again!” The jubilation that coursed through him at feeling the familiar presence of Obi-Wan Kenobi made Anakin grin madly. But then the grin broke off as he examined the feelings that were radiating off his former Master. “But he’s in trouble!”
“I’m getting us there as fast as I can!” gritted Ahsoka over the comm unit.
Anakin sighed. “I know.”
The star-ship they were using, unmarked as a Republic ship, accelerated towards the castle where Obi-Wan’s presence was now shining brightly in the Force.
He’d already briefed the team of the clones he’d brought with him and if it wasn’t so perilous he’d be pacing the deck he now sat on with the rest of his troopers. “We don’t have time for a landing, Ahsoka! Just hover and we’ll jump out! Then land!”
“Yes Master.” It shouldn’t surprise him that she didn’t argue. Ahsoka knew what the stakes were.
A horrible feeling built up in him that Obi-Wan needed him more than ever. The sudden flare of the bond was faltering. His Master was weakening, his strength falling. He unbuckled himself from his seat, ordering the sixteen clones he had with him to do the same and jogged to the exit door.
“Keep a hold of something!” he commanded, as he palmed the exit button and the door slid open. He gripped an overhead bar, his eyes focusing on the dreary and dark castle looming before him. It was not yet close enough to jump to… Not long now…
But then a shudder ran through him and he saw another ship just below him, descending rapidly towards a free landing platform. A dark presence echoed in the Force, it was very familiar.
The ship was familiar; he’d seen it on Geonosis…
A Solar Sailer.
That could mean only one thing.
He’s here for Obi-Wan.
He was certain of it.
To be continued...
Chapter 19 will be posted on Monday.
Awesome! Obi-Wan is off the chain cool and they got there in time but oops, Dooku seems to be there also
oh wow...Shmi's sister....Anakin's Aunt and Cousins! I hope he can save all of them!
Obi-Wan is a popular fellow - Ventress has him, Dooku wants him, Anakin wants him...who will get him? Inquiring minds want to know (as if we didn't already know.)
@Jade_eyes Hopefully this chapter will relieve your worries
@Jedi_Liz That was a twist I hadn't planned on happening, but I'm glad it seems to have worked out well so far...
@Valairy Scot Well, doesn't everyone want Obi-Wan?
- - - - -
This chapter is insanely long. There was a good cutting off point about half-way through but I felt it was too mean, so I decided to make this one long chapter instead
Perspiration clung to him. Exhaustion tugged at his bones. His fingers ached from holding the lightsaber for too long. Letting it go would result in his death. He couldn’t afford that. Live with the pain… you’ve been doing that for the past few months anyway… Rescue was so close; he could feel it burning through his body.
Ventress pursued him as he kept stumbling back through the corridor, following the direction that Taren had fled with his family. Her guards dare not interfere with her pursuit… she had already ordered them not to, she wanted to take him down alone, and with the amount of pressure she was piling onto him, it was likely he’d fall soon unless help came his way.
Fury was etched across her face; anger at him for trying to escape when he should have broken…
Obi-Wan raised his blade, Ventress’s clashing against his, locking together. She forced him back, his spine bending back over as she pushed. He did the only thing he could to save himself; he pulled away from her, flinging himself to the side as her lightsaber came swishing down in what would have been a disabling hit.
He slammed into the wall, twisting his body in time to raise the stolen blade against another swiftly descending chop which would have decapitated him if he hadn’t blocked in time. But the awkward position he was in, and his rapidly failing strength made it easy for Ventress to disarm as her blade worked under his and deflected it back towards him and he was forced to let go and duck.
Extending a hand, Ventress called her stolen blade back to her.
Obi-Wan fell against the wall, absolutely spent.
It was over.
She stalked close to him and raised her hand, having clipped one of her blades back on her belt.
Pressure pressed on his neck and he choked as he was lifted up off the floor. He scrabbled at his throat with his hands against the invisible grip. She slammed him hard back against the wall: the back of his skull cracking against the hard stone wall.
“You sought to escape me… You won’t ever get away!” she spat venomously.
He would have responded if she hadn’t been choking him. He couldn’t breathe… his vision was going black…
“You. Are. Mine. And I will see you break!”
He struggled to speak, and ever so slightly she loosened her grip, giving him the chance to speak and take in a bit of air. “You… told me… that … the next time … we met … you’d kill me!” They’d gone over this already but he didn’t care. He was doomed either way.
“I already explained to you why I chose to break that promise,” she responded.
“Your Master, Dooku,” he panted. “What would … he say if he … knew what you’d done … to me? I remember now … when I was hanging off that … cliff on Quetya, the only survivor of the Jedi dispatched to find that antidote … for your bio-weapon, that you promised to kill me regardless of his orders! He … wanted … me … alive!”
Ventress did not reply as a cold chill swept over the corridor. A familiar voice reverberated through his skull.
“I am not pleased with my assassin’s treatment of you, Master Kenobi.”
Obi-Wan felt the throat grip loosen completely and he sagged back to the floor, gulping in deep breaths of air.
Count Dooku stood at the other end of the corridor, his eyes yellow as he strode menacingly forward towards the two former combatants. “She will be punished for her impudence.” His lightsaber flickered on. “But now for you.”
- - - - -
Taren Jykes held his wife’s bony hand as they fled through the corridors. He hated leaving the Jedi behind but he’d given Taren the opportunity to escape. He had to take it.
“Taren!” his wife’s voice shook with emotion. “Where are we going?”
They had to find a ship and leave while Ventress was occupied with the Jedi. He had hoped to reunite his wife with her sister… He settled on an answer that he knew she’d appreciate. “Home. Where we can be safe.” He’d already decided that he would cease his travelling and settle on a mid-rim world somewhere, a planet that had the reputation of being good for family-life.
Kyra was carrying her youngest daughter in her arms slowing their progress, her son running beside them, fear in his glassy eyes.
They rounded a corner, feet slapping hard against the ground as they fled. Taren ignored the cries for help in the other cells they were passing; they were not his concern. Pounding their way through the facility, they failed to take notice of approaching voices before it was too late.
Taren halted and turned back the way they had come. If they were guards they’d be shot dead… but running away would probably make them do that anyway.
Behind them stood a young man in Jedi robes, holding a blue lightsaber in his right hand. He was flanked by men in white armour, each carrying a blaster.
Taren raised his hands, indicating for his son to do so as well while his wife continued to clutch their daughter to her chest. “Please, we’re just prisoners!”
The young Jedi nodded. “There is a transport back that way.” He pointed to a corridor that he and his troopers had just emerged from, one that Taren had passed with his family. “Get on board and we’ll get you to safety. Tell my apprentice that Anakin Skywalker sent you. We’ll join you shortly once we’ve retrieved a colleague of ours.”
Taren swallowed in thanks. “Thank you, Master Jedi.”
“It’s what my Master would have done,” was the Jedi’s response as he directed his troops down the corridor that Taren had just fled from.
“Your friend … he’s back that way.” Taren felt obligated to tell them.
Anakin Skywalker inclined his head before bounding after his departing troopers.
Taren squeezed his wife’s arm. “Come on, Kyra. We won’t be here for much longer.” His wife and children were shell-shocked – his wife probably hadn’t realised that that Jedi was her nephew, that realisation would come later when they were out of the situation they were in. His children were shell-shocked; he could understand that, he’d be like that too if he didn’t have to be the strong one in his family.
- - - - -
“Ventress, you have company. Skywalker is here. Deal with him.”
Obi-Wan was slowly climbing to his feet, using the wall for support. His whole body ached and the worst thing of all? He had no weapon to defend himself with.
His captor glanced at him and then at her Master. “How did they trace me here?”
“That is something I intend to find out once my business is finished.” Dooku’s eyes focused on Obi-Wan. “Now, go.”
Ventress dare not disobey Dooku. She was already facing his ire for keeping Obi-Wan’s survival from him. She threw a rotten glance towards the Jedi and strolled past her Master.
Obi-Wan was left alone with the Count.
Legs weak, his energy spent, Obi-Wan stumbled back along the wall, using it for support.
“It’s a pity I have to kill you,” said Dooku sadly. “Given time, if Ventress had obeyed my orders in the first place and given you to me I feel certain you would have joined me.”
Obi-Wan glared at Dooku. “I would … never … join … you!”
“You shouldn’t underestimate the power of the Dark Side. Ventress has already begun on you.” A smile pulled at the corner of his lips. “I can sense pain, fear,” his eyes glinted, “…and anger. You’re half-way there, Kenobi.”
“No!” he denied. It was that Mask! Dooku was sensing the remnants of the effects on him. Still, he continued to stumble away using the wall for support. His right hand grasped a door frame and he inched forward, pulling himself around and into the room.
Dooku’s footsteps drew nearer.
He found himself in a trophy room. There was cabinets littered with numerous objects but on a table in the centre of the room, resting on a metallic shelf was his lightsaber! He pushed himself forward, reaching the table in the centre, and picked up his lightsaber in his right hand, relishing having the familiar hilt in his palm once more.
He twisted around as Dooku entered, striding slowly into the room.
Obi-Wan ignited his blade, holding it out steadily in front of him.
“Kenobi,” smiled Dooku, “you are making it too easy. The condition you are in, it won’t be long till you can’t fight me.”
Obi-Wan snarled back. “I won’t go down defenceless! I won’t let you kill me!”
“Admirable,” praised Dooku. “Your former apprentice won’t get here in time to save you, however.”
Despite how weak he felt, Obi-Wan could sense the approaching signature of Anakin. Whether he had encountered Ventress yet remained to be seen. Perhaps he could keep Dooku talking. The Count was correct: he wouldn’t even be able to hold off the Sith Lord for long, Dooku would overpower him easily. He straightened his back but kept his lightsaber held in a defensive position. “If I’m to die here, Dooku, tell me why. Your pet acolyte mentioned your interest in me; in fact she kept me alive to prove to you that I’m weak.” His voice was trembling with the effort to stay strong. He needed a good sleep…
The Count stopped his slow prowl forward. “You are a powerful Jedi, Obi-Wan, is that not reason enough?”
“There are other Jedi more powerful than me,” pointed out Obi-Wan. Strands of hair fell into his face as he shook his head. “There is more to this…”
Dooku sighed and deactivated his lightsaber. “I do not wish to kill you but my Master desires it.” He moved forward slightly but the blue blade in Obi-Wan’s hand nudged toward him and he halted in his movement. “Your old Master, Qui-Gon, was my apprentice as you know. I was very proud of the Jedi he became. We rarely met as our paths took us on different roads, but when we did, he always spoke fondly of you, about your potential and what you could achieve.” The Count looked thoughtful. “My interest in you? It stems from that. I feel loyalty and perhaps admiration for you. Take it as I suppose feeling like I have to rescue you from the corruption of the Republic and the Jedi Order … and that would be what Qui-Gon would have wanted.”
Obi-Wan glared in disgust at him. “I told you on Geonosis that I would never join you… and neither would Qui-Gon. The Republic may have its faults but if everyone works together we can repair and build upon the cracks that have appeared.” He didn’t know why he was trying to rationalise with a Sith Lord. Dooku had his belief and he wouldn’t change it. “You claim you don’t want to kill me, then don’t. Let me go. The Republic is here; your Master – whoever he is – wouldn’t know the truth!” It was a desperate gamble. “Qui-Gon wouldn’t want you to kill me either!”
Sadly, Dooku shook his head. “The only way I could spare your life would be if you joined me. My Master wants you dead, regardless of my own desires. But if you willingly sided with my cause perhaps he would cease seeing you as a threat to his plans?”
Briefly the Jedi closed his eyes and reached into the current of the Force. Anakin was close but he was still too far away. Probably dealing with Ventress… He swallowed. “I … could … never … betray the Republic!”
“Even if the Republic is under the control of a Sith Lord?” questioned Dooku, raising an eyebrow.
“You told me this before,” commented Obi-Wan. “Who is your Master? Perhaps if we knew the identity we perhaps come to an agreement!”
Dooku chuckled. “My dear Jedi, he is right under your very nose!”
The Count clearly didn’t mean himself. Obi-Wan bit his lip. He couldn’t stall for much longer. “You may as well kill me. You say you want to fix the Republic, but since you won’t help us, I can’t see any other option.”
“You won’t even consider joining me?” It was Dooku’s last ditch attempt to persuade him.
“No,” spat Obi-Wan. “Not unless you reveal more than what you are saying.”
Dooku sighed and spread his hands out. “Then we are at an impasse, my friend. It is a shame that it has to end this way.” He reignited his lightsaber and levelled it at Obi-Wan’s face.
Obi-Wan sent a calm draft of the Force through his shaking body. If he was going to die now before Anakin got to him at least he could die at peace, knowing that he had been found after months of captivity.
At least I haven’t been abandoned as Ventress tried to make me believe.
Stepping forward, he raised his blade and advanced.
- - - - -
Ducking as Ventress’ blades came swinging towards where his neck had been moments before, Anakin rolled to the side. She was fast, very fast. The Clones accompanying him – albeit one – had managed to manoeuvre past her deadly blades. Keeping her distracted was Anakin’s mission – she’d slaughter the Clones if Anakin chose to leave them in favour of rescuing his Master – the Clones, on the other-hand, were tasked with finding Obi-Wan and if Dooku was around to disable and capture.
Ventress shrieked, slashing down at him again. It was not intended as a disabling blow.
“How did you find me?” she yelled, advancing again.
Anakin smirked. “Why should I tell you?” Though he figured teasing her wouldn’t help his situation one bit – it would just make her more determined to kill him. “My bond with my Master is not one a Jedi usually shares. I always knew he was still alive. It was just a matter of tracking him down.” She didn’t need to know the exact details.
Her lips flipped up giving her a snarling expression. “But I blocked his connection to the Force!”
Anakin shrugged. “It will be a mistake you won’t make again.”
“It doesn’t matter anyway. Kenobi will die by my Master’s hand! You’ll still lose!”
He couldn’t resist dropping a few hints. “So do you. Not in Dooku’s good books are you?” he replied as their light sabers locked together.
Her eyes widened. “How do you know that?” she demanded vehemently.
“I have my ways!” he responded.
Ventress leapt at him again, her attacks filled with more ferocity then before. She wasn’t focused properly, her aura filled with rage, in complete contrast to Anakin who was clam and centred in the Force. He anticipated and made his moves matching the attacks she had made against him.
Anakin didn’t want to kill her, though she probably did deserve it, but his orders from the Jedi Council were clear: immobilise her as quickly as possible. It made it more difficult for him to disable her when she was so intent on killing him.
His opponent bounded to the wall, flipped onto it and then over Anakin’s head, however he rolled onto his knees and Force-pushed her into the corridor wall. Her body crashed into it with a sickening thud. She wasn’t dead but injured… but there was no time to immobilise her, he just had to hope he’d put her out of commission for a while.
Quickly he turned and ran at full speed in the direction his Clone Troopers had gone, reaching into the Force to track his Master.
The sense of exhaustion overwhelmed him and Anakin only ran faster.
- - - - -
Dooku pushed back against Obi-Wan, one arm behind his back as he duelled effortlessly with the tired Jedi expanding all his energy. He was simply playing with his prey.
Lunging forward Obi-Wan slashed downwards but Dooku stepped back, blocking the blow. A flick of the wrist and the Jedi’s weapon went flying from his grip for the second time in that hour. Dooku kicked out, striking the Jedi in the knees. Obi-Wan buckled and he fell, so that he was prostrating before the Count, breathing heavily with exertion.
Obi-Wan closed his eyes. He was spent.
The end of a red blade came close to his throat. “Look at me Kenobi.”
He refused. He may be exhausted but he still had his defiance. If Dooku wanted to look into his face as he speared his throat, he’d have to force him. As predicted, Dooku used the Force to lift his chin up.
“It is a shame.”
“You’ve said that a lot.”
Dooku sniffed. “It is a waste of your talent to kill you.”
“I know,” Obi-Wan answered after a few short seconds of contemplating his retort, “but I can’t join you.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to,” a voice he hadn’t heard in a long time responded.
Out of the corner of his eyes Obi-Wan spied a familiar figure standing at the end of the corridor flanked by a contort of Clone troopers; the last time he had seen him was on a muddy and rainy-filled battlefield. A smile curved at the edge of his lips. “Anakin.”
His former apprentice stood there, eyes fixed on Dooku, lightsaber in hand. “Move away from him, Dooku,” growled Anakin. “You know you’ll die if you hurt him.”
Dooku wouldn’t be able to defend himself if he chose to kill Obi-Wan. Anakin was giving him a choice. The older man had to weigh his options: whether he continued to be of service to the Separatist cause or not…
“If I let him go?” the Sith enquired.
“I won’t kill you if that is what you are interested in knowing,” confirmed Anakin, his eyes hard.
“And the Clones?”
Dooku was smart. Just because Anakin wouldn’t kill him didn’t mean the Clones wouldn’t.
Anakin smirked. “They have their orders to not kill you either but that will change if you harm him.”
They were at a stalemate, only Dooku could choose who would live or die. Anakin couldn’t act without endangering his Master. He had to hope that the Count would be sensible about this. Dooku still had his head in a Force grip so he couldn’t roll away; he could sense conflict in the Force. Dooku didn’t wish to kill him but his Sith Master had given him explicit instructions, yet Anakin’s appearance was presenting him with another choice… One that he hadn’t truly been available to him before.
If he spared Obi-Wan’s life it was very possible he’d escape, even if Anakin tried to stop him…
The lightsaber pointed at his throat moved away, the Force grip on his face loosened. Obi-Wan saw his chance and scrambled forward towards Anakin as the Count began to back down the corridor that he and Obi-Wan had fought into.
“Now!” yelled Anakin, as Obi-Wan finally slumped against the wall. He bounded forward to pursue, but the younger Jedi didn’t expect the Count’s next move. Hand raised, and not expecting the attack, Anakin didn’t have this blade up in time to block the lightening that streamed from the Sith’s fingertips.
But Dooku hadn’t been aiming for Anakin Skywalker.
The lightening cascaded right into Obi-Wan’s chest. Unexpected and already far too weak from months of torture and the battles he had fought today, the Jedi’s body buckled, and a scream tore from his throat.
And then the pain stopped.
He dimly heard Anakin shout something, tried to speak himself but his words slurred…
Darkness descended and he was cast into blissful oblivion.
