Beyond Enter the Foreign (time travel AU - Anakin Sr., Ben, Tahiri, Allana, OCs & more) - author news 6/15

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ViariSkywalker, Jan 30, 2010.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Title: Enter the Foreign
    Author: ViariSkywalker
    Timeframe: 19 BBY (during RotS) and 51 ABY
    Characters: Anakin Skywalker, Ben Skywalker, Tahiri Veila, Allana Djo, Valin Horn, and various canon/EU characters and OCs
    Genre: AU, time travel, drama, adventure, angst, action, some romance
    Summary: Just before his fateful turn to the dark side, Anakin Skywalker is transported 70 years into the future, where he meets the ragtag remainder of the Jedi Order and becomes engulfed in their struggle against the new Sith Empire.

    Notes 1: The basis for this AU world goes back several years and can be seen in a few of my vignettes. The actual plot bunny for this fic, however, was conceived about three years ago. With loads of encouragement and feedback from friends - and a lot of caffeine - I was able to develop what you are about to read. The title comes from a verse in the song "Panic Prone" by Chevelle.

    Notes 2: I can't be trusted to stick to a posting schedule, so if you would like to be notified about updates, I will be keeping a PM list. If you'd like to be added, just let me know. :)

    Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars, though I will admit to sometimes wearing plaid flannel. :eek: It all belongs to George, and there are a few things that belong to Matthew Stover and Sean Stewart, too. I am making no profits in the writing of this story. [face_peace]

    A great big thank you to Gabri_Jade for being my ever-supportive beta, and to Bri_Windstar for being a sounding board for all my crazy ideas. Love you, girls! [:D]

    Most Underrated - 2010 Beyond the Saga Fanfic Awards

    Thank you for the votes! :D



    Enter the Foreign

    ~~

    Prologue


    “You do know, don’t you? If the Jedi destroy me, any chance of her saving her will be lost.”

    It was strange that the voice echoing in his thoughts, the one that had provided comfort for thirteen years in the same patient, rich tone, should now be a harbinger of his beloved’s doom. The irony was bitter, enough to make Anakin Skywalker crush the fingers of both his flesh and bionic hands together in an effort to draw blood. He let out a heavy breath and separated his hands. They were clean, of course. They were always clean, no matter how wretched he felt on the inside.

    Padmé…

    When he’d spoken his vows by the lake on Naboo, he had never imagined that he might lose her like this. He had never imagined losing her at all. In the deep places of his heart, he had refused to consider death a possibility.

    “The dark side is a pathway to many abilities…”

    In an instant the shadows had been swept away, the secrets of the mysterious Darth Sidious had been laid bare, and Anakin had hesitated. Lightsaber drawn, close enough to kill, to wipe out evil forever, to end the war and make the galaxy safe for his family, and he had hesitated.

    Jedi weren’t supposed to hate, but Anakin did. He hated the very idea of the Sith, loathed their existence to his core. Of all the oaths he’d sworn upon being Knighted, that was the secret one he’d promised never to break. The Republic would continue to bicker, and the Jedi Order would be indecisive; but the Sith – who had lived in shadow for a millennia – were preparing for the final push, the one that would end in galactic domination. That would end in the deaths of everyone Anakin held dear.

    He hated Sidious, yes, but he had never hated Palpatine. How could he? The Chancellor had watched over him ever since he was a boy. He had talked to him when no one else seemed to understand. What if the Jedi were wrong? What if Palpatine was a Sith Lord… and a good man?

    That would mean the dark side was an answer to his troubles. The lure was undeniable, and his reasons would be nobler than those of his predecessors.

    I can’t, he pleaded with himself. Not without losing my soul.

    He had taken an oath to the Force, to the light.

    To Padmé.

    He gasped as he felt her across the distance between the Jedi Temple and 500 Republica. In his mind’s eye he could see her rising from the couch, going to the window, as if she could feel his desperation. He went to the transparisteel that separated him from the sweeping majesty of Coruscant and reached for her. He felt her love, how she worried for him, even now, with the war’s end so close. He felt the faintest hint of a consciousness still-forming in its mother’s womb, a consciousness that was curious and fearful and, above all, alive.

    I can’t let them die. I can’t let her die.

    I won’t.

    The Chancellor was a Dark Lord of the Sith, the enemy of the Jedi for thousands of years. He was also Anakin’s mentor, his friend… his only hope.

    Though she possessed no Force-ability of her own, Anakin could feel Padmé answering the touch of his mind. She wanted him to be safe. She wanted him to come back to her. She wanted to set things right between them.

    I’m going to, Padmé. I’m going to save you, and then we’ll be free.

    Twin tears escaped his eyes as he turned away from the window. He brushed them away with his left hand and ran to the door, his stomach tightening in a cold knot, his heart pumping chilled blood through his body.

    I have to do it. Just this once.

    He opened the door and stepped across the threshold, feeling too late the sense of danger that flared up as something connected with his head and sent him plummeting into restless darkness.

    ~~
    Last edited by ViariSkywalker, Jun 18, 2014
  2. Gabri_Jade VIP

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2002
    star 5
    *snags and does caffeinated dance o' ANGST!* [face_dancing] [face_dancing]

    Hee hee hee. I like. [face_mischief] You do capture Anakin's voice beautifully, my dear. :D

    The lure was undeniable, and his reasons would be nobler than those of his predecessors.

    This line in particular helps demonstrate that, despite his appeal as a character, he could be a real arrogant so-and-so sometimes. I like him, but I also really want to smack him upside the head. :p

    Excellent start. Please, sir, I want some more? [face_batting]

    Edit: *looks smug* [face_mischief] :p
  3. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Gabri - Doh! :oops: You just beat me! I was about to post the next chapter. :p Will post now and be back in a moment to respond, lol.

    EDIT: Back!

    *snags and does caffeinated dance o' ANGST!*

    [face_dancing] ANGST! [face_dancing]

    We are so goofy. :p

    Hee hee hee. I like. You do capture Anakin's voice beautifully, my dear.

    I was always so scared of actually writing a story with Anakin as the main character because I was afraid of screwing up my favorite character, so that warms my nerdy little heart. :D

    This line in particular helps demonstrate that, despite his appeal as a character, he could be a real arrogant so-and-so sometimes. I like him, but I also really want to smack him upside the head.

    Agreed. And what is it with people always thinking they can outsmart the dark side? Don?t they teach history at that Jedi Temple. [face_not_talking]

    Excellent start. Please, sir, I want some more?

    More below!
  4. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    ~~

    Chapter One


    He awoke to the sound of blasters and the stink of ozone, his head throbbing. Forcing his eyelids open, he stared down the smoke-filled corridor, eyes stinging as they tried to adjust.

    Oh Force…

    What was going on? The last thing he remembered was talking to Master Windu, waiting in the Council chambers… and running out the door to stop the Jedi from arresting Chancellor Palpatine. Suddenly he knew exactly where he was and what was going on.

    The Chancellor had won. The realization did nothing to ease the fear in his heart. If the Sith didn’t need the help of the Chosen One in defeating four Jedi Masters and taking over the Temple, would he decide that Anakin’s life wasn’t worth sparing?

    No, it couldn’t be. Palpatine was his friend.

    Anakin staggered to his feet and tried to take stock of the situation. He could feel several presences, but not enough to account for the all of the younglings.

    Not nearly enough.

    His heart froze as he reached out for the source of the distress that was pouring into the Force. There were no children here, none at all. Instead he felt a giant void, a mark on the fabric of the galaxy where a great many lives had been obliterated in the space of an instant. Layered over the emptiness was the frenzy of a fierce battle, probably the one that was causing the turmoil he felt. Anakin swallowed hard as he propelled himself forward, praying that whoever was behind this massacre had given the younglings quick deaths, knowing somewhere down in his gut that their blood would always be on his hands.

    I could have ended this with one swing of my lightsaber.

    What have I done?

    Another thought struck him.

    Where is Padmé?

    Fear for his wife overwhelmed his senses. He tried to touch her presence but found no trace of her. Horrified, he attempted to further his range. Nothing. It was as if the design of the Force had altered radically in the time that he’d been unconscious. The only familiar sensation was the anger, rage, and desperation permeating the air like a potent toxin. He knew that feeling well, but he’d never expected to feel it here, in the tranquil Jedi Temple.

    Anakin looked behind him at the door he’d been sprawled in front of, but instead of the smooth curves of the Council chamber entrance, he saw a sharply angled durasteel door that looked as if it had been on the wrong end of a frag grenade. Twisted metal jutted out at gruesome angles, reminding Anakin of some of the worst battles of the war. Turning back to face the corridor, he realized that the layout did not match the one outside the Council’s meeting place.

    What in the Corellian hells…?

    This wasn’t the Temple, at least not any part he’d ever seen. But if he wasn’t there, then where was he?

    Blaster fire echoed along the corridor, louder than before, and without thinking Anakin drew his lightsaber and activated it with the familiar snap-hiss that sent dread through enemies of the Republic. The cerulean blade lit the smoky air, faintly illuminating a long, narrow hallway. He narrowed his eyes, extending his mental perception into the hazy darkness.

    The black-clad figure appeared out of nowhere, his green lightsaber blade slicing toward Anakin’s neck. The young Jedi jumped back a step, surprised not so much by the presence of a saber-wielding enemy, but by the fact that he had not – and could not – sense the figure in the Force. He was real enough, his weapon a swirling pinwheel of deadly emerald energy. Anakin lunged forward, driving his blade hard into his opponent’s, pushing him back with sheer strength and weight. Instead of matching Anakin’s attack, the man in black did a back handspring and landed in a crouch. Anakin watched him carefully but held his position.

    The figure stood slowly and pulled off his black cloth mask. It was indeed a man, and he looked to be close to Anakin’s age. The Jedi’s natural instinct was to assess his opponent, memorize every detail of his appearance, his stance, the way he breathed. Three years of war had branded the procedures deeply. Anakin wondered briefly, in a detached way, if he would ever be able to meet someone new without evaluating the easiest way to kill them.

    The man’s face was surprisingly placid. He looked like someone who knew well the life of a warrior and took every battle in stride. If he was a fellow Jedi, Anakin had never met him. Even without the sense of him in the Force, Anakin could tell he was a skilled fighter.

    “If you’ve come to kill me,” the stranger said huskily, “then do it quickly.”

    For an instant, Anakin remembered what he had planned to do before leaving the Council room, and a mixture of shame and apprehension washed over him. He tightened his grip on his lightsaber. “I’m not here to kill you.” He was unable to hide the strain in his voice. “I’m not even sure where here is.”

    The man cocked his head to one side as if listening to something. With an expression somewhere between anxiety and annoyance, he unclipped a comlink from his belt and brought it to his lips. “Boys, we’ve got company,” he said crisply. “Make for the rendezvous.” Hooking the comlink back onto his belt, he deactivated his lightsaber and gave Anakin a mock salute with the hilt. “Gotta fly.”

    And then he was gone.

    “Wait!” Anakin yelled after him, his voice sounding much rawer than he’d imagined it would. He had to get to Padmé, to the Chancellor, to someone who could tell him what was going on. “Please,” he tried again, “what is this place?”

    The words came to him in a whisper of thought.

    Hell. Better known as Ossus.

    Anakin sprinted forward to catch the man, emerging from the smoke to find an intersecting hallway lit by emergency lights. This isn’t possible, he told himself. Ossus was one in a long line of planets to become embroiled in the Outer Rim Sieges, but it had been ruined thousands of years before the Separatists took hold of it. More importantly, it was on the other side of the galaxy. He couldn’t possibly be there.

    Turning right at the corner, he dashed down the corridor, listening for the sound of footfalls ahead. He couldn’t sense the stranger in the Force, but he could hear him. A piece of cloth flapped in the air to the right, catching Anakin’s attention. As he turned to look, his danger sense flared, and he whipped his lightsaber around to protect his side. A beam of red hissed to life, crashing into his blade like a vicious predator. The power behind the blow was unbelievable; Anakin had to strain every muscle to keep the lightsaber from cleaving through his neck.

    “Oh, you’re a strong one, aren’t you?” his assailant leered. The voice was deep and distinctively male, and through the blue and red light, Anakin could see just enough to make out a face riddled with black tattoos. For a split-second, the young Jedi’s heart froze.

    The skin color was different, but Anakin had seen tattoos like those on another man, another Iridonian Zabrak with fire-yellow eyes that burned with hatred so great it could not be contained. The murderer of his first mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn.

    Anakin remembered watching Qui-Gon burn at his funeral, a husk of a man, the life stolen from him by a force too evil to comprehend. By a Sith Lord.

    Like the man I’ve trusted for the last decade.

    Anakin banished those thoughts from his mind and focused his attention on the saber-wielding Zabrak. As they crossed blades high in the air, Anakin shoved hard and dropped into a spinning kick. The other man leapt over Anakin’s leg and angled his blade vertically, coming down for the kill. Anakin rolled away and jumped to his feet, thrusting his saber in the process. The Zabrak parried clumsily, seemingly uneasy being on the defensive.

    Anakin pressed his advantage, launching a barrage of blows that the man could barely keep up with. With a violent slash of his lightsaber, Anakin sent his opponent’s weapon flying through the air and slashed through his right wrist.

    The Zabrak howled with rage as he dropped to his knees, staring in disbelief at the cauterized stump. “You…” he hissed, his chest heaving.

    The sight of him, unarmed and vulnerable, hit Anakin at his core. Though the man before him was much younger and in better physical condition than Count Dooku had been, Anakin couldn’t help noticing how similar his situation was to the one on the Invisible Hand just days earlier.

    If I don’t kill him, he’ll come back for me. He’ll find Padmé and kill her, too.

    That final thought clinched it. Anakin raised his lightsaber over his head, ready to slice it through his attacker’s neck and end his miserable existence.

    An explosion rocked the corridor, sending Anakin into the wall with a ferocious crash. The Zabrak groaned angrily, and Anakin lost sight of him in the fire and smoke that filled the air. Somewhere in the distance a siren was blaring, and voices cried out urgently. Picking himself up of the floor, Anakin retrieved his lightsaber and began stumbling toward the sound of those voices.

    “This way, hurry!”

    “We’re going the wrong way!”

    “Elias will meet us, just move!”

    At the end of the corridor, a door burst open; Anakin saw three figures silhouetted against the moonlit sky, running for a ship that was still in the process of landing. It reminded him vaguely of the YT-series of Corellian freighters with its saucer-shaped hull, but the rest of the design was alien to him. Painted black, it almost disappeared in the darkness. The hatch opened, and the three figures ran aboard.

    Looking behind him, Anakin watched as the smoke began to thin. Whoever that crazed Iridonian had been, he felt sure there were more like him on this planet. One person alone couldn’t have generated the level of rage and hatred that he had sensed upon waking in this place. For all he knew, the freighter was his only way offworld. Pulling his hood up over his head and shivering from something other than the cold, Anakin darted toward the ship, crawling up the side of the hatch as it began to close.

    ~~


    Arden Veiss trembled as she squeezed the trigger of the dorsal guns. She’d never been this close to the ruined Jedi Academy; she suspected she was one of the few who had. There was something intensely frightening about the building, about the whole planet, and she knew with certainty that she would not have agreed to this crazy mission if Captain Dagen had told them beforehand that Ossus was their destination.

    She could do without the first mate’s insane flying, too.

    “We’re clear,” Elias Till shouted from the cockpit. Arden felt a rush of relief, followed by the fear that they’d escaped the planet only to be blown out of the sky by the defense fleet’s turbo lasers.

    As if reading her thoughts, Elias pulled up at a steep angle and let out a breath that crackled across the comm. “It’s all right, Arden. They’re not fast enough for the Daybreak.”

    “What about the others?”

    “All aboard. Told you I could do it.”

