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
    Hush, you. :p

    I have the majority of the next chapter finished; hoping to churn out the rest tomorrow and send it to Gabri. Possible post Thursday, although the weekend seems more likely at this point.

    Why do I fail at schedules? :oops:
  2. Lady_Tahiri Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2001
    star 4
    Because you win at life. ;) There must be cosmic justice.
  3. Bri_Windstar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2002
    star 4
    What! I'm impatient! *stamps foot*
  4. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    That's definitely a more positive way of looking at it. :p I'm gonna go with that from now on. ;)

    I blame myself - I've spoiled you too much. ;) [face_mischief] And you'll be happy to know that I've already sent Gabri the next chapter. [face_batting]
  5. Falcon Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 7, 2002
    star 8
    Ben told him everything, does that mean Anakin has a chance to go back and make things right?

    Interesting story you have here.
  6. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Replies!


    Bri ? I kind of hate you right now. Though from previous talks I suppose I knew more or less what was coming. Now what does that say about what kind of sadist I am?

    --Hee, what does it say about what kind of sadist I am that I was thrilled to see the words ?I kind of hate you right now?? :p

    Loved Anakin getting glimpses into who is children were and how they died. When do things dovetail into this AU, exactly? Does the Dark Nest Trilogy happen? Parts of LotF? Or is the post-NJO world a creation of your own that borrows from canon? I'm trying to shape/bridge the past to the present in my head and it's complicated, heh.

    --I know we?ve talked about this since the last post, but for the benefit of others as well, in this AU, the events of DN are intact. The early parts of LotF are also intact, namely Betrayal and Bloodlines, possibly Tempest. I?ve only read the LotF books once through, (except the last one which I never got around to reading,) so I?m a bit fuzzy on what happens in which book, but definitely the first two still happened and then after that it started going off in directions unknown. (Well, unknown to everyone but me. [face_mischief])

    I want to know specifics about what happened to Luke, Leia, and Jaina. I suppooooose you don't have to answer, but can I ask a vague question? Do you have plans to expand on events of the past? Or will we only get glimpses and snippets as they pertain to how to propel the story forward?

    --I can promise that there will be more glimpses into past events; whether there will be full on explanations or detailed flashbacks? well, I wouldn?t want to ruin that for you, would I? ;) [face_mischief]

    *looks irresistible and not pathetic at all* Plzzzzzzzzz?

    --[face_not_talking] I already spoil you enough. There have to be some surprises. :p

    Krayt has a son? Anakin may not know Krayt, but he sure as hell knows Hett. This will be very interesting to see what, if anything, goes down between them somewhere down the line.

    --We already talked about this in PM, but yes, it will be interesting. [face_devil]

    Mom ? Dang, so many people gone.

    --At first I didn?t mean to kill off so many characters, but then the story just kind of took me there. :(

    I really like how Ben and Anakin interact.

    --They are definitely fun to write together. :D

    LT ? I knew that "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi" was coming as soon as Artoo started cycling through old holos.

    --Very astute, LT! Or maybe not; I never know whether I?m being obvious or obscure. :p

    I'm glad that Leia went out with a bang. I never liked how they played down her role as a Jedi in later books (did she really need to be retrained by Saba? really? ).

    --OMG, THANK YOU! No, she did not need to be retrained, and she did not need to build a new lightsaber! [face_frustrated] She?s been using the Force at least since she was 28, which was her age in HttE. She kicked butt against the Yuuzhan Vong, in a time when not all Jedi could do the same. She?s LEIA.

    Er, so yeah, getting back to your comment. :p I hated killing Leia off, but if she had to go out in a fight, I at least wanted her to be awesome. :cool:

    So, um, Vi, I am to see you back but YOU KILLED EVERYBODY.

    --My bad. [face_whistling] But really, I think it might be what I do best. [face_mischief]

    That six-year-old boy is going to have the mother of all daddy issues. Yikes. Actually they all have daddy issues. Specially Anakin. Wonder what happened to Jag in this AUverse? Am impatient to return to Tahiri, Elias et al.

    --There are plenty of daddy and mommy issues to go around, I?d say. ;) And Jag?s status will be made known sooner or later? :p

    baritonejedi ? very intresting wonder what will happen next good update keep it up:)

    --Thanks! Next post should be up any minute! [f
  7. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    ~~

    Chapter Eight


    He was standing on the edge of the cliff, the outline of the rocks below just visible in the fading light. Padmé’s cries were softer tonight, coming to him from across a great distance, perhaps coming to him across seventy years.

    “Anakin!”

    Her muffled plea tore through him like a knife, but he knew – in a way beyond knowing – that nothing he did would end her pain.

    The tears came hard and fast, but he remained motionless on the cliff, watching the dark water below. He could feel the dragon near him, as though it was perched on his shoulder, waiting, its dead weight resting on his soul.


    Jump, the voice whispered. Just let go.

    The wind clawed at him, pulling him toward the edge. He tried to reach for a railing, a rock – something to keep him anchored. His fingers raked uselessly through the air.

    The voice laughed.
    Still afraid to fall?

    No! He tried to scream it, to hurl it at the dragon, but it was swatted aside by the wind.

    Surely you understand by now, the dragon continued. All things die, Anakin Skywalker.

    All things die.

    He began to fall.

    ~~


    Anakin awoke to the sound of R2-D2 chirping and tweeting like a bird. It was several long seconds before he realized the droid was attempting to sing.

    “Ah, come on, Artoo,” he mumbled, cracking one eye open to look for the little droid. The room was dark at first, and Anakin wondered if it was still night or if the apartment’s shades had malfunctioned again. “Padmé…”

    A short beep.

    Anakin tilted his head back to see Artoo roll into the room. He filled the width of the doorway, which looked a bit different than he remembered.

    “Oh,” he murmured, staring into the droid’s optic sensor. Artoo didn’t respond; he returned to the other room, leaving Anakin to stare numbly at the synstone walls of Obi-Wan’s hut.

    He rolled into a seated position, legs spread out in front of him, head cradled in his hands. He had that crushing feeling around his heart again, the same thing he’d felt last night as Ben related detail after horrible detail. The same thing he’d felt as he stood in the Council chamber, making the decision that would damn him for all time.