- - - - -
Shock blasted its way into Anakin’s mind as he watched the man that he had come here to save hit by the Sith lightning. He moved into action when a scream was torn from Obi-Wan’s throat, an ear-shattering piercing scream. His lightsaber came up and he blocked the dark power from further harming his Master.
Dooku was already fleeing, his distraction having worked in drawing Anakin’s attention towards his friend.
Anakin’s eyes fell on the unconscious form of Obi-Wan, whose body was still twitching from the effects of the attack. His eyes roamed over how thin he was… Through his clothing he could see his ribs protruding… His Master’s wrists were so bony that it surprised Anakin that he was able to have held a lightsaber for as long as he had done… His hair was a tattered mess and his beard was smothered in blood, his cheeks gaunt and his skin pale… Perspiration clung to his skin as he shuddered.
Blood was spattered all over his torn clothing…
Something burst inside him and Anakin felt anger like he had never felt before rush into him. Just to see Obi-Wan’s condition… what he had suffered… Anakin roared, letting it consume him. “I’ll kill you for that!” He wasn’t feeling rational at the moment: Dooku had tested his nerve. What Ventress had inflicted upon Obi-Wan … and what Dooku had just done to make him suffer… How could anyone be ok after that?
The dam broke; all the horrors that he had seen in war, all the emotions he had stored up inside him, all the pain he felt radiating from the bond came crashing out of him in one big wave… His hand on his lightsaber tightened and he rushed forward, following the rapidly fleeing figure of Count Dooku.
In that moment he forgot his orders; forgot that he had Rex and the 501st at this side; forgot that Obi-Wan lay wounded in the hallway, the only thing that mattered was vengeance.
It consumed his heart and his soul and it felt right.
- - - - -
Tending to the family that her Master had sent along to the ship, Ahsoka prepared four drinks in the small gallery and took them out to the shaken family. “Here. They’re calming draughts. Should ease the shock for you.”
The man, Taren, thanked her and took the tray.
Unsure of what to say, Ahsoka returned to the cock-pit and settled into the pilot seat, checking the relevant systems, ensuring they were still in hot mode. She hated being left behind; circumstances dictated that she had to be. Still at least Taren Jykes wouldn’t be able to steal their ship – that was one advantage to her remaining on board.
She was surprised at the lack of security on Rattatak yet her Jedi senses were still tuned, searching for any threat. She wondered how her Master was faring and if he’d found Obi-Wan yet.
Deciding it wouldn’t hurt to briefly check on the bond, Ahsoka centred herself and let her mind and presence float into her and Anakin’s fledging bond.
Shock boiled all over her body as she was engulfed in darkness; anger reverberated in copious amounts from her Master. She shrunk back from it, yet not daring to break the connection as she sought to understand why the usually bright spark that was Anakin Skywalker had become a raging, dark monster. Dread filled her as the possibilities struck her.
Please don’t let Master Kenobi be dead!
She considered her options and came to only one conclusion: she had to face Anakin, see if she could reach him. She reached out to probe the bond, brushing her own presence up against his, gently sending soothing waves through it, to calm the storm. Master? What’s going on? You feel … so dark!
The darkness ebbed slightly, confusion starting to settle in over Anakin’s side of the bond but then a harsh reply struck her and she almost stumbled. He hurt Obi-Wan! He’s hurt so much already!
Ahsoka swallowed. Who did? She was assuming the ‘he’ was Count Dooku.
Anakin’s answer was filled with loathing as he confirmed her fears. Dooku.
Master! You won’t do Master Kenobi any help if you are angry! Focus! Please!
He felt so wrong to her. She had to snap him out of it.
Obi-Wan wouldn’t want you to be like this!
You haven’t seen what he looked like! Anakin retorted angrily.
Ahsoka bit her lip. Maybe not but I’m certain he would be reminding you about what anger can do to you! Ahsoka hadn’t spent much time with General Kenobi, his going missing soon after she had become Anakin’s apprentice meant that she didn’t know him as well as Anakin did, but there had always been stories floating around the Temple about that particular Master and Padawan and the special circumstances that Anakin had.
It was crucial for a Padawan to learn about the dangers of the dark side and the anger and aggressive actions it caused one to partake in. Anakin was forgetting these crucial lessons… Obi-Wan’s presumed death had hit him hard… She’d always respected Anakin for being calm and thoughtful in every situation she had been in with him. He was the ultimate Jedi to emulate… but the way he was acting now was not someone she could look up to.
Anakin seemed to sense the disappointment.
Revenge is not the Jedi way, she said.
I can’t let Dooku escape!
But you can’t use your anger either. She recalled another lesson that Master Yoda had taught her as a youngster. ‘Follow the will of the Force a Jedi should’. She hated to say this to Anakin but wasn’t it possible that Dooku was meant to escape? Wasn’t Obi-Wan the most important part of this mission? If he was badly injured he was Anakin’s priority not the capture of Dooku. Hadn’t the Masters made this clear?
I could bring an end to this war if we capture Dooku, he replied, however there was less venom in his voice now and his presence was calming, though still blotched in darkness. Perhaps Master Yoda is right. The Force doesn’t feel like its urging me to pursue.
The darkness was ebbing away, receding across the bond, leaving it feeling tainted but more light was bleeding through as Anakin centred himself. Ahsoka understood that Anakin respected Yoda a lot and always took into account what he had to say, even if he disagreed with it, he’d strive to follow the older Jedi’s wisdom.
My vision was clouded, Ahsoka… I’m seeing more clearly now.
The red mist that had consumed Anakin’s heart was retreating.
Just bring Master Kenobi back in one piece, she sent back.
Just keep the ship’s engines warm and keep an eye out for Ventress.
Yes Master, acknowledged Ahsoka.
- - - - -
Despite her relative inexperience, Anakin had to applaud his young apprentice for breaking through the fog that had consumed him. He knew he had done wrong in feeling angry over what Dooku had done and rushing off after him, letting the powerful notion of revenge consume him. He loathed that his emotions had got the better of him.
“I know I’m better than this,” he muttered.
He had pursued Dooku but the Sith had the advantage of knowing where he was going and already being ahead when Anakin had rushed after him. The older man also kept flipping Force lightening back at Anakin who had to keep ducking the blasts and get behind cover, further widening the gap between the Jedi and the Count.
When Ahsoka had got through to him Anakin had abandoned the chase completely, ordering the few Clone Troopers that had followed him to continue the pursuit while he went back for Obi-Wan. If he continued that chase the possibility of anger getting the better of him once again was higher. If they neared Dooku, the man was sure to throw taunts their way, targeting Anakin’s bond with Obi-Wan.
Anakin didn’t want to let his Master down and had considered that with the circumstances he was not in the best frame of mind to chase Dooku.
So he had turned away and jogged back to Obi-Wan’s side, who still lay slumped on the floor, his chest raising slowly, his eyes still closed. But he was alive.
He’d brought with his battalion of clones, two trained in healing. When Anakin had pursued Dooku, they had been two of five clones that had remained behind.
Kneeling down beside his Master, Anakin reached out and laid a hand on his Master’s forehead, reaching deep to sense his presence. He was filled with pain and the shakes that had engulfed him before had subsided however Anakin could sense a torrent of emotions raging through him.
“Obi-Wan…” He didn’t know whether he should wake him up or not or give him a Force suggestion to sleep. His Master was exhausted, his energy spent. He looked up at the two medics. “How is he?”
“The General is stable despite his condition. He has several broken bones that have healed wrongly; his wrists feel they could snap at any moment. He has a few cracked ribs but they don’t appear to have struck the lungs. There are many burns and cuts that need to be treated for infection. Until we can get him to a medical facility that is all we can assess so far… any internal damage will have to wait,” the first medic explained.
Anakin nodded. “Thank you Cracks.” Cracks liked to crack his knuckles, and that was where his nickname had sprung from. “Ahsoka is on standby. We need to get back to the ship.”
Carefully he picked Obi-Wan up, choosing to send him a sleep suggestion so that he wouldn’t wake. It was better for him to wake in comfort then in pain.
“Sir, what about the other prisoners?” Rex was jogging back up.
“Set them free. If we encounter Ventress or Dooku again they’ll keep them distracted while we make our escape,” he ordered. “Dooku got away?”
Rex nodded. “Unfortunately that is correct, sir. He jammed a door that we couldn’t get through. We knew time is of essence so we came back here.”
“You made the right decision, Captain. I wasn’t thinking when I ran off. I forgot that my mission is to ensure Obi-Wan’s safety. If we could have captured either of them it would have been beneficial… The likelihood of us having any success was below fifty per cent anyway.”
As they walked quickly through the complex back to the landing pad, freeing prisoners as they went, they checked in on Ventress’ last known position. She wasn’t there; Anakin hadn’t expected her to be.
“Keep an eye out for her,” murmured Anakin. “She’ll be around here somewhere.” He didn’t think for one minute that Asajj Ventress would simply let him walk out of this castle with Obi-Wan alive, not after Dooku had made it clear that Obi-Wan had to die. Perhaps carrying his injured Master had been a mistake… He threw his reservations aside as the clones acknowledged his orders, fanning out around the corridor, searching every nook and cranny for any sign of the Sith assassin.
Wary of surprise Anakin kept his Force senses tuned outwards, but nothing came out to smack him in the face. He increased his pace, desperate to get off this rock and get Obi-Wan to a medical centre as quickly as possible.
As they reached the landing pad, Anakin’s senses screamed out suddenly. Intuition and quick reflexes saved him.
“Open fire!” Rex ordered to his troops as Asajj Ventress leapt down onto the landing pad behind Anakin, both her blades lit, her eyes flashing furiously.
“He is mine!” she rushed forward, battling away the blaster bolts quickly.
Anakin had no choice. He fell to his knees and released his Master’s body to the ground before twisting to face Ventress who had already cut down two more of his troopers. Lightsaber in hand Anakin scrambled to his knees, bringing it up just in time before Ventress’ blade cut down on him.
“Stun her!” shouted Anakin to Rex. He pushed her off, sending her back as he got to his feet. Her blades swung and another two clones went down.
He saw Rex raise his blaster and aim at Ventress but before he could even do so a parade of fire rained down upon them.
Anakin risked a glance up and his face sparked out into a wide grin as a clone transport descended from the clouds carrying with them Jedi Masters Mace Windu and Adi Gallia in one ship and Master Ki-Adi Mundi in another gunship. All three leapt from the transports onto the landing pad. The clones they’d brought with them were raining bolts down on Ventress who was rapidly retreating back towards the entryway from which she had hidden and sprung from.
Deactivating his own blade, Anakin went to his Master’s side and knelt down beside him. He was still asleep, the Force-suggestion Anakin had used earlier was guaranteed to keep him out of it for a few hours at least.
Hoisting him into his arms again and accompanied by Ki-Adi Mundi whilst the other two Masters helped the clones, Anakin walked into the transport that Ahsoka had kept ready for them.
They could finally go home.
- - - - -
Ahsoka walked gingerly through the ship to the small med-bay where Anakin had stayed for the majority of the journey through hyperspace. Peering through the door’s window she noted that Obi-Wan was resting and Anakin was talking with the medics and the three Council members that had joined them at Rattatak.
She nudged the door open and walked inside, noting that the conversation stopped immediately as she entered. She fixed Anakin with a look and he shrugged his shoulders before turning back to the discussion.
Trying not to listen in, she walked over to one of the two empty seats next to Master Kenobi’s bed and sat down.
The Jedi Master was asleep, his chest moving up and down slowly. She hadn’t seen him when he’d been brought on board. He’d been cleaned up but the real healing would have to wait until they returned to Coruscant. His face had numerous cuts and bruises and no doubt the covers were hiding more damage underneath. An IV line ran from a bag attached to the bed to underneath the covers, slowly pumping in liquids. His lips were crusty from lack of water, his cheeks hollow…
A hand pressed on her shoulder and she looked up to see her Master looking down at her. “Master.”
“He’ll be ok, Ahsoka. He just needs a long rest,” said Anakin as he sat down beside her. “He’ll be fed up of the healer’s wing within a week!”
“I hope so… I know I don’t have the connection with him as you do but he feels distant to me. He’s not all there,” she hesitated, biting her lip.
Anakin sighed heavily. “He’s been hurt badly, Ahsoka. He used up a lot of Force energy trying to escape, his presence is dim to me too but he’ll recover.” He sat back. “How are our guests?”
Ahsoka frowned. “I can’t get them to talk to me, Master. We’ve barely said anything to one another… Although I just topped up their drinks for them and Taren asked me how Master Kenobi was doing. I didn’t know what to say so I just said he’s being healed.”
“It’s what I expected. As the Jedi responsible for sending them to this transport in the first place,” Anakin rolled his eyes, “I’ve been tasked with finding out exactly who they are. If Obi-Wan was awake he’d probably tell us.”
“Can’t it wait?” questioned Ahsoka.
Anakin shook his head. “No. We really need to find out who they are and if so can we help them?” He stood up to leave. “Come and get me if Obi-Wan wakes. He shouldn’t be asleep for much longer though I suspect his body is glad for the rest.” He noticed the low volume in the IV bag. “There is another IV bag in the fridge. Attach it when that one’s finished.”
“Of course,” she said as Anakin turned away and left the small medical bay that served on-board their transport.
She sat back in to wait.
- - - - -
Anakin bought with him some snacks to the room Ahsoka had temporarily allocated to Taren Jykes and his family. As he entered, he found the youngest child asleep on the small bed, curled up next to her mother. Taren was talking quietly to his son.
“Hello,” Anakin called politely. “I have a few questions if you are amenable to answering them?”
Taren nodded and rose from the chair he had been sitting on. “What can we help you with, Master Jedi?”
“First, I’d like to introduce myself. I am Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight. I want to express my gratitude for pointing the way to my Master. Without you we might not have got there in time to save his life. If there is anything I can do for you, please ask,” he gave a slight bow, smiling.
“Thank you,” stammered Taren. “We just want to find a nice place to live away from this conflict. I didn’t expect on my trading route to be caught the way we were. We were just victims in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Anakin placed his hands behind his back. “I’m sorry to hear that.” He noticed out of the corner of his eye the man’s wife staring at him with a quizzical expression on her face. He chose to ignore it for now instead keeping his attention upon Taren. “We are en-route back to the Jedi Temple, where we will treat you for any injuries and make sure your children, yourself and your wife are not suffering from any effects of your captivity. It is the least we can do. However I do need names so that we can trace any family members that you may have and contact them so they know you are safe.”
Taren nodded. “I lost contact with my family ages ago. I was an outcast… that’s why I trade for a living. My parents didn’t approve and wanted me to settle down with a nice family and a good job. Trading is my life. I love the dangers of the outer-rim… But like a lot of men I did fall in love. Kyra and I thought we would be safe…” He shook his head sadly. “That’s going to change now. You have no need to contact my family. If I want to talk to them I have my ways and I can do it myself.” His eyes flickered to his wife. “Kyra on the other hand…”
Anakin focused his attention upon the woman. Something stuck him about her. She looked a lot like his mother with her dark brown hair falling in dirty strands around her shoulders… and her eyes were so like Shmi Skywalker’s…
“I think I know what you are thinking,” she said in a soft voice. “I remind you of someone do I not?”
He nodded. “My mother…”
“My maiden name is Kyra Skywalker.”
He felt shock run through him at her admission. “Skywalker?” he mouthed.
“Your mother is my younger sister. We were separated as children.”
“Because of being enslaved?” he swallowed. How was this even possible?
“Yes.” Kyra acknowledged.
“You’re my aunt.” He cast his eyes over the two children. “And they’re my…” he sought his mind for the right term. His mother had told him about the family members that Obi-Wan’s contacts had finally been able to track down the fate of. “Cousins?” He leaned back against the wall, slightly in shock. “Wow. In this large galaxy…” He didn’t know what to say or do.
“The chance of this happening was very unlikely,” the woman continued. “I didn’t even know my sister was alive until a year ago when I saw my ex-husband. He told me that a Jedi’s contacts had asked about me.”
“And with the Clone War on and the media outlets picking up on my exploits…” predicted Anakin.
“I came to the conclusion that you must be the Jedi that had been asking about me which I thought was odd since Jedi aren’t allowed contact with their families, are they?”
Anakin shook his head. “Ah no, things have changed since then. I didn’t become a Jedi until very late in life. I was discovered on Tatooine where my mother and I were slaves. A year into my Jedi training my Master requested the Council to free her. She’s now employed at the Jedi Temple. Mother being there has opened the gates for other Jedi trainees to remain in contact with their families. My Master, Obi-Wan, sent out word to a few of the contacts he had to see if they could discover what became of my mother’s family. I didn’t know about this until after he had heard back and told her. She was pleased that you had found your freedom.” He didn’t know if Kyra knew that her father had survived slavery too so he chose not to mention it.
“It was fortunate for me that my ex-husband loved me enough to do what he did for me,” she sighed. “Things didn’t work out for us… I think perhaps preventing him from seeing his children is the wrong thing to do. A family should never be split up, I’ve learnt that now.”
Taren cleared his throat. “When we can we’ll go back and visit. Let Ria and Mernen maintain contact. In fact we may even buy a property there. No more trading for me, not after this.”
“I’m sure my mother would like to meet you before you leave, so please stay on Coruscant for a while,” suggested Anakin. “I think we’ve got a lot to catch up on.”
Kyra smiled gently. “I think we do to.”
- - - - -
Head spinning from the impossibility of it all, Anakin made his way back to the med-bay where he found Ahsoka still beside the slowly stirring Obi-Wan. He asked her to leave and sat on the chair closest to the bed watching as his Master stirred from his slumber.
He was slow to wake, muttering as he was dragged from sleep. Anakin gripped his hand and sent soothing motions over the bond and into his Master so that he wouldn’t be too startled when he eventually became more aware.
“No… please… Stop…”
Anakin leaned forward. “Master, it’s alright.” It was easy to slip back into the habit of calling Obi-Wan that. “You’re safe.” He gently urged the older Jedi to wake, bringing him out of the nightmare he was embroiled in.
Eyes blinking rapidly in response to the bright light filling them, Obi-Wan squinted. “Anakin?”
Anakin’s face broke out into a big smile. “Welcome back.”
“Where… did… you come from?” he rasped.