    Arden tried to still her shaking hands. “I was more worried about the captain. Two teenage boys are not enough backup for a job like this.”

    “Kohr and Ames are plenty old enough to handle Ossus.”

    Arden shook her head and unbuckled herself from the guns. “Whatever you say, Elias.” She climbed down the ladder and made for the hatch.

    The Daybreak bucked as it entered hyperspace, tossing Arden against the curved corridor walls. She grappled at the air before landing hard on her rear.

    “Need a hand?”

    Arden frowned and looked up into the captain’s brown eyes. “Glad to see you made it out okay.”

    “Thanks.” He grabbed her by the hand and pulled her to her feet. “You all right?”

    “I will be once you tell me what on Ossus was so valuable that you risked the wrath of the Sith to get it.”

    The captain exchanged a quick glance with Kohr and Ames before pulling a datapad out of his jacket pocket. “This.”

    Arden placed both shaking hands on her hips and did her best to look intimidating. “You risked all our lives for a datapad?” She threw a pointed look at Kohr, who was doing his best to pretend he was invisible. “Kohr, you couldn’t have cracked their database from orbit?”

    Kohr looked at the captain as if seeking permission. Captain Dagen held up his hand dismissively, and the two young men at his side hurried past Arden and headed toward the galley.

    Dagen watched the boys until they were out of sight. “Emperor’s bones, you’ve got a lot to complain about, Arden,” he said wryly, pocketing the datapad. “We’re alive, aren’t we?”

    He brushed past Arden and headed for the cockpit. The young woman huffed indignantly, but she knew better than to expect straight answers from the captain. She turned on her heel and followed him.

    “So what did you do?” Arden called out. “Crack into the big Sith bank account?”

    There was no reply, not even the usual grunt of displeasure. Arden strode through the doorway as Captain Dagen finished whispering something to the man in the pilot’s chair. They both turned to look at Arden, unable to mask the tenseness in their body language.

    “Elias?” Her gaze flickered to the man in the seat, the blond-haired, powerfully built first mate who had just flown them away from Ossus. His normally cheerful brown eyes were clouded with worry. “What’s wrong?”

    The captain shifted his weight and patted Elias on the shoulder. “Make a few more micro jumps. I’ll be back in a minute.”

    Elias half-rose out of the chair. “You sure you don’t need help?”

    Dagen offered the rare smile. “Naw, I can handle it.” Then he slid out the door and disappeared down the corridor.

    Arden shivered. “He still scares me a little.” She glanced at Elias. “You know. Sometimes.”

    The first mate stood up and pulled Arden into his arms. “He’s like my brother,” he said matter-of-factly, “and you’re not scared of me.” She could still detect something odd beneath his jocularity.

    “You two are nothing alike.” She eyed Elias with approval. “But that’s okay.”

    Elias smiled and pulled her down into the chair with him. “Help me plot these jumps.” He pressed two buttons, glancing over his shoulder as he did so.

    Arden had the feeling he was trying to distract her, or maybe himself, but she went along for his sake. “If you insist. Now, what exactly does this lever do?”

    ~~


    Anakin had never been claustrophobic, but the tight spot he’d wedged himself into was threatening to drive him insane. He knew it wasn’t really the ship’s hold that had him on edge. Every second he waited here was another wasted opportunity to save Padmé’s life. After his encounters on Ossus – if it really was Ossus – he had been hesitant to extend his presence, lest anyone else detect him in the Force. Now it was time to come out of hiding and find out what kind of crew he was dealing with. He had to get home.

    The door to the storage compartment opened without warning. Before he could react, a hand reached in and yanked hard on his robes, sending him headfirst into a pile of cargo containers. The Jedi Knight jumped to his feet and activated his lightsaber in one fluid motion. His attacker stood still, watching every movement without so much as blinking. Anakin realized, with the mildest degree of surprise, that it was the same man he’d met upon arriving on the planet.

    “There’s no need for your lightsaber,” the stranger informed him steadily. “Just tell me why you snuck aboard my ship.”

    Anakin held fast to his saber with one hand and rubbed his head with the other. “I had a little trouble with the locals.”

    The man snorted. “I can’t imagine why.” In this light Anakin could see that he had jet black hair and dark brown eyes. His face was hard, and there were two jagged scar lines along the left side of his face.

    Anakin pulled himself up to full height. “You said that planet was Ossus.”

    “Did I?”

    “As I recall.”

    The man studied Anakin for a moment before answering. “Well, as I recall, I asked you why you’re on my ship, and you have yet to provide a good reason.”

    Anakin knew this would be the perfect time to practice some Jedi patience, but after spending three years as a commander and then a general in the Grand Army of the Republic, he had become accustomed to a certain level of respect, even from his peers. The stranger’s tone reminded him too much of Master Windu’s for him to ignore it.

    Besides, he hadn’t planned on remaining in the Jedi Order for much longer when he’d been mysteriously swept to this far corner of the galaxy. He didn’t have to be patient anymore.

    “Listen,” he snapped, pointing at the man with his lightsaber. “I have no idea what’s going on here. Maybe that planet is Ossus, maybe it isn’t, but I wasn’t about to spend any more time there. I needed a ship, and yours was the only one available.”

    The man stared at the tip of the lightsaber, his expression darkening just a little. “I told you there’s no need for your weapon. Put it away and we can talk like civilized men.” He turned to his left and indicated the open doorway leading out of the cargo hold. “This way.” Without looking to see if Anakin would follow, he strode through the door and shut off the hold’s lights.

    The Jedi Knight sucked in a frustrated breath and followed. As he walked behind the man, he noticed that he was no longer wearing the lightsaber he’d wielded during their first meeting.

    Curious.

    The man stopped at the end of the corridor and pressed his palm to a control panel. A door slid open, revealing the vessel’s cockpit. Sitting in front of the controls were a young man and a young woman, both turning to see who had just entered.

    “Hey, Captain…?” the girl’s words died as she caught sight of Anakin standing in the doorway.

    The captain smiled tightly. “Elias, Arden, turns out we have a stowaway. This is… I’m sorry; you never told me your name.”

    Anakin looked back and forth between the captain and his crew. Obviously they didn’t watch the Holonet much. “My name is not important,” he answered, adding a nudge of Force persuasion.

    The man at the controls snorted. “It is if you want anything from us.”

    The captain threw his companion a pointed look. “What Elias means to say is, we would love to help you. We just don’t know you.”

    “No charity for strangers?”

    The captain looked at his crew, and they all shook their heads. “Not really, no.”

    “Okay.” Anakin reminded himself that he would need their help if he wanted to get back to Padmé. “My name is Anakin Skywalker. I’m a Jedi Knight, and I need to get to Coruscant as soon as possible.”

    The two men looked truly at a loss for words, but the girl let out a dry laugh. “Right, and I’m Obi-Wan Kenobi. Come on, you’ve got to be joking.” It took her a moment to realize that no one else was laughing.

    Anakin glared at her, feeling a dark chill rush through his veins. “I wasn’t trying to be funny,” he said icily.

    The girl shrank back into her chair, fear creeping into her hazel eyes. She turned back to the control panel, avoiding further eye contact. Her reaction emboldened Anakin, and he took a step into the cockpit.

    “I’ve told you my name. Take me to Coruscant and you’ll be rewarded, I give you my word.”

    “Your word?” The man called Elias stood up from his seat and folded his arms across his chest. “You honestly expect us to trust the word of a man claiming to be Anakin Skywalker?”

    Claiming?”

    “Elias,” the captain interjected. “Would you plot a jump for the Heibic system?”

    Elias nodded and sat back down at the controls.

    “What are you doing?” Anakin asked as he watched the man’s fingers dance over the panel.

    The captain leaned over Elias’s chair, ignoring Anakin’s question. “If we don’t hear from Ulin after we get there, take us to the alternate rendezvous point immediately.”

    “Please!” Anakin shouted, adding the weight of the Force to his plea. “I have to get to Coruscant, and you have to take me.”

    The girl looked over her shoulder at the captain as if she expected Anakin’s words to send him into a rage. The captain cleared his throat and stared back at Anakin with the steely eyes of one who was accustomed to being in command. “There is no way in hell,” he said in a quiet voice, “that I’m risking my ship and my crew to take you to Coruscant.”

    Anakin bit the inside of his lip, a habit he’d acquired after spending too much time around Coruscanti politics. It generally prevented him from blurting out things he would regret. “You don’t understand,” he gritted out, eyes narrowed dangerously. “I must go.”

    “For your own good, stay out of this affair.”

    Master Windu’s words came back to him suddenly, mocking him. He tried to shake the memory from his mind, but it lingered, reminding him of why he so desperately needed to get home. His blood ran hot as he glared down at the captain. Only a criminal would feel that a trip to the Republic’s capital was a risk.

    He locked eyes with the captain, who was still invisible in the Force. What was he? What kind of person could disappear like that? Was it a natural phenomenon? He couldn’t explain it, and that frightened him just a little.

    Anakin struggled to suppress his fear and anger. He could almost hear Padmé screaming for him to help her. “I’m going to Coruscant one way or another, captain. Please don’t make me use force. I don’t want to hurt you or your crew.”

    “You see, that’s where you’ve slipped up,” the captain murmured. “Anakin Skywalker was a guardian of peace and justice, not a desperate bully who stole starships from unsuspecting spacers. You couldn’t possibly be him.”

    Anakin stared at the crew incredulously. These people are all crazy.

    The captain smiled darkly. “And if you really were him, you could have prevented this.” As he finished speaking, Anakin felt something sharp pinch his neck. He twisted around to see a tall, dark-skinned boy holding a syringe, and then everything faded as he tumbled to the deck.

    ~~
    Last edited by ViariSkywalker, Jun 19, 2014
  5. Lady_Tahiri Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2001
    star 4
    First of all - hi, Vi, long time no see! You obviously put a lot of time and care into this story, and it looks to be amazing. Count me in for the ride!

    I was always so scared of actually writing a story with Anakin as the main character because I was afraid of screwing up my favorite character, so that warms my nerdy little heart.
    I understand the feeling. But you have nothing to be scared of, you're doing a wonderful job!

    He awoke to the sound of blasters and the stink of ozone
    That said a lot in a few words, and transported us right there.

    No, it couldn?t be. Palpatine was his friend.
    It breaks my heart to seem him so conflicted.

    Anakin wondered briefly, in a detached way, if he would ever be able to meet someone new without evaluating the easiest way to kill them.
    This is great.

    ?If you?ve come to kill me,? the stranger said huskily, ?then do it quickly.?
    Infamous lines. Though somehow whenever a character utters them, the other guy never does turn out to want to kill him.

    ?Boys, we?ve got company"
    ?Make for the rendezvous.?
    ?Gotta fly.?

    [face_laugh]

    The words came to him in a whisper of thought.
    Hell. Better known as Ossus.

    *shivers*

    That was a heck of a way to end the chapter. Looking forward to more!
    LT
  6. RebelMom Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2000
    star 6
    I've always enjoyed time travel stories. You've done a good job capturing Anakin just before his fall. Maybe he'll learn something, eh?
  7. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    LT ? First of all - hi, Vi, long time no see! You obviously put a lot of time and care into this story, and it looks to be amazing. Count me in for the ride!

    --Hey, LT! [:D] I replied to Dying of the Light yesterday; it is so amazing! It?s great to have you back here and writing again! I?m really excited to be posting this story, and I hope you continue to enjoy it! :D

    I understand the feeling. But you have nothing to be scared of, you're doing a wonderful job!

    --Thanks! [face_blush] I hope I continue to do him justice.

    It breaks my heart to seem him so conflicted.

    --I hate to do it to him, but it?s for his own good. [face_mischief]

    Infamous lines. Though somehow whenever a character utters them, the other guy never does turn out to want to kill him.

    --Strange how that works. ;)

    That was a heck of a way to end the chapter. Looking forward to more!

    --Hee, I like to be evil that way. :p More up momentarily!

    Mom ? I've always enjoyed time travel stories. You've done a good job capturing Anakin just before his fall. Maybe he'll learn something, eh?

    --I love a good time travel fic, though I admit I haven?t been reading any lately. I think I might have to go look for some. :p And we can certainly hope Anakin learns a thing or two ? but will it be enough? [face_mischief] Thanks for the reply! :)


    Next post coming up!
  8. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    ~~

    Chapter Two


    “Wondered when you’d get here!”

    Arden watched as Elias and Captain Dagen shook hands with the tall, thin old man who’d come out to greet them. Apparently a gifted slicer, Ulin was also their go-to man when it came to random supplies and technology. Arden liked him well enough, but he had a funny way of making her feel like she was out of the loop.

    Not that she was really in the loop anyway. Captain Dagen was very private about his business. Ossus was just another example of that.

    “Hello there, Arden!” Ulin said, nodding her way. “This one still treatin’ you right?” He cast a wry grin at Elias.

    Arden smiled. “Yeah, I’ve got no complaints.” She walked over and looped her arm through Elias’s. “Got any food here, Ulin?”

    The old man grinned and ran a hand through his short gray hair. “Sure, there’s some food on the Ho’Din. She’s docked on the other side of the complex.” He looked past Arden at the two boys coming down the ramp of the Daybreak. “Whatcha got there, boys?”

    Kohr and Ames stopped and stared down at the stretcher between them. Before they could respond, Captain Dagen reached out and guided Ulin off to the side of the landing platform.

    Arden frowned. “I really don’t like this, Elias.”

    Elias shrugged. “I don’t like it either, but there’s not much we can do about it. We couldn’t just dump him out in space.”

    “That’s not what I meant,” Arden replied impatiently.

    “I don’t understand.” Elias glanced over at Dagen and Ulin. “You mean them?”

    Arden nodded.

    “They’re just talking about the stowaway, that’s all.”

    “What about that datapad he stole from the Sith? Doesn’t he need Ulin to do something with it?”

    “I don’t know.”

    Arden shook her head. “Why are we stealing from the Sith?”

    “We always steal from the Sith, Arden. Come on, let’s go get something to eat.” Elias started to pull her toward the building Ulin had emerged from. It looked like an old military bunker – appropriate, given the desolate, abandoned nature of the planet they’d landed on. Arden had never heard of the Heibic system before today, but apparently it was a place Dagen, Ulin, and even Elias knew well. She got the feeling they’d hidden out here many times.

    Arden resisted Elias’s pull for a moment. Yes, they frequently stole from the Sith because the Sith owned everything. Whenever they smuggled goods or robbed a weapons dealer, they were stealing from the Sith. But they’d never, ever, come anywhere near one of the Sith worlds. There was a difference. The mysterious Force users might have carved out an empire, but there were only a few planets they truly called home.

    The forbidden worlds.

    Arden had heard plenty of stories about Ossus. Enough to know that no one in their right mind would choose to venture there.

    Well, she’d always had doubts about Captain Dagen’s sanity.

    Arden finally let Elias steer her toward the bunker. For the moment, she tried to push aside her worries and focus on the food that awaited her on the Happy Ho’Din. Out of the corner of her eye, though, she caught sight of Kohr and Ames carrying the stretcher with their stowaway on it, and her appetite began to fade.

    I have a bad feeling about this.

    ~~


    The first thing he knew for certain was that he was standing on some precipice. The second thing he knew was that Padmé was screaming for help.

    “Padmé!” he cried out, reaching into pitch darkness for something to hold onto, something to guide him back toward his wife.

    “Anakin, help me!”

    “Padmé!” he screamed. “Padmé!”

    And then, without knowing how or why, he could see that he was falling.

    Vision and color had returned with shocking clarity. He was tumbling off a cliff. The water below churned angrily against the rocks, waiting eagerly to welcome him into its cold embrace. He wondered – even as he fell – if he’d been pushed off the cliff or if he’d jumped.