    Anakin looked up, and Artoo was positioned once again in the doorway.

    “Still not going to talk to me?”

    The droid was silent. Anakin could hear the steady whir of servos as he rotated his dome a quarter turn in each direction.

    Anakin sighed. “Not that I blame you.” He rubbed his knees with the heels of his hands. “But you’re the only friend I’ve got here.”

    Artoo made an impatient noise and wheeled away; Anakin saw him heading for the open front door. He followed him outside to where Ben was sitting on the edge of the precipice, his legs dangling over the side. The suns were just coming over the horizon.

    “Did you sleep okay?” Ben asked without looking back. There was little in his tone to suggest that he actually cared how Anakin had slept.

    “I think it’s been days since I really slept.” It felt like much longer than that. He hadn’t realized until arriving here just how tired he was.

    Ben looked over his shoulder and nodded. “I believe it. You looked terrible.” He eyed Anakin for a moment, a small grin creeping around the corners of his lips. “Well, you still look terrible.”

    Anakin frowned. “Thanks.”

    Ben swung his legs up over the edge and stood up, dusting off his pants as he did so. “We should head back to the enclave.”

    “You think that datapad will be cracked soon?”

    Ben shrugged. “Maybe, but mostly I don’t want to miss Karanya’s breakfast. She and her daughters cook for everyone in the mornings.”

    “They don’t cook dewback eggs, do they?” Anakin had eaten them only a couple of times when Watto was in a particularly good mood after a day at the races, and they remained one of his favorite foods.

    “Sure, they cook them. It’s not like we can just go into town and buy the regular stuff anyway.”

    Anakin grinned. “Well, what are we waiting for?”

    They sealed up the old hut and mounted their swoops. The return journey didn’t seem nearly as long as the trip the night before, and after a few short hours, Anakin and Ben arrived at the edge of the Jedi camp. Children were just starting to filter out of the tents, most of them bleary-eyed and yawning as they trudged toward Karanya’s tent.

    “I thought after breakfast we might have a little sparring practice,” Ben said as he tied his swoop down. Anakin looked away from the children and steered his bike into the open stall next to Ben’s.

    “Sounds good to me—”

    “Ben!”

    Anakin turned in time to see Ben stagger backward from the force of two children flinging themselves at him.

    “Whoa there, guys, let me breathe!” Ben laughed as he tried to disentangle himself. “You two are getting too big! Next time you do that you’ll probably knock me over.”

    As if on cue, the two children – both boys – threw themselves into Ben’s arms a second time. Contrary to his prediction, he did not fall over, but it did seem to require every ounce of balance and strength to keep himself upright. Ben set the boys back on the ground and held them at arm’s length. “All right, that’s enough for now. I’d like you to meet a friend of mine.”

    He turned the boys around, and Anakin finally got a good look at their faces. The boy to Ben’s right had wavy brown hair and big brown eyes that were looking up at him in open awe. The boy standing to Ben’s left had even darker brown hair and green eyes set in a face that was far too controlled for someone so young. Anakin felt his chest constrict as he stared down at them.

    “These are my cousins,” Ben said, hands on the shoulders of the two boys. “This is Davin,” he said, nodding at the boy to his right. He turned toward the green-eyed boy. “And this is Dolan. Boys, this is Jedi Anakin.”

    Davin looked up at Ben, his eyes still wide. “Like Uncle Anakin?”

    Anakin kneeled in the sand, putting himself at eye level with the boys. “I was named for him, actually. It’s a pleasure to meet you both.” They were so young, younger than he’d been when he left Tatooine.

    “How come we’ve never met you before?” Dolan asked, studying Anakin with unnerving intensity.

    Ben frowned and squeezed Dolan’s shoulder. “He’s been hiding, just like the rest of us. You know that.”

    “Okay,” Dolan said, shrugging off Ben’s hand.

    Anakin felt an irrationally strong urge to gather the boys in his arms and hug them for as long as they would allow it. These were the children he had heard about the night before, the sons of his granddaughter Jaina. Part of him was in them, and part of Padmé, too. He thought of the last time he’d seen Padmé, how sad she had seemed. She hid it well, but he’d sensed it underneath, not only sadness, but fear and guilt as well. He thought he could fix everything because he was the Chosen One and because he loved her and they were going to have a family. The dull ache in his heart exploded with fresh pain.

    Davin and Dolan looked at each other and then up at Ben. Their cousin smiled at them. “Run along, you two.”

    “It was nice to have met you,” Davin said quickly as he and Dolan turned and ran off.

    Anakin stood and watched them leave. “They’re very perceptive.”

    Ben looked over his shoulder and stared at the path the boys had made in the sand. “It runs in the family.” He turned and met Anakin with a smirk. “But to be fair, you weren’t really hiding your feelings very well.”

    “You don’t think they realized—”

    “No, I doubt it. Besides, I barely believe it myself.” He fixed Anakin with a pointed stare. “You’d better not go telling them.”

    “Of course I won’t!”

    “Okay, okay, just reminding you, that’s all.” Ben glanced over his shoulder. “So how about that breakfast?”

    Meeting the twins had made him forget about food, but now that he thought about it, he was starving. He could even smell those dewback eggs. “Just show me the way.”

    ~~


    The cerulean-colored blade sizzled to life little more than a centimeter from Ben’s throat. It shouldn’t have been so close; after all, Anakin had been on the ground less than a second ago, his saber deactivated and flying out of his open hand. He shouldn’t have gotten up so fast, but he did it anyway. Ben ducked to the side and planted his left hand on the soft sand while kicking out with his legs. Somehow his boots connected with Anakin’s chest and sent him stumbling backward, long enough for Ben to jump to his feet and charge.

    His father had once told him that Darth Vader was one of his toughest opponents, not because of his technique – which was certainly impressive, especially for a person wearing several kilos of armor – but because he kept on coming, no matter what was thrown at him. A juggernaut in the fullest sense of the word.

    As Ben watched Anakin regain his footing and hurtle forward to meet him, he realized just how true that was.

    Their lightsabers connected hard, the green and blue blades sparking angrily under the pressure. “I guess you’re pretty hard to kill,” Ben said over the noise.