In response Anakin reached over to a small bedside cabinet and pressed a glass of water to Obi-Wan’s chapped lips. “Here, drink. And then maybe I’ll tell you where I come from.”
Obediently, Obi-Wan sipped the water slowly, wetting his dried lips and mouth.
“Now then,” began Anakin, “you asked me where I come from? Well, I come from a desert planet called Tatooine…” He broke off when he saw the un-amused stare that Obi-Wan was shooting his way. “What?” He had hoped to make his Master smile but that had backfired. He doesn’t want to be toyed with, he realised. He wants answers to his questions. “Sorry. We intercepted a communication between Dooku and Ventress. They stated your location and we came to rescue you.”
Obi-Wan nodded thoughtfully. “I did wonder…”
Anakin considered bringing up the topic of their other passengers but decided against it. He’d wait until Obi-Wan was in a much better condition to deal with a questioning. No doubt the Jedi Council would want its newest Master to go into depth regarding his imprisonment in his report. He noted with some concern that the light in Obi-Wan’s eyes was gone: he seemed to be a shell of his former self.
Obi-Wan’s eyelids were drooping again, his tiredness luring him under. Anakin gently probed the bond, testing for the strength of it. It pulsated between them, shining brightly. After months of the bond being silent, cloaked in darkness it was a relief to feel the lightness of it, but there was a tinge to it, a tinge that made Anakin shudder at how cold that single point felt.
I need to talk to him about what I nearly succumbed to.
Obi-Wan’s head was resting on the pillow, face turned to the side, a shadow of his former self, dozing lightly.
But not yet. I can’t burden him with this yet… not until he’s whole again.
Yet Anakin knew that what his Master had suffered through wasn’t something that he’d easily get over.
For Obi-Wan to give Anakin the help and advice he needed in return, Anakin first had to help his hurt friend to heal and come to terms with what he had been forced to endure. He understood that wasn’t going to be easy.
“I will help you, Obi-Wan,” he whispered quietly.
The only sound Obi-Wan made in response was a light groan as he fell deeper into sleep.
To be continued…
Please let me know what you think!
Chapter 20 will be posted on Wednesday
Wow! Looking forward to the reunion between sisters but Obi-Wan and Anakin both have a lot to recover from. Now the question is: will they shut one another out or share the other's loads?
I can only hope we can have a happier chapter on Wednesday. If it hadn't been for Ahshoka....
Poor Obi-Wan....I hope he will be able to heal from his ordeal
@Jade_eyes I will say that the road ahead of Anakin and Obi-Wan is a difficult one...
@Jedi_Liz Ahsoka does have her uses... It might take Obi-Wan a while to heal though, considering how much he suffered...
- - - - -
She was about to leave the Jedi Temple when news reached her that Anakin was due to return. Shmi hadn’t seen her son in quite a few weeks, not since he had departed Coruscant for the campaign on Christophsis and she hadn’t seen him that much since Obi-Wan had disappeared since the Council had been sending Anakin on quick skirmishes. He was constantly on the move, as Obi-Wan had once put it.
Though it was considerably a shorter time period then previous times Anakin had been assigned away from Coruscant, she still felt her heart lift at the thought that her son was going to be on-planet again. He might not be here for long. She contemplated staying at the Temple to await her son’s arrival but decided that returning home and waiting for Anakin to come and find her was the better option.
She reasoned that he’d have to give a report to the Council; since he had been away and embarking on two assignments in a short space of time she figured that the Council session would go on longer than normal and she couldn’t justify hanging around waiting for Anakin when her family needed her.
Taking the commercial route back to her home, Shmi found Darec waiting for her, sitting watching the Daily News, sipping a glass of wine. His job had been keeping him busy the last few weeks so he and Shmi had found it difficult to spend much time together; this evening being one of the few that their off-time overlapped.
Darec leaned over the small glass table in the centre of the room and poured out another glass of the sparkling red that Shmi loved and handed the glass to her as she sat down on the sofa next to her husband. He kissed her gently on the head. “How was your day?”
“Busy. I’m allocated to the Halls of Healing for the next week.” It wasn’t one of her favourite places to work. Before the war she hadn’t minded it, but since then the Halls of Healing always had injured in, some in quite a terrible state due to injuries sustained in the war. The last time the rota had placed her in that department she had been unfortunate enough to see the arrival of a young Padawan, aged just sixteen being brought in, suffering from extreme burns suffered during an explosion… The girl had died a few days later. That memory had always stuck by her because she always worried that the same thing could happen to her son.
Darec took her hand and squeezed it gently. “It’ll be ok,” he said quietly. “One day this war will be over and you can enjoy working with the Healers once again.”
“I hope so…” she sighed and snuggled closer to her husband. “I think about Ani all the time. I fear that he is going to perish and I’ll never see him again.”
Her husband was used to her talking like this as it wasn’t the first time she had spoken aloud her fears about what could befall her son. “Shmi… You have to trust in Anakin and in the Force to protect him.” Darec didn’t really know about Anakin’s special destiny, something that both she and Anakin had decided not to tell him about, partly because he had made it clear that he didn’t believe in prophecies or hokum like that when they had first met.
“I heard as I was leaving that Ani will be arriving soon. I thought about staying…” she bit her lip, “but I decided to come home to be with you. I can’t be there for him all the time. I still see him as a little boy instead of the grown man he has become. I’ve been with him every step of the way… It’s time I tried to step back more and let him get on with things without me overshadowing him or trying to look out for his best interests,” she smiled wistfully. It was hard to let go of your child. It had taken all her strength to give Anakin the choice to go with the Jedi all those years ago.
“You still have Kia,” pointed out Darec kindly.
“I know. Give it a few more years and she’ll be wishing to get away from us,” teased Shmi. Their daughter was growing every day becoming quite a sophisticated young lady but with a flare of adventure that Anakin had. Kia was always ready for the next adventure, and she enjoyed her lessons at the local educational centre for children. She was quite a popular young girl with her brother being a General in the Grand Army of the Republic and being publicly acknowledged as a hero.
Whenever Anakin’s exploits were reported in the press, Shmi and Darec had found themselves being called to comment and once Shmi had discovered a reporter following her and her daughter around, of which she had then voiced her concerns to Adi Gallia about the intrusion into her private life. Whatever the Jedi Council had done, the invasion had stopped but the spotlight that had fallen upon her family briefly had made Shmi to be recognised by members of the public.
She didn’t mind it but it could be distracting when they were out and about and whispers started around her.
At least no one bothered her.
- - - - -
The early morning brought a visitor that Shmi knew her daughter would be excited to see. Anakin was home, having reported to the Council, and was officially off duty. The first thing she noticed was that he looked tired and exhausted, as if he hadn’t slept for a long while. Both Darec and Kia were still in bed, with it being a weekend it was a usual routine for them.
She walked over to the gleaming window where Anakin stood, looking out at the masts of the Jedi Temple that could be seen in the distance. He was breathing slowly, bathing himself in the sun’s glare. “Ani?” Shmi patted his arm gently. “Are you alright?”
Anakin turned his head and looked at her, his blue eyes finding her brown ones. His shoulders sagged as he let out a deep, long breath. “No.”
A spark of fear coursed through her. “What is it?”
He bit his lip. “It’s Obi-Wan. We found him,” he swallowed. “We’ve bought him home.”
“Ani… that’s wonderful!” she smiled broadly. She flung her arms around her son and hugged him. “I’m so glad for you and for him!” But she noticed that sad expression on his face. There was still bad news to come.
“He’s not the same and he won’t be,” he continued sadly. “He was hurt badly. I didn’t want to leave his side,” he shrugged his shoulders, “but I knew you’d want to hear it from me that he was alive. And I saw that you are helping in the Halls of Healing this week. There isn’t going to be an announcement that he’s back yet, not until he’s more sufficiently recovered… If you see him, he’s not the same man that you said goodbye to on the landing platform before Jabiim.” He blew out loudly.
“I didn’t think he would be,” she commentated sadly. “Do you wish for me to see if I can swap my area for this week?”
Anakin shook his head. “No, he’ll be there for a while besides Obi-Wan might like a familiar face around when he’s not sleeping,” he smiled lightly. “He hasn’t had the luxury of being in favourable company for the last few months.”
Shmi considered what Anakin had said. Did she want to know where her friend had been? And what had happened to him? If she was to work in the Healing Wing it was perhaps wise that she knew, maybe she could help out? “Who was it?”
Her son hesitated, chewing over whether he should tell her or not. She could understand why he was reluctant to say since it was not Anakin’s place to say. If Obi-Wan wanted to talk he should be the one to speak. However word wouldn’t be able to be confined within the Halls of Healing. Anakin had made a report that would be released to – in time – to the wider Jedi Temple and become part of the archives; either way the knowledge of who had held Obi-Wan all this time would eventually be made public whether he liked it or not.
“It was Ventress. And we only just got to him in time,” admitted Anakin.
Shmi had heard of Ventress; one of the main enforcers of the Separatists, had featured heavily in Republic news reports during the war, striking fear in the heart of the citizens of the Republic and Anakin had faced her twice before, her being the witch that had left him with a scar above his right eye. She shivered at the mere thought of her. Everything painted her as a cruel person who delighted in others pain: she didn’t want to consider what Obi-Wan had suffered through whilst in her hands. She gently touched her son’s arm. “With you at his side, he’ll get through it.”
His head was bowed, his eyes closed, and his voice was soft when he spoke. “I feel I should be there for him, to protect him from the horrors that plague him. On our journey home he had constant nightmares despite being sedated. Even now I feel our bond trembling and he’s not listening to me… It’s frustrating that he can’t see I’m trying to help him.”
“Then go back to him,” she urged. It wasn’t her place to keep her son here when his Master needed him more.
Anakin sighed and moved to sit down on the sofa. “Obi-Wan is not the only reason why I’m here.”
“Oh.” Shmi walked over to the opposite chair and sat down facing her son. “Has something happened to Ahsoka?” Despite being her son’s Padawan she hadn’t really met the young girl yet: she had seen her from afar but their paths had never really crossed. If something had happened to her, Anakin would still tell her because anyone who was important to her son, Shmi cared for too.
“No, Ahsoka is fine. In fact I’m going to bring her over soon so you two can get to know one another. The war has been keeping us busy and preventing me from doing exactly that,” he replied earnestly. Then his face darkened and his eyes became quite serious. “Mum, you told me a long time ago that you had an older sister. Do you remember her name?”
Startled by the question she didn’t immediately answer but when she did she saw her son lean back against the sofa’s back, running his hand down his face as she contemplated her answer and she had to wonder what the significance of her lost sister’s name was. “I remember her as Kyra. Your sister is named after her… I used to call her Kia but her proper name was Kyra. Why?”
“You’re not going to believe this but,” began Anakin keeping his gaze on her face, “your sister is alive, and she’s currently being treated in the Halls of Healing at the Temple.”
Shmi’s mouth fell open in shock. Of all the things her son could have said to her that was the last thing she had expected. She blinked rapidly, trying to clear her thoughts, aware that her son was waiting for her to say something but the emotions that were flying through her that her sister was at the Jedi Temple raged in her mind and she was unable to string words together to even stammer out something.
“Mum?” Anakin was leaning forward, concern written across his face.
“How?” she whispered, a little shaky. How was this possible?
“It’s a little shocking I know,” he answered, “but we’ve had a blood sample taken to be certain and it matched with mine. We’re definitely related.”
“My sister…” she breathed. “Where did you find her?”
Anakin chewed his bottom lip. “That’s a bit more complicated. I don’t know the full story myself yet but we found them in the same place as we did Obi-Wan. We haven’t briefed them yet, partly because the Jedi Council would like to hear from Obi-Wan first… and Kyra’s children are quite traumatised.”
“That woman was hurting children?” Shmi couldn’t believe it. There was nothing that Ventress could do anymore that could shock her.
Anakin shook his head. “They are not physically harmed… the girl is more traumatised then her brother. Kyra’s husband was the one who appears to have been hurt more.”
“You can say torture to me, Ani,” Shmi said quietly, “I know that’s what has happened.”
“It’s not fair,” he said. “Why did it have to be Obi-Wan? Why did it have to be anybody?” He sounded very angry as spit flung from his mouth.
She didn’t know what to say but instead laid a hand on her son’s arm, after moving to sit beside him. “You can’t change what has happened, you can just help him through it, just like he did for you all those years ago.” She remembered how close Anakin had become to Obi-Wan after he had confronted his past and come to terms with the years he had spent in slavery.
“I know,” he whispered gently against her shoulder. “If I had only told him about my vision in the first place then none of this might not have happened.”
Shmi understood how much her son regretted not telling his Master about the vision he had had of Jabiim. It was a guilt he carried around with him and having rescued his Master from a horrendous captivity she could only imagine the horror he must be feeling and the guilt that he could have prevented it from happening. “Ani, if he had known would he not have risked his life?” The Obi-Wan she knew would have risked his life but been more careful then he had been to minimise loss of life.
Anakin raised his head. He hadn’t considered that part of it. “He’d have still have gone because it was his duty.”
“And would you feel guilty now?”
He couldn’t answer. “I don’t know. He would have made that decision to go despite knowing what could happen, I think, but I can’t say for sure what he would do.”
“Now then, will I be able to see my sister?” It felt strange saying that after having got used to the fact that she would never see any of her family again.
Anakin nodded. “You will. In fact I can take you over now before your shift starts. I know you are not starting until midday but it might be a good idea.”
“I think I’d feel self-conscious, Ani. I don’t even know who she really is.”
He grinned. “She looks like you.”
“I think you should go,” another voice said.
Shmi looked over her shoulder to see Darec standing in the doorway. “What about Kia?”
“I’ll look after her,” he responded, smiling, “just as long as Anakin can come back over later to see her, I do need to go into the office today. I can put it off until the early afternoon though if it is more convenient.”
“Darec you know Threepio is capable of looking after her on his own,” said Shmi.
Anakin raised a hand. “No mum, its fine. I’ll come back over. I’d love to see Kia.”
“What about Obi-Wan? He needs you.”
“The healers will be treating him, and he’s slated for surgery though he doesn’t know it yet. He’ll probably be out of it for most of the day. When I left to come here he was still sedated, and they’ll probably try to get him into a Force coma to speed up the healing process,” he explained. “As much as I want to be with him all the time, realistically mum it’s not possible.”
She nodded, accepting her son’s decision. “Ok then. You’ll look after Kia later. We never told her that Obi-Wan was missing because we wanted to protect her. She has assumed that he has been away fighting in the war. I don’t know what you wish to tell her.”
“I won’t say anything until you feel she should know,” he said. “It’s not my place to decide what she should know… and considering his condition, if she heard he was back, she’d want to see him and it wouldn’t be very nice to her.”
Shmi nodded. Her son knew what Obi-Wan’s condition was, if he thought it too bad for a young girl then she’d keep it quiet. She glanced to Darec in confirmation. “We won’t tell her just yet but we can’t hide the real truth from her, she will have to be told at some point.”
“I know,” Anakin swallowed.
Shmi knew very well that Anakin wished Kia wasn’t growing up during war time. He was trying his best to end it quickly but it was dragging on longer. More worlds were being pulled into the conflict every day and there was a tremendous loss of life as both sides clashed on neutral ground as they tried to maintain a position of neutrality. It was getting dirtier and dirtier.
“Shall we go?” asked Anakin. “Kia’s waking up and I’d like to surprise her later.”
Shmi nodded. “I’ll meet you at the docking bay. I just need to grab my things.”
- - - - -
Fifty minutes later Shmi was in the turbo-lift travelling down towards the Halls of Healing with Anakin at her side. Despite that she felt quite scared, worry from seeing Obi-Wan and anticipation for seeing the sister that she could barely remember. Would they even be able to reconnect after all these years apart?
Don’t think about her just yet. You’re here to see Obi-Wan first.
Anakin led her down the main Halls of Healing. The morning sunlight was beaming down into the large room, giving it a sense of serenity. A few healers bustled around the beds, talking to the injured and dealing with any bandage changes. They stopped outside a separate room where Anakin briefly spoke to Bant Erin, a Mon Calamari healer who Shmi knew was a dear friend of Obi-Wan’s. The Mon Calamari inclined her head to her before walking away up the hallway towards the staff area.
Anakin stepped aside and motioned for Shmi to come forward.
The blinds were down on the door and with a trembling hand she reached out to turn the handle. Fear seemed to consume her as her mind raced with what she would see, and as she walked in to the room that housed Obi-Wan, her mind relaxed because he looked so peaceful, being kept sedated in the bed. She couldn’t see his wounds and that made all the difference for her.
Anakin bent over his Master’s still form, and gently placed a hand on his forehead.
“What are you doing?” she asked curiously.
“Waking him up,” replied Anakin.
“Ani, don’t… he needs his rest.”
“Bant asked me to wake him up. She was about to come in and do it herself,” shrugged Anakin as he pulled his palm away and Obi-Wan began to stir. “Obi-Wan, it’s me.”
Shmi watched as her son soothed Obi-Wan into wakefulness and moved away from the bed, gently pushing his mother forward.
“Uh… why do I feel like I’ve been drugged?”
Shmi smiled. “Hello Obi-Wan.”
His eyes were unfocused, as if he was trying to work out exactly where he was.
“Ani?” she looked to her son who didn’t look worried.
Anakin smiled at her. “It’s the drugs. He’ll come back into it in a minute.” His face turned dark. “He was in a dark place, mum, with no light. The brightness of the healer’s room…”
She understood, of course that would be confusing for Obi-Wan after spending such a long time in the dark. She settled herself down on a chair next to the bed and took hold of Obi-Wan’s left hand that lay out on the bed. “Hello,” she said as he turned his head towards her.
Obi-Wan blinked several times as recognition came into his face. His lips moved and she had to bend down to make out the words. “I found your sister.”
“After all this time, that is the first thing you say to me?” she teased lightly.
“What did he say?” asked Anakin.
Shmi didn’t answer but returned her attention to the injured man in the hospital bed. “I know, Anakin told me. I haven’t seen her yet as I wanted to see you first.”
“You should see her first…” he croaked. “You’ve got a … lot … of catching up to do.”
Shmi patted his arm gently, mindful of the many scars that decorated them. What had Ventress done to him? “It is only fitting that after all you have done for me, I come to you first.”
He smiled lightly. “Thanks.”