    It didn’t matter, really. The wind stung his eyes and his skin as the ocean rose rapidly to meet him. It didn’t matter how he’d come to be falling through the night sky. If he was pushed, he deserved it. If he’d jumped, then he had truly gone mad, and the galaxy was well rid of him.

    He couldn’t hear Padmé’s screams. He couldn’t hear anything but the wind.

    He was falling, one way or another, toward his fate. Toward the encompassing, passionless, inky black darkness that crashed against the cliff. He couldn’t stop it. He couldn’t change it. He was waiting to hit, waiting for the sweet relief of impact.

    But it never came.

    ~~


    Arden stared at the gelatinous substance on her plate and wrinkled her nose. “Lovely,” she muttered, poking it with her spoon.

    Elias leaned over and kissed her below the ear. “Just eat it,” he chided.

    “You first,” she whispered back.

    Elias raised an eyebrow, paused, then proceeded to shovel the muck into his mouth. After a few spoonfuls, he turned to Arden and gave her a big, sloppy grin. “’S’not bad.”

    Arden laughed and shoved him playfully. “Shut up.”

    “Hey, how’s the food? Good?”

    Elias twisted around in his seat. “Yeah, it’s great, Ulin.”

    Across the table, Kohr and Ames caught Arden’s attention and rolled their eyes in unison. She stifled a giggle.

    Captain Dagen strode into the galley, picked up a jug of juice – at least Arden thought it was juice – and poured himself a cup. He took a sip, puckered his lips, and cleared his throat.

    “Ames.”

    The boy looked up. “Sir?”

    “Need you to finish up and go check on our guest. Get him ready.”

    Ames pushed his plate to the center of the table and stood up. “I’m on it.”

    Dagen took another sip before setting the cup down. “Kohr, you remember where the monitors are?”

    “Yeah, sure, Captain.”

    “Get them up and running, I want to record this.”

    Kohr banged his spoon down and jumped up from his seat. He and Ames bolted from the room. Ulin emerged from the kitchen and looked around the table. “Hey, where’d they go?”

    Dagen smiled at Ulin and folded his arms across his chest. “Sorry, Ulin, I need them.”

    “Aw, it’s fine, kid.”

    Arden thought she saw something almost sad in the captain’s eyes at Ulin’s words, but when she didn’t notice it again she decided it was nothing. Dagen left the room, and Arden and Elias went back to their food.

    ~~


    Anakin awoke on a hard surface, vaguely aware of the throbbing pain in his forehead and right knee. He started to open his eyes but quickly shut them when he found himself staring straight into an orb of harsh white light. Covering his eyes with one hand, he rolled slightly to the left and propped himself up on his elbow.

    “You’ll get used to it,” a voice said from behind him.

    Anakin jerked his head toward the voice, cracking one eye open and holding up a hand to block the glare. “Where am I?” His words came out slurred. He tried to probe the room with the Force, but he couldn’t get a clear sense of anything in it. “What did you do to me?”

    “Relax,” the voice said, closer this time. It was definitely male. “You were sedated. You’ve been out for six hours. It’ll be another hour or so before your senses all return to normal.”

    Something dark blocked out the source of the light. Anakin opened his eyes as much as the remaining glare would allow. Standing over him was the boy who had drugged him earlier. The boy raised his eyebrows and gave him a wry grin. “I’m supposed to let the captain know when you’re ready for questioning.” He leaned in close to Anakin’s face. “You feel up for that?”

    Anakin drew his head back, cringing at the burst of pain that accompanied the motion. “What kind of questioning?”

    The boy waved nonchalantly. “The usual: name, rank, who sent you, do we have to kill you… you know. That kind of stuff.”

    Anakin tried to ignore the pounding in his head. He probably wasn’t in the best of conditions for an interrogation – their plan, no doubt – but he was still desperate to know where he was and what was going on. Despite thirteen years of Jedi tutelage, patience was not one of his strengths.

    “Sounds like fun,” he muttered. “Can I get up, or are you going to shoot one of those into me again?” He pointed at a tray of syringes on a table across the room.

    The boy looked over his shoulder and grinned. “Not unless you get rowdy. Go ahead, sit up if you want.”

    Anakin did so, slowly. “Where are we?”

    “Wouldn’t you like to know?” The boy smirked and turned his back on Anakin. He walked over to the table and picked up a datapad. “Sorry, but I’m not allowed to say.” He cocked his head to one side. “And don’t try any Force tricks. You’ll only make things worse for yourself.”

    Anakin glared at the boy’s shoulder blades. “Why don’t you just take me to your captain?” So we can get this over with.

    The boy turned around and shrugged. “If you think you’re ready—”

    “I’m fine,” Anakin snapped.

    “Suit yourself.” The boy walked over to one of two control panels on the far wall and entered a series of numbers. “Ames,” he spoke into the microphone, and part of the wall slid open to reveal another plain white room with a long white table in the center.

    Anakin hopped down from his table and walked through the door, keeping his senses, if not his eyes, trained on the boy. It wasn’t helping much.

    “You can sit there,” the boy – Ames – said, indicating a chair at the opposite end of the room. “Have fun.” He stepped away from the wall and closed the door, locking Anakin into the white room.

    “Perfect,” Anakin said under his breath. He called on the Force’s healing energies to ease the throbbing in his head as he strode over to the chair and sat down. Quiet settled over him for the first time since he’d left the Council chambers. He could hear the faint pulse of the air cooling and purification system, filtering into the room through an unseen vent. He felt his heart beating in his chest, his blood pounding through his veins. He heard the whisper of his own breath, flowing slowly in and out.

    It was then that he noticed his hands were shaking.

    Anakin pulled them down under the table, out of sight of whoever might be watching. After a moment, he leaned back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest.

    It didn’t matter where he was or who these people were. He was still one of the most powerful Jedi alive, and he would make that perfectly clear.

    ~~


    “Look at him in there. What’s he so smug about?” Arden peered at the monitor, watching their stowaway with a mixture of interest and disdain. She turned to look at Kohr, who was studying the monitor even more carefully than she had been. “Can you believe he said he was Anakin Skywalker?”

    Kohr shook his head, silent as he gazed at the man on the screen. Arden rolled her eyes a little as she returned her attention to the monitor.

    “Hey, is the volume up on that?” Ames called out, throwing his jacket across the back of a chair as he entered the room.

    “I don’t know,” Arden answered. “I haven’t touched it.”

    “Because I want to hear what he says, and the equipment’s faulty enough without you—”

    “I said I didn’t touch it!” Arden threw her hands up in the air and whirled on Ames, who was now frozen in place a few steps away.

    The young man whistled, and his eyes went wide. “Whoa, sorry. Didn’t know you were so sensitive.”

    “Where have you been?” Kohr mumbled, his eyes still glued to the monitor.

    Arden threw Kohr a pointed look. “Don’t you have a computer to slice or something?”

    Kohr waved her off. “Nah, I can do it later.” He squinted his eyes and leaned closer to the screen. “He does kind of look familiar, though, doesn’t he?”

    Arden and Ames exchanged a glance before leaning over Kohr’s shoulders to get a better look.

    “Hmm.” Arden scratched her chin and then straightened up. “Nope.”

    “Oh, come on! Ames?”

    “Never seen him before,” the other boy said with a shrug. “I would know; I just spent the last few minutes talking to him. Sorry.”

    “Ah, what do you know?” Kohr propped both elbows on the console and rested his chin in his palms.

    Arden quirked one eyebrow and glanced at Ames over Kohr’s head. “And you think I’m sensitive?”

    “Shh! The captain just went in!” Kohr reached for a knob and cranked up the volume. Arden and Ames settled down into chairs on either side and leaned in to watch.

    Arden felt a touch on her shoulder, and she nearly jumped out of her seat. When she looked up she saw Elias smiling tightly.

    “Hey,” he whispered, putting both hands on her shoulders.

    “Hey. He’s about to start.”

    Elias nodded. He bent over and kissed her on the cheek before giving his full attention to the monitor.

    “So,” the captain said, his voice edged in static. “Why don’t you start by telling me your real name?”

    Arden felt a chill run through her as she and the others stared into the stowaway’s hard eyes.

    ~~


    “We’re approaching the planet now, my lord.” The human male was bent down on one knee in the cockpit of a small freighter. In front of him, a cloaked figure opened his yellow eyes and stared out at the rust-colored planet below.

    “Undetected?”

    “We believe so, my lord. Sensors indicate no irregular activity on the surface.”

    The cloaked man folded his hands under his chin and leaned forward, the cockpit lights making his green skin seem to glow. “Very well. Take us down.”

    ~~


    “So. Why don’t you start by telling me your real name?”

    “I already told you.” Anakin probed the captain, but there was still no sense of him in the Force. It was as if he didn’t even exist.

    The captain’s face was unreadable. “You’re not Anakin Skywalker. I know that for a fact.”

    Anakin shook his head. “I think I know who I am.”

    The other man placed both hands on the table and leaned forward, his calm veneer cracking just a little. “You must be crazy then, because Anakin Skywalker is dead.”

    The words had the effect of silencing Anakin’s protests, if only for a moment. He stared into the captain’s dark eyes, trying to determine whether there was any truth to his words. It occurred to him that something might have happened, something that could have led the galaxy at large to believe he had died. The captain certainly seemed to believe so.

    “How did he die?” Anakin said at last.

    The captain raised his eyebrows. “Are you telling me you’re not Anakin Skywalker now?”

    “I’m serious! I don’t know what’s going on!”

    The man shook his head. “This isn’t funny,” he said as he turned and walked to the door. “You’re going to tell me the truth.”

    Anakin uncrossed his arms and began to stand. The captain reached up and disconnected a small device hanging from the ceiling.

    “I have been—”

    Before he could finish, the captain whirled around and raised his hand, knocking Anakin backward into the wall with a blast of Force energy. He tried to resist, but with his reflexes still dulled by the sedative, he could do nothing but watch as the captain approached him.

    “I know you’re powerful; I’m not doubting that. But when you insist on passing yourself off as a Jedi who has been dead for nearly fifty years, I have to conclude that you’re completely insane.” He made a shoving gesture with his hand, pressing Anakin even more firmly against the wall. “Are you insane? Or is this just a game to you?”

    Anakin stopped trying to resist. “Fifty years?”

    For the first time, the captain faltered. He used his free hand to grab Anakin’s chair and pull it over to the wall. Then he dropped Anakin in it.

    “Forty-seven,” he said quietly, lowering his hand and his Force-grip on Anakin. Disbelief crept into his eyes. “Where did you come from? Are you a clone or something? One of the Emperor’s sick projects?”

    “No,” Anakin insisted, shaking his head. Panic began to rise up in him. He felt darkness wash over everything and thought, for a moment, that he might be the cause of it. “I don’t know this Emperor. Please—”

    “Captain, are you okay?”

    Both men snapped their heads toward the comm. “Everything’s fine, Arden. Return to your duties.”

    “’Fraid not, Captain,” a male voice cut in. “We’ve got incoming.”

    The captain ran to the door. “Let me out, now!” He pulled out his comlink and spoke into it. “Attention, this is Captain Dagen.” The door slid open to reveal the man and woman from the cockpit. “Evacuate, I repeat, evacuate. Everyone to the Happy Ho’Din, immediately.”

    Anakin stood up and took a few steps toward the others. The man from the cockpit – Elias, if he remembered correctly – grabbed the captain by the shoulder. “Why Ulin’s ship? What are you doing?”

    Dagen nodded toward Anakin. “Take him and the others, and get out of here. I’m staying.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out a datapad, and handed it to Elias. “Make sure Ulin gets this.”

    “You don’t know how many there are!” the woman, Arden, exclaimed. “You could be severely outnumbered!”

    Elias nodded. “Arden’s right. The odds of making it out of here—”

    Dagen cut him off with a wave. “Never tell me the odds.” He put a hand on Elias’s forearm. “I’ll be fine, now go.” He looked back at Anakin and jerked his thumb toward the door. “You too.”

    Anakin felt the weight of the dark side closing in, and he realized it was coming from above. He sensed at least four minds saturated in the dark energies. One was calmer than the others, like ice rather than fire. Cold, calculating, and patient.

    “No,” he said. “Let me stay. I can help you.”

    Dagen studied Anakin for a second before nodding his head. “Fine. Give him his lightsaber.”

    The newcomers stared at their captain in disbelief. Elias shook his head. “Captain, no.”

    Dagen turned and smiled. “It’ll be all right, Elias. Trust me.”

    Elias narrowed his eyes at Anakin, but he reached into his jacket and pulled the lightsaber out. He tossed it in a low arc toward the other end of the room. As soon as the silver hilt slapped into Anakin’s hand, he felt a surge of energy, a renewal of purpose. His senses were nearly back to normal.

    “Come on, let’s get going,” Dagen ordered. Anakin followed after him, leaving the interrogation room behind.

    ~~
    Last edited by ViariSkywalker, Jun 18, 2014
  9. Lady_Tahiri Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2001
    star 4
    Fabulous update, Vi! =D= =D=

    I was so excited to see that you enjoyed Dying of the Light. I notice you just graduated - congrats! I've still got a couple more years - but hey, more time for fanfic in school right haha.

    Arden frowned. ?I really don?t like this, Elias.?
    Many a subordinate has been in the tricky position of not having the whole 411 on the boss and just having to trust the boss's judgement. This section from Arden's POV captures that perspective perfectly.

    Also, the Happy Ho'Din is just such a delightful name for a ship!

    He was falling, one way or another, toward his fate. Toward the encompassing, passionless, inky black darkness that crashed against the cliff. He couldn?t stop it. He couldn?t change it. He was waiting to hit, waiting for the sweet relief of impact.

    But it never came.

    This dream sequence is so chilling. And even though logically I know I won't know what it portends till quite a bit later, still ... just wow.

    ?What kind of questioning??

    The boy waved nonchalantly. ?The usual: name, rank, who sent you, do we have to kill you? you know. That kind of stuff.?

    Professionals, these guys are. Are you sure all they're running is a smuggling operation?

    ?Never tell me the odds.?
    Touché, Vi, touché. That and "I've got a bad feeling about this" in the same post too! Now I'm just waiting for "I know." [face_laugh]

    Arden's reservations aside, I'm beginning to really warm to Dagen. This guy knows what's up. He hands Ani back his lightsaber with little to no fuss where any number of other guys would have wasted precious seconds trying to maintain the illusion they were in control. Looks like a very fruitful partnership in the works - and I'm so looking forward to digging up Dagen's backstory!

    So the Sith put a tracer on Dagen and co. Smart. I mean, dumb on the smugglers' parts, but this confrontation should be interesting. You really convey the sense of how hard it is for Anakin to focus on staying alive, figuring out what the heck happened, etc. when all he can think about is Padmé. For someone who's always been ruled by his emotions, it must be excruciating.

    UP you go! And by the way, words cannot express how in awe I am of authors who can lay down a posting schedule and stick to it.
  10. RebelMom Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2000
    star 6
    Dagen cut him off with a wave. ?Never tell me the odds.? Shades of Han Solo.

    And now there is a creepy Sith(I'm assuming) on his way. Should be quite the meeting.
  11. EmperorFel Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2009
    star 1
    Interesting. Interesting indeed.
  12. The_Slilent_One Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2004
    star 3
  13. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    LT ? Fabulous update, Vi!

    --Thanks! :D

    I was so excited to see that you enjoyed Dying of the Light. I notice you just graduated - congrats! I've still got a couple more years - but hey, more time for fanfic in school right haha.

    --Cherish those years, lol. I can?t believe I?m actually missing school in a way. :p And I loved Dying of the Light. I still need to get back and leave feedback for the last post. [face_blush]

    Many a subordinate has been in the tricky position of not having the whole 411 on the boss and just having to trust the boss's judgement. This section from Arden's POV captures that perspective perfectly.