    Anakin leaned into his attack, using his height to force Ben’s saber down. “I get that a lot.” He batted Ben’s blade aside and swept his own in a diagonal line from his hip. Ben took a step back and raised his lightsaber just in time to block. “But I’d rather not test that idea too thoroughly.”

    Ben smirked. “Am I getting too close for comfort?”

    Anakin weaved his saber through a rapid series of blocks; his motions were fluid but powerful, and he batted away each of Ben’s attacks as though they were mere annoyances. “You wish,” his grandfather said.

    Out of the corner of his eye, Ben saw Valin and a few of the children approaching the circle. He definitely did not want to lose in front of the kids. They would run off and tell Davin and Dolan, and he would never hear the end of it.

    Silly as he knew it was, that was all the motivation he needed.

    “Now watch, because I’m only going to show you this once.” Ben swung the lightsaber from his right shoulder, and was met instantly by Anakin’s blade. Without pausing, Ben deactivated his weapon, sidestepped to the left, and smiled as a bewildered Anakin pitched forward. Before his grandfather could correct, Ben tackled him to the ground, sending sand flying in every direction.

    When the dust settled, Ben was sitting on Anakin’s back, pinning his arms down. He was well aware of the very smug smile on his face in that moment, and he absolutely didn’t care who saw it. Beneath him, Anakin grunted.

    “You know, I do lose occasionally. It’s not like you accomplished anything special.”

    Ben looked down at him. “Believe me, Anakin. I most certainly did.”

    “Fine, just get off already. You’re crushing my lungs.”

    Ben stood up and waited while Anakin picked himself up. “Sorry.”

    Anakin coughed a few times before dusting himself off. “Stars, you’re heavy.”

    Ben handed Anakin his lightsaber and smacked him none too gently on the back. “You’re hurting my feelings, really.” He looked over at the edge of the circle where the children were staring at them open-mouthed, some of them whispering in each other’s ears. Ben noticed Valin’s son, Savl, grinning and tugging on his father’s sleeve. Ben left Anakin and jogged over to the others.

    “Feel like getting your hands dirty?” he asked Valin.

    “Against you? No thanks, I don’t feel like embarrassing myself.”

    “Naw, I’m done for now. I think Anakin could go for another round, though.”

    Valin looked past Ben and shook his head. “I was watching, you know. He’s really good.”

    “You’re telling me you can’t handle a kid fifteen years younger than you? Come on, Horn.”

    Valin removed his jacket and handed it to his son. The boy was flush with excitement. “Why do I get the feeling I’m going to regret this?”

    “Because you’re a very negative person.”

    “I am not.”

    “Quit stalling.”

    Valin scowled and leaned closer to Ben, eyeing the children as he did so.

    “Can you at least get rid of them?” he whispered.

    Ben turned to the group of children. “Don’t you all have lessons to attend to? I think I hear Master Nal calling for you.”

    The children giggled and scampered off; only Savl Horn remained.

    “That means you, Savl.”

    The boy waved at his father before running after his friends.

    “Thanks, Ben.” Valin began rolling up his sleeves. “Although I probably won’t be thanking you when this is over, win or lose.”

    Ben pointed at the center of the ring where Anakin was waiting. “Would you just go already?” He laughed as Valin scowled and jogged over to his opponent.

    “Ben Skywalker.”

    He bent his head and smiled to himself as Tahiri joined him at the edge of the circle. “Still alive, huh?”

    He didn’t have to look at her to know she was smirking. “For now, it seems.”

    “You know, you’ll probably outlive us all.”

    She put her hands in the pockets of her long, sandy brown trench coat. “I sincerely hope not.”

    There was silence after that. They watched as Valin and Anakin shook hands and started stretching.

    “I thought you and your crew were supposed to be deep undercover.” It was not so much a question as it was a reminder.

    Ben folded his arms across his chest and kept his gaze on Valin and Anakin. They were circling one another now, lightsabers drawn. “Myri contacted me about the situation. She’s been keeping tabs on us since we left.”

    “Please tell me you weren’t the ones who invaded the Sith headquarters on Ossus.”

    Ben rubbed the back of his neck. “You heard about that.”

    “Of course we did. Myri told me everything.”

    Everything? Ben licked his lips and took a long breath. He had a feeling he knew where this was headed.

    “Myri mentioned you had a stowaway.” Tahiri jerked her chin toward Anakin, who at that moment was pushing Valin back toward the opposite side of the circle. “That wouldn’t be him, would it?”

    Ben didn’t respond. He watched as Anakin’s lightsaber slipped under Valin’s and knocked it up in a high arc. Valin didn’t lose his grip, but he took three steps back to regain his footing.

    Tahiri sighed, and Ben was struck by how old that sigh made her sound. “Who is he, Ben?”

    He wondered how much he should tell her, how much he could tell her without her thinking he was insane. Tahiri was one of the few who always knew when he was hiding something. Ben lowered his gaze to the sand. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

    In the practice circle, Anakin was somersaulting to avoid a powerful swing. He landed behind Valin and reached his blade over his shoulder to block the next attack. Before Valin could finish striking, Anakin ducked and threw his hands out, knocking his opponent into the air with a wave of energy. Valin landed on the ground several meters away. Ben thought he heard him mutter, “No fair.”

    “You think he’s your grandfather?”

    What?” It was out of his mouth before he had time to prepare an answer, and he knew – both by the shock in his voice and the look on Tahiri’s face – that he had given himself away.

    “Why would I think that?”

    “Oh, I don’t know, maybe because that’s who he claimed to be, and instead of locking him up or dumping him somewhere in an escape pod, you brought him here and let him use a lightsaber.” She stared at him expectantly. “Myri watched the tape, Ben. She told me about your interrogation.” Her voice took on a slight chill. “What happened after you disconnected the camera?”

    Nothing. I just didn’t want Elias’s girlfriend to see me using the Force, that’s all.”

    Tahiri nodded and looked away. “Don’t see why you’d need to use the Force in the first place. At least not in any way that would be obvious.”

    “Okay, so I may have roughed him up a bit. But as you can see, we’re all one big happy family now.” Ben mentally kicked himself. He really hadn’t meant it to come out that way. Thankfully, Tahiri either didn’t notice the slip – unlikely – or she chose not to acknowledge it.

    “I don’t think you’re crazy,” she said after a long moment.

    “Yeah? You might be the only one.”