She felt tears well in her eyes. He was not the man she remembered. Obi-Wan was different, affected by his experiences in captivity. He had always been quiet and unassuming but this was too quiet, even for him. “I want you to get better, Obi-Wan.”
“I don’t want to be stuck here for long,” he managed.
“Then you know what you have to do,” she said. “If you ever need to talk, I will be here for you. I am your friend and I owe you a lot. Talk if you need to. Anything you say will be confidential between us.”
He nodded slightly.
She wasn’t sure if he understood what she meant, but she hoped Obi-Wan realised that he would need to talk about his imprisonment otherwise his recovery would never be complete. Just like Anakin his demons would need to be discussed otherwise he would forever hold a darkness within him that could unleash one day. She didn’t want one of her dearest friends to feel like that, and she hoped that he would remember the lessons that he had taught Anakin about dealing with tough experiences, and apply them to himself.
If he doesn’t then I will lose a great friend.
She shook herself and stood from the chair. “I need to go. I’ll come by later and see you.”
“It’s good to see you,” he answered. “Nice to have a nice face around… for a change.”
Shmi looked back at him before she left the room, Anakin trailing behind her. “You’re right. He isn’t the same he was when he left for Jabiim.”
Anakin nodded numbly. “I hope he can return to being normal again.”
“It will take time,” she advised.
“I know. I’m afraid that he won’t face what hurt him most,” he swallowed and sighed audibly. “I’ve asked the Council for leave so that I can remain on Coruscant with Obi-Wan while he heals. He’s going to need me.”
“The Council wouldn’t send you back out there while Obi-Wan needs you, would they?” she asked. She couldn’t image they would. They knew the strength of their bond. If anyone could help Obi-Wan heal and come to terms with what had happened to him it would be Anakin.
Anakin was silent, leading his mother along the corridor. Finally he broke the silence. “I don’t know. I wouldn’t think so but it wasn’t a risk I’m willing to take.”
They stopped outside another room, a designated ward that was usually reserved for the Jedi Younglings or Initiates.
Anakin placed a hand on the control panel. “Your sister is in here. Mum, are you ready for this?”
“What choice do I have?” she answered. How could one be ready to see the sister they had thought lost many years ago? What would she even say to her? The last memory she had of her older sister was one of her being dragged away from the cell the pirates had put them in when they’d been captured. She remembered seeing her sister struggle, calling out to her mum and dad to save her… She swallowed the lump in her throat.
“Would you like me to come in?”
Shmi shook her head. “No. I think… I think I need to do this on my own.”
He nodded, accepting her decision. He wouldn’t be able to convince her to let him come in if he tried. He knew full well that once Shmi’s mind was made up he couldn’t change it.
Taking a deep breath Shmi let Anakin palm the door open before stepping through.
- - - - -
She was in a small ward area with four beds, two on each side of the room. The morning light was shining into the room, its rays falling upon the beds along the right-hand wall, where two young children occupied the beds, one of them still asleep, the other – the boy – looking at her with wide, unbelieving eyes.
Shmi turned her head to the occupants of one of the beds on the left-hand side of the room. The man rose from his seated position on the edge of the bed to watch as Shmi cautiously approached. The woman in the bed stared at her, wonderment in her eyes.
The woman in the bed, who Shmi instantly knew was her sister, looked so much like her that the resemblance was uncanny. They could be twins if Shmi wasn’t a few years younger and had fewer lines on her face.
“Hello,” she managed, trying to put on a brave smile, despite the butterflies that were flittering through her stomach. “I’m Shmi, my son tells me you are my sister.”
The woman nodded. “If we’re not I’d be surprised.” She took Shmi’s hand and shook it. “Kyra.”
Numbness spread through Shmi and she had to grab a chair to steady herself before she shook the sensations away. “Sorry, this is such a shock to me. I never thought that I’d see you again.”
Kyra’s lips went up in a lop-sided smile. “It is unlikely isn’t it?”
Shmi nodded eagerly. She had been content with the life she had carved out for herself on Coruscant. She had at least learnt from Obi-Wan that other members of her family had been freed from slavery but the chances of seeing them again had always been unlikely.
“This is Taren, my husband,” said Kyra gently, motioning to the man standing next to her bed. She pointed over to the two other beds. “My children, the girl is Ria and my son Mernen.”
A spark of recognition activated through her brain at those names. “Ria and Mernen?”
“Mum and dad’s names. I wanted to remember them,” said Kyra evenly. “I never knew what happened to them but I always had memories of them.”
Shmi bit her lip. She knew what had happened to their parents but unlike Kyra could barely remember them.
“Do you know what happened to them?” asked Kyra.
Shmi nodded. “I do. Obi-Wan managed to trace what happened to them. I knew you had been freed…”
“He’s that Jedi, isn’t he? The one your son came for?” pressed Kyra.
“He is.” Compared to what Obi-Wan had suffered in his prison, Kyra seemed to have got off lightly. “I owe him a lot for what he has done for me. He’s trained my son, he freed me from slavery, used his contacts to find out what happened to the rest of my family… He’s a great Jedi, I owe him a lot for what he has done for me.”
Kyra sighed. “It is a shame there isn’t more people out there like him.” Her voice was soft but the tone of it sent shivers down Shmi’s spine. Had her slavery been terrible?
Her sister perked up, the flash of the past in her eyes had gone, as she spoke again. “What happened to you after you were sold?”
It wasn’t a conversation that Shmi really wanted to have here, but she had long ago come to terms with the way her life had gone. It was still uncomfortable to speak about it, especially to someone she barely knew, despite that person being a family member.
“I was passed around several owners, some were harsh and cruel, and others were kind to me. I was trained as a house servant. When I was sixteen I was dropped from a house servant to a cleaning position. There was an owner of mine, Pi-Lippa, who was kind to me, she taught me valuable mechanical skills, and she intended to free me. But she died before she could do it and her family sold me on. Around that time I found out I was pregnant with Anakin. It was a miracle I managed to keep him with me at all times. When Anakin was three we were sold to the Hutts and were shipped to Tatooine.”
“Tatooine?” Kyra interrupted. “You were there?” She shook her head. “I wasn’t really with it when I spoke to your son before, I think he did mention Tatooine.”
“Not until I was thirty-four,” Shmi answered cautiously. Obi-Wan had mentioned her sister had once been on Tatooine at the same time as her, but that didn’t factor into the account of the ages of her children. She had been under the impression that her sister had been freed before marriage.
“I lived there for a time, after I was freed. My previous husband had a business arrangement there, which is where we first met.”
“Oh.” That answered that then. Her sister had been on Tatooine at the same time as her but when she had been freed. “You lived in the richer part of Mos Espa then?”
“I did, but only for a few months until the arrangement ended and we left the Outer Rim Territories. I had children quite late in life. I wanted to have my freedom.”
Shmi nodded thoughtfully and continued with her story. “Our owner, Gardulla the Hutt, lost both Anakin and I betting on the pod-races. We were sold to Watto, a local junk dealer. When Anakin was nine everything changed. A Jedi came and freed my son. He tried to free me to but Watto wouldn’t allow it so I let Anakin go because he had amazing gifts that were wasted in slavery. He didn’t deserve to spend the rest of his life as a slave. I didn’t think I’d see him again,” a small smile came to her lips, “but I did because a year later a stranger came to the shop and wanted to buy me from Watto. He offered a lot of money for me. It was only after the sale was complete that I learnt that he was a Jedi Knight, and that he was training my son. Obi-Wan brought me back to me Coruscant and I’ve been here ever since… I married a very kind man, Darec Layson, and we have a daughter, Kia.”
Kyra laughed at that, a small, pleasant laugh. “You named her after me?”
“I did. It was a way of remembering my family. If Darec and I had had more children I’d have remembered our brother to,” said Shmi.
“Do you know what happened to him?” Kyra questioned. “I can remember him, he was four years old. Just four.”
“Obi-Wan couldn’t trace where he is now,” replied Shmi sadly. “Mum died in slavery and dad escaped ten years after we were all sold but I don’t know where he is.”
Kyra bowed her head. “That’s horrible…” she sniffed.
Taren placed a hand on his wife’s shoulders. “I’m sure we could find him if we tried.”
“It’s a big galaxy, Taren,” mentioned Kyra. “What are the chances of reuniting the rest of our family?”
Taren looked pointedly at his wife. “As much of a chance it was that you’d see your sister again.”
Shmi watched the two debating the subject. They clearly adored one another if Taren was willing to put in the effort to help his wife find closure for the rest of her lost family.
“Shmi, what do you think?” asked Kyra.
Startled she didn’t know what to say, choosing to say silent as she contemplated the question. What would be the best solution? The galaxy was at war now; it might be far too dangerous to assume they could trace anyone down. One didn’t know where the Separatists could be hiding, ready to strike at a moment’s notice. “I think if you really want to try finding them again, you should wait until this conflict is over.”
“That is probably a good idea,” acknowledged Taren. “We’ll stay on Coruscant for a while,” he glanced to Shmi, “get to know the rest of your family more. Maybe get in contact with your ex, if you wish to follow up on allowing him access to his children.”
Kyra nodded. “Yes, yes that would be good.”
“It would good of you to stay,” smiled Shmi. “I’d like to get to know my niece and nephew.”
“I’d like that, I think they would to.” Kyra shifted on the bed and swung her legs off of it, getting to her feet. The hospital gown she wore showed off her thin frame. “Would you like to be introduced to them? I think they have a bit of curiosity about you.”
Shmi glanced over at the two other beds and saw both children, now wide awake watching her closely. She gave them a small smile and dutifully followed her sister over to the other side of the ward to meet her niece and nephew for the first time.
- - - - -
“No! Please! No! Stop!”
Dropping the sponge in the sink she had been cleaning and pulling off the gloves, Shmi rushed to the room where the yells had come from. Bant Erin was already there, one scaly hand placed on top of a fighting Obi-Wan’s brow. He was jerking, and murmuring loudly as he tossed and turned.
“Obi… please,” Bant whispered. “It’s just a dream… calm down.”
Shmi moved into the room and stopped by the side of the bed. He wasn’t responding, completely lost in memories.
“No, no, I’m not weak!” the man on the bed yelled out, his feverish face sweating profusely.
“I can’t calm him!” said Bant. “I came into check on him after his surgery and he just started to convulse…”
Shmi moved to Obi-Wan’s other side and gripped his right hand. She didn’t have the Force but maybe she could help? “Obi-Wan?” she said gently. “It’s ok. You’re not there anymore, you’re safe, you are home…”
The sound of her voice seemed to calm him and the convulsions lessened but he was still shaking, his lips moving as small whimpers emerged. A silent tear trickled down his face. Shmi lifted a hand and wiped it away with her finger. “Obi-Wan… Listen to me. You are safe.”
Bant returned to the bed, having left to grab a syringe. “I need to wake him up properly. I’m giving him a wash through the line; it should negate the effects of the sedative and get him to wake up.”
It wasn’t Shmi’s job to help with the patients but in this case she had to and she wanted to help. She held onto Obi-Wan’s wrists to stop him from flinging his arms about to prevent Bant from using the syringe. Despite lost in his dark memories, he was still aware that something was happening and he was being restrained, only making him feel worse and probably believe that he was still in the possession of the woman that had held him.
Obi-Wan twisted and turned. “No… no…please! I can’t take it anymore!”
Shmi felt tears well in her eyes. She couldn’t bear to see him suffering like this. It strung her heart out.
She looked up as Anakin came barging into the room.
“I can help him!” he said loudly. “Release him!”
Bant hesitated. “Anakin I don’t think…”
But Shmi had already let go of Obi-Wan’s wrists. “I trust you.”
Anakin nodded his thanks and pushed past Bant to stand at his Master’s side. He placed his hands on Obi-Wan’s face and closed his eyes. “Obi-Wan…”
They watched as Obi-Wan’s movements stilled and he calmed down, his breathing returning to normal and the sweat that had tingled with his skin stopping. Whatever Anakin was doing was effective. Finally the young man opened his eyes again and he removed his hands from his Master’s head.
“He’s calmer now. He’ll wake up soon.”
“How did you know he needed you?” asked Bant curiously.
“Our bond. I was on my way back to the Temple when I felt it burst with agitation and fear and darkness. It was… horrible.” Anakin shuddered. “I came here straight away because I knew I was the only one who could help him. Restraining him isn’t going to help.”
Bant folded her arms. “He’s just come out of surgery. If he’s going to thrash around restraining him is the only way to stop him from tearing the stitches open.”
“She does have a point,” Shmi said.
Anakin sighed. “Sorry. I’m worried for him. The bond doesn’t feel right. I want it to be back to normal. I hate seeing him like this.”
“We won’t be using sedatives on him anymore,” said Bant, patting Anakin’s arm. “It will be easier to wake him up when he doesn’t have that circling his system.”
Shmi glanced between the two. “I should get back to work.”
“Thanks for the help, Shmi,” said Bant.
Shmi walked out of the room and prepared to continue with her duties. Only an hour left of her shift then she would go and visit her sister again before seeing if Obi-Wan was awake.
She had the feeling that this week was going to be a busy one.
- - - - -
Palpatine was livid.
Dooku had failed once again. Kenobi wasn’t dead as per his orders. He had escaped. Again. That Jedi appeared to have the resourcefulness to escape death constantly. His plans regarding Kenobi had changed – he had been hoping to turn the boy against him, but the bond that bonded the two together was too strong. If he couldn’t kill Kenobi then his plans had to change and settle upon someone else for now, someone far more vulnerable…
His manipulation of Anakin should have been continuing to go forward during the boy’s training. It had been Shmi Skywalker that had got in the way to prevent that from happening. Anakin didn’t trust him.
But Tyranus had told him of the anger that Skywalker had displayed on Rattatak after he had tortured Kenobi.
The Jedi Master was inaccessible at the moment but Shmi Skywalker was not…
A sly smile crossed his face. He knew exactly how to unleash the dark potential that Skywalker carried within him.
To be continued...
Chapter 21 will be posted on Friday
Obi-Wan and Anakin really do have quite the bond in this story - so satisfying how Anakin rushed in to calm Obi-Wan.
Loved the sisterly catching up woot for the bond coming in so necessary and handy
@Valairy Scot Thank you!
@Jade_eyes Thanks! The bond will come in useful
- - - - -
He had wanted to surprise her but had caught his wife-to-be at a very bad time. He hadn’t commed ahead to see if she was free, assuming that after a long day in the Senate that Padmé Amidala would be resting. He hadn’t seen her in a while and hadn’t visited since he had brought Obi-Wan back to the Temple. The Jedi Council had imposed a news black-out until Obi-Wan was sufficiently recovered enough to deal with it, so she did not even know that Anakin had returned to Coruscant.
Padmé was hosting a small dinner with two of her closest friends, Bail Organa and Mon Mothma when Anakin arrived. When C-3PO announced his arrival and he had walked in, the three Senators had frozen for none of them had expected his arrival. C-3PO hadn’t mentioned to him that Padmé had visitors.
Out of the three Senators, Padmé resumed her composure the quickest. “Master Skywalker, I didn’t know you had returned to Coruscant.”
“Apologies, my lady, it has been kept quiet.”
“Why would the Jedi Council wish to keep your presence on Coruscant a secret?” Bail Organa curtly asked before Padmé could reply.
Can I trust them? It was a consideration he had to think about. He had come here with the express desire to inform Padmé about Obi-Wan’s return, but had not counted on her already having company. He was not here on official business and though some Jedi had friends within the Galactic Senate, not many of them visited on a regular basis that Anakin did whenever he was home. But Obi-Wan’s return was meant to remain a secret until it was authorised to be released. He knew Bail Organa and Obi-Wan were friends – the man had been deeply saddened to learn of his friend’s death. Mon Mothma was an unknown quantity but he knew that Padmé respected her and liked her, considering her to be one of her closest allies in the Senate.
“Anakin?” prompted Padmé quietly.
He sighed. “Officially I am meant to be elsewhere but circumstances called for me to return.” He bit his lip He was still supposed to be on Christophsis after all; the battle was still on-going there. He shouldn’t be telling them but he had messed up in not contacting Padmé in advance to make sure he could visit. Apart from seeing his mother, for the past week he had been constantly by Obi-Wan’s side. If he didn’t say something more official the two Senators may begin to suspect that something was up and not be as willing to put their faith in the Jedi Order as they had done in the past.
“We can keep a secret,” Bail noted.
“Bail! If he’s not meant to say then he shouldn’t!” retorted Padmé.
Bail scrutinised the young man in front of him. “You were coming to tell Senator Amidala though, were you not?”
Anakin shifted uncomfortably on his feet. He couldn’t get out of that one and he shouldn’t lie either. “Yes, I was. I came here to talk to Senator Amidala and tell her confidential information that isn’t being released to either Republic Senators or the public at this present time.”
“I suppose there is a very good reason why the Jedi Order has chosen to be secretive with the Republic?” mentioned Organa, clearly not impressed.
“It reserves that right to yes, when one of our own returns to us in ill health,” stated Anakin, which was true.
Anakin smiled gently. Padmé had guessed what Anakin had come to say but she couldn’t say it because it would reveal more about Anakin’s love for her and what she knew ahead of the other Senators. “I have chosen to inform Senator Amidala because he is a dear friend of hers.”
Bail traded glances with Mon Mothma. “I imagine myself and Mon can accept that reason.”
“But, I feel I can trust you both to not talk of it if I did tell you. It’s to protect the Jedi in question more than anything and to stop the speculation that occurs in the news that can occur about certain Jedi,” said Anakin. He took a deep breath. “We have recovered Master Kenobi from captivity.”
“How is that possible?” asked Bail. “Chancellor Palpatine announced that he had been killed on Jabiim.”
Anakin moved forward and sat down at the table. “He wasn’t. He was my Master and I knew he wasn’t dead. We’ve spent the last few months trying to find him and we did. The Separatists chose to keep his capture a secret.” There was no need for the Senators to know that Ventress had kept Obi-Wan’s capture a secret from her employer. That wasn’t important. He’d tell Padmé later, when they were alone. “We’ve rescued him but he is in fragile health and not receiving any visitors apart from close friends within the Temple itself.”
“It is wonderful news that an esteemed Jedi has returned to us,” said Mon Mothma. “He was instrumental in freeing your home world during the Naboo crisis eleven years ago wasn’t he, Padmé?”