    --Glad you think so! There?s a lot more Arden doesn?t know (but is about to find out! [face_mischief])

    Also, the Happy Ho'Din is just such a delightful name for a ship!

    --That one honestly just popped in my head. :p Probably the single greatest name I?ve ever come up with for anything or anyone. ;)

    This dream sequence is so chilling. And even though logically I know I won't know what it portends till quite a bit later, still ... just wow.

    --[face_mischief] I love being all mysterious.

    Professionals, these guys are. Are you sure all they're running is a smuggling operation?

    --[face_whistling]

    Touché, Vi, touché. That and "I've got a bad feeling about this" in the same post too! Now I'm just waiting for "I know."

    --Lol, I was working on another chapter yesterday, and I almost slipped ?I know? in there. [face_laugh] I stopped myself, though, because I don?t want to overload on the quotes too early in the game. ;)

    Arden's reservations aside, I'm beginning to really warm to Dagen. This guy knows what's up. He hands Ani back his lightsaber with little to no fuss where any number of other guys would have wasted precious seconds trying to maintain the illusion they were in control. Looks like a very fruitful partnership in the works - and I'm so looking forward to digging up Dagen's backstory!

    --Hee :D Expect to learn a little bit more about Dagen by the end of this chapter?

    So the Sith put a tracer on Dagen and co. Smart. I mean, dumb on the smugglers' parts, but this confrontation should be interesting. You really convey the sense of how hard it is for Anakin to focus on staying alive, figuring out what the heck happened, etc. when all he can think about is Padmé. For someone who's always been ruled by his emotions, it must be excruciating.

    --That really is the challenge for me, to continue to convey that hey, this is the Anakin who was about to go betray the Jedi and kill children. He is not in an emotionally stable place. :(

    UP you go! And by the way, words cannot express how in awe I am of authors who can lay down a posting schedule and stick to it.

    --What will really be amazing is if I can stick to it. We?ll see here in a few weeks. :p

    Mom ? Shades of Han Solo.

    --Definitely. :p

    And now there is a creepy Sith(I'm assuming) on his way. Should be quite the meeting.

    --Yep, they?re Sith all right. That meeting coming up next!

    EmperorFel ? Thanks! I hope you enjoy the next post! :D

    The_Slilent_One ? I hope it stays interesting! :)


    Next post up momentarily!
  14. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    ~~

    Chapter Three


    An explosion rocked the bunker as Arden followed Elias back through the medbay and into the control room. He grabbed a bag and thrust it into her hands.

    “Find all of the datatapes, chips, anything with information on it, and put them in this bag.”

    Arden nodded and slid a stack of datapads into the bag while Elias and Ames started dumping the computers and monitors onto the floor. Kohr came over and took the bag from her, filling it with the rest of the data.

    “Ames, the explosives,” Elias said, snapping his fingers. Ames tossed a package across the room. Arden tensed for a moment as it fell into Elias’s hand. He unwrapped the explosive device and placed it under a computer in the center of the pile. “Okay, let’s move.”

    Elias grabbed Arden’s hand and pulled her to the front of their group as they ran toward the turbolift at the end of the corridor. Kohr aimed a remote back at the control room while Elias summoned the lift.

    Arden drew closer to Elias. “It’s the Sith, isn’t it?” she whispered, watching the control room as another explosion rumbled through the bunker. No one answered. The lift door slid open behind them, and she followed Elias and Ames inside.

    Elias nodded at Kohr. “Do it.”

    Kohr hit the button on the remote, and a plume of flame erupted from the control room. He stepped backward into the turbolift, and the door closed.

    Arden felt her heart pounding against her ribcage. She’d known this would happen; they should never have gone to Ossus. Almost as disturbing was the realization that her fellow crewmembers were unusually well-prepared for this situation.

    The lift shuddered as it descended. The bunker was settled in the side of a rather large hill, and Ulin’s ship was docked in a hangar that jutted out from the bottom of the hill. When they’d first arrived, Arden had been annoyed that she had to trek from the surface to the basement, from the northwest corner to the southeast corner, just to get some food from the Ho’Din. Now, with the Sith coming from above, she was very thankful that they had an escape.

    The three men exchanged uneasy glances as the lift shuddered again. Kohr looked up at the ceiling. “I can’t believe we left him alone with that guy,” he muttered.

    Elias stared straight ahead at the door. “He’ll be fine.” He looked down at Arden and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. “He can handle himself just fine.”

    Arden nodded, watching the light above the door move from right to left. They were almost there.

    The door opened on another control center, this one overlooking the hangar. There were three rooms, each separated from the others by a blast door. Arden and the others jogged through the rooms, closing each blast door behind them until they came to the last one.

    “Why is this one closed?” Arden slapped her palms against the door. “Kohr?”

    The young man flipped open the keypad. “I don’t have the code.” He looked up at the others. “Ulin should have been here already.”

    There was another explosion, closer this time. Ames jumped.

    “What the hell—?”

    Arden backed up against the blast door. “They’re coming.”

    “Our explosives aren’t strong enough to take out the door.” Kohr ripped the face off of the keypad and started rummaging through the wires. “I’m gonna have to hotwire this thing.”

    Elias growled and pulled out his blaster. “You better do it fast, because it sounds like their explosives are strong enough.”

    “I’m working on it!”

    As Kohr fiddled with the wires, Ames took his holster off and handed it to Arden. She accepted it hesitantly. “What’s this for?”

    The boy shrugged. “Just thought you’d feel better if you had a weapon.”

    Another explosion, still closer. The Sith had to be through the first blast door. Arden shook her head and tried to give the blaster back. “Don’t you need it?”

    Ames waved her away. “Naw.”

    Elias closed his eyes and muttered something that Arden couldn’t make out. She buckled the holster around her hips and rested her right hand on the blaster.

    “I think I’ve got it,” Kohr said, touching two wires together. As the blast door slid open, another explosion rocked the entire room, causing several ceiling panels to fall down. Arden and Elias jumped out of the way to avoid being crushed.

    That was when Arden heard several angry voices coming from beyond the blast door.

    “Come on!” Ames shouted, already heading through the doorway. “Come on, let’s go!”

    Elias didn’t move. A strange look had crept into his eyes. He turned and gave Arden a half-smile. “I’ll stay and hold them off. You go with Kohr and Ames.”

    Arden held onto Elias’s hand. “No, we can make it, come on!”

    There was a crash on the other side of the blast door. Elias snapped his head toward the sound and raised his blaster.

    “Elias…”

    He pulled her close and kissed her. “Go.”

    And then there was another sound, a low, steady beeping that set off warning bells in Arden’s head. Elias shoved her away as the door exploded in.

    She fell to the floor hard, propelled by the energy of the blast. Heat rolled across her skin, so intense she was sure she was about to be incinerated.

    Someone was pulling her up by the shoulders, but she couldn’t hear anything but the ringing in her ears, couldn’t think of anything but getting to Elias. She tried to crawl toward him, fighting the grip on her shoulders.

    “No!” she screamed, her voice faint to her own ears. She looked up at the person holding her, saw Kohr’s face, saw his lips moving, eyes staring over her, shouting something, something…

    “Elias!” Kohr’s voice returned in an explosion of sound.

    Arden turned to find Elias, expecting the worse. But as she twisted out of Kohr’s grip, she realized someone else was standing over her, and they were all only centimeters away from a solid wall of fire.

    “Get her out of here!” Elias yelled over his shoulder. His arms were outstretched, reaching toward the fire, almost as if he was pushing it away. He winced and drew his head back. “A little help?”

    Kohr lifted Arden up and dragged her away from the blast. She watched in disbelief as Ames ran to Elias’s side, lifted a hand, and pushed the wall of flames back through the blast door. As the fire subsided, Arden heard a new sound, a buzzing, hissing sound that she didn’t recognize. Elias and Ames pulled twin metal rods from their jackets and stepped in front of the smoldering doorway. The last thing Arden saw before Kohr carried her out of the room was a flash of green and blue light.

    ~~


    “What exactly are we dealing with here?” Anakin asked as he jogged slightly behind the captain.

    “The Lessers,” Dagen replied absently. He turned a corner, and the floor began to incline.

    Anakin was about to ask what he meant when Dagen stopped and pulled his lightsaber from his jacket.

    “Do you feel that?” Dagen asked.

    Anakin frowned. “Three lifeforces, coming straight at us.”

    Dagen glanced at him and nodded. “I guess you’re not a complete fraud.”

    “I already told you—”

    The captain held up a hand and smirked. “It was a joke.”

    Anakin raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t take you for the joking type.”

    “Yeah, well, don’t tell anyone.” Dagen activated his lightsaber. “Ready?”

    Anakin’s saber ignited with a snap-hiss. “Let’s go.”

    They jogged down the corridor, Anakin following after the captain. The incline grew steeper as they approached what Anakin could only assume was the surface. The three lifeforms were very close now – Anakin could make out some of the differences between their presences. As he had earlier, he sensed that one of the intruders was very calm and dispassionate. The other two were hot with anger, but he sensed restraint as well. They weren’t just here to kill.

    “They’re looking for something,” he said between breaths.

    The captain didn’t say anything, and Anakin still couldn’t feel anything from him either, but he sensed that he had hit on the truth.

    One of the intruders dropped back and headed in a different direction, but the other two continued forward. The corridor ahead split and went off in two directions. Before they reached the fork in the corridor, Dagen stopped and put out a hand to keep Anakin back. He raised a finger to his lips and then closed his eyes.

    There was a crash from one of the passageways.

    “Watch it, shufa!” a voice hissed. Anakin recognized a distinct Trandoshan accent.

    “Quiet!” another male replied. “That was a ceiling panel.”

    “They’re close.”

    Dagen lifted a hand and then dropped it. There were several more crashes and an angry yell. While the Trandoshan and his companion were still shouting, the captain swung around the corner and charged at them. Anakin followed right behind him.

    The Trandoshan was caught beneath one of the fallen ceiling panels, but as soon as he saw Anakin and Dagen running at him, he roared and flung the panel at them. Anakin raised a hand and stopped the metal sheet mid-flight while Dagen ducked under it and thrust his lightsaber at the Trandoshan’s human companion. Anakin dropped the panel and brandished his lightsaber, moving to intercept the Trandoshan.

    The corridor was narrow, and Anakin put himself back-to-back with Dagen as the two intruders ignited lightsabers.

    “Jedi scum,” the human said with a leer.

    Dagen flipped his wrists and knocked the man’s saber upward. He kicked the human in the chest, sending him into the wall. Anakin spared Dagen a short glance before returning his attention to the towering Trandoshan.

    “You’re all going to burn,” the alien hissed as their lightsabers locked. He bared his teeth in a gruesome smile.

    Dagen appeared at Anakin’s elbow and joined him against the Trandoshan. “You guys really need to come up with some new threats,” he said.

    The three combatants pivoted around each other, and Anakin caught sight of the human male lying on the ground, a lightsaber wound smoking in his chest.

    “That was quick,” Anakin murmured, blocking a blow.

    “Wasn’t hard,” was all Dagen said.

    Their opponent growled. “You will pay for that.”

    Dagen pushed forward with his weapon, putting the Trandoshan on the defensive. “Whatever you say, big guy.”

    The alien smiled again. “That’s right, Jedi. Whatever I say.”

    Anakin felt the floor beneath him rumble as if from an explosion. He sensed a mixture of panic and anticipation from below.

    “Focus,” Dagen warned.

    There was another explosion. The Trandoshan used his size and weight to push Anakin and the captain backward. Free for a moment, he roared and lifted a hand to chest level.

    Anakin’s eyes widened. He recognized that gesture.

    Both Anakin and Dagen raised their lightsabers as lightning exploded from the alien’s fingertips.

    ~~


    Arden fought back as Kohr grabbed her hand and began to run. “Come on,” he urged, “we’ve got to get out of here.”

    “We can’t just leave them!”

    “We’re not, they’re just buying time for us to get the ship running.”

    Arden tried to look back, but Kohr was running too fast. “I don’t understand… what’s going on…” She fought for breath as they sprinted toward the hangar.

    “I’ll explain later.” Kohr pulled a small remote from his pocket and aimed it at the far end of the corridor. A sliver of white light appeared and grew larger as the hangar door opened.

    Tears sprang into her eyes as she stumbled after Kohr. They had abandoned Elias to the Sith. They had let him be their sacrifice. She tried to struggle against Kohr one more time, but his hand was like a vise on hers. They ran through the hangar entrance and climbed the ramp of the Happy Ho’Din.

    Kohr didn’t let go of her until they were in the cockpit; then he dropped her in the co-pilot’s chair. He rushed around the cabin, flipping switches and turning knobs. He even punched the console once or twice. Arden stared numbly out the viewport at the hangar entrance, praying for Elias to appear.

    “Ulin should have been here,” Kohr said, more to himself than to her. He punched the console again. “Piece of junk…” He stopped suddenly and looked around the cabin before grabbing the comlink off his belt. “Captain? Captain Dagen?”

    There was nothing but static.

    “Dammit!” Kohr gulped down several deep breaths as the engines started to whine. “Ha! There we go. Now, Arden, I need you to—”

    “Look!” she interrupted, jumping up from her seat. Elias and Ames were sprinting full speed into the hangar, moving faster than she’d ever seen a human run. And in their hands were… lightsabers?

    She didn’t have time to process it, because hot on their trail were two men in black, both of them also wielding lightsabers. Arden’s blood went cold at the sight of the Sith.

    “Aw, great,” Kohr growled. “Arden, get the ship in the air!”

    “But where are you going?”

    “To help them!” He ran from the cockpit, and the next Arden saw of him, he was outside of the ship, rushing toward the Sith.

    Elias and Ames had turned around, and now each of them were fighting a Sith on their own. Elias was a fairly powerfully-built man, but the Sith he was fighting was enormous. Arden fumbled with the controls as she watched them.

    “Come on, come on,” she urged the ship, glancing down at the controls. She barely knew how to pilot anything, let alone Ulin’s junk ship. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Elias go down.

    “NO!” She yanked back on the stick, and the ship jolted into the air.

    Kohr fired off several shots at the Sith, distracting him long enough for Elias to jump to his feet and resume the fight. Kohr joined him, activating a green lightsaber and rushing headlong at the Sith.

    Arden steered the ship toward her friends, turning it so that the ramp was facing them. Just before she lost sight of them, Ames knocked the other Sith’s lightsaber away and kicked him square in the chest. Then he raised his hand, and the Sith flew across the room, crashing into a stack of crates.

    The next thing she knew, Elias was in the cockpit, sliding into the captain’s seat. “Everybody strap in,” he ordered, flipping a few switches above his head.

    “Wait!” Ames shouted from the corridor. “It’s Ulin!”

    “Where?” Elias yelled back.

    “Just hold steady, Kohr’s getting him!”

    Elias stared at the side wall of the cockpit as if seeing beyond it. “Better hurry it up!”

    Arden glanced back and forth between Elias and the corridor. “You didn’t kill them?”

    Elias shook his head. “No, I don’t think so.”

    “You don’t think so?” Arden flailed her hands in the air. She was still having trouble with the whole lightsaber thing. “How can you not know?”

    Elias winced. “Well, I dropped a big light fixture on them, but I’m pretty sure they’re still alive.”

    She was about to ask how he’d managed to drop a light fixture on them when he reached over and pulled her gently toward him. Arden felt a swell of relief as he kissed her.

    “Hang onto something,” he said.

    Before Arden could respond, Ames came up behind them and leaned down in between their seats. “Ulin’s on board, let’s get moving!”

    Elias pulled back on the throttle, and the ship shot through the open roof. As the Happy Ho’Din broke free of the planet’s atmosphere, Arden leaned back in her seat and finally had time to wonder just what the hell had happened down there.

    ~~


    “I think you made him mad!” Anakin shouted over the crackle and crash of electricity.