    Ben thought Tahiri might try to argue with him, but instead she nodded toward the ring where Valin was once again picking himself off the ground.

    “He’s very powerful. Reminds me of your dad.”

    Ben quirked one eyebrow at her. “But not me? What are you saying, Tahiri?”

    “I didn’t mean it as an insult. It’s just… I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s a lack of restraint, an openness about him. He has a lot of power and emotion, like your dad.”

    “Again, not me?”

    “Come on, Ben. Do you know how hard it is to get you to talk about anything, let alone your feelings? Face it, kiddo. You take after your mom in that department.”

    Ben didn’t say anything; in truth, he didn’t know what to say when someone commented on how he resembled his parents. He’d stopped knowing what to say a long time ago.

    “That’s not a bad thing, you know.” Tahiri’s voice had lost most its edge. “I always admired that about Mara. You might say I’ve tried to emulate her.” She returned her gaze to Anakin. “We’re just different, is all. We don’t wear our hearts on our sleeves. We protect ourselves.”

    Ben wondered if that was where Anakin had gone wrong. Maybe he hadn’t guarded his heart enough. Maybe he had let everything in until he was too full to contain it anymore.

    Ben was lucky, he supposed. As a baby he had naturally distanced himself from the Force. Closing off his mind or disappearing from the Force had always been less of a trick and more of a talent for him than it was for the other Jedi.

    “I guess it’s easier when you’re born that way.” He glanced at Tahiri sidelong. “Or made that way.”

    Tahiri made a dismissive noise. “The Yuuzhan Vong didn’t make me this way, Ben. I made myself. I chose how to deal with what they did to me, just like you could choose to be more open, if you wanted.”

    “You’re saying I should?”

    “I’m saying it’s your choice. I don’t care whether you keep everything bottled up inside or share every single feeling you’ve ever experienced; just don’t go blaming things on something that happened to you when you were a baby.”

    Ben leaned over and nudged her in the arm. “When did you get so wise?”

    Tahiri gave him a wry grin. “Someone had to fill in the gap.”

    Inside the circle, Valin was sitting on the sand, arms wrapped around his knees. “I’m done,” he called out, gasping for breath. He glared at Ben. “I’m really mad at you, Skywalker.”

    Ben laughed. “I’m sure you are.”

    “Very mature of you,” Tahiri said. “Picking on your elders.”

    Ben tried not to roll his eyes at the word “elders” being used to describe a man who was barely middle-aged. “Hey, I’ve been the responsible adult for the last six months. Cut me some slack.”

    “Clearly we have different ideas about how responsible adults behave.”

    Ben made sure Anakin and Valin were looking the other way when he stuck his tongue out at Tahiri. She shook her head.

    “Right, because that’s so much more mature.”

    Valin and Anakin joined them before Ben could respond. Both were sweaty and grimy, Valin especially with half his face still coated in tiny granules of sand.

    “Feeling better about yourself?” Ben asked Anakin.

    “Maybe a little.” His eyes traveled from Ben to Tahiri. Ben grinned.

    “Anakin, this is Tahiri Veila, the one I told you about.”

    “Told what about?” Tahiri interjected.

    “Just that I thought you two would get along.”

    Tahiri sighed and extended a hand to Anakin. “I’m really not as intimidating and awful as he tries to make me sound. It’s nice to meet you.”

    “Nice to meet you, too. And he didn’t say you’re awful.”

    She turned her green eyes on Ben. “Well, wasn’t that sweet of him?”

    Anakin hesitated a moment before releasing her hand and turning toward Ben. “You ready for round two?”

    “After the beating you took earlier? I’m not sure you could handle another round. Although I think I’d prefer to keep the score where it is for now.” Ben’s comlink beeped, and he lifted it to his lips. “Go ahead.”

    “You’ve got an encoded message coming in.”

    “Thanks, Kala Di, I’ll be there shortly.” He put away the comlink and looked at the others. “I’d say playtime is over.”

    ~~


    It had been little more than a day since they’d arrived at the safe house, and Arden was already more stir-crazy than she’d been in six months on the Daybreak. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that she was literally surrounded by Jedi, or that she had absolutely nothing of use to do. Ulin was working on the stolen datapad, Myri was doing something that looked important, Ames and Allana were sitting with their heads together on the couch, and Kohr was fixing everyone a late breakfast. Elias claimed that he was meditating, although Arden suspected that he had actually fallen asleep about fifteen minutes ago. That left her alone, twiddling her thumbs and trying not to stare at the others.

    “Dammit!” Ulin let out a string of expletives, a few in some other language. His shouting jarred Elias out of his meditative state and earned several concerned looks from the rest of the safe house’s occupants.

    “Sorry,” Ulin said, cheeks turning red. “Thought I had it… stupid code.” He muttered something unintelligible before burying himself once again in his work.

    Elias yawned and stretched his arms over his head. “That was refreshing.”

    “I’m sure it was,” Arden replied, not quite sure if he was talking about his nap or Ulin’s outburst. Elias walked over and dropped himself into the chair next to hers. He took her hand and began tracing circles along her skin with the edge of his thumb. Arden smiled.

    “Food’s ready!” Kohr announced cheerfully as he emerged from the kitchen. In the corner, Allana giggled and whispered something in Ames’s ear before jumping out of her seat. Arden saw Elias’s eyes narrow a fraction as Ames got up to follow.

    “Hey,” Elias said, catching Ames by the elbow. He waited until Allana went through the kitchen door. “If you want to learn seven uncommon and interesting ways the Force can be used to inflict pain, then by all means, keep it up.”

    Ames stared down at him, his face completely blank. Kohr appeared over his shoulder, grinning.

    “What he’s saying is Ben’s gonna kill you.”

    “No, not kill. He’ll…” Elias paused to give his response some thought before giving up and shrugging. “Well, he won’t kill you.”

    Ames’s face paled. “We weren’t doing anything! We’re just friends, I swear!”

    Kohr disappeared and reappeared over Ames’s other shoulder. “If by friends you mean you’re in love.”

    Ames rounded on Kohr, but the older boy was already running to the other side of the room where he ducked behind Myri. Ames chased after him, and the two disappeared into the conference room.

    Arden stared after them, eyes wide. “What was that all about?”