Padmé nodded. “He was. He is a dear friend of mine.” She looked back at Anakin. “I’m very happy that you’ve found him, Knight Skywalker. Will the news be released any time soon about his return?”
Anakin shook his head. “I doubt it. I think the Council will want to hear his report before they release the news to the Chancellor’s office. That won’t be happening for a while, not until he has returned to normal.” By that Anakin meant his Master no longer having nightmares and believing that he was back in that horrid place. Through the bond he could sense what Obi-Wan was seeing but the link between them was still weak due to his Master’s current lack of control with the Force. It was still early days.
Bail nodded thoughtfully. “Then we will remain quiet about this news until the Jedi Council release it. Obi-Wan is a dear friend of mine. I do wish him the best of health.”
It seemed Bail was dismissing him which Anakin didn’t want. He wanted to talk to Padmé more freely. And he had something more important to say… After what had happened to Obi-Wan, Anakin didn’t want to risk losing any more people he loved. Padmé was one of the last people in the galaxy that he wished to lose, he loved her, and he wanted to do something about it. Lives could be destroyed in a second with the war, Obi-Wan’s had been and so many others...
His eyes swept over to Padmé and he caught her mouthing something at him.
“I’ll contact you later.”
He blew out a sigh. Not what he wanted but at least he could return. He bowed before the three Senators. “If you must excuse me, I need to return to my Master.”
Padmé stepped forward and quickly gave him a hug. “Thank you for informing me about Master Kenobi. Look after him, and please, pass on my regards. I hope I will be able to see him soon.”
Anakin smiled. Just having Padmé give him a hug made him feel more relaxed then he had done for the past week. “I’ll be back later,” he whispered.
Then he turned away and without looking back left the apartment.
- - - - -
The dagger tore into his clothing, its sharp edge nicking his skin as Ventress pulled it slowly down his chest. He bit his lip, trying to resist from whimpering out his pain. She wanted that. He couldn’t give her that satisfaction.
“No one is coming for you, Obi-Wan…” she whispered close to his ear, her hot breath on his neck.
He shivered at the unpleasant sensation. He wanted to be away from here. Far away. He wanted to be at home, safe in the Jedi Temple.
“All it will take is three simple words from you and all of this will end…” she whispered invitingly into his ear. “I will beg…”
He shook his head desperately. “No!”
A hand curled around his chin, forcing him to look at her, her dark eyes glinting menacingly.
“Obi-Wan! Come on! Snap out of it!”
With a gasp and a shout and with his body jerking suddenly, Obi-Wan woke from his slumber, his heart beating fast and his eyes darting about the room, searching for any signs of the woman that had tortured him so. As he recognised the familiar form of Anakin he began to calm down, realising that he had over-reacted to the past. His dreams were nightmares, forcing him to relive the terrible time he had spent in Ventress’ tender care. “Anakin?” he whispered faintly.
He felt soothing ripples envelop his body as Anakin plunged into the bond and help him. His former Padawan’s presence was reassuring.
It is ok, Master.
Anakin’s voice came quietly over the bond. Their connection wasn’t fully restored yet though Obi-Wan grew stronger every day. He was still weak and would be for quite a few weeks yet. His stomach couldn’t handle proper food, having been deprived of it for so long. This wouldn’t be an easy recovery for him and he loathed that he was dependent on others until he was deemed fit enough to leave the Halls of Healing.
Even then, he doubted that Anakin would leave him to his own devices. Anakin wanted to help him; the trouble was that Anakin wanted to know exactly what Obi-Wan had gone through. Obi-Wan wanted to forget and not talk about it to anyone.
“You need to talk about it,” said Anakin gently.
Predictable. Anakin thought he knew what was best for him. No he didn’t. He was fed up of Anakin trying to push him into doing things he didn’t want to do. He just wanted to forget what Ventress had done to him.
I can’t forget can I?
He knew that because he had to report to the Council, and no doubt the topic of his captivity would come up in session. Either way he’d have to discuss it with people and he’d rather not but he also understood that Anakin could help him, if he let him.
But Obi-Wan was afraid of what the truth of his captivity would do to Anakin. He hadn’t failed to notice that his former apprentice had felt strange through their bond, there was a slight dark tinge to it that hadn’t been there before. Had Anakin had a brush with the dark side? If he had he was afraid to push him even further by filling him in with the details of his imprisonment.
He brushed away Anakin’s arm. “I’m fine, Anakin.”
“You still look rather pale, Obi-Wan,” his former Padawan returned.
Obi-Wan sent a glare at him. “Really?”
“Master…” Anakin reverted to the old name.
Anakin sighed. “You know where I am if you need me. Call on the com-link.”
Obi-Wan curtly nodded and watched as Anakin left his room. He sank back into the pillows and closed his eyes, trying to reach out to the Force.
His eyes snapped open again, his lips parted to tell the intruder to go away but as soon as he saw Shmi Skywalker in the doorway, he knew he couldn’t tell her to leave. He softened his face and made an effort to move up the bed so he was sitting up more and watched as she moved into the room, closing the door behind him.
“He’s only trying to help,” she pointed out.
“I know,” he answered. “But I can’t talk about it.”
Shmi sat down on the side of the bed. “Do you remember when Anakin didn’t want to tell you about his time as a slave? And how it took him months before you finally learnt the full truth of his slavery?”
Of course he remembered. Anakin had been scarred by slavery. It had only been through meditation and Obi-Wan’s guidance and encouragement, and Shmi’s determination to help her son, that Anakin had allowed Obi-Wan to see his most horrible memories. Through that he had finally found acceptance.
He remembered that day so well…
“Something still bothers you, Anakin,” said Obi-Wan. He was getting very good at picking up on his young Padawan’s mood. “Something you don’t want to tell me.”
Anakin lowered his eyes away from his Master. “I’m worried what you’ll think when you see this. What I’m hiding is the worst memory I have of being a slave. I don’t want to forgive the people for what they did.”
“You don’t have to forgive them, just accept that it happened and move on,” advised Obi-Wan gently. “I know it is difficult and I cannot even understand what you’ve gone through but you’ve shared with me other aspects of your past and it has helped you. As your Master, it is my duty to aid you in whatever way I can. To face your demons is a natural part of life… Your past as a slave is your demon. If you can’t come to acceptance it will haunt you forever.”
Anakin bit his lip. “Am I susceptible to the dark side, Master?”
That was a tough question coming from someone so young. Obi-Wan swallowed, understanding the implications of what could occur if he said the wrong thing. His apprentice wanted reassurance but Obi-Wan couldn’t give that if he was going to be honest. He and Anakin were building their bond on trust. If he lied, he’d shatter that fragile, but growing bond to pieces. The progress they’d have made over the last few months would be for nothing.
Obi-Wan sighed. This would be hard and difficult for him. Anakin deserved to know the truth. “Everyone is susceptible to the dark side, Padawan. Even me. In fact for a while I probably was. After Qui-Gon’s death I had to filter out the darkness in me at my failure to prevent him from being killed. I was skilful enough to keep up with them during the duel on Naboo. I harboured guilt and my soul was darkened by the violent severing of our bond.” He reached out and tapped Anakin on the shoulder. “But you? You have more demons then other young Jedi because you didn’t have the benefit of growing up in the Temple away from attachments. You have attachments and from that you are more susceptible to the dark side. Your experience as a slave only furthers that, but if you can face the past, accept it and move forward, you lower the risk you have at being lured to the dark side because slavery won’t be something that affects you.”
Anakin’s presence in the Force felt reluctant. “I’ve shared with you other things…”
Obi-Wan nodded. “You have but the point of our relationship is to trust one another. I trusted you to do what was right with those pirates because I knew you could do it. I put my own life on the line because I valued having your trust and that I respected you.” He smiled gently. “No matter what has happened to you in the past I will always be here for you, if you let me in, just like you will be for me if I ever suffer a traumatic experience that you need to help me with.”
Anakin’s gaze tore right up. “I won’t let anything happen to you ever, Master.”
“You know you can’t stop bad things happening to me. I appreciate your concern but that is my point. If I ever need your help I expect you to push me into talking about it. We can’t forgive and accept if we don’t open our hearts to the people we are closest too,” responded Obi-Wan.
The young boy in front of him sighed.
Obi-Wan could appreciate how hard it was for Anakin to talk to him about his past. He had seen some of Anakin’s worst memories during his slavery but there was one memory, one final experience that he just wouldn’t share with him. It kept Anakin resentful and was the final block in their way in building a strong bond.
“Let me help you,” he said.
“You won’t tell anyone?” asked Anakin, his eyes wide in fear.
“No, I won’t. I haven’t even told the Jedi Council about the other memories I have seen. All they know is that you are sharing with me your memories; they do not expect me to tell them about your experiences. This is about trust.” He held up a hand, and placed the other over his heart. “I swear that what you reveal to me will stay between us.”
“And my mother,” whispered Anakin. “This memory involves her. It was when we found out that I was different.”
“You must have been very young then,” commented Obi-Wan. He had seen quite a few memories but most of them had been of when Anakin had been on Tatooine. The youngest he had seen his apprentice had been when he was four years old. Whatever memory Anakin was afraid of showing him was one where they learnt about his Force powers.
“I was,” admitted Anakin. “We weren’t even on Tatooine yet. It’s very hazy but I can remember bits and pieces of it and…” he shuddered, “…what they did to my mother was…” He couldn’t finish the sentence.
No wonder Anakin didn’t want Obi-Wan to see. If Shmi had been beaten in front of Anakin and he had done something… Anakin must have thought that Obi-Wan would think little of him if he had used his anger to protect his mother, if that was the case, and the young Master suspected that to be the case.
“Anakin, you were a child. You wanted to protect your mother. You knew no different. I cannot blame you for the things you did before Master Qui-Gon discovered you.” He sat back but locked gazes with his young charge. “Please, share with me this final piece of the puzzle and we can work on it together, so that you can move past it.”
Anakin was silent for several long moments. The young boy’s Force aura was turbulent, shaking with fear and worry, concerned with sharing this memory.
“You have to trust me,” pushed Obi-Wan quietly.
Anakin swallowed and reached out to take his Master’s hand. “You’ll have to help me because I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself from getting angry... and I could take it out on you for making me relieve it again when I’ve tried to bury it beneath my happier and less troublesome experiences.”
“Of course. I don’t expect you to be able to handle the worst of your past on your own. Everyone needs help, no matter how much they think they don’t,” said Obi-Wan. “Now, let’s do this and afterwards I’ll give you the rest of the day off and tomorrow to do what you want.”
Anakin looked up hopefully. Instantly Obi-Wan knew what Anakin wanted to do. Go and see his mother. Shmi was currently on leave and Anakin hadn’t seen his mother as often as he had been. “Ok.” He took a deep breath and the young boy closed his eyes.
Obi-Wan sensed Anakin reaching for him in the Force and opened himself up to him so that their Force signatures combined and came together in a blaze of light. They became one, feeling each other’s thoughts and catching glimpses of memories.
Anakin draw on his past, projecting the images of the darkest part of his past, the final piece that held him back.
Obi-Wan saw as a barely three year old Anakin watched as his mother was dragged from the cell she was being kept in by the slavers that were transporting them to Tatooine, pulling her away from her young son. Screaming for Anakin, the young boy could only witness as the three pirates grabbed his mother and tore at her clothing. They grabbed her harshly, touching and pressing themselves on her.
The screams that came from Shmi shocked the young boy to the core. Tears fell down his cheeks as he scrambled to his feet and yelled: “Stop it!”
The men only continued with their violent assault on Shmi Skywalker. But the young boy had had enough.
Something triggered in him. Something dark built up and was unleashed as Anakin pushed his palms out hard and the three men went flying across the room, crashing hard into the steel wall. Shmi scrambled to her feet and ran back to her son.
“Ani?” she had said. “What did you do?”
The small boy sniffed. “I don’t know…”
They both watched as the three pirates got to their feet, watching the two of them silently.
“There’s something strange about that kid…” said one of the pirates, the one who had initiated the attack.
“I pity the poor soul that will buy him…” said another.
“No,” the third one replied, “we’ll make sure they’re sold to the harshest bidder possible. They don’t deserve kindness.”
Anakin was too young to understand the ramifications of those words but to his young ears they heard evil. Something bubbled in him again and he let loose, palms outward once again and the three pirates went slamming back again, heads snapping hard into the wall. Scrambling to their feet once more, the three pirates retreated.
Shmi opened the cell door that hadn’t been locked when she had been dragged out but was too strong for Anakin to open and reached for her son. “Oh Ani, what have you done? What have you done?”
Obi-Wan felt Anakin draw away from the bond, the images fading from his mind. Opening his eyes, he fixed his Padawan with a stare. Anakin couldn’t be held responsible for his actions at that age. He hadn’t known what he was doing. He had wanted to save his mother and he’d had no idea what power he held. His mother was being assaulted and would have been raped… the young boy had tried to protect her, without realising or understanding what he had done. He could also see why Anakin simply could not forgive those pirates. They had been responsible in ensuring he and his mother had been sold to the harshest bidder possible and from other memories Anakin had shared, that bidder had been Gardulla the Hutt.
Anakin didn’t want to look at him.
“I don’t blame you for what you did,” he continued. “I now know why you don’t want to forgive these people or accept it. Seeing someone you love being hurt is a horrible thing to witness… and at your age that would have been frightening for you.”
“But if I want to be a good Jedi, I have to learn to forgive them?” replied Anakin morosely.
Obi-Wan nodded. “Yes.”
“Bad things always happen to people in slavery. Rarely a good thing occurs. My mum and I were lucky that Master Qui-Gon came along when he did. That day, when she was nearly raped, that was the day I knew I had to save her. I didn’t know that my powers were of the Jedi until a year later. I kept making things happen. I thought that I could use my power to free us but I couldn’t…” he hung his head. “It took for someone else to save my mother and I didn’t do it.”
And Obi-Wan saw the crux of the problem.
“Before you left Tatooine you promised your mother that you’d go back one day and free her, didn’t you?” questioned Obi-Wan.
Anakin sniffed, wiping his nose. “Yes.”
“And I did that for you so you didn’t fulfil your promise…” Obi-Wan realised.
“I don’t blame you, Master!” Anakin responded quickly. “It was something that I always intended to do, was to free her. After that incident my life became one of trying to help her in any way I could. Whenever anyone tried to make a move on her, I stopped them. I was so angry a lot of the time.”
Obi-Wan sighed. “You didn’t know. And it is understandable you felt the way you did. But you have grown out of it. You are not dark, Anakin, and you never will be.”
“How can you know that?” he demanded, the young boy’s features scrunching up. “Just because I’m light now doesn’t mean I won’t be dark in the future!”
“Anakin, your mother is your balance point. She holds you in place. I do not sense any darkness in you,” explained Obi-Wan. “Anakin let your past go. Forgive. Hasn’t your mother done the same?”
Anakin was silent for a long while and Obi-Wan chose to let him think. Shmi had told him a while ago that she had forgiven the pirates and her owners for whatever they had done to her a long time ago. They had been trying to earn a living and even though their trade was inhuman, Shmi felt despite her slavery she’d had a good life. She’d raised a son and she’d been freed which was something a lot of the slaves never accomplished. Once a slave, always a slave.
“She has forgiven them,” admitted Anakin. “How can she do that? They nearly…” he choked on the word he was trying to say.
“I know,” said Obi-Wan gently. “But she’s forgiven them because she found her freedom. It’s more difficult for you because you were a child. Your innocence was taken from you the moment you were born. But if your mother can forgive then so can you.”
Closing his eyes, the young Padawan sunk deep into the Force. Obi-Wan gently skimmed the surface of the bond and he felt the remaining tense, grey part of his Padawan’s Force signature gently fade away as he released his anger and guilt to the Force, accepting his past and forgiving those that had wronged him.
“How do you feel?”
Anakin slowly opened his eyes. “Better I think.”
“Good,” smiled Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan shook himself free of the memory. If Anakin hadn’t shown him that memory, there would still be a remnant of resentment inside him, a part of him that would be susceptible to the Sith. He had helped Anakin come to terms with his past and to accept the actions of others, and yet, here Obi-Wan Kenobi was years later, and not wishing to do the same. He wanted to wallow in the past, he didn’t want to talk about it, didn’t wish to burden Anakin with the pain he had endured over the months he had been imprisoned.
Obi-Wan’s pain overshadowed their bond.
“It took a lot for Anakin to tell you about my attack,” said Shmi. “He trusted you with his darkest secrets and experiences.” She patted his arm gently, smiling lightly. “You need to do the same.”
Despite his own feelings, Obi-Wan knew Shmi was right. He did have to confront it, the trouble was, he was afraid of what it would reveal about him and what his own memories would do to Anakin if he saw the extent of the torture Obi-Wan had been forced to endure. Anakin would, naturally, blame himself for failing to save his Master from the explosion. Either way, one of them would have to be burdened. Why should it be Anakin when he already had so much to be concerned about? Shouldn’t Obi-Wan have his own share of the burden? If keeping Anakin from the truth would save him, then wasn’t it worth it?
“Obi-Wan…” Shmi looked at him expectantly. “Don’t try and think yourself out of it. You know letting go will boost your recovery. Let Ani help you.”
He was silent. What could he say? Bring Anakin here now so that they could talk?
She seemed to know what he was thinking before he could even say a word.
“It doesn’t have to be now, but soon,” she said. “Please, Obi-Wan, talk to Anakin. If not for yourself do it for me. It’s difficult to see you like this. Promise me you’ll speak to him.”
Obi-Wan let out a slow breath.
Shmi watched him expectantly.
“I… I can’t promise,” he began, “…but I can talk to him.”
Shmi nodded. “It’s a start,” she acknowledged as she rose from the side of the bed. “Remember, if you need me, I’m here for you too. If you don’t want to tell Anakin just yet, trust me, but it is important you face what has happened to you. The Republic needs you, Obi-Wan.”
She gave him a smile before she walked out of the room, leaving Obi-Wan to contemplate his thoughts.
To be continued...
Please let me know what you think!
Chapter 22 will be posted on Sunday
Superb post. Your dialogue and use of flashbacks - excellent also. Is this really your fanfic debut?