    Dagen squinted his eyes against the light. “How do you know it wasn’t you?”

    Anakin smirked, and for a moment he could almost imagine he was back home, fighting alongside Obi-Wan.

    The Trandoshan stepped toward them, the stream of lightning intensifying. “My master is coming, Jedi, and when he arrives, you will pay.”

    Dagen turned his head to Anakin. “Can you handle this alone?” he murmured so that only Anakin could hear him.

    Anakin nodded. He thought he knew what the captain had in mind. “Yeah, I’ve got it.”

    Dagen deactivated his lightsaber, and the lightning was redirected to Anakin’s blade. He held firm against the lightning as Dagen lifted his arms to the ceiling. The remaining panels above the Trandoshan began to tremble and shift. Dagen jerked his hands toward the floor, and the ceiling came tumbling down onto their opponent.

    Through the dust and debris, Anakin saw another figure appear at the end of the corridor. It was a Falleen male in dark robes – the cool, calculating presence he had sensed earlier. The Falleen’s eyes shifted from Anakin to Dagen and widened.

    You!” he shouted.

    Dagen grabbed Anakin by the arm. “And that’s our cue.” He pulled Anakin in the opposite direction; the floor continued to shake as more explosions ripped through the bunker. Dagen stopped underneath a vent and proceeded to cut the grated vent cover with his lightsaber.

    “What—?”

    “Be quiet and get up there,” Dagen said as the grate fell between them. He pulled a tiny silver ball out of his pocket and clicked a switch on it.

    “Is that—?”

    “A miniature detonator. Thermal.” He glanced at Anakin. “Go.

    Anakin jumped up into the air shaft as Dagen threw the detonator down the corridor. He began to crawl along the shaft away from the detonator, and he heard the captain follow him into the shaft.

    “That blast should block them in long enough for us to escape,” Dagen said.

    Anakin winced as his hand nicked a piece of twisted metal that jutted up from the bottom. “How much time do we have?”

    “About ten seconds.” The captain laughed. “Don’t worry; we’re past the blast radius.”

    “And those two back there?”

    “They’ll probably live. That Falleen is far more skilled than the others.”

    The shaft and the corridor below shook violently from the force of the thermal detonation. Anakin continued forward, trying to ignore his now ringing ears.

    Dagen shouted something at him. “What?” Anakin yelled, coming to a halt.

    “I said we’re almost there. When you get to the end, push the grate out and head for the ship.”

    “Right.” Anakin crawled ahead. The air shaft was becoming tighter around him, but he squeezed his way through. He saw several thin rays of light spilling into the shaft. The metal trembled from another explosion far below.

    Anakin came to the end of the tunnel and pushed against the grate. It took a few blows, but the grate came off and clattered to the floor of the hangar. Resting at the center of the room was the ship Anakin had boarded on Ossus. He and Dagen emerged from the air shaft and ran to the ship. Dagen opened the hatch and motioned for Anakin to get on board. He pulled out a comlink and flipped it on.

    “Elias.”

    There was no response – only static.

    “Damn,” the captain muttered, inspecting the device. “Looks like I broke it somewhere back there.”

    Anakin stood on the ramp, watching him. “I’m sure they’re okay.”

    Dagen ignored him and climbed the ramp, closing it once he reached the top. Anakin hurried after him. He reached the cockpit just behind the captain, who was already powering up the ship.

    “Sit down,” Dagen ordered. Anakin bristled at his tone, but he did as the man said. The ship rose into the air, and the ceiling overhead retracted, revealing a gray sky. Dagen pulled back on the controls, and the ship rocketed toward the atmosphere, leaving the bunker and the planet behind.

    Anakin glanced over at Dagen, but the other man continued to ignore him. Now that they were out of immediate danger, Anakin sensed that he was going to be under heavy scrutiny once more.

    It was going to be a long flight, indeed.

    ~~


    Darth Dominius had every right to be furious as he felt his enemies’ presences grow distant, but instead he was somewhat amused. His surviving comrades had suffered only minor injuries, and only one apprentice had been killed. Force knew there were plenty of replacements throughout his master’s empire.

    “I will prepare the ship, my lord,” one of his servants informed.

    Dominius waved him away. “Go heal yourself. I will handle the ship.”

    “Yes, sir.” The Trandoshan apprentice bowed low before limping away. Dominius closed the cockpit door behind him.

    He withheld a laugh as he powered up the ship. Under any other circumstances he probably would have overcome his reptilian heritage and become angry about failing his mission. Not today, though. He had good news for his master.

    A miniature holographic image of the Sith Master appeared before him. “My lord,” Dominius greeted, bowing his head.

    “Lady Varice informs me that the thieves stole information on the Vjun project.”

    Dominius smirked inwardly. Always straight to the point. “They were Jedi, my lord. Jedi thieves.”

    “Did you reacquire the data?”

    “Not yet. They split up and escaped. I lost one man.”

    “Send word to Ossus. I want Lord Raze and Lady Varice to lead the search for these Jedi. You are to return to Coruscant immediately.” He paused for a moment, as if reaching across space to peer into his minion’s heart. “Is there something else, my apprentice?”

    Dominius hesitated. It still surprised him that his master could read him like that from so far away. “There was a man with them, my lord. He felt like… well, he seemed to be a locus of energy.”

    His master didn’t even blink. The image wavered for a moment before regaining clarity. “A locus?” the Sith Master repeated.

    Dominius nodded swiftly. “Indeed, my lord. A very powerful presence, filled with confusion and doubt. I sensed much fear and darkness in him.”

    His master seemed to turn it over in his mind. “And you have no idea who this man is?”

    Dominius took a deep breath. “No, my lord. I have never seen him before.”

    “Very well. We shall investigate this mysterious Force-user at a later time. Do you have anything else to add to this report?”

    “Yes, my lord. I request permission to personally lead the search for these thieves.”

    “Why?”

    This time Dominius smiled, an act that his reptilian features made particularly eerie. “Because I believe I have found Skywalker and Cain after all this time.”

    ~~


    Once the ship entered hyperspace, Captain Dagen leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. Anakin stared at him for a moment, waiting for the interrogation to resume.

    After five minutes of silence, Anakin realized the captain wasn’t going to say anything. He cleared his throat.

    “I’m not lying to you about who I am,” he said slowly.

    The captain didn’t say a word. He did open his eyes, but his gaze remained on the starlines outside of the cockpit.

    “I’m sorry about—”

    “Look, I appreciate your help back there,” Dagen said abruptly. “But you have to know how crazy you sound with this Anakin Skywalker thing.”

    Anakin pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. “I told you. I’m not a clone, I don’t know any Emperor, and I’m just as confused as you are.”

    “Fortunately for us, there’s someone here who can verify your story.” He rose from his seat. “Come with me.”

    Anakin stood and followed Dagen out of the cockpit. They walked down the main corridor, turning off into a darkened service passage. A shower of sparks spilled into the passage ahead, and Anakin squinted his eyes in the dim light to see the source of those sparks.

    “A droid?” he whispered.

    Dagen took a few more steps down the passage and turned toward the niche where the droid was working. “You can come out now.”

    An astromech droid emerged from the niche and rolled toward Anakin.

    “This is our trusty mechanic,” Dagen said. “He came aboard on Heibic 3 while you were unconscious.”

    The droid entered the light, and Anakin had to blink several times to make sure he wasn’t seeing things.

    “Artoo?”

    The droid stopped as if uncertain whether to go any further. Anakin felt his heart ache. Here, finally, was someone who might understand – who would understand.

    “Artoo, it’s me.”

    The little droid swiveled its dome toward the captain. The two looked at each other for a moment before the captain nodded for R2-D2 to proceed.

    The droid let out several short whistles and beeps.

    “He says that although Anakin Skywalker died forty-seven standard years ago at the Battle of Endor, he cannot deny that the resemblance is striking.”

    Anakin experienced a swell of dark resentment. “I know what he said.” He narrowed his eyes at the captain.

    Dagen didn’t respond, but there was something unusual in his expression, almost like a combination of irritation and disbelief. He waved at the droid. “Thanks, Artoo. You can return to your duties.” Dagen pushed past Anakin without another word, leaving him in the service passage.

    Anakin hesitated for a moment as he watched Artoo roll back to his station, seemingly unaffected by their encounter. Then Anakin spun around and ran after Dagen. “Hey, wait!”

    He emerged from the passage to find Dagen walking into another room slightly down the corridor. Anakin rushed into the room, realizing as he did so that it was the captain’s private quarters. Dagen’s back was to the door. He had his hands planted on a small desk, his head bent as if in prayer. Anakin felt a surge of impatience.

    “What did you do to my droid?” he growled.

    Dagen let out a gruff laugh. “You’ve got some explaining to do,” he said, pulling something from his eyes. “Because if by some infinitesimal chance you really are who you say you are, then that would make me your grandson.”

    Anakin’s mouth opened involuntarily as the captain turned to face him. “My what?”

    The captain stared back at him with blue eyes and folded his arms across his chest. “My name isn’t Dagen. It’s Ben Skywalker, so you’d better start at the beginning.”

    ~~
    Last edited by ViariSkywalker, Jun 18, 2014
  15. Lady_Tahiri Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2001
    star 4
    That really is the challenge for me, to continue to convey that hey, this is the Anakin who was about to go betray the Jedi and kill children. He is not in an emotionally stable place.
    I?ll say. The boy needs therapy, stat. (EDIT: I didn?t mean electroshock therapy ?)

    Vi, you ever consider going into screenwriting? Because I saw this whole scene unfolding in front of me like it was a movie. I got that feeling of disorientation I get in those chase scenes where they use a handheld camera and/or the protagonists are running along a really long corridor and it?s raining chunks of ceiling. I even heard sound effects!

    Almost as disturbing was the realization that her fellow crewmembers were unusually well-prepared for this situation.
    Almost like they had rehearsed it, don?t you think? ;)

    ?Get her out of here!? Elias yelled over his shoulder. His arms were outstretched, reaching toward the fire, almost as if he was pushing it away. He winced and drew his head back. ?A little help??
    Aha! I knew it! It?s a secret den of Force-sensitives! This is getting mighty interesting.

    ?I think you made him mad!?
    ?How do you know it wasn?t you??

    [face_laugh] So, is Dagen taken? ??. Anyone? Anyone? No? Okay I call dibs. @};-

    ?My what??
    The captain stared back at him with blue eyes and folded his arms across his chest. ?My name isn?t Dagen. It?s Ben Skywalker, so you?d better start at the beginning.?

    *picks jaw up from the floor* I so did not see that coming. Although in retrospect I should have.

    The camaraderie between Anakin and Dagen is priceless, but this adds a whole new dimension to it. The buildup to this reveal was very nicely done. And the idea of a Falleen Dark Jedi is just so ? right. I mean, maybe it?s residual revulsion for Prince Xizor or something, but honestly I have a hard time picturing this species upholding law and order. I was rereading Betrayal the other day and came across this exchange between a Bothan Jedi and a Falleen, discussing how he uses his pheromones to commandeer shuttles from female pilots:

    - ?If I ever find out you do that to get datesh, I?m going to cut something off you.?
    - ?I am an ethical Jedi. I only twist people?s minds in the line of duty.?

    You definitely ratcheted it up a couple of notches in this last post. Keep up the the great work. Also, just out of curiosity, how much of this story do you already have written? It seems like a big project and this update was on the long side; you must have been working on it for a while!

    LT
  16. lost_lauries_grapes Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2006
    star 1
    Timetravel! My favourite! This looks to be really awesome! Do you have a PM list going? Because I'd love to be added to it. I really don't want to miss a future chapter.

    Peace,
    Bea
  17. RebelMom Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2000
    star 6
    Shouldn't Artoo be in a museum by now. ;) Ah, Dagan is really Ben. All those unknown names were confusing me. I felt like I should have known who they were. Great job with the action.
  18. Allana_Djo_Solo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 4, 2008
    star 1
    Love it the real question is what is going on and where is the rest of the family how is leia going to handle it or luke espically if he goes back to the past and whats going on, on coruscaunt oh yeah love it and would like to be added to the pm list
  19. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    LT ? Vi, you ever consider going into screenwriting? Because I saw this whole scene unfolding in front of me like it was a movie. I got that feeling of disorientation I get in those chase scenes where they use a handheld camera and/or the protagonists are running along a really long corridor and it?s raining chunks of ceiling. I even heard sound effects!

    --You know, I?ve always daydreamed about writing a novel that gets turned into a movie, and I usually visualize fanfic like a movie in my head (music and everything) ? but I had never really given much thought to screenwriting. (Probably because I am unfamiliar with the format :p) I am incredibly glad to hear that you were able to picture everything so clearly. :D I worry a lot over my action scenes, and it?s good to know that you?re seeing them more like I?m seeing them. ;)

    Almost like they had rehearsed it, don?t you think?

    --Hmm, you might be onto something there. ;)

    Aha! I knew it! It?s a secret den of Force-sensitives! This is getting mighty interesting.

    --Surprise! (Or maybe not? o_O)

    So, is Dagen taken? ??. Anyone? Anyone? No? Okay I call dibs.

    --[face_laugh] As far as I know, he is completely free. ;)

    *picks jaw up from the floor* I so did not see that coming. Although in retrospect I should have.

    --Hee, I did my job well. [face_mischief]

    The camaraderie between Anakin and Dagen is priceless, but this adds a whole new dimension to it. The buildup to this reveal was very nicely done.

    --Why, thank you! Their relationship just seemed so natural to me; it?s been really fun to write so far. :D

    And the idea of a Falleen Dark Jedi is just so ? right. I mean, maybe it?s residual revulsion for Prince Xizor or something, but honestly I have a hard time picturing this species upholding law and order.

    --It certainly does add some nice contrast to the more hot-tempered Sith that we often see. :p I remember that Jedi! Hmm, I wonder if Dominius will need to use his pheromones any time soon. :cool:

    You definitely ratcheted it up a couple of notches in this last post. Keep up the the great work. Also, just out of curiosity, how much of this story do you already have written? It seems like a big project and this update was on the long side; you must have been working on it for a while!

    --It?s a little hard to tell how much I?ve actually written because my story file includes bullet points from the outline as placeholders, since I jump all over the place and cannot write in chronological order to save my life. :p But I was curious about that, too, so I went through and took out all the plot reminders. It turns out that in Times New Roman size 12, I have approximately 95 pages typed up. We?re about a third of the way through what I have typed, but really, I have scenes written from the majority of chapters, so it?s more a matter of filing things in, beginning and finishing scenes, etc. But yeah, I started working on this story about 3 years ago. Not that I?ve been working on it consistently for 3 years. ;)

    lost_lauries_grapes ? Timetravel! My favourite!

    --Time travel is one of my guilty pleasures. :D I finally gave in to the urge to write it.

    This looks to be really awesome! Do you have a PM list going? Because I'd love to be added to it. I really don't want to miss a future chapter.

    --Thanks! I actually am not keeping a PM list, but I am updating once a week on Thursdays. If at any point I become unable to update once a week, I may switch to a PM list, in which case, you would certainly be added to it. :)

    Mom ? Shouldn't Artoo be in a museum by now.

    --You would think, wouldn?t you? :p Apparently he?s still kicking in the Legacy comics, more than 80 years after this fic takes place! That?s just wild.

    Ah, Dagan is really Ben. All those unknown names were confusing me
  20. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    ~~

    Chapter Four


    Arden watched the lights on the landing pad grow larger as the Happy Ho’Din began its descent. It was night on this side of Nar Shaddaa, and the port area was aglow with flashing neon signs advertising various less than reputable businesses. Despite being a notorious hideout for criminals, the Smuggler’s Moon was anything but discreet.

    The Ho’Din settled onto the platform, letting out a hiss of steam. Arden continued to stare out the viewport as Elias began shutting down the ship’s systems. After a moment, he turned to her.