    Elias grinned. “Ames has a crush on Allana. I like to mess with him.”

    “I don’t get it.”

    “She’s Ben’s apprentice. More importantly, she’s his cousin.”

    “Ah. That explains a few things.” Arden looked up to see Allana standing in the doorway opposite the conference room.

    “Where’d they go?” the girl asked.

    Elias, Myri, and Ulin – who was still furiously typing away at his computer – all pointed toward the open doorway of the conference room. Arden heard something fall over as the two boys continued to scuffle.

    Myri looked up from the datapad she was examining. “They better not break anything, that’s all I’m saying.” She resumed reading as though nothing had happened. Allana groaned and returned to the kitchen. Arden watched her leave.

    “Why is she here?” she whispered to Elias. “If she’s Ben Skywalker’s apprentice, why isn’t she with him?”

    Elias rubbed a hand over his face. “It’s complicated with them.”

    “Seems like everything is complicated when you’re a Jedi.”

    Elias made a sound somewhere between a laugh and a sigh. “It’s even more so with them.”

    “I guess that means you won’t tell me?”

    “I’m not sure I can. It’s—”

    “Complicated, I know.” Arden leaned back in her chair. “Maybe some other time, then. But tell me this: what are these seven ways of inflicting pain?”

    Elias grinned. “No clue. Tahiri used to threaten Ben and me with it all the time when we were younger, though.”

    “Who’s Tahiri?”

    “Tahiri Veila. She was my master, sort of. Not in the traditional sense; we moved around way too much for there to be any traditional Jedi training. I learned from a lot of people, but Tahiri was the main one, the one who watched out for me.”

    “Will I get to meet her?”

    “If you want to.”

    Before Arden could respond, she saw Kohr, Ames, and Allana walk out of the conference room. Kohr seemed to be nursing his left shoulder, while Ames tried to conceal a slight limp.

    “Did you break anything?” Myri asked from across the room. Her eyes were still on the datapad.

    No,” Ames said sourly. “Nothing in there to break.”

    Myri looked up, her head cocked to one side. “I’m sure I can find something.”

    Ames rolled his eyes and groaned. “Are we almost done here? Because I would honestly give anything to not be stuck on this moon anymore.”

    Myri made a clicking sound with her tongue. “Geridan Ames, I never knew you were such a whiner.”

    “I am not—”

    “Your wait’s almost over,” Ulin interrupted.

    The entire room went silent as Arden and the others directed their attention to the computer terminal. Ulin was holding up the stolen Ossus datapad.

    “Contact Ben and the Council,” he continued. “I know where they took the kids.”

    ~~
    Last edited by ViariSkywalker, Jun 18, 2014
  8. Bri_Windstar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2002
    star 4
    Mine!

    Edit: I'm sensing a bit of Vader fangirling in this post. Just a bit. [face_mischief]

    Ugh, you've been mean to Jag as well, haven't you? He's dead, never to return ever again ever, and can't even appear as a Force ghost because he's, you know, not Force sensitive.

    ....speaking of, what the hell did you do to Han? :( It really does say a lot about what kind of sadist you are for enjoying how much I hate you when I read this story. :p

    SO MANY QUESTIONS.

    I'm glad Ulin was able to crack the location of the children, but the question (le gasp! a question! :eek: ) now is will they get there in time.

    Ugh.

    Edit two: I liked Tahiri's remark on Anakin and Luke. Just as an FYI. :p
  9. RebelMom Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2000
    star 6
    Please put me on your PM list. Thanks.
  10. Falcon Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 7, 2002
    star 8
    So Tahiri believes Ben about Anakin. It's amazing how she made certain connections between Luke and Anakin.

    They found the kids? Awesome can't wait for more
  11. lost_lauries_grapes Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2006
    star 1

    ?Complicated, I know.? Arden leaned back in her chair. ?Maybe some other time, then. But tell me this: what are these seven ways of inflicting pain??

    Elias grinned. ?No clue. Tahiri used to threaten Ben and me with it all the time when we were younger, though.?


    Ouch! I wouldn't want to find out!
    Great update! :)

    Peace,
    Bea
  12. Lady_Tahiri Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2001
    star 4
    Wheeee.

    I meant to tell you this last time but forgot - I like how you explore the relationship between R2 and Anakin. In fact, the relationship between each droid and each human is so unique (just think Han & Threepio) and it just now occurred to me that it must be hard for Artoo to see Anakin under such bizarre circumstances.

    Re: Devin and Dolan and how Anakin falls for them right away. Aw. I guess we are genetically programmed to adore babies - or else babies have evolved to be irresistibly cute - as a survival mechanism, to propagate the species. But the difference between Anakin's reaction to Ben and to these guys is striking. It's so easy to love children without reservations. Harder when the long-lost/separated/time-travelled loved one is all grown up and carrying around about 20 kilos worth of cynicism.

    Vi, I am disappointed in you. You could have so easily turned that "You weren't really hiding your feelings very well" into "Your feelings betray you[, young Skywalker]." Ben would totally have tacked on the "young Skywalker" bit just to see the expression on Anakin's face.

    I am sort of whoah about Ben comparing his dad's account of fighting his grandfather to his own firsthand experience. I mean, I think mentally I disconnected Darth Vader from his Anakin Skywalker persona. One of them was evil and the other was ... redeemable? But of course your fighting style, your 10+ years of training in hand-to-hand combat don't just magically evaporate just because you lose a bunch of limbs/vital organs and acquire a bunch of prosthetics. You simply relearn how to fight in your new body. It must have been painful and he must have taken a lot of beatings at first.

    I like the idea of Tahiri semi-raising Ben and Elias. She's not that much older than them and I bet they had a wonderful rapport. I'm glad she was so quick on the uptake wrt to Anakin's identity - I was ghastly afraid she would react badly to his name, like she reacted to seeing Tarc in FOTJ. And that was just an Anakin lookalike. But that Tahiri is gone. Your Tahiri is strong and admirable and I heart her.

    ETA: And obviously add me to that PM list, now that you have finally caved and are keeping one. :p
  13. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Bri ? Edit: I'm sensing a bit of Vader fangirling in this post. Just a bit.