@Jade_eyes Thank you! Is this my fanfic debut? No, it isn't. It technically is for this particular fandom. I've written other fanfic stories such as for Doctor Who and Harry Potter, and about ten years ago I did write some Star Wars fics which I have since deleted from my computer since they were just really, really bad but they were written when I was 13, back in oh... 2001. I've been writing fanfiction for about twelve years now. But I'd say this is my official Star Wars fanfic debut
- - - - -
“Anakin, you’re afraid.” Padmé noted, as she sat down beside the young Jedi.
Normally he’d joke about Jedi never being afraid, but today, Anakin was not in the mood. Padmé’s dinner was finished and the two Senator’s had left. Padmé had arranged to go into the office late tomorrow, giving Anakin the time he needed to have with the Senator. He needed someone to talk to other then his mother, and with Obi-Wan not in the right frame of mind, the only other person was Padmé.
He ran a hand through his hair, sighing. “I’m afraid for Obi-Wan. He’s not well,” he swallowed. “He won’t let me help him.”
“Ani…” Padmé sighed, rubbing his shoulders. “He’s been through a terrible experience. These things take time.”
“It’s been a week…” he replied slowly.
“A week is hardly time for him to be ready to talk about things,” Padmé said carefully. “Understanding is the key to everything, Anakin. I don’t know what he went through but it must have been horrible.”
Anakin took a deep breath. “It was.”
“And to think that I want peace with the Separatists and they could do something like this to someone I care about?” spat Padmé, her anger showing on her face.
“Padmé…” He realised that the Senator didn’t know that Obi-Wan’s survival had been kept secret from Dooku himself. She was assuming that the Separatists had purposely tortured him, just because they could. He grasped her wrist lightly, turning to look at her. “Obi-Wan’s capture was a secret from Count Dooku himself. He didn’t even know until very recently. In this case, the Separatists are not responsible for Obi-Wan’s condition.” He could scarcely believe that he was defending the enemy of the Republic, but it was the truth. The Separatists couldn’t be blamed for his former Master’s treatment if they’d had no inclination of his survival.
But Asajj Ventress could be held responsible. After all, she had been the one to decorate Obi-Wan’s body with numerous scars, some of which would never fade, and would be a constant reminder of what he had suffered.
“Who was it? Who hid him?” she asked quietly.
Anakin’s shoulders shook as he spoke. “Ventress. I don’t know why she kept his survival a secret. I suspect Obi-Wan knows. Dooku had just arrived when we got to her fortress to rescue him. He was there to kill him.”
“If Count Dooku was unaware of Obi-Wan’s capture, how did he find out?” Padmé was quite inquisitive.
Anakin shook his head. “I don’t know. The Jedi intercepted a communication from Dooku to Ventress. That’s how we found out where he was.” He thought back to the recording, remembering the name the Count had spoken. “He said something about a ‘Lord Sidious’ instructing him to kill Obi-Wan. I guess this ‘Sidious’ must be the Sith that we cannot identify…” And then a thought struck him. “But if Ventress kept Obi-Wan’s survival a secret from everybody, how did this Sidious find out?”
“Maybe if this Sidious is the one behind all of this, and he must be an extremely powerful Force user to hide from the Jedi, he could sense it?” considered Padmé.
“But if he knew instinctively, why didn’t he act sooner?” Anakin mentioned. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Padmé hesitated but there was a look in her eyes that made Anakin believe she had a theory.
“What is it?”
The Senator chewed her bottom lip. “I don’t know. It’s a thought I had, a possibility. The Sith is behind this war, a Sith was involved in Naboo, could they be one and the same?”
“The Council believe so,” said Anakin, “we’ve just never been able to trace the culprit. What are you thinking?”
“Obi-Wan killed a Sith on Naboo,” theorised Padmé, “could the Sith have wanted him to suffer before ordering his execution for what he did?”
Frowning, Anakin considered her words. It was a possibility. Sith did thrive on revenge and what sweeter revenge was there to know that the Jedi that had halted your plans was suffering unbearable pain and had no hope of rescue? But if that was true then why not let him to suffer continually? The Sith must have known that the Jedi didn’t know where Obi-Wan was… but how?
He rubbed his forehead in frustration. “We’re missing something, Padmé, and I don’t know what it is. Something vital is slipping through our fingers, eluding us. It’s right under our very noses.” He grabbed at his hair, tugging lightly on the strands. “The Sith are clever, they wanted Obi-Wan dead. I don’t think he knew, he must have found out somehow, through some other means… The dark side may be clouding everything, but the Sith cannot sense everything. Obi-Wan’s Force signature was being supressed. I could only reach him through our bond if I sunk so deep into it that I was putting myself at risk,” explained Anakin. “There’s no way they could have sensed what I did without that connection.”
“Perhaps this mystery will be revealed in time?” suggested Padmé wisely. “Sometimes answers take a long time in coming. It’s only if we are patient that they arrive quicker.”
Anakin looked at her surprised. “Where did you get that from?”
Padmé shrugged. “Uncle Ono, he was my mentor before he was murdered. He used to come up with all sorts of different phrases like that.”
“Oh,” Anakin dropped his head, his shoulders visibly shaking.
“Anakin?” Padmé rested a hand on his back. “It’s ok.”
“Nothing will be ok until everything is sorted… until Obi-Wan is healthy again, until the identity of the Sith is discovered… until the time I can openly be with you and we can get married.” Anakin took her soft hands in his own, his intense blue eyes looking directly at her. “I love you, Padmé. Everything that has happened the last few months, I’m afraid to lose you. I can’t protect you all the time. I… I know we said we’d wait… but,” he bit his bottom lip, “I don’t think I can.”
“Anakin?” Wariness filled Padmé’s voice, as she turned her head slightly to the side. “What are you saying?”
Anakin moved closer to her. “I want to marry you.”
“We will, Ani, I promised I’d wait for you…”
“No,” he was shaking his head, “no. We don’t know how long it will be before we can. It could be years before we are free to live openly. What if you get tired of waiting? What if something bad happens like it did with Obi-Wan? His life has been ruined by his imprisonment. He won’t ever be the same again. There will always be the memories…” he swallowed. “I want us to have memories, if anything ever happens to either of us. At least we can remember the good times.” He lowered his head. “There is a possibility, since I am destined to destroy the Sith, that I will die whilst doing it. You’ll have waited for nothing.”
“Anakin…” Padmé lifted up a hand and stroked his cheek gently. “I wait because I want to, because I love you. I have faith in you. This war can’t last forever. And you will survive because I know you will and because you have something worth fighting for. Not just me, but your mother, for Ahsoka, for Obi-Wan… for everyone in the galaxy who looks to you as a hero. You will come home because we need you.” She smiled ruefully. “I do want to be your wife, but not in secret.”
Anakin lowered his gaze. He knew she was right. It was what they both wanted after all.
“A secret would only destroy us.”
She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips. “Be strong. We’ll get through this. I believe in you.”
- - - - -
“Is there somewhere we could talk privately?”
Shmi glanced up from the paperwork she was just filing at the nurse’s station, noting that her sister looked concerned. A spark of worry coursed through her. She nodded and indicated the office to the right, grabbing a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign from the station and placing it on the door before shutting it behind her, and sitting down opposite her sister, after pulling a chair out from behind the desk.
“What is it?”
Kyra took in deep breaths and exhaled slowly. Her fingers shook with nerves and her lips trembled. “It’s Taren.”
Shmi detected that her sister was concerned about her husband, but she hadn’t seen any sign of disquiet between them when she had spoken to them this morning. Something had happened, something that could hold repercussions for their marriage. She leaned forward and took her sister’s hand. “I’m here for you.”
“I know… I know I’ve been free all this years but I’m still not used to bearing my soul to people… Keeping everything locked up tight is natural to me. You’re my sister, I should be comfortable with you,” sniffed Kyra.
“We’re still strangers to one another. We’ve only just met for the first time in years. You feel you can trust me because of our family ties but in reality we need to get to know one another before we feel comfortable talking to one another about our fears and worries,” said Shmi wisely. That had been the core problem between her son and Obi-Wan at the start of Anakin’s apprenticeship. They hadn’t gotten to know one another and it had taken a few years before they trusted one another completely and their bond formed to such a strong degree that breaking it would only harm them.
“Will we ever feel like proper sisters?” asked Kyra.
“If we work at it than anything is possible,” answered Shmi, smiling lightly. “Perhaps this can be a test. You tell me what is bothering you, because you do want to tell me, you’re just afraid that you can’t trust me, but to do that, you need to put your faith in that you are doing the right thing.”
Kyra swallowed and breathed out slowly. “Taren did something that I’m ashamed of. He did it for me but he allowed another human being to suffer because of it as well as himself. I’m not sure if I can forgive him.” She bowed her head. “He only told me about it this morning because he felt that I deserved to know, now that we are healing.”
Shmi cocked her head, a warning alarm sounding in her head. She had a middling concern that this had something to do with Obi-Wan. “What happened?”
Kyra shook in her chair, her voice quaking as she spoke, what her husband had done clearly upsetting the serene and calm woman, Shmi had come to view her sister as over the week they had since been reunited.
“That woman… that horrid woman – Ventress – used my husband against the Jedi. Against Kenobi. She put them in a cell together and hurt my husband to entice the Jedi to give in and surrender. Taren told me Kenobi would have done it if he hadn’t asked him not to.” A tear slipped down Kyra’s cheek. “I knew that Anakin Skywalker was my nephew because of the media publishing his life story since the war started. They knew about you, I even saw a few photos of you on the holo-net… I used to mention to Taren that I’d get back in contact with you if we were ever near the Core, but our routes never passed that way. He lied to the Jedi originally. He lied to him, telling him that he wanted to suffer because the Republic needs heroes like Kenobi. But I was the true reason why… He did tell the Jedi this because he figured out there was more to what Taren was asking of him. The Jedi suffered because Taren wouldn’t let him surrender to end his pain… Taren’s motivation was to reunite me with you because both of us knew that Kenobi had been the Jedi Master to Anakin.” She looked up at her sister. “Taren did something wrong… he shouldn’t have asked the Jedi to suffer on my account! I never thought he’d do that… I saw Kenobi’s condition when I was dragged into his cell; I saw that he was fed up of trying to fight… And my husband wouldn’t let him give up because of me. I… I’m not sure if I can forgive him…”
Kyra wiped her nose with a tissue. “I know it sounds stupid that I’m finding this difficult to accept. As a slave – a prisoner in our own right – we all got used to giving in and obeying our Masters. I can’t bear to see other people suffering… I don’t know what the Jedi’s condition is like or how well he is moving on from his captivity, but my husband caused him more suffering. Mental suffering which can be more damaging than any physical damage inflicted upon an individual.”
“Have you spoken to Obi-Wan?” asked Shmi. “As the person affected by this, you have the right to find out if he has forgiven Taren … or if he felt betrayed by his deception in the first place.”
Her sister shook her head. “No, I haven’t. Should I then?”
Shmi nodded encouragingly. “Yes. Your husband asked someone to suffer but he also asked himself to suffer too. Taren may have made the wrong choice in the circumstances but he was thinking of you, of us as a family. He didn’t consider that you might disprove of his actions.” She squeezed Kyra’s hand. “It may seem selfish of Taren but he was thinking of you. He may not have considered Obi-Wan’s feelings but he thought he was doing the right thing that would benefit you.” A thought struck her. She didn’t know what had been going on in the cell as Obi-Wan had yet to confide in Anakin or her. “Did Taren think he’d be the only one that was used against Obi-Wan?”
Kyra hesitated in her reply. “He did,” she finally said. “That woman told him that if he did what she wanted she’d look after us…”
“And what did she want?” Shmi pressed. She had to know the full facts. How much had Taren revealed to his wife?
“That Jedi at her feet begging for mercy… She never specified how Taren was to help though. Looking back on it, I should have realised we’d be used but I didn’t realise my husband would be tortured either. We all naively assumed we’d be safe…” Kyra sniffed. “Considering my slavery I shouldn’t have assumed. I know what it is like to feel the whip of your owner.”
Shmi moved closer to her sister and wrapped her arms around her, pulling her close. “Kyra, you couldn’t have done anything. It seems to me that Taren was trying to protect his family as well as help reunite you with me. Obi-Wan is the victim in all this – Taren’s choices have only led him to have more weight to overcome.” She held up a hand as Kyra made a sound. “Please, let me finish. Obi-Wan is kind and gentle. He is a gifted Jedi and one of the best men that I know. Despite what he went through, I think he’d forgive your husband for what he asked him to do. I know Obi-Wan.”
Shmi smiled gently. “I think you can forgive him. Talk to Obi-Wan, you’ll see.”
Kyra’s expression reflected Shmi’s own. “Thank you. I shouldn’t judge Taren so harshly. None of us know what we’d do in that situation, we just think we do.”
Shmi could only hug her sister because she knew that she needed the comfort right now. She’d be there for her, just like she could be for Obi-Wan if he allowed the help he so sorely needed.
- - - - -
The summons from Chancellor Palpatine was not something that Anakin was expecting; however Ahsoka contacted him to inform him that the Chancellor wished to see him at his earliest convenience. Filled with dread about what the man would say, Anakin took his speeder to the Senate Building and made his way to the Supreme Chancellor’s Office.
The Chancellor’s greeting was warm. “Anakin! My, it is good to see you my boy! I didn’t know you were back from the front lines!”
“It hasn’t been announced yet,” he replied. “The Council wish for my presence here to remain quiet for a while longer.” He cocked his head to the side in suspicion. “How did you know?”
“Anakin, I overheard a conversation between two Senators that were discussing with one another how you interrupted their meeting with Senator Amidala last week.”
Anakin halted. He had considered Bail Organa and Mon Mothma trustworthy. What reason would they have to betray a friend and the Jedi? But the two hadn’t been having a meeting with Padmé, rather it had been a social dinner… It was a small niggling detail, but it was enough to make him feel suspicious, but he decided not to show it. He hadn’t sensed any betrayal in their auras either and he doubted they had really discussed him being there in public, especially in a place where anyone could overhear.
“I had some news to give the Senator,” reported Anakin. “Personal news, Chancellor.”
“Hmmm… My sources tell me that you abruptly left Christophsis and Master Yoda took your place. Don’t believe that I don’t know what goes on in my army, Anakin. You shouldn’t have abandoned your post,” said Palpatine.
“If it wasn’t for a personal matter, I wouldn’t have done,” replied Anakin. There was something about the Chancellor… he was angry about something, but he wasn’t saying what.
Palpatine settled in at his desk, intertwining his hands together. “Anakin, I have looked out for you ever since you were a little boy. I have tried to guide you when your Master has allowed you to visit me. I want what his best for you. You are an outstanding hero of the Republic.”
Anakin’s face twitched. “You may want what his best for me, Chancellor, but to do that, you need to stop interfering in Jedi affairs or trying to talk to me and give me advice. I’m a grown man, a Jedi Knight, I don’t need your help. I respect what you’ve done for the Republic, sir, but it won’t do me any good if you try to continue to undermine the teachings of my Master or my mother. I’m sure you mean well but your teachings are not appropriate to me.”
Palpatine was silent for a long moment, contemplating the young man in front of him. Finally, when he spoke, his voice was wary. He seemed beaten. “Anakin, there may come a time when I am your only friend. Don’t put your faith completely in the Jedi. They are not faultless, and in time, I am sure you will come to see it.”
“Maybe,” said Anakin, feeling awkward.
“This personal matter… it wouldn’t have anything to do with Master Kenobi would it?”
The question was so innocent that Anakin almost gasped as a memory hit home.
"I don't need guidance, Chancellor, I need permission to rescue Obi-Wan, which the Council are not giving me."
He had told the Chancellor about Obi-Wan’s survival.
He had completely forgotten that he had done so.
A cold chill filled him. No… No…
He mentally shook himself. “Possibly,” he answered carefully replying to Palpatine’s question.
“If it was, I can understand why you rushed off to deal with it. It would be a shame to lose his talents,” remarked the Chancellor.
“Thank you, sir,” bowed Anakin. He wanted to get out of the office, to consider the realisation that had struck him. “I … err … sense that my apprentice needs me so I must leave.” He knew it was a risky line to use, but he had to leave, to meditate. He hastily adjusted his voice and posture so it didn’t look like he was trying to get away. “If I do need to talk to you, Chancellor, I will come to you. I give you my word.”
“Take care, Anakin. And please, pass on my regards to Master Kenobi. I wish him well.”
As he left, Anakin Skywalker had the ominous feeling that he had been standing in the presence of the most accomplished Force user in the galaxy.
- - - - -
His bones ached and he was tired, so tired of fighting for survival.
His life now was just one long constant agony, ending and beginning with waking from the blackness he always descended into during the little sessions…
He was aware of hot, alcoholic breath near his throat. He became aware that he wasn’t alone. A knife was placed at his throat and a hand wrapped into his hair, pulling his head back.
His eyes focused on the individual in front of him.
It wasn’t Ventress.
Just one of her minions.
One of his guards who seemed to bathe in the pain that he dished out. The guards never spoke to him; they just abused his body, until he could take no more. Who knew if they continued after he had fallen unconscious? He had no way of truly cataloguing all the injuries he was collecting.
Without warning, the knife was moved quickly from the skin at his throat and he felt something stab into right arm, piercing the flesh and just missing the bone. Unexpected he flinched, managing to just hold back on a true scream, though failing not to whimper.
Satisfaction seemed to beam on the guard’s face as he slowly circled the imprisoned Jedi.
A kick to his midsection and he swung in his chains, the knife still lodged in his arm.
A punch to the chest and face… the abuse continued until he felt dizzy and he felt his eyes drooping. The darkness wanted him back. It called to him, welcoming him home…
Obi-Wan sat up right in bed, panting heavily. Why couldn’t he just sleep normally? Why did he have to be plagued by these nightmares? He thought he wouldn’t be overcome by the memories, yet he had failed to take into account the mental abuse that had been heaped upon him during his captivity. His mind wasn’t healed so the memories would not go away.
In the two weeks he had been back on Coruscant, he had been suffering from nightmares and flashbacks. When he had been served food that morning he’d remembered being fed poison which had set off panic attacks and not wanting to eat just in case he was going to be hurt again.
He was even getting to walk again though his legs remained weak and he couldn’t walk more than a few steps without crumpling to the floor. Since Shmi had asked him to talk to Anakin, he hadn’t done so, however his former apprentice did visit every day, but had stopped in urging Obi-Wan to talk to him.