    “I’m sorry, Arden.”

    She picked one bright green sign to focus on. It invited patrons to enjoy “Exotic Females Nightly.”

    “I should have told you.”

    “You said that already,” Arden answered.

    They sat in silence, listening to the other passengers moving around outside of the cockpit. Rain began to speckle the viewport, plopping gently against the ship. Arden stared at the lower left corner of the viewport, watching one raindrop grow larger as it made a trail toward the bottom of the window. The door opened, and Ames walked in.

    “I got a signal from the safe house.”

    Elias frowned and turned to look at Ames. “Who?”

    “Guess.”

    Elias narrowed his eyes at the boy.

    Ames rolled his eyes. “Okay, fine. It was Myri.”

    Elias sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I guess we weren’t as far off the grid as we thought.”

    “Well, it is Myri we’re talking about.”

    “True.”

    Arden didn’t even try to guess who this Myri was or why she was waiting for them on Nar Shaddaa. She was still reeling from everything that had happened, especially the discovery that for the last six months she’d been in a relationship with one of the most wanted Jedi Knights in the galaxy.

    “Who are you?” She tried to be demanding, but it came out more like a plea.

    Elias didn’t look at her at first. “I lied to you about my last name. It’s not Till. It’s Cain.” He took a deep breath and turned toward her. “I’m a Jedi Knight.”

    Arden pressed her lips together and nodded. Then she slapped him across the face. The crack echoed in the cockpit.

    “Why?” she asked, her eyes hot with tears.

    “We were deep undercover. I couldn’t tell you.”

    “So you were using me?”

    He glanced up quickly. “No! It wasn’t like that. I never meant to get you involved in all this.”

    Arden looked away. “Yeah, well you did.”

    “I’m sorry, I should have told you.”

    Arden felt her lower lip trembling. She covered her mouth with one hand.

    “Arden…”

    “Just leave me alone.”

    She didn’t say anything else to him for the rest of the trip. In all honesty, she hadn’t really known what else to say. The war between the Jedi and the Sith had torn the galaxy apart, and all she’d wanted to do was make her own way while staying off the Empire’s radar. How was she supposed to react to the news that she’d been employed by Jedi for the last six months, that the man she’d hoped might become her lover was actually the notorious Jedi Cain? How could Elias expect her to react any differently?

    “We’d better get moving,” Elias said, interrupting her thoughts. Arden stared blankly at him, pulling the anger and hurt inside.

    Ames cleared his throat. “Kohr and Ulin are waiting outside. The way seems clear.”

    Elias reached up and switched off the cockpit lights. “With Myri here, I’m not surprised.”

    Arden followed Elias and Ames out of the ship to where Kohr and Ulin were silently waiting for them. None of the men spoke; they each looked around, examining the shadows. Out here in the open air, Arden felt extremely vulnerable. She wanted to reach for Elias, just for reassurance, but she held back.

    “Why are we—?”

    Ulin raised a finger to his lips and shushed her.

    “Not until we reach the safe house,” Elias whispered in her ear. “Someone’s always listening.”

    Arden nodded and took a step closer to the others, waiting for something to happen.

    The shadows stirred, and a cloaked figure stepped out into the light. Arden tensed up, but she noticed a smile creeping onto Ames’s face. The boy strode forward to meet this stranger. After a moment, the others followed. Arden saw two pale hands reach out from the cloak to grasp first for Ames, then for Kohr. Ulin received a hug, and Elias was greeted with a bowed head. Arden wasn’t sure if the mysterious figure had nodded at her as well, but it was over quickly, and the stranger was already leading them into the city.

    ~~


    Ben Skywalker sat on one side of the dejarik board, staring at the man who was, despite all odds, his grandfather. He placed a hand on the board and opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. There were a million things he wanted to ask him. Things about his father, about the old Jedi Order.

    Things about the dark side, mostly.

    None of those questions made it past his lips. Instead, he locked eyes with Anakin Skywalker – Darth Vader – and waited.

    His grandfather cleared his throat, interrupting the uncomfortable silence. “Is there a problem?”

    Besides the obvious? “No,” Ben answered, removing his hand from the board and breaking eye contact. “It’s just hard to believe, you know?”

    “But you do believe me?” There was a powerful earnestness in his voice, an almost child-like desire to be trusted and depended on. Even without the Force it would have been compelling.

    Ben nodded. “As crazy as it all sounds, I do.”

    Anakin let out a sigh of relief. “Thanks.”

    “But how did you know I was telling the truth? I could have been lying about being your grandson.”

    Anakin looked away for a moment. “It wouldn’t have been a very good lie. It’s not exactly common knowledge that I’m going to be a father.” He rubbed his hands together slowly. “Jedi aren’t supposed to have families.”

    Ben didn’t fail to notice the bitterness in his grandfather’s voice. It sent a chill up his spine. He thought at first that his emotions were playing tricks on him, that he was searching for signs of the darkness that would turn this man into Darth Vader. But as Anakin continued to rub his palms together, Ben saw how pale he was, how dark and sunken his eyes were. The man was afraid, confused, and sleep-deprived. Not a good combination for someone destined to turn to the dark side.

    “I didn’t realize the old Order didn’t allow families,” Ben said carefully. Even at its peak, the New Jedi Order’s information on the Old Republic Jedi was full of holes. “Families are common among Jedi in this time.”

    Anakin nodded his head silently, staring at the dejarik board. “So,” he said after a moment, his tone indicating he wished to change the subject. “Were you on an undercover mission?”

    Ben frowned. “Huh? Oh, the eyes. Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

    His grandfather pressed his lips together and leaned back in his seat. “It seems like there are still plenty of Dark Jedi to deal with in your time. Some things never change.”

    Ben smirked. “Those weren’t your average Dark Jedi, Gramps.”

    Anakin made a face. “Gramps?

    “No? I kinda like it.”

    “I kinda don’t. You can just call me Anakin.”

    “Oh, all right.” Ben leaned back in his chair, mimicking the other man’s posture. “Anakin. Those were the Lessers. Sith apprentices of varying degree, all of them lower than the Master and his Lords.”

    Anakin’s eyes widened. Ben was getting used to that look on his face.

    “How many Sith are there in this time?”

    Ben wondered how much he should tell him. Would it make a difference what he revealed? Telling him about the Empire certainly couldn’t make things worse, he supposed. Still, he was hesitant.

    “We don’t have exact figures. A few dozen Lords. Several hundred Lessers, possibly a thousand. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers of various Force sensitivities. Compared to the military forces of any number of worlds, their size hardly seems worth mentioning.” Ben gave Anakin a knowing look. “But you and I both realize how powerful a single misguided Force-user can be. A whole army was nearly unstoppable.”

    Anakin shook his head, lost somewhere inside his thoughts. Ben could sense confusion, doubt, even fear. Yes, there was definitely a large amount of fear clouding his grandfather’s presence.

    “I don’t understand how Sidious could have built up an army of Sith under our noses. We thought there were only tw—”

    “Sidious?” That was a name Ben hadn’t heard in a long time. He’d always thought of Palpatine as simply the Emperor, the focal point of evil, the nightmarish specter that was used to frighten children into behaving. The demented puppet master who shaped the galaxy in his own image, whose brilliant schemes accounted for every possibility, even those that couldn’t be predicted.

    Well, all except for one. The most important one.

    The true power of the light.

    Ben wished he could have seen that power firsthand, wished he could have seen his grandfather hurl the Emperor down that shaft in a final act of defiance against the darkness.

    “He’s not responsible for this,” Ben continued. “Not directly, anyway.”

    “How do you mean?”

    The whole, terrible truth would take time to explain, and Ben wasn’t ready for that yet. He needed to rest, to regain his footing. Just being in the same room with the man who was both destructor and savior of the Jedi Order was causing him to lose focus. Maybe once they reached their destination, he would tell Anakin what had happened to the galaxy he knew.

    “Not now,” he said. “We’ll be arriving on Tatooine in a few hours. Maybe then my head will stop spinning long enough for me to explain.”

    Anakin didn’t argue. In fact, he looked almost contemplative. “What business do you have on Tatooine?”

    “You’ll see.”

    ~~


    The safe house was nestled between a pawn shop and a junk store in one of the less frequently trafficked areas of Nar Shaddaa. Arden followed close behind Elias and Kohr as they turned the corner, passing the front window of the pawn shop. Ahead of them Ames, Ulin, and the mysterious hooded figure had stepped off the path and pressed themselves flush against the wall. After a few seconds they disappeared from sight. Kohr glanced over his shoulder as he approached the keypad on the wall. By the time Arden and Elias joined him there, a door slid open, and they stepped through.

    The first thing Arden saw was a long, narrow corridor dimly lit by blue lights. Ames was standing alone at the very end of the corridor, looking down what appeared to be a flight of stairs. The lights gave his dark skin an eerie glow. Arden realized he was whispering to someone out of view, perhaps standing at the bottom of the steps. He made a shooing gesture with his hand, looking behind him as he did so.

    “It’s all right, Ames,” Elias shouted down the hall. “Arden’s not going to tell anyone.”

    Ames looked embarrassed, or maybe nervous. Arden couldn’t tell which. She was a little surprised that he was apprehensive about her being here. They’d worked together for months without much incident.

    She reminded herself that he was a Jedi, and Jedi were known for their secretive natures.

    They joined Ames at the top of the steps. Far below, at the base of the steep staircase, stood the hooded figure.

    Next to Arden, Elias smiled. “You can take the hood off now.”

    The figure shrugged and reached its pale hands toward the hood. With a flutter of material and a murmur of discontent, the hood was flung back, revealing a young girl with dark red hair and eyes that appeared – at least from where Arden was standing – to be as gray as durasteel. She couldn’t have been any older than fourteen or fifteen, not with that face. But the way she stared up at them, as though she could read their minds and souls, made her seem far older. It might have been a trick of the light, Arden thought, because as soon as they began to descend the stairs, the look was gone, and in its place was the fresh excitement of youth.

    “What took you so long?” the girl asked with mock severity, her eyes lingering on Kohr and Ames.

    Ames grinned as he and Kohr each slung an arm over her shoulders. They towered over the girl. “We ran into some old friends.”

    Instead of being amused, the girl looked past them, her eyes searching the stairwell. “Where’s Ben?” she asked, a frantic edge creeping into her voice. “Isn’t he meeting you here? You didn’t leave him, did you?” She ducked out from under their arms and rushed toward the stairwell.

    “Allana!”

    Everyone in the corridor, including Arden, turned to look at the woman who had spoken. Wearing a dark jacket and pants with a Corellian bloodstripe down the side, she couldn’t have been past her early thirties. Her short blonde hair was covered by a lopsided cap of unknown military origin, her arms crossed loosely over her chest. “You know you would have felt it. Ben’s fine, right, boys?”

    Elias nodded, grinning wryly at the sight of this newcomer. For a moment, Arden felt a twinge of jealousy. “It’d take more than a few Sith to kill Ben Skywalker.”

    Arden felt her eyes widen as she turned and stared up at Elias. No, he couldn’t have said what she thought he did. There was no way. No way at all that she’d spent six months cooped up with the most wanted Jedi, the most wanted felon, the most wanted anything in the entire galaxy.

    It just wasn’t possible. Captain Dagen was unusual, a little scary sometimes, but the ragtag leader of the resistance against the Empire?

    No. She refused to believe it.

    Oh, Force be damned, how did she get herself into this mess?

    Elias had moved away to shake hands with the older woman. Arden shook her head to clear her thoughts and followed after him.

    “He’s probably halfway to Tatooine by now,” Elias was saying.

    “No doubt.” The woman finally seemed to notice Arden standing at Elias’s elbow. “This must be Arden Veiss.”

    Arden blinked her eyes several times before responding with a very articulate and sophisticated, “Huh?”

    The other woman extended her hand toward Arden. “Myri Antilles. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

    Dumbfounded, Arden took the woman’s hand and let her shake it. “Yeah, same here.”

    “Wait a second, wait a second,” Elias cut in. “How did you know who she was?”

    Just what I was going to ask, Arden thought.

    Myri gave Elias a pointed look that clearly said, “Where have you been?”

    “You knew,” Elias said after a moment, looking a little betrayed. “You knew all along what we were up to.”

    “Of course.”

    Elias groaned. “Ben told you, didn’t he?”

    Myri just smiled at him. “I knew you’d figure it out eventually.” She glanced around the room, eyes falling on Kohr and Ames, then Ulin. “I’ve been keeping tabs on you from afar. Ben contacted me one time at the beginning of your little mission, asked me to dig up any dirt on Arden Veiss before you took off for Ord Mantell.” She smiled at Arden, a cheerful, unexpected smile. “I told him except for a short juvenile record, the girl was clean, and you all shipped out.”

    “But then how did you know we’d be here today?”

    Myri shook her head. “Elias Cain, after all these years, it’s like you don’t even know me.” She placed a hand over her heart. “I’m hurt, I really am.”

    “Yeah, yeah,” the younger girl, Allana, spoke up, winking at Myri. “It’s been three days of this. I’m glad you’re all here, finally.”

    Ulin, who had been silent until now, laughed heartily. “Listen to that one! And I always thought you were the quiet type.”

    Allana stuck her tongue out at him, an act which made her look even younger. “Most of the time, yes, but I can only take so much of the famous Antilles sense of humor.” She gestured toward Kohr and Ames to follow her. “C’mon, let’s let the grown-ups talk.”

    “I am a grown-up!” Kohr protested as they disappeared into another room.

    “Ah, shut it, you’re barely eighteen,” Ames mumbled. He closed the door behind him.

    Myri looked after them with a hint of something wistful in her eyes. Nostalgia, maybe? “Kids,” she muttered, chuckling. “Bet it’s been fun sharing a ship with those two boys, huh?” She was talking to Elias, but her eyes were on Arden.

    “Yeah, it’s been interesting,” Elias replied.

    Myri jumped suddenly. “Where are my manners? Come on in, we’ll go to the commons and get something to eat. I’ll fill you in on everything that’s been happening.”

    Uncertain about her current situation but feeling a bit more reassured by the friendliness of their hosts, Arden stayed by Elias’s side as they followed Myri Antilles into the common room. She didn’t have to forgive him yet for everything that had happened, but she didn’t mind being close to him for now.

    He was still her boyfriend, after all.

    ~~


    Tatooine.

    It seemed almost a lifetime since he’d been there, a lifetime since he’d buried his mother and destroyed whatever innocence had remained inside him. Since then he’d crossed the galaxy, visiting even more of those far away worlds a nine-year-old boy had once promised to see. This time, though, his missions weren’t ones of peace, but of war.

    His mother’s eyes, so full of love and pride for her Jedi son… she had not lived to see the irony.

    The first time he left Tatooine it was to become a guardian of justice. He spent ten years on Coruscant and any number of planets, learning and training and living alongside Obi-Wan. There were dangers, yes. There were tragedies, but always at the end of each mission, of each trial, there was a light shining out at him, promising rest and sanity and salvation.

    After his return to Tatooine three years ago, that light had faded to but a shadow of its former brilliance. The Clone Wars had begun immediately after, threatening to tear the Republic, the Jedi Order, and the galaxy apart. For a while he was able to convince himself that there was hope of victory, that it was even fun sometimes to lead his troops into battle against the droid armies. But as each successive separation from Padmé grew longer, and as more and more of his friends and followers died, the darkness slid through the cracks. It was always there now, whispering to him of things he shouldn’t know, as intimate as a lover.

    Even here in a future that he could no longer affect, it spoke to him.

    Anakin stood with his hands clasped at the small of his back, staring at the splotchy brown surface of the planet growing larger in the viewport. Ben had already slid into the pilot’s seat, making the final adjustments for their approach. Anakin remained standing, eyes still fixed on his old home. He’d never realized before how dead it looked. If he didn’t know better, he would have thought no life could survive there.