    --Nooo? :p

    Ugh, you've been mean to Jag as well, haven't you? He's dead, never to return ever again ever, and can't even appear as a Force ghost because he's, you know, not Force sensitive.

    --[face_whistling]

    ....speaking of, what the hell did you do to Han? It really does say a lot about what kind of sadist you are for enjoying how much I hate you when I read this story.

    --It does indeed. But knowing that it?s the angst that?s causing you to hate me is enough to keep me going. [face_batting]

    SO MANY QUESTIONS.

    --So many vague and unsatisfying answers. [face_mischief]

    I'm glad Ulin was able to crack the location of the children, but the question (le gasp! a question! ) now is will they get there in time.

    Ugh.


    --[face_devil] (I think it says quite a bit about our history together that I can compose a reply using mainly emoticons. :p)

    Edit two: I liked Tahiri's remark on Anakin and Luke. Just as an FYI.

    --You know I love to show the parallels between Anakin & Leia and Padmé & Luke, but I do occasionally like to throw in some father-son, mother-daughter stuff, too. ;)

    RebelMom ? Please put me on your PM list. Thanks.

    --You are added! :D

    JediFalcon ? So Tahiri believes Ben about Anakin. It's amazing how she made certain connections between Luke and Anakin.

    --She certainly understands why Ben might believe it?s Anakin, although whether she actually believes it herself? we?ll see! ;)

    They found the kids? Awesome can't wait for more

    --Hoping to have the next chapter up sometime this week! (DRL permitting :p)

    lost_lauries_grapes ? Ouch! I wouldn't want to find out!

    --Neither would I. ;)

    Great update!

    --Thanks! :)

    LT ? I meant to tell you this last time but forgot - I like how you explore the relationship between R2 and Anakin. In fact, the relationship between each droid and each human is so unique (just think Han & Threepio) and it just now occurred to me that it must be hard for Artoo to see Anakin under such bizarre circumstances.

    --I have to imagine that Artoo understands the enormity of Anakin?s sins, and even though this Anakin is not the one who committed them, in Artoo?s ?mind,? he is. I don?t see him being able to fully separate the two, at least not right away. (And to be honest, the same is probably true for Ben, but in Artoo?s case, he has the benefit ? or curse ? of having actually interacted with Anakin seventy years ago.)

    Re: Devin and Dolan and how Anakin falls for them right away. Aw. I guess we are genetically programmed to adore babies - or else babies have evolved to be irresistibly cute - as a survival mechanism, to propagate the species. But the difference between Anakin's reaction to Ben and to these guys is striking. It's so easy to love children without reservations. Harder when the long-lost/separated/time-travelled loved one is all grown up and carrying around about 20 kilos worth of cynicism.

    --No kidding, we must be hardwired that way. :p Also, I would think Anakin?s impending fatherhood and then sudden revelation that he?s going to destroy his family might have something to do with his almost-meltdown upon seeing Davin and Dolan. [face_thinking] And totally agree about the difference in his reaction to Ben. Despite whatever good looks Ben may have inherited, I doubt he?s as cute and cuddly as two eight-year-old boys. ;)

    Vi, I am disappointed in you. You could have so easily turned that "You weren't really hiding your feelings very well" into "Your feelings betray you[, young Skywalker]." Ben would totally have tacked on the "young Skywalker" bit just to see the expression on Anakin's face.

    --Now how do you know that?s not coming later? [face_whistling]

    I am sort of whoah about
  14. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    ~~

    Chapter Nine


    Ben looked around the ovular plasteel table, meeting the eyes of each member of the Jedi Council. Most stared back at him with the blue-tinted eyes of holograms; Tahiri, Valin, and Karanya, at least, were real. He was glad to see that no one else had been lost since Denon.

    “Most of you have received word of what happened on Denon. Two weeks ago we lost contact with the enclave there. Myri went to check it out, and she found Isis and the other Jedi dead. The Sith killed them and kidnapped the younglings.”

    Ben pulled a small disc from his left breast pocket and inserted it into the holoprojector in the center of the table. A building appeared over the Council members’ heads, level with Ben’s eyes.

    “This is Château Malreaux, on Vjun. This is where they’re holding the younglings. And it’s not just them. According to the data Ulin unlocked, there are at least ten other test subjects listed as non-Jedi Force-sensitives.”

    “Test subjects?” The revulsion in Jysella Horn’s voice was palpable.

    “What kinds of tests?” Tekli asked.

    Ben took a deep breath. “We don’t know for sure. But I can tell you that Gabriel Mezzon is in charge of the project.”

    Doctor Mezzon?” Danni Quee Dreiz shook her head. “I thought he died on Yalena, years ago.”

    “Apparently not.” Ben wondered, briefly, who had been assigned to oversee Mezzon. The Sith Lords most interested in his line of work had all been killed on Yalena, and there weren’t many beings who could stomach the good doctor, especially when he started throwing Yuuzhan Vong biotech into the mix.

    “Those poor children,” Karanya murmured, tears in her eyes. She had lost her youngest child to Mezzon, and Ben tried not to remember how she had wailed over his tiny broken body.

    There were a lot of things about Yalena he tried not to remember.

    While the other Council members looked around the table in despair, Tahiri stared through the hologram of the mansion, directly at Ben. “What do you propose to do?”

    Ben sat down in his chair and braced himself against the edge of the table. “We go get them.”

    Tahiri shook her head. “The Jedi Order is barely hanging on. If the information on this datapad is genuine, then you’re talking about a strike at a major Sith world. We can’t afford to take that risk right now.”

    Valin sighed and ran both hands over his hair. “If we don’t do something soon, there won’t be any of us left to stop them. You’re talking about leaving those children at the mercy of the Sith.” He looked around the table at the others. “Is that what we are? Are we really the cowards everyone thinks we are?”

    Valin met Ben’s eyes and nodded. “I’m with Ben. I say we go.”

    The rest of the table was silent. Ben glanced over at Tahiri, who was studying him carefully. He wondered – for the thousandth time – what she had been like before the operation that turned her into a Yuuzhan Vong hybrid. He’d been a baby when it happened. That was strange in itself – they quarreled like brother and sister so often that he sometimes forgot she’d been fighting a war when he was still in diapers.