But the memories…
I just want them to stop.
He understood that the nightmares of his captivity wouldn’t cease until he faced them, until he let go. Once more he remembered Anakin facing up to the demons of his past and how letting go had been beneficial for their bond.
Obi-Wan’s Force connection was slowly getting stronger however he was unable to maintain a thought conversation with his former Padawan for no longer then a few seconds. The bond was strained, and that connection probably wouldn’t heal until both Jedi talked about the issues. He was certain Anakin had faced the darkness at some point on Rattatak.
He wants to talk to me but how can I expect him to confide in me when I won’t do the same?
It was one vicious circle.
“I don’t want to do this,” he said quietly out-loud. He bit his lip gently. “But if I want to help, I have to face it.”
Trembling, Obi-Wan reached out for his com-link and signalled for Anakin.
- - - - -
Please let me be wrong… Please, please, please…
His heart was beating beneath his ribs as he considered the epiphany that he’d just had within the Chancellor’s office.
Not many people were aware that Obi-Wan had survived Jabiim. He counted them off in his head: Ahsoka, his mother, Padmé, Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Master Yoda and Master Windu, plus the two Jedi, Nerin and Hollar who had been the ones to intercept the communication… and Palpatine. No one in the Separatists had been aware that Obi-Wan was a prisoner of Ventress, Dooku had contacted her to tell her he knew, but how did he find out?
Ahsoka had been with Anakin at all times, Padmé hadn’t told anyone because not even her closest friends in Bail Organa and Mon Mothma had known until Anakin had decided to trust them… His mother would never betray them either… The two Knights had been sneaking into Separatist controlled territory, raiding databanks for any information but leaving no traces of them having been there so they couldn’t be the culprits because they were trusted highly by the Jedi Council for any confidential mission… Nor Yoda or Mace Windu could be considered traitors, so that left only one person who could have informed Dooku, out of all the people in the galaxy who Anakin knew had known.
They knew Dooku was the apprentice to the Sith Lord and Obi-Wan had been told on Geonosis that a Sith Lord was in control of hundreds of Senators…
The Council hadn’t even considered Palpatine, believing if the information was accurate, that it would be someone in his inner circle or high up within the government, but not the Chancellor himself.
Yet the pieces were falling into place.
Dooku had mysteriously found out, told by his Master, who must have been given the information. If Anakin had, had trouble sensing his Master, then there was no possible way the Sith could have sensed it either. Palpatine was, however, in the position to contact the Separatists if he wished to open negotiations with them.
And Anakin had told him.
Obi-Wan had always said that the Sith probably had an interest in Anakin and to be careful. Palpatine, despite Anakin’s continued protests, still made an effort to take an interest, and he had tried to push him to be impulsive on many occasions… Impulsiveness could lead to selfish decisions, and selfishness could lead to the dark side…
Anakin felt sick.
He couldn’t believe that the Sith Lord could be Palpatine.
If he was, no wonder the Jedi couldn’t locate Dooku’s Master, he was hidden in plain sight! The only reason Palpatine had been discounted as a culprit was that he was already in charge of the Republic… But if he was the Sith Lord, what was he up to? What was he after?
And if I’m right, and I don’t think I’m wrong, the Chancellor ordered Obi-Wan’s execution… That’s treason!
He knew he had to act rationally, to consider all options.
The one person I want to speak to about this is holed up in the medical bay suffering from a traumatic experience!
Anakin sighed and calmed himself. As Padmé had said, he had to be patient. If Palpatine was the Sith Lord, then he hadn’t acted on the Jedi directly yet… Apart from collaborating with Dooku to start a war and conspiring to have Obi-Wan killed… No, he had to wait.
Wait until he could meditate and explore the Force.
If he was right, the Force would open itself to him and he’d be able to see the path he should take.
A bleeping from his pocket distracted him and he pulled out his comlink.
“Anakin.” Obi-Wan’s voice was soft.
“Master,” he acknowledged, trying to keep his voice calm so as not to give the game away that he was truly panicking inside.
“Can you come to my room?” asked Obi-Wan. There was a slight hesitancy to the question. “I … I … need to talk to you.”
- - - - -
Despite his worries about Palpatine’s possible true identity, Anakin put them to the side because now wasn’t meant to be about him, it was meant to be about Obi-Wan. Walking through the Temple corridors, he kept his mind free, focusing on keeping himself calm. He could worry about the Sith later.
Obi-Wan was the most important thing right now. It was imperative he made a good recovery.
As he reached the Halls of Healing, he saw his mother waiting by the doors for him.
“Mum, what are you doing here?”
She smiled gently at him. “Obi-Wan called. He said he wanted me to be there when he spoke to you.”
“Are you sure that is a good idea?” Anakin felt concerned about his mother hearing about the captivity.
“Ani,” Shmi laid a hand on her son’s shoulder, “I offered. I know what he went through was terrible. He needs more then you to be there to help him through this.” She smiled. “Obi-Wan saved me, it’s time I returned the favour. Besides, he isn’t just my friend, he’s family too.”
“That he is,” returned Anakin. “He’s like the father I never had. It’s been difficult to see him the way he has been. Each time he’s had a nightmare…” he shuddered.
“Sometimes it takes courage and acceptance before you can truly face the demons of your past,” advised Shmi. “We were slaves, Anakin, we got used to living in a hellish environment. Obi-Wan wasn’t. We learnt quickly to come to terms with what was happening to us, though some aspects of it did scar us, yet we could put it behind us. Obi-Wan hasn’t suffered what we did, but he has been treated horribly, as a prisoner of war, his suffering was probably more than ours. He was deliberately tortured, we weren’t. You have to be patient, Ani. Don’t expect him to tell everything today. The fact that he wants us both here is because he knows he has to start somewhere… Having two people you love face your demons with you can go a long way to unleashing acceptance.”
Anakin grinned, a bit of light relief. “I just wish this hadn’t happened to him so he didn’t have to face it.”
“We can’t change the past, only accept it,” his mother said. “And, if Obi-Wan can begin this process, he can return to who he was before all this.”
Anakin sighed and turned to face the door leading into the Halls of Healing. “I hope you’re right, mum, I really hope you’re right.” Because right now, Obi-Wan, I need you. I need you more than ever. And I know that sounds selfish. It’s not just me that’s needs you, it’s the Jedi Order and the Republic.
Despite his resolve to leave the issue of Palpatine behind him, Anakin couldn’t help but feel that the Chancellor would take advantage of Obi-Wan struggling to recover, if he was the Sith Lord. If he truly wanted him dead, he’d find a way to get to him, regardless of the Jedi within the Temple.
And the Chosen One couldn’t help but worry.
To be continued...
Please let me know what you think! Chapter 23 will be posted on Wednesday.
Anakin/Padme -- yay! I can so sympathize with his sense of urgency to join his life with hers and make good memories "just in case" but she's right to -- the secrecy would be destructive.
Kyra/Shmi U Shmi/Anakin - she is so wonderfully wise and empathic. She's crucial to everyone thinking more clearly and drawing closer instead of staying behind walls.
@Jade_eyes Thanks! I didn't want Anakin and Padme to follow the same path they do in the prequels. I wanted both of them to be able to see the positives and negatives of getting married. I'm glad you liked the Shmi conversations! I really enjoy writing her, I think she is quite a fascinating character to write for.
@Jedi_Liz I apologise in advance foe any further worry this story may cause...
Please could everyone read the note at the end about continuing updates. Thanks!
- - - - -
At a small table in a private room, dressed in beige tunics and trousers, Obi-Wan sat. He had asked his friend, Bant, to arrange a small room for him to talk in privately. He wasn’t authorised to leave the Halls of Healing yet, though he hoped that would change in the coming days. The Council were being very patient with him, giving him the time he required to recover before he would have to talk to them about his imprisonment.
Oddly that didn’t scare him like this meeting was. A debriefing by the Council wouldn’t require going into abject detail about what he suffered – the word torture would be used, but elaborated on? No – it would barely be a problem for him to report. It was coming to terms and relieving his pain and misery that he was going to have problems with facing.
His nightmares already spoke volumes about how much this was already affecting him. The fact that he freaked out when he had to have bloods done a week ago concerned him. He shuddered as a memory involving needles flashed into his mind.
No… no… don’t think about it.
He took a deep breath and calmed himself, reaching into the current of the Force. His connection was better, his body getting used to complete access again, but his bond with Anakin was still frail. Still not right. He hoped that talking to him would help repair the damage that saturated it.
“And perhaps he will talk to me,” he whispered.
He ran a wary hand down his face. He’d called Anakin and Shmi over an hour ago. Shmi was on her day off so would have a longer journey into the Temple then his former Apprentice. However he’d expected at least one of them to turn up by now so he wouldn’t be here worrying over what was to come.
Snap out of it, Kenobi! This isn’t something to get concerned about!
He took a gulp of water from the glass next to him and sat back, mentally preparing himself for what was to come.
Where shall I start? Can I tell them everything?
He sensed as soon as he considered that possibility that today wouldn’t be the day he’d let go of it all. The process would be slow but he hoped that he’d be back on his feet very soon and able to get back out and do something. He hated being idle, sitting in the Healing Wing, twiddling his thumbs while his friends fought in a war, a war in which some would never return from.
He had nearly been one of those casualties.
Ironically, it was Dooku’s obsession with him that had kept him alive and Ventress’s desire to see him worthless at her feet.
That would be one of the first things he had to explain.
Why he had been kept alive and hidden from the rest of the Separatists while other Jedi captured were publicly executed or tortured for information.
You can do this. You survived the experience. You can talk about it too.
Obi-Wan kept his face neutral when the door finally slid open and Anakin and Shmi walked in together. He knew this was going to be hard, and he took another sip of water as both of them sat on opposite sides of him. He noted with concern Anakin’s Force signature. It was erratic, pulsing widely, no matter how hard he was trying to keep it low. There was something bugging him, something that he had just found out, that didn’t have anything to do with how the bond had been feeling like since Rattatak.
Perhaps it was something he could convince Anakin to tell him if he proved that he was willing to talk about his own experiences?
There were some positives and negatives to this. It wasn’t what Obi-Wan wanted to do but he had to.
He hadn’t said a word yet, but they were both looking at him, waiting for him to start.
Shmi’s right hand moved out across the table to grasp his left. She squeezed it gently. “Just speak in your own time. We can stay for as long as you need us to.”
He nodded his thanks. Swallowing, he cleared his throat. “This is going to be difficult. More so for you, Anakin, because I am going to let you access some of my memories. Shmi, I need you here as an anchor, to help me, because I don’t know how much I can relieve without suffering myself. You won’t be able to see what Anakin will…” he bit his lower lip. “I think we both will need you to get us through this.”
“I can do that,” she answered.
Obi-Wan shivered, a feeling of dread crept up his body before falling into the pit of his stomach. He closed his eyes, taking in another deep breath, before opening them again and focusing upon the two people sitting with him.
“I think the first thing you need to know is why. Why I was kept a secret from even Dooku himself. But that won’t make sense unless you know how I came to be in the hands of Ventress. Anakin, I need your help, I want to show you what happened. I only remember brief bits of the explosion and afterwards. My first proper memory is in the cell I was held in. My recollections of these events are hazy and fragmented, however I believe it is important that you see this,” explained Obi-Wan. He glanced at Shmi. “This is the part where you need to help me from falling into memories. Anakin will be entwined in them with me and what he might see may disturb him. It might not be easy for him to pull me back if he is distracted.”
“How can I help if you are using the bond? I don’t have the Force,” asked Shmi.
“We can both sense you,” replied Anakin. “I have a bond with you because you are my mother. When I reach out to your presence in the Force, you have several bonds entwined around you, but you can’t sense them. There’s a connection between you and Obi-Wan too. He should hear you if you speak to him when we’re embedded in the bond.”
Obi-Wan nodded. “That is true. You did manage to calm me once before. I don’t remember, but Bant told me you helped.”
“It was after your surgery,” Shmi remembered. She had been cleaning and had heard him screaming. It had been horrible to see him like that, convulsing on the bed, believing that he was still being held by Ventress. It made her shiver. Briefly she closed her eyes. “I think I can do that.”
“Hopefully I won’t fight too badly,” Obi-Wan smiled shortly. “This room has cameras in it but no audio connection. Bant is keeping an eye on us, just in case I don’t respond if I’m under.”
“Good,” said Anakin. “I know you want to keep things private but you are considering all aspects of what could happen.”
Obi-Wan quirked an eyebrow. “I thought I always did.”
Anakin grinned, his comment obviously trying to lighten the mood before they delved into Obi-Wan’s memories.
Obi-Wan sighed. “Anakin, I’m not sure how strong our bond will function currently. I don’t know if we’ll link deeply enough to do this.”
“We should try it first before we do anything else,” said Anakin. “Ours is a very unique bond. It might be weaker now but perhaps it is strong enough for us to embrace it.”
Nodding his assent, the older Jedi closed his eyes and sought the Force. Obi-Wan sunk into the lightness of it, feeling the relief of it sweeping over him. It felt good to sense the light once more after spending so long in the dark. He recognised the presence of his former Padawan, reaching out, urging him to wrap their presences together, to entwine them within the bond.
Obi-Wan allowed Anakin to guide him and together their essences linked together. Anakin’s voice reached him, it was fainter then normal signalling that their bond wasn’t as tight as it had been before his captivity, but that could be for a variety of reasons. Obi-Wan was still weak, perhaps once he got stronger their link would be better. Or it could be because of the secrets each was hiding from one another.
Obi-Wan? Are you ok?
It was so tempting to say yes, to be sarcastic, but that wouldn’t help.
No, I’m not alright, Anakin. I don’t want to do this but I know I have to.
Then I’m ready when you are, returned Anakin.
Obi-Wan took in a deep breath and the first images hit Anakin’s mind like a wave as he projected what he remembered about his capture to his young friend.
He was scrambling into the burning wreckage, his lightsaber held out in front of him, as his eyes swot the deck, seeing two clones lying injured on the durasteel. Before he could even move towards them, a yell over his bond with Anakin penetrated his thoughts.
OBI-WAN GET OUT OF THERE!
He remembered starting to say his former Padawan’s name but before he could even fully assimilate that thought, everything exploded around him. He launched himself towards the opening he had come through, but something tore into his body and he felt pain burn its way through him.
Shards of metal pierced his flesh, and something tugged at him before unconsciousness fell.
He next recalled waking in the muddy water, lying crookedly on the grass, his body feeling on fire. His eyes blurrily focused upon the figure leaning down in front of him. Her hands curled around his face, gently lifting his head up, straining his neck.
“My dear Obi-Wan… you are mine now.”
He had fallen unconscious again soon after that. He very briefly recalled waking up on the journey to Ventress’ home where she had laughed cruelly at the bound Jedi in front of her, taunting him with the idea that no one would come to rescue him. He hadn’t remembered that memory until much later on in his captivity.
Obi-Wan stopped the memory flow once Anakin had witnessed the moment he had first woken in his cell, ending it just as Ventress began her torture of him. He didn’t want Anakin to see.
He opened his eyes and found Shmi looking at him.
“What don’t you want Ani to know?” she asked, gently squeezing his hand.
Anakin was still within the bond, he could sense the young Jedi’s confusion as to why Obi-Wan had pulled away from it. He sent a brief message of calmness so that Anakin wouldn’t extract himself and become worried. This was why Shmi was here: to help him to face the past, to get the courage to do so. Regardless of his own personal feelings, Obi-Wan had to show Anakin his torture otherwise it would not be a complete healing for him.
“I’m concerned about what he’ll think when he sees what I suffered… My torture wasn’t pretty.”
“He needs to know. You can’t keep it to yourself. Neither of us wish for you to suffer. But you’ll continue to do so if you can’t let it go… Sharing your experiences with someone that you trust and love will aid towards you accepting and healing your spirit. You’re not complete, Obi-Wan, not until you face what was done to you.”
He nodded, swallowing a hard lump that had formed in his throat. He closed his eyes, wrapping himself in the Force and delved back into the bond, where Anakin waited.
Ready? his former Padawan questioned.
But you’ll show me anyway? asked Anakin.
I have to.
Obi-Wan sought the memories within his mind and sent them to Anakin, cringing at what his friend was about to see. The first session that he had endured with Ventress was one of the most prominent memories that had been coming back to haunt him. What she had done to him…
A hand lashed out, grabbing his chin and pulling his head forward, causing pain in his shoulders. He made no noise; he wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. He would be strong.
“You are mine now. No one is coming for you. You are dead to the Jedi. Admit you are weak and maybe your time here won’t be as painful.”
“I will never admit to anything!” he snarled in return.
“Then you will suffer until you do,” she promised.
Ventress brought forth a dagger, and placed it in front of his eyes. She could easily gouge his eyes out if she so wished. Placing it against the cheek, she slid it downward quickly, eliciting a very small gasp from him.
Blood tricked down from the wound onto his lips. With her thumb, she wiped it away and licked it off.
“Weak,” she taunted.
“What do you want from me?” he growled out.
“You begging at my feet.”
“We’ll see.” Her eyes ran over the blunt blade of the knife. “Do you know how much damage this simple instrument can do?”
Oh, he very well knew. He had a bad feeling about this.
It was so sudden that he didn’t have the chance to even attempt to defend himself despite his weakened state.
The blunt knife rammed home, right into his left thigh and he had to struggle to not let out a scream of pure agony as she slowly, lovingly, dragged it down his leg.
He’d been expecting the shoulder or his arm to be stabbed, not his thigh.
He felt dizzy as she continued to drag the knife down, blood pouring from the wound quickly, covering the entire length of his left leg in his own blood. Reaching his patella she pulled out the knife and grinned at him, watching his reaction as she brought the knife up which was coated in his blood.
He was panting heavily now, his left leg trembling as he struggled to keep on his feet with his hands chained above his head.
Her fingers probed against the wound. “I could do more damage… All you have to do is submit for it to stop.”
Trembling, he locked gazes with her. “No!”
Her eyes turned to slits. “So be it.”
The knife descended once more…
- - - - -
Someone was shaking him. His whole body was sweating profusely. “No… Please… No… Stop! I can’t… I can’t!”