    All things die, Anakin Skywalker.

    He inhaled with a sharp hiss. Ben looked up at him, his face impassive.

    “Something wrong?”

    Anakin shook his head, embarrassed by the slip. “It’s nothing, just memories.”

    Ben nodded slowly, returning his attention to the controls.

    With a mental sigh, Anakin allowed himself to drift outward into the currents of the Force. He was still having trouble believing that this was not just a dream, that he wouldn’t be waking up to find Padmé next to him. But the evidence was there in the fabric of the Force. It was familiar, yet so different. Nothing was the way he remembered it, and that above all was what told him this was really happening. The Separatists might have been able to craft this elaborate lie with the help of their Sith masters, but no one could change the Force. It moved along its own current, ebbing and flowing with the times. It could be prodded here and there, manipulated by lesser beings. But it could not shift so radically in such a short time.

    Whether he liked it or not, Anakin was in the future. His grandson’s future.

    His grandson.

    Anakin bent his head toward Ben, suddenly curious. “How old are you?”

    Ben laughed without looking up. “Twenty-five standard years.”

    Anakin groaned. Make that his grandson who was older than him. “This is too bizarre,” he muttered.

    “Tell me about it.”

    There was another long stretch of silence as the ship dropped through Tatooine’s atmosphere. Despite being in a controlled environment, Anakin could almost feel the air heat up around him. Ben landed the ship on a rocky patch of ground, kicking up a cloud of dust. As he watched the dust settle, Anakin turned to Ben once more.

    “When exactly did you realize I wasn’t crazy?”

    Ben leaned to one side and lifted his bag onto his shoulder. He flipped a switch, and the ship vibrated as the hatch opened. “When we were in the service passage and you said ‘Artoo, it’s me,’ as if he should recognize you.” Ben shrugged. “Only a few people ever knew that you once owned Artoo-Detoo, and most of them are dead. I put two and two together.” Ben finished powering down the cockpit and nudged past Anakin, heading for the open ramp.

    “Wait a minute, so I poured out my life’s story for nothing?”

    “Not at all.” Ben smiled back at him as he ducked under the bulkhead. “I needed a good story to cheer me up.”

    Anakin couldn’t help grinning a little as he moved to the top of the ramp. “You’re a funny man. I see you inherited my sense of humor.”

    “I don’t think you can claim credit for that, but if you’d like to try, you can get in line behind my mom. She’s got dibs.”

    “Your mom…” Anakin’s voice lost all trace of amusement. “Is she…?”

    Ben must have realized what he was asking because he quickly shook his head. “No, she’s not yours.”

    “Oh.” And with that last word he felt the full impact of Tatooine’s blazing suns as a familiar heat engulfed him. White, blinding light reflected off the sands. Even the smell of the desert was oppressive. There was nothing but sand and rock as far as the eye could see.

    “Welcome home,” Ben said wryly.

    Anakin didn’t respond. This wasn’t his home. The only thing that had ever made it his home was gone, taken by the Raiders. His heart could only rest when Padmé was near, and Anakin was reminded – for the thousandth time since arriving in this galaxy – that Padmé was gone.

    He could never go home again.

    ~~
    Last edited by ViariSkywalker, Jun 20, 2014
  21. Lady_Tahiri Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2001
    star 4
    Vapin' moffs. I knew this was going to be a great fic but I can see now that it is in fact a Great Fic. I sincerely hope that your muse is generous and that DRL behaves and that you don't lose your mojo for the duration of however long we're in this for. Vi, I love this story.

    Elias apologizing to Arden - awwwww (make him beg for it [face_mischief])

    Omg it's Myri - squeeeeeeee - actually for a second there I thought Allana was Myri before I realized the ages were all wrong, but I think the disorientation I experienced upon meeting Myri is a testament to the toll that war has taken on everyone. She seems so sober. The last time I saw her in profic, she was making a killing dealing blackjack on the Errant Venture while simultaneously operating as an undercover Intelligence agent. I imagine it must be tough to run an underground Jedi railroad.

    Anakin made a face. ?Gramps??
    ?No? I kinda like it.?
    ?I kinda don?t. You can just call me Anakin.?

    [face_laugh]

    ?How many Sith are there in this time??
    And this is why I love time travel. The doling out and withholding of information which the reader already possesses. I just remember that I read luney's "Namesake" some time ago. I dunno if you've read it but I can only conclude that pre-Vader Anakin must be a fun character to transport into the post-NJO era, since you both seem to get such a kick out of doing it (not to mention doing such a fantabulous job!).

    ?C?mon, let?s let the grown-ups talk.?
    ?I am a grown-up!? Kohr protested as they disappeared into another room.
    ?Ah, shut it, you?re barely eighteen,?

    This is great.

    Yes, clearly you have discovered the best way to rehabilitate Arden and Elias' relationship - throw them in a Jedi safe house where she doesn't know anyone else.

    All things die, Anakin Skywalker.
    This line literally gave me chills.

    ?I don?t think you can claim credit for that, but if you?d like to try, you can get in line behind my mom. She?s got dibs.?
    I love how you explore the ways in which Ben and Anakin's relationships with their mothers share subtle parallels. Okay maybe not so subtle. And even though Mara's name was barely even mentioned in passing here, I feel more emotionally devastated about her death than I have in awhile. (Or is she not dead in this timeline?! Aghhh) Just the simple fact that there is debate about which side of the family Ben gets his sense of humor from ... I can imagine them arguing about it in the Solos' living room ... actually they did argue about it in the Solos' living room ... but oh :_| how Shmi was home for Anakin, and then home was Padmé, and how he is/was anxious about his impending fatherhood and now he's lost his anchor. Don't worry, Ani, you can go back home again (according to Jon Bon Jovi, anyway)!!

    I really enjoyed this post and I'm looking forward to many more wonderful updates. Have a great weekend, Vi! [:D]

    EDIT: Lol of course you weren't working on it consistently. That's an average of 0.087 pages a day! Still, 95 is really long for a story that's only just revving up. Also, it's Thursday! <plops down in front of the TV to watch Olympic figure skating while waiting for Vi to post>
  22. RebelMom Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2000
    star 6
    I really enjoyed Anakin and Ben's chat. Bizarre that Gramps is younger than grandson, but it is nice they actually get to connect.
  23. lost_lauries_grapes Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2006
    star 1

    Anakin didn?t respond. This wasn?t his home. The only thing that had ever made it his home was gone, taken by the Raiders. His heart could only rest when Padmé was near, and Anakin was reminded ? for the thousandth time since arriving in this galaxy ? that Padmé was gone.

    He could never go home again.


    Very nice!

    Thursdays, eh? I'll be sure to remember that. Glad to see Myri and Allana make an appearance.

    Peace,
    Bea
  24. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Just popping in real quick to say that I had unexpected internet issues while I've been out of town, thus the lack of post on Thursday. :p I think I'm going to go ahead and push this week's post to next Thursday, and then we'll get back on schedule from there out. Sorry for any inconvenience, and I'll be back with replies later!

    Edit, 3/4/10:

    Replies!

    LT ? Vapin' moffs. I knew this was going to be a great fic but I can see now that it is in fact a Great Fic. I sincerely hope that your muse is generous and that DRL behaves and that you don't lose your mojo for the duration of however long we're in this for. Vi, I love this story.

    --[face_blush] Wow, that is some serious praise right there. I am deeply honored, and I hope I can continue to deliver. ;)

    Elias apologizing to Arden - awwwww (make him beg for it )

    --Lol, of course it can?t be too easy. [face_mischief]

    Omg it's Myri - squeeeeeeee - actually for a second there I thought Allana was Myri before I realized the ages were all wrong, but I think the disorientation I experienced upon meeting Myri is a testament to the toll that war has taken on everyone. She seems so sober. The last time I saw her in profic, she was making a killing dealing blackjack on the Errant Venture while simultaneously operating as an undercover Intelligence agent. I imagine it must be tough to run an underground Jedi railroad.

    --Yeah, she?s definitely been through a lot ? but that blackjack dealer is in there still. ;) And the intelligence agent is obviously still in there. :p

    And this is why I love time travel. The doling out and withholding of information which the reader already possesses. I just remember that I read luney's "Namesake" some time ago. I dunno if you've read it but I can only conclude that pre-Vader Anakin must be a fun character to transport into the post-NJO era, since you both seem to get such a kick out of doing it (not to mention doing such a fantabulous job!).

    --I?ve always loved that aspect of time travel, too. :D I haven?t read that story before, but I would definitely agree that it?s fun to send Anakin into the future. :p (And thank you!)

    Yes, clearly you have discovered the best way to rehabilitate Arden and Elias' relationship - throw them in a Jedi safe house where she doesn't know anyone else.

    --I figure that?s the best way to get it done. [face_mischief]

    This line literally gave me chills.

    --I wish I could take credit for that line, but it was actually Matthew Stover?s, from the RotS novelization. :p Can you tell it had an impact on me? If you haven?t read the novelization, you totally should. Awesome insights into Anakin?s character and motivations. :D

    I love how you explore the ways in which Ben and Anakin's relationships with their mothers share subtle parallels. Okay maybe not so subtle. And even though Mara's name was barely even mentioned in passing here, I feel more emotionally devastated about her death than I have in awhile. (Or is she not dead in this timeline?! Aghhh) Just the simple fact that there is debate about which side of the family Ben gets his sense of humor from ... I can imagine them arguing about it in the Solos' living room ... actually they did argue about it in the Solos' living room ... but oh how Shmi was home for Anakin, and then home was Padmé, and how he is/was anxious about his impending fatherhood and now he's lost his anchor. Don't worry, Ani, you can go back home again (according to Jon Bon Jovi, anyway)!!

    --I am all about family relationships and parallels between the generations. [face_love] I don?t want to reveal too much, but I wouldn?t get too hopeful? [face_whistling]

    Also, it's Thursday! <plops down in front of the TV to watch Olympic figure skating while waiting for Vi to post>

    --My bad. [face_blush] The last week has been a little crazy, and going out of town threw me off even more. Update is coming momentaril
  25. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    ~~

    Chapter Five


    “Stop,” Ben ordered, coming to a halt at the crest of a sand dune. Anakin reached out with his senses, feeling for anything unusual around them. His search was in vain; the desert was eerily calm. He hadn’t seen any familiar landmarks. He supposed it was possible that Ben was leading him away from the towns and the native life rather than toward them.

    “What is it?” Anakin asked, raising a hand to shade his eyes. He followed Ben’s gaze, but there was nothing there.

    Ben pulled out a pair of macrobinoculars and fiddled with the settings. “We’re coming up on the enclave. Need to make sure it’s safe.”

    “I don’t sense anyone nearby.”

    Ben shook his head, still looking down at the binocs. “That’s the point.” He held the device up to his eyes, adjusting the dial. His presence was as closed off as it had been since they’d met. It was unnerving.

    Anakin extended outward with the Force. Now he felt a faint hint of something, but it was muddled, distorted. Like listening to sounds underwater. “This is a Jedi enclave?”

    “Yup.”

    “And do you usually bring strangers home with you to your secret Jedi base?”

    “No. Not usually.”

    Anakin sighed, wiping sweat from his eyes. “Right. So naturally it will be easy to explain who I am.”

    Ben glanced over his shoulder at him, frowning. “No one is going to believe that you’re really Anakin Skywalker.” He returned his attention forward.

    “That’s understandable,” Anakin replied more than a little sarcastically.

    Ben finished adjusting the macrobinoculars and scanned the horizon. “The Order has been spread out and in hiding for so long that many Jedi don’t recognize each other without introductions. We won’t have to hide that you’re a Jedi. You can use your first name, too, and if anyone asks, you were named for Anakin Solo.”

    “Solo?”

    “Yes.” Ben’s presence was still unreadable, but his face betrayed a certain sadness as he lowered the binocs. “He was a hero, a famous Jedi Knight. He died when I was just an infant.”

    “I see.”

    Ben smirked. “You want to know if he was named after you, right?”

    Anakin shrugged. The thought had crossed his mind. “Am I that transparent?”

    Ben raised one eyebrow and shook his head, chuckling. “I can see I didn’t inherit any modesty from your side. But yes, he was named after you. I guess you must have been pretty well known in your time.”

    “Well… yes, I am. I mean, I was.” Anakin hesitated. There was something strange about the way Ben had phrased that last comment. “But you would know about all that, wouldn’t you? From your parents?”

    Ben didn’t look at him. Instead he waved a hand in the air, slowly weaving it back and forth. Something glinted along the horizon, something that almost looked like a lightsaber blade.

    “There are a lot of things I don’t know about the past,” Ben finally answered. “The galaxy hasn’t been a normal place for quite some time.” Without another word, he began to plod down the sand dune, walking in the direction of the glint of light.

    “Yeah,” Anakin murmured. “I get that.”

    It took about ten minutes to reach the glint they had seen on the horizon. When Anakin came over the last dune, he saw a tan, dark-haired girl standing next to a landspeeder. She couldn’t have been more than eighteen, but there was a solemnity about her that made her seem at least as old as Ben. It wasn’t until she cracked a smile that Anakin saw a hint of real youth.

    “We weren’t expecting to see you so soon,” the girl said. She glanced over Ben’s shoulder at Anakin, but didn’t say anything else.

    Ben dropped his bag in the back of the speeder and turned to hug the girl. “Me either. Don’t tell me you’re disappointed?”

    So disappointed.” The girl pulled away, her eyes darting over to Anakin once more. Ben must have noticed.

    “Kala Di, this is Anakin. We picked him up while we were on our mission.”

    Anakin nodded politely. “Hello.”

    “Nice to meet you. The girl glanced at Ben before continuing. “You’re a Jedi?”

    “I am.”

    “Oh, well that’s good.” She seemed relieved. “We need everyone we can get.”

    Ben sat on the edge of the speeder and lifted himself into the passenger side. “Shall we?”

    Anakin got into the back while the girl, Kala Di, took the driver’s seat. As they took off, Kala Di turned to Ben. “My mother will be relieved to see you,” she said, rolling her eyes affectionately.

    Ben laughed. “Why is that?”

    “She always worries about you. Especially these last six months. You know how she is.”

    “Yeah, I know.” Ben reclined in his seat and folded his arms behind his head. “Anything else you want to tell me before we arrive?”

    Kala Di smirked. “Well, Tahiri’s back. She got in last night.”

    Ben groaned, shielding his eyes. “Great. Thanks for the warning.” He looked over his shoulder at Anakin. “You’re going to like Tahiri.”

    Anakin inhaled deeply and nodded. As Ben and Kala Di continued to talk, Anakin watched the desert sweep by, his thoughts turning absently to the objects that lay hidden beneath the dunes. In his youth he had met many treasure hunters who hoped to uncover Tatooine’s ancient riches, but few had been successful. The desert rarely gave up its treasures.

    He remembered the last day he’d been here, the day he had buried his mother. She was out there somewhere, her gravestone probably claimed by the desert long ago.

    The desert heat continued to wash over him, weighing down his eyelids. After a few minutes he gave in and closed his eyes, the sound of the engine lulling him to sleep.

    ~~


    Arden sipped her cup of caf and watched the reactions of the others as they listened to Myri’s report. Mostly there was stunned silence. At some point, Kohr and Ames had returned with the girl, and they were standing off to the side, lost in thought. Elias kept running his hands over his eyes.

    “What do you propose we do?” Ulin said at last, breaking the silence.

    Myri took off her cap and laid it on the table next to her plate. “Valin is on his way to Tatooine now, and he and Ben will get the rest of the Council up to speed. We wait here for them to send word. Meanwhile, Ulin, you need to crack that datapad.”

    “Already on it,” Ulin said.