    He could see the wheels turning in her brain, calculating, planning, weighing the lives of the children against the risk of taking a team of Jedi to one of Sith worlds. It wasn’t that she didn’t care about the younglings. She’d just seen too many missions go wrong.

    “Valin, I want to save the younglings as much as you do,” Tahiri said deliberately, turning toward the other Jedi. “We all wish we could storm in there and rescue them. But we have to think this through. We can’t afford to lose any more Jedi.”

    Everyone but Tahiri and Ben had lowered their heads to stare at the scuffed tabletop. As Ben locked eyes with Tahiri, he felt a swell of emotion that nearly caught him off guard. He wasn’t sure if it was coming from him or Tahiri or someone else in the room, but he pushed it away and focused his thoughts on the kidnapped children.

    “Look,” he said carefully, “I know this isn’t going to be easy. The Force hasn’t really seemed to be on our side much lately.”

    “Ben…” Karanya said softly.

    Ben raised a stopping hand. “The point is, I’m not going to sit here and wait for the Force to drop the solution into my lap. I made a promise to protect the Order, and those children are a part of it.” He rested his right hand on the table and began to tap it slowly and deliberately, looking for a way to rephrase the thought that had just popped into his mind. He shook his head and pushed the thought aside. “Anyway, I’m going. I could use some help, but I’ll understand if you think it’s too risky.”

    Tahiri’s voice was dangerously soft when she finally spoke.

    “You’re saying that if the Council votes against intervention, you will ignore its decision?”

    Blue eyes met green for what seemed like the tenth time since the meeting had begun, and Ben could feel all the old arguments resurfacing. He was going to get an earful when this was over, but it wouldn’t change what had to be done.

    “I am,” he said, and he’d never been so sure about anything in his whole life.

    Jysella sighed and rubbed her forehead. “Ben, Tahiri is right. This sounds like a suicide mission. You know how Vjun favors the Sith.”

    “That’s right,” Gren Tivas said. “You’d have to take a very strong team, one that could resist the pull of the dark side.”

    “And we can’t afford to lose anyone with that much experience,” Jysella finished.

    Valin stepped in before Ben could respond. “Jys, you’re basing your decision on the fear that someone will turn. But isn’t that something we already face every single day?”

    “There’s a reason they took the children there, Valin.” Danni’s voice was firm. Though not the most powerful Jedi on the Council, she was the oldest, and that still drew an extra measure of respect from her peers. “We all know why Vjun is dangerous. It changes you. The Sith will be more powerful than ever, our Knights will face greater temptation from the dark side, and who’s to say that the children are still alive?” She shook her head. “As much as I hate myself for saying this, I believe the risks outweigh the benefits.”

    Ben had folded his arms across his chest, and his hands tightened around his biceps. “Danni, you’re acting like this is another one of your experiments or puzzles, and it’s not. We’re talking about a bunch of kids. He’s going to cut them up and destroy every part of them that’s pure and decent.” Ben paused before turning to face Tahiri. He could feel his face growing hot. “Maybe you’ve forgotten why you’re here, Tahiri. Where would you be right now if Anakin hadn’t come for you?”

    If Tahiri could have killed a person with her eyes alone, Ben was pretty sure he’d be dead where he stood. He sensed the others shrinking away, waiting for the outburst that was surely coming.

    Instead of reacting, Tahiri bit her lip and nodded very slowly. “Those in favor of sending a strike team to Vjun, keeping in mind that the Sith will be waiting for us, and it will probably require the presence of several Masters if we are to have a fighting chance. Failure in such a situation would be detrimental to the Order.” Her gaze fell on each of the Council members in turn. “Those in favor?”

    Ben gritted his teeth and raised a hand. Valin joined him, and across the table, Karanya raised hers as well. The holograms were motionless.

    Tahiri waited for a moment, then nodded. “Thank you. Now, all opposed?”

    Tekli, Jysella, Danni, and Gren all raised their hands. Tahiri was the last to do so, but there was no sense of victory in her vote. She shut down the holoproj in the center of the table. Château Malreaux disappeared.

    “The decision is five to three, against. I conclude this Council. Be safe, and may the Force be with you.”

    The four holograms bowed their heads, repeated the phrase, and faded out. Before Tahiri could turn to face him, before Valin or Karanya could offer any words of encouragement, Ben removed the disc from the holoproj and stalked out of the tent.

    ~~


    Tahiri was going to throttle Ben Skywalker. She was absolutely going to murder him. At one time she’d imagined he would turn out to be the most reasonable member of his family, but when his stubborn streak showed, boy did it ever show. She wasn’t even really upset about the hurtful things he’d said to her; she was furious because he was so fixated on saving the younglings that he was going to get himself killed.

    “Hey!” she yelled after him. He had almost reached the edge of the camp when he finally stopped and turned around. He held up both hands defensively.

    “I don’t want to discuss this, Tahiri. I’ve made up my mind.”

    “And since when do you get to just make up your mind? You’re a Council member and a Knight of this Order; that means you respect the decisions of the Council in all matters, not just the ones you agree with.”

    “Even when the decisions are ludicrous?”

    “Ben, you have no idea what will happen if you go to Vjun.”

    “I know what will happen if I don’t.”

    Tahiri pressed her lips together and nodded. “Okay, let’s say you go. Let’s say you go and you get yourself killed. What are we supposed to do then?”

    Ben threw his hands up in the air. “You’re supposed to keep living, that’s what! You survived Anakin’s death and all the ones after. I think you’ll survive mine.”

    “You know that’s not what I mean,” Tahiri growled. “You’re a symbol, Ben. A symbol of hope, of everything the Jedi Order once was and could be again. And you’d throw that all away just to… gah! I don’t even know why you’re doing it!”

    “Because I have to!”

    Tahiri pointed a finger in his face. “If you die and those kids end up right back in the hands of the Sith, what good is it going to do anyone?”

    Ben scowled and turned away. “My dad would have saved them.”

    “Maybe. Probably. But your mom would agree with me. She would wait.”

    Ben looked back at her and glared. “You’re wrong. She would have died before letting the Sith twist another child to the dark side.”

    “Okay, but that doesn’t change anything, Ben. They’re gone and we’re here, and it really doesn’t matter what they would have done. So I’ll ask again – why?”

    Ben was silent for a moment. He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared out at the horizon, and for a brief second Tahiri could almost believe she was seeing his father.

    Ben sighed. “I know I can save them, Tahiri. I know it.”

    Tahiri believed him, or at least that he believed his words were true. There was something else there, though, something lurking underneath. “What aren’t you telling me?”

    Ben met her gaze, and it was the first time in many years that she’d seen that hint of desperation in his eyes. “I’m tired of hiding from the dark side,” he said. “I’m tired of wondering whether I’ll give in one day and live up to my grandfather’s legacy. I spent six months on that ship, Tahiri. Six months alone in my cabin at night, just waiting.” He paused and looked away, and his voice grew quiet. “You don’t understand how much stronger the pull is at night.”

    She thought about telling him that she did understand, that she was intimately acquainted with the lure of the dark side, but she decided in this instance it probably wouldn’t help to point that out.

    Instead, she reached out and placed both hands on his shoulders. “You’re not going to fall to the dark side, Ben.”

    “I’m sure you felt the same way about Jacen once.”

    Tahiri was tempted to punch him. She squeezed his shoulders hard and forced him to look her in the eyes. He winced under her fingertips.

    “Listen, kiddo. You know what happened with Jacen was not your fault, and you are not going to make his mistakes. Enough of this kind of talk, okay? Let the dead worry about the dead.”

    Ben squeezed his eyes shut and nodded. Tahiri let go of his shoulders.

    “I swear, Skywalker, sometimes I just don’t get you.”

    Ben blew air through his nostrils and looked out at the horizon. “Everyone’s allowed their moment of weakness, right? Well you just saw mine.”

    “I’d hardly call it weakness. You’re human, after all. You’re allowed to be afraid now and then.”

    “I try not to make a habit of it.”

    “I’ve noticed. I wish I could change that, maybe scare you out of going on this crazy rescue mission.”

    Ben angled his body away from her, and she wondered how he had managed to turn her righteous anger into reluctant acceptance.

    “We’ll leave after sundown,” Ben said. “Me and whoever else wants to come along. Should give Myri and Ulin enough time to get whatever info we need to make it past Vjun’s defenses.”

    “They’ll probably need more than a few hours if they’re going to do all that.”

    “We can’t afford to wait any longer. We leave tonight.”

    Tahiri studied him for a moment. “Where are you going now?”

    “For a ride. Clear my head.”

    Tahiri sighed. “Ben, I’m not going to see you off tonight. I hope you understand.”

    He hesitated before answering. “I do.”

    “Okay, then.” She slipped her hands into her coat pockets. “May the Force be with you.”

    Ben’s smile was faint. “And with you, Tahiri.”

    ~~


    The children were staring at him expectantly.

    As someone who had faced the most dangerous foes in the galaxy and cheated death on more than one occasion, Anakin was surprised by how intimidating the unblinking stares of eight younglings could be. He wasn’t really sure why these children were so interested in him, but a whole group of them had materialized outside of Ben’s tent sometime around midday demanding to be told the story of his and Ben’s daring escape on Heibic 3. He had indulged them, and now they were back to the staring.

    “So,” he said slowly, trying not to fidget. “What now?”

    “You got any more stories?” a small boy asked.

    Did he ever. Too bad half of them were about the war or his Jedi training; with Davin and Dolan sitting amongst the group, and Ben’s warning still ringing in his ears, Anakin was hesitant to tell any of those stories. As for the other half, well… he wasn’t sure those were exactly appropriate for his very young audience.

    Anakin rubbed the back of his neck and scanned his audience. A few of the children, including Davin and little Carin Horn, were resting their chins in the palms of their hands. He couldn’t tell if they were bored or simply waiting for the next outrageous tale of escape.

    “Um,” Anakin started, but as he did so he caught sight of something out of the corner of his eye, something moving very swiftly toward the outskirts of the camp. He broke eye contact with the children to get a better look and was surprised to see Ben untying and then straddling one of the swoop bikes.

    “Wait here,” Anakin said, moving away from the children to chase after Ben. He had only gone a few steps when someone stepped out in front of him. At first he only saw a head of sun-bleached hair, then a scarred forehead, and solemn green eyes looking up at him.

    “Tahiri.” He said the name with a little too much force, partially because he was checking to make sure that it was, in fact, her name, and partially because he was a little annoyed that she had stopped him from going after his grandson. He took a step back and stared over her head as Ben gunned the engine to life.

    “Let him go,” she said softly. “He wants to be alone.” She looked past him at the children. “Shouldn’t you all be heading to your tents for lunch? Scoot!”

    The children dispersed, Davin and Dolan hanging back long enough to give Tahiri a smile and a wave. She wrinkled her nose at them and waggled her fingers near her chin. It was one of the odder sites Anakin had seen since being ripped from his own time.

    “He’ll be back by nightfall,” Tahiri said as she stared after the twins. “No need to worry.”

    “I wasn’t worried.”

    “Sure.” Tahiri returned her eyes to his. “Ben never told me where you’re from.”

    He was a bit taken aback by the question, but Ben had prepared him for this situation. Be honest, but not too honest, was his advice. The fewer outright lies, the better.

    Anakin wasn’t entirely comfortable with the deception, but then there wasn’t a whole lot about his circumstances that he did find comfortable. For now he would follow Ben’s instructions.

    “I don’t know where I’m from, really,” he started. “I lived here when I was little, and after that I moved around a lot – the Core planets, the Inner Rim. I spent the last several months jumping around the Outer Rim.”

    Tahiri nodded, eyebrows raised. “How’d you end up on Ossus?”

    Anakin licked his lips. “I honestly don’t know.”

    “Were you kidnapped?”

    “Something like that.”

    She looked away and examined the sleeve of her coat. “Well, it’s obvious you’re very gifted. I can’t believe we’ve never met; I travel to all the enclaves, you know.”

    “Well, you must have missed one.”

    He was surprised when she let out a short laugh. “Ben was right,” Tahiri said, rubbing her jaw with one hand. “I do like you.”

    Anakin wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that, so he kept his mouth shut and waited. He didn’t have to wait long. Tahiri began to walk, and she gestured for Anakin to join her. The questions soon resumed.

    “So your parents named you after the great Anakin Solo, huh?”

    While her tone seemed completely natural, Anakin sensed her suspicion