“He’s lost again…”
He recognised that voice. His mind started to deconstruct what was around him. He wasn’t cold, he was in a warm room, and someone was sitting beside him, with their arms draped across his shoulders. He sensed a probing in his mind, of a familiar presence and he carefully reached out for it, enveloping himself in its calming embrace.
Obi-Wan… Wake up… You’re safe!
Prompted by the voice, Obi-Wan opened his eyes and found himself sitting in the middle between Shmi and Anakin. Shmi’s arms were wrapped around him, rubbing his back gently. Anakin was still in a trance, but returned to them seconds later.
“I’m not there anymore,” whispered Obi-Wan. “God, I’m so messed up. My brain just keeps on taking me to places I don’t wish to go to. I shouldn’t be like this!” He was shaking and he was angry with himself, and he was feeling cold despite the relative warmth of the room.
“Traumatic experiences never truly leave us,” said Shmi. “Was it bad?”
“Mum… I don’t think you should know. What I saw is enough to make me want to make that bitch suffer for what she did to Obi-Wan. He’s barely shared anything!” Anakin was almost ranting.
“Anakin!” Obi-Wan barked, his voice being stronger so that it echoed off the walls around him.
“I need to see.”
“See what?” Obi-Wan was confused.
“Your leg.” Anakin folded his arms. “Go on.”
Obi-Wan rolled up his trouser leg to the top of his thigh. He heard Shmi gasp, and her hand grasped his shoulder tightly, as Anakin looked down upon the damage Ventress had inflicted upon him.
His leg had a long, pale pink scar right down the centre of his thigh to the joint at the patella. Around it were little pinpricks… His time in a bacta tank hadn’t healed the wounds fully… He’d always have that scar there.
He closed his eyes briefly. “Did you see what she did?”
Anakin nodded just barely. “She stabbed you repeatedly.” His eyes darkened. “And what she did after that…”
“How was your leg saved?” asked Shmi.
“Ventress made sure she healed me after the first session. Salvo cream and patches were used to help knit the skin together and to prevent infection. Ventress made sure that the salvo used would burn. It burnt the wounds closed. It was…” he swallowed, finding it very difficult to talk about it, “the first time I properly screamed.”
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Shmi reassured him.
“No, it’s not,” said Anakin. “Was this the only time she did something like that to you?”
He shook his head. “No… there were others,” he said hesitantly.
“Then show me. Show me all the incidents where you were stabbed and healed in that cruel way,” ordered Anakin. “Your reaction to it is clearly something that has been bothering you.”
“I don’t think…” he started.
“No,” interrupted Shmi. “Anakin is right. You need to let this go.”
“But you need to know why she was doing this to me in the first place…” he feebly protested.
Anakin shook his head. “That can come later. We need to get these memories dealt with otherwise it will just build up again and cause you to have even more reactions.”
Obi-Wan rubbed his eyes, feeling just a little tired. “Just help me,” he whispered.
With Shmi sitting at his side, and his and Anakin’s hands linking together to help strengthen their connection, Obi-Wan sunk further into his memories…
- - - - -
He woke once more, this time lying on the floor of the room, a pillow stuffed under his head. Anakin was lying next to him, just watching him.
“You’re awake,” the younger man noted.
“Here, give him this,” a familiar voice said.
The tip of a glass reached his lips.
“Sip. You need to rehydrate yourself,” urged Anakin.
He did so, lifting his head slightly so that he could sip the cool water. His throat felt parched and he was shaking. Slowly, but carefully, Obi-Wan sat up. “What happened?” Confusion wracked his mind.
“The memories got a bit too much for you,” stated Anakin. “You started to convulse before you threw yourself out of the chair and onto the floor. Through the bond, I could feel your pain. I couldn’t stop you from believing that you were still there. You were begging for it to stop…” Anakin glanced towards his mother. “It was mum that brought you back to yourself.”
Obi-Wan turned his head to take in the older woman. “You did?”
She smiled gently. “I did.”
“What a mother always does in times of need. I sang a song.”
Shmi shrugged her shoulders. “It seemed to work. It calmed you enough for Ani to reach you and drag you out of it.”
That’s strange… Why would a song help me?
Anakin grinned. “Because the part of your mind affected by the memories recognised that no one would sing a song like that to a man being tortured if they really were in that situation.”
“What song was it?” asked Obi-Wan. He was intrigued how it could have affected him.
“It was a song that doesn’t have a title. It was one I made up when Ani was ill as a child,” answered Shmi. “It’s about love and family. You may be a Jedi, Obi-Wan, but you are a part of the Skywalker family. I think a part of you realises that, despite your Jedi training telling you to not have attachments. You will always be Ani’s brother.”
Anakin nodded encouragingly. “When I was younger I looked to you as my father because that’s what you were to me, but now?” He shook his head. “We’re much closer. Our bond signifies that. We’re brothers. Family is important. Don’t let us go.”
Obi-Wan swallowed. “Did you see everything?”
Anakin nodded, his eyes glinting ever so slightly. “Ventress is a vile being, Master. What she did to you…”
“You want her to die for it, don’t you?”
Sighing, Anakin nodded. “I do because you didn’t deserve to be treated in that way.”
Obi-Wan grimaced. “In Ventress’ mind I did.”
“She’s sick.” The statement probably described her accurately.
“She’s damaged,” Obi-Wan countered.
Anakin’s eyes widened. “How can you defend her after what she’s done to you?” he spat.
Obi-Wan cringed, sensing anger pouring through the bond and he dragged himself away from it, wishing to not sense what his friend wanted to do. He pursued his lips, refusing to speak.
Shmi watched the exchange, her eyes moving back and forth between the two. “Ani… Remember it is all part of accepting it.”
“But…!” he started to protest.
Obi-Wan raised a hand. “Anakin. Ventress tortured me for a reason. It wasn’t because of what I stand for with the Republic. It was because of Dooku.”
“Dooku?” Anakin sounded confused. “But he didn’t know you were a prisoner.”
“I know.” Obi-Wan was slightly shaking. “Dooku wants to turn me to the Dark Side. Twice now he has offered that opportunity to me. He had ordered Ventress to bring me to him if I was ever captured but she didn’t. She wants to be Dooku’s apprentice. Dooku would prefer I submit to his teachings. Dooku had damaged her by not accepting her. She thought if she broke me and proved I was worthless then she’d be elevated in his eyes.”
“The message we intercepted seemed to indicate that the Count wasn’t happy with your treatment. He did mention that what Ventress did to you wasn’t what he had intended…” Anakin mused, “Though it still doesn’t give you a good enough reason to feel sympathy for her. She hates you. She deliberately tortured you.”
“Anakin…” Obi-Wan began, “We could save her. She’s not as dark as you think she is. Ventress did terrible things to me but she’s not beyond redemption. She is not a true Sith.”
“Yet you have nightmares and flashbacks of her,” countered Anakin.
Obi-Wan shook his head. “I’m remembering the pain. When you’ve been fighting the dark for so long…” he shivered. “I want to feel the light; I don’t want to touch the dark.”
“You are in the light and always will be,” Anakin replied confidently.
“Am I? Our bond isn’t shining in the light as it should be. Are you going to tell me why?”
He could see Anakin’s eyes widen at what he had perceived.
“I think this is enough for today,” said Anakin. “You’ve had two blackouts so far. We need to take things slowly.”
Obi-Wan climbed to his feet, steadying himself on the edge of the table, choosing to ignore that Anakin was not going to share with him just yet. “I haven’t released what we’ve discussed either, I’ve only remembered.”
Anakin held out his hand and Obi-Wan took it. A soft hand was placed on his shoulder and he could sense Shmi’s small glow in the Force. Anakin guided him into the bond, projecting as much light as he could, despite the tinge of darkness that permeated it.
Obi-Wan felt calm and took in a deep breath. Eyes closed, he took each memory, each painful experience, each hurt that he had suffered and let them go, reiterating in his head that he should forgive his captor for what she had done to his mind and body. She was not evil, just misunderstood. He let that thought wash through him and he felt relaxed, calm and at peace as he let those particular memories go.
“You feel brighter, Master,” said Anakin, referring him to that out of habit.
“I feel better,” answered Obi-Wan. He looked away. “Most of my memories are dark. The things that were done…”
Shmi rubbed his back as he began to shake again.
“I didn’t think it would be this hard to let go.” He caught Anakin’s eye. “Now I know what it feels like to have been you when you let go of your slavery. Why it was so difficult for you…”
“Obi-Wan, both of us will be here for you,” said Shmi smoothly. “Do you wish to continue tomorrow?”
He nodded, albeit reluctantly. “I think I have to… If I stop…”
“Then you might feel more reluctant to continue,” finished Shmi. “Just let us know when. Ani and I will be here for you.”
He smiled gently at her. “Thank you.” Obi-Wan moved towards the door. “I think I’ll go back to my room… Get a bit of a rest. I think sharing has taken its toll on me.” Then he yawned, illustrating his point. He rubbed his eyes.
“Remember, if you need anything, comm me. I’ll be in the Temple tonight,” said Anakin.
“If not, you know I’ll sense it over the bond. I’ll come running, I always do,” the younger man smiled.
“Give or take a few months,” joked Obi-Wan.
Anakin’s face fell.
Obi-Wan’s eyes widened as the implications of what he had said crashed into him. “Oh god, I’m sorry, I didn’t think…”
Anakin shook his head, dismissing his concerns, putting on a brave face. “Doesn’t matter. It’s good to hear you joke. Haven’t heard that in a while.” A strained smile pulled at his face.
The guilt that was coursing through the bond had intensified with Obi-Wan’s comment. He almost wished that a hole would open up in the ground beneath his feet and swallow him whole. He had unknowingly caused his brother pain. Anakin felt guilty for what had happened to him.
“Anakin…” Obi-Wan reached forward. “There was nothing you could have done.”
“Wasn’t there?” retorted Anakin, slightly angry. “I could have told you what I saw.”
Confusion settled in and Obi-Wan blinked. “What do you mean?”
Anakin’s shoulders slumped.
“Whatever you are hiding from him, Ani, he deserves to know,” advised Shmi. She looked pointedly at her son, before sitting down, indicting Obi-Wan to join her. “You don’t tell him, he’ll be thinking about it for the rest of the night or until you are honest with him.” Her tone was hard, but one that always served to knock some sense into Anakin.
The younger Jedi began to pace the room, running his fingers through his straggly hair, before stopping and turning to face his former Master and his mother. “En-route to Jabiim, I had a vision. I saw the explosion. I saw you being killed in that explosion. I didn’t tell you because I thought I could stop it from happening. It’s my fault you suffered what you did! If I’d told you…”
“I would still have gone, Anakin,” said Obi-Wan, “regardless of your vision. If that was to be my death then I wouldn’t avoid it. I was trying to save lives.”
“I can’t stop feeling guilty that if I’d said something…” muttered Anakin.
“I might have been more careful about it,” Obi-Wan admitted, “but it wouldn’t prevent me from taking risky chances. We serve the Force, Anakin. If our instincts want us to do something, we follow them. Mine told me to go to that AT-AT and help the survivors.”
That halted what Anakin was going to say next and Obi-Wan could see the young man considering his next words. When he did speak, it was with careful precision and consideration of what the Force may have wanted.
“Do you think it’s a possibility that you were meant to suffer? That the Force had a reason to lead you there so you could be captured?”
Shmi glanced between the two, clearly uneasy with the train of thought between the two. “Ani, the Force wouldn’t want one of its own to suffer, would it?”
But Obi-Wan was considering the idea. The Force had urged him to go to the AT-AT; it hadn’t given him the impression of any impending danger… It had only been Anakin’s warning that had got to him. “You’re keeping something from me,” he noted. “Like me, you are keeping secrets and you know about something that you’re not telling us either. You’re wondering if my capture is linked to what you discovered…”
Anakin bowed his head. “I don’t think I can say yet, not until I’ve meditated on it.”
Obi-Wan probed the bond. The darkness was still flooding it, however whatever Anakin was hiding from him, had nothing to do with the state of the bond. He was hiding several things from him, one of which was the source of the darkness, but what he was referring to now wasn’t the source of that particular problem. He couldn’t ask his friend to tell him, not when he was so reluctant to share himself. He also knew that mediation was a good way of looking at and considering every angle before coming to a reasonable conclusion.
“I won’t ask because I know you will tell me when I’m ready to hear it. If it’s something bad, talk to Master Yoda or Master Windu. Don’t keep it to yourself, Anakin. I want our bond to be back to normal and I am trying but we both need to be honest with one another if we are to reclaim what we’ve lost,” replied Obi-Wan. He stood up and made towards the door. “And now, I think I do need to sleep. It’s been tiring just talking to you.”
“Go and get some good sleep, Obi-Wan,” urged Shmi. “We’ll be back tomorrow.”
Obi-Wan grimaced, embraced Anakin and left the room.
He didn’t even both undressing when he reached his private room in the medical wing. He just flopped onto the bed and slept soundly, with no hint of a nightmare.
For the first time in a while, he felt at peace.
- - - - -
“Ani? What is Obi-Wan picking up on?” Shmi grabbed her son’s arm as they walked back down the Temple corridors.
“Nothing,” he replied.
“Please don’t lie to me, Ani.”
She watched as Anakin warred with himself, trying to figure out whether he could tell his mother what was eating him up inside.
Finally he let out a sigh and motioned for his mother to follow him. He led her to a small meditation chamber where he locked the door and turned to face her. She could see he looked agitated.
“There are two things I’m hiding. The second thing is chewing at me inside… I can’t say what that is, not until I’ve meditated. If what I’ve realised is true then the Jedi have been puppets for far longer than we’ve feared,” swallowed Anakin. “The first… I … I … used the dark side on Rattatak. That’s what is making our bond feel so dark. It’s stained by what I felt… I wanted to kill Dooku for what he did to Obi-Wan. I wanted Dooku to suffer… In that moment I didn’t care. Using the dark side to fuel myself felt right…”A tear streaked down his face. “I’m a Jedi, mum. I shouldn’t feel vengeance like that!”
“Ani…” Shmi rubbed her son’s back. “We all do things we regret. We are all human.”
“But I’m a Jedi!”
“But you are not a normal Jedi, Ani. You’re different from everyone else in this Order,” Shmi pointed out. “You are the first to grow up with a family around you, to form life-long attachments. What affects your loved ones, affects you.”
“What made you stop?” she asked. Something had brought Anakin to his senses. It couldn’t have been Obi-Wan because he did not have a clue what was haunting his former Padawan.
Anakin sniffed. “Ahsoka. She felt my turmoil through our bond. She reached out for me. Knocked the sense I badly needed in that moment into me. I think she saved me.” He frowned. “I don’t think I really thanked her for that. I might have been lost if it hadn’t been for her.”
“You’re not a bad person, Ani. Everyone has their faults. You care too much about the people you love but that isn’t bad either. You didn’t let your anger consume you and that is a very good thing,” she said proudly. “You came back.”
“I’m worried what Obi-Wan will think when he finds out,” he bowed his head, obviously still feeling ashamed.
“He’ll understand, I’m certain of it,” Shmi said. “Tell him. Perhaps letting go will aid him in his own healing. There’s only so much Obi-Wan can tell you if he suspects you’re keeping things from him, whether they are for his own good currently or not.”
Her words hit a cord with Anakin. She always seemed to know what to say that would make him open up, to talk. Like Ahsoka seemed to be, both Obi-Wan and herself were the anchors keeping Anakin grounded.
She momentarily shuddered at the thought that their loss would do to her son.
But like her son was capable of, every Jedi was susceptible to the dark side of the Force. She didn’t understand much about it, but from what she could tell from seeing Obi-Wan herself, he had come close to that precipice too. His dark memories were the key to bringing him fully back into the light and resting his soul. Anakin might not have noticed it but she had.
It was in his eyes. Something far worse had happened to him in his captivity that Anakin didn’t know about yet. Something that had brought him close to falling… He feared that he was already tainted.
Whatever the outcome, she’d be there to help them both. Anakin and Obi-Wan needed her. She wouldn’t fail either of them.
Anakin’s voice drew her out of her thoughts. “I’ll talk to him. If you believe it will help…” he trailed off, seeking her opinion.
“I do believe that,” she answered honestly. “Everything you’ve said tells me that your bond is unique. If you want that back, both of you have got to be honest with one another. Obi-Wan started that process today of repairing the damage that has been done by sharing what he has deigned to…”
“Now it’s my turn,” finished Anakin. His shoulders slumped. “Ok… I’ll meditate tonight and talk to him tomorrow.”
“And whatever else you are hiding, even if you can’t tell me yet, trust him. Let him believe that he can help you and that you are not treating him like an invalid. The more he feels involved, the more open he may be,” she added.
Anakin grimaced. “I’ll consider it.”
“That’s all I can ask for,” she replied, patting him on the shoulder. “Come, I’m sure you’ve got your meditation to do,” she teased, “and I need to return to Darec and Kia. I’ll see you tomorrow after my shift or during it if you need me when you talk to Obi-Wan.”
He nodded. “Ok, thank you mum.” Anakin pulled her into a hug. “Be careful.”
“I always am, Ani. I always am,” she smiled ruefully as she escorted Anakin out of the meditation chamber and watched him walk away. Turning in the opposite direction, she began her journey home.
Everything will be alright, I know it will.
If only she knew what the coming weeks would bring…
To be continued...
Please let me know what you think!
Chapter 24 will be posted on Saturday.
Ok, updates will now be on Saturday's only. I've now posted all the pre-written chapters and this board is now up-to-date with the other website I post on. Due to being at university and being on a very intensive course it does mean I can't always update every Saturday so there might be a few weeks between updates, however chapters 24 and 25 have been written and chapter 26 is being written now so I am a little ahead at the moment but I will keep to Saturday only updates in an effort to keep to a regular schedule. If you wish to be notified for updates (other then tagging) please let me know
Wonderfully intense and superbly written. Shmi proves her essentialness bo each more with each new post.
In this AU it looks like Anakin is holding back some critical communication with Obi... he should have shared with him the suspicions he has of the powerful Force user called the chancellor. It may have been a session about Obi, but he should have at least asked a hypothecal question.
Caught up! Obi-Wan's rescue was very exciting, and I'm enjoying the story of them having to learn to trust each other. I also love the way he isn't falling for Palpatine and I hope that he does right by his suspicions. Glad Shmi has her sister back, too. Great updates!