    “So we just wait?” Allana asked. “We just wait here while the Sith manipulate those kids?”

    “Allana…” Ames started.

    “No! How can we even be thinking like this?” She looked at each of them before finally settling her gaze on Arden. “You,” she said.

    Arden froze, her cup halfway to her lips. “Me?”

    Allana moved closer to her. “Isn’t this just what the rest of the galaxy expects of us? Tell me honestly, what do you think of the Jedi? You don’t trust us.”

    “That’s enough, Allana,” Elias said quietly.

    “It’s not enough, Elias, don’t you see? The galaxy thinks we’re running scared, and we are! We’re going to sit here in safety while the Sith twist innocent children to the dark side.”

    “We’re going to think this through so that we don’t make any mistakes and get anyone killed,” Elias said sharply. Allana stared down at him, her chin trembling.

    “Ben would agree with me,” she whispered. “He would try to rescue them.”

    “He already tried.”

    There was silence, and then Ames, Allana, and Kohr began speaking all at once.

    What?

    “What happened?”

    “Is that what we were doing on Ossus?”

    The three teenagers continued to ask questions, one after another. In the midst of the confusion, Arden raised her hand in the air.

    “Question?”

    Everyone in the room stopped talking and turned to look at her.

    “Well that’s not at all intimidating,” she muttered.

    Myri chuckled. “Go ahead, Arden.”

    Arden swallowed. “Can someone tell me what is going on here? For real? Because I’m pretty confused.”

    Elias and Myri exchanged a look. “The Daybreak was supposed to be off the grid, but I’ve been keeping tabs on you all,” Myri explained. “I contacted Ben about the situation with the children as soon as I learned about it. I warned him that going to Ossus wasn’t the best idea, but that kid has a mind of his own.”

    Arden stared at Elias. “You knew about all this?”

    “No. Ben told us we were looking for information that was important to the Jedi, but he wouldn’t say what it was. I’m guessing he looked for the children, and when he couldn’t find them he went after the data on their whereabouts.”

    Kohr and Ames looked stunned. “We didn’t know,” Kohr said. “He told us to keep watch, make sure no one realized we were there.”

    Ames nodded. “And then that stranger showed up and blew our cover.”

    Kohr shook his head. “Our cover was already blown, genius.”

    “Wait a second,” Myri interrupted. “What stranger?”

    “A stowaway we picked up on Ossus,” Elias said, resting his chin in his palm. “When the Sith caught up to us on Heibic, we left him with Ben.”

    “Why?”

    “Because that’s what Ben wanted. Apparently the guy knows how to use a lightsaber.”

    Arden looked up to see Allana giving Elias a death glare.

    “Did it not occur to you,” Allana said slowly, “that this stowaway was a Sith?”

    Arden laughed, more out of nervousness than anything else. “That would be pretty ironic,” she said.

    “I don’t see the irony.”

    Elias put a hand on Allana’s shoulder. “The man was crazy. He kept claiming he was Anakin Skywalker.”

    “Who ended up becoming a Sith,” Arden finished.

    Allana looked as though she’d just eaten something sour. Kohr held up his bag of datatapes. “I’ve got the recording, if you want to take a look.”

    Myri rubbed her hands together. “Well, I’ve got to see this.”

    “Yeah,” Allana said. “Me too.” She snatched the bag out of Kohr’s hand.

    “Hey!”

    As the others stood up and followed Allana and Kohr out of the room, Elias leaned close to Arden. “Can we talk?”

    Arden stared down into her mug. “Don’t you need to tend to your Jedi business?” she said quietly.

    Elias closed his hands around hers. “It can wait.”

    Arden shook her head and pulled her hands away. She didn’t want to shut him out; she wanted to forgive him. He was a Jedi, yes, but he was still Elias.

    “Don’t worry about it,” she said. “Go. Sounds like you guys have more important problems.”

    “Arden…”

    She couldn’t look at him. She couldn’t take that hurt expression on his face. “I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “I’ll still be here when you’re done. I just need some time to think.”

    “Okay,” he said. “Okay. I’ll be right in the next room.”

    Arden nodded up at him, eyes averted. She heard the swish of the door opening and closing behind him. Satisfied that she was alone, Arden allowed a few tears to slip down her cheeks.

    ~~


    “Hey, you okay?”

    “Huh?” Anakin squinted up into the light, his head buzzing. He massaged his temples, letting his eyes adjust to the brightness. It took a couple of seconds before he saw Ben’s face hovering over him. His grandson was staring at him intently.

    “Heavy sleeper?” Kala Di asked from the driver’s seat.

    “No,” Anakin mumbled, holding his hand to his forehead. “Not usually.”

    Ben studied him for a moment. “You must have really been exhausted. You were out cold. We’re coming up on the enclave now.”

    Anakin sat up in his seat and looked over Ben’s head. Ahead of them was a cluster of crude tents, no more than twelve in all. Kala Di brought the speeder to a halt at the periphery of the enclave. While Anakin surveyed the scene, Ben and Kala Di jumped out of the speeder, grabbing their gear.

    “You two are welcome to come have dinner with us,” Kala Di said as she anchored the speeder to the nearest tent.

    Ben gave her a half-smile. “Thanks for the offer, Kala Di, but I think Anakin and I are going to eat on our own.”

    “Okay, but you’re going to miss out.” She turned away, opening the tent’s front flap.

    “Maybe another night,” Ben answered. His voice remained nonchalant, but as he met Anakin’s eyes, his expression darkened. “We’ve got some things to discuss.”

    Kala Di waved and disappeared into the tent.

    “Come on,” Ben said. “I’ll show you around.”

    As Anakin followed Ben into the encampment, the first thing he noticed was that there were children everywhere, and very few adults. The children stared at him openly; the adults acted as though he wasn’t even there. The youngest children were playing in the sand or running between the tents. Most of the older children were sparring, some with metal rods, others with their bare hands. Ben stopped in front of one of the smaller tents and watched as two little girls levitated a set of wooden blocks in the air.

    “This is just one of our enclaves,” Ben said, eyes still on the children. “We have to keep our numbers as small as possible to avoid detection.”

    Anakin turned away from the girls and ran his fingers across the textured cloth of the tent. “More like a camp. This isn’t permanent, is it?”

    Ben shrugged and started walking again. “Nothing’s permanent. We make do. The less civilized we seem, the less anyone pays attention to us.”

    “I suppose that makes sense.” The tents reminded him of another camp on the sands of Tatooine. “Don’t you ever worry about the sandpeople?”

    The dry laugh that scratched its way from Ben’s throat seemed to spring from some ancient source. It sent a barely perceptible shudder through Anakin’s body.

    “They don’t bother us,” was all Ben said.

    Anakin closed his eyes and smelled the wind that swept between the tents. “I used to live just east of here.”

    Ben nodded and wiped sweat from his cheek, looking around the camp. “Mos Espa. The Sith razed it to the ground after two Jedi were found under the protection of some locals.” He smiled at a little blonde girl as she scurried by. “So we stay out here.”

    “Even after what happened?” It was hard to imagine that Mos Espa was just… gone.

    Ben gave another one of those vague, noncommittal shrugs that Anakin was becoming accustomed to. “They had no reason to suspect we’d stay here after being the cause of so much destruction. But the Jedi have evolved. We’re no longer quite what the Sith expect.” He smiled at Anakin – not the warm, inviting grin of a joke shared between comrades, but the sly, arctic smile of a patient predator circling its prey. It startled Anakin to see that look on a Jedi’s face. For a moment, the memory of Palpatine’s face as he revealed his true identity returned with full force.

    “You will be able to save your wife from certain death.”

    How could he not have seen it? How could he have gone all those years without knowing the truth? Was all of this his fault? His family had survived, obviously, but the rest of the galaxy had fallen to the Sith. He should have been able to stop it. Why hadn’t he?

    The little blonde girl came running by again; Anakin stared at the tracks she left in the sand.

    “Hey,” Ben said. His expression had changed; now it was more tired than anything else. “You okay in there?” Before Anakin could answer, Ben jerked his head toward a group of people who were busy sparring. “Come on, I’ll introduce you.”

    Anakin pushed the doubts and fears down, pushed them deep inside where no one would sense them, and put a smile on his face. “Lead the way.”

    ~~


    Darth Dominius surveyed the welcoming party as he stepped onto the landing pad. At the head of the group of soldiers stood a tall, lean Zabrak female, the tips of her horns barely visible underneath long black hair. Dominius could sense that she was puzzled by his return, but she hid it well.

    “Welcome back, Lord Dominius,” the Zabrak said softly, bowing her head. “We thought you were returning to Coruscant.”

    Dominius regarded her coolly. “Tressk and Jadyk were injured during our pursuit. They require medical attention.”

    “Of course.” The Zabrak turned to the soldiers. “You heard Lord Dominius.”

    “Yes, my lady,” they replied in unison.

    Dominius watched them leave. “There has been a change of plans, Lady Varice. I will be leading the hunt for the Jedi.”

    “I was not informed—”

    “I am informing you now. You will meet me in the council room at twelve hundred hours. Bring Lady Misra with you.”

    Varice bowed again. “As you wish, my lord.”

    As Dominius brushed past her, he glanced over his shoulder and smiled. “Tell your brother I look forward to his speedy recovery, Lady Varice. I’m sure he’ll want to personally thank his assailant for that new bionic arm.”

    She appeared surprised at his sudden candor. “That is all he has been able to talk about since you left, my lord.” She bowed again, lower this time. “I shall return with Lady Misra within the hour.”

    “Very good.” He was most anxious to renew the Jedi Hunt. Most anxious indeed.

    ~~


    Arden sat in front of the safe house’s holoproj, watching as it ran a series of HoloNet news updates. Apparently there was an illegal public assembly being crushed on Obroa-skai, an economic crisis on Mygeeto, and a reported Jedi raid in the capital city of a planet whose name she couldn’t begin to pronounce. The reporter ticked off each incident as though he were talking about the weather. He was like her; he had become used to the grim reality of the Sith Empire. Such crises had become a fact of life over the last several years. Arden was no longer surprised by the reports.

    The door to the next room opened, and Kohr came out, giving Arden a tight smile. He joined the others who had already emerged from the room. Ames and Allana were sitting together on a couch, talking in hushed tones. Ulin sat at a computer terminal, deaf to the world as he tried to crack the datapad’s encryption. That left only Elias and Myri in the other room. Arden wondered what they were talking about. Jedi stuff, probably. Things she would never be able to understand.

    The door slid open again, and this time Myri came out. She looked at Arden and jerked her thumb toward the doorway. “Go on in,” she said, smiling warmly.

    Arden nodded and stood up, turning off the holoproj as she did so. She crossed the room and stopped in front of Myri. The older woman tilted her head slightly to the side.

    “Go easy on him, okay?” She smiled again and walked away, leaving Arden alone in the doorway, Elias was sitting at a round table inside the room, looking completely shamed. Arden closed the door behind her and sat down next to Elias. No sooner had she made contact with the chair when he blurted out his apology.

    “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, Arden, I was stupid, I—”

    Arden put her fingers to Elias’s lips, silencing him. “Let me start, all right?” she said quietly.

    Elias nodded.

    “Good. Now, what did Myri say to you?”

    He looked surprised, but he met her gaze directly. “That I’m an idiot. That I shouldn’t have lied to you for so long. That I’m damn lucky to have found such a nice girl.”

    “She did not say that.”

    “She did!” Elias insisted. “I’m serious, she told me I shouldn’t have waited so long to tell you the truth, especially since it’s so obvious I’m in love with you.”

    Arden blinked several times. “What?”

    It seemed to take Elias a few seconds to realize what he’d just said. “I’m in love with you,” he said again, softer this time.

    Arden thought she had cried herself dry earlier, but her eyes grew moist. “What do you want me to say, Elias? I don’t even know you.”

    “I’m still me,” he said, placing a hand over his chest. “Being a Jedi doesn’t change who I am.”

    “Being a Jedi is who you are. You’re Elias Cain. You’re Ben Skywalker’s sidekick.” She stood up and walked to the other side of the room, where she began pacing. “Do you know how many times in the last seven years I’ve heard your name connected to a bombing or a raid or assassination attempt?”

    “I know, but I promise you, that wasn’t me.”

    “You’re saying you were never involved in any of those things?”

    Elias took a deep breath. “We’re not evil, Arden,” he began. “We don’t try to kill innocent civilians.” He paused for a long moment and dropped his gaze to his lap. Arden’s throat tightened.

    Elias finally looked back up at her. “But I won’t say it never happened.”

    The tears she’d been holding in check started to flow. Elias stood and made a move to go to her, but he seemed to think better of it.

    “Those stories are lies,” he insisted. “The Sith fabricated most of those attacks and blamed them on us. But there have been accidents, a couple when I was younger…” He let out a frustrated sigh. “We didn’t plan things through; we underestimated the Sith, and people died. I didn’t mean for it to happen. We were trying to save our friends. But that doesn’t make me any less guilty.”

    Arden leaned against the wall and wiped the tears from her eyes. “I don’t know anything about the Force, Elias. I’ve never been able to understand why your feud with the Sith had to involve the whole galaxy. But I know you’re not a bad person.” She saw Elias relax a little at those words.

    “I’m so sorry, Arden.”

    “I know you are,” she said. “But I don’t know if that’s enough. You knew I didn’t trust the Jedi. Right from the beginning you knew. And you let me believe you were just like me, just another person trying to stay out of the Empire’s way.” She sniffed back more tears. “I let you in. I trusted you. Why couldn’t you trust me, too?”

    Elias took a few steps toward her and stopped just outside of arm’s reach. “I don’t have a good reason. I guess I just got used to living the lie. I couldn’t tell you at first, obviously. But by the time I could trust you, I was too afraid of losing you.”

    Arden shook her head. “You know, that’s really childish. It’s not up to you to keep me around. That’s my decision.”

    Elias seemed more bothered by this than she would have thought. “You’re right,” he said quietly, his voice breaking a little. “You know, the Jedi have an old saying about fear, about it leading to the dark side. I was afraid, and it clouded my judgment. I’m sorry.”

    Arden considered him for a moment. For most of her life, she had lived in fear of anything related to the Force. She had vivid memories of the civil war and how it had served as a launching point for the more personal war amongst the Jedi. She still remembered Jacen Solo’s chilling speech the day he took control of the Galactic Alliance. But she had never heard of a Jedi apologizing for his actions, and certainly not doing it more than once. She knew Elias was sincere, knew it somewhere deep inside her. Could he really be the only one?

    “You know this isn’t going to fix everything between us,” she said after a moment.

    “I know, and I completely understand if you never—”

    But,” she interrupted, “I’m willing to stick around and find out what the hell is going on with you people.” She raised one eyebrow, waiting for his reaction.

    Elias gave her a grateful smile and reached out to take her hand in his. She allowed it.

    “Does ‘you people’ include me?” he asked, trying not to smile too wide.

    Arden let out a heavy breath and shook her head. “I must be out of my mind, but yes.” She cupped his chin in her palm and leaned in to kiss him lightly on the lips.

    Elias laughed and pulled her into the tightest hug of her life. “It’s a good thing you’re such a forgiving woman.”

    “You don’t know how lucky, buddy.” Arden squeezed in return. “Now, I’m guessing you’ll need help if you want to rescue these kids, right?”

    He leaned back to get a better look at her. “You… you want to help?”

    “Of course,” Arden said. “I may have a natural distrust of the Jedi, but I know the Sith are bad news. No child deserves to be raised by them.”

    Elias pulled her close once more and kissed the top of her head. “You don’t have to worry either, because I’ll protect you. No matter what.”

    Arden grinned and closed her eyes. “Believe me, after seeing those little lightsaber tricks of yours, I don’t doubt it.”

    ~~
    Last edited by ViariSkywalker, Jun 18, 2014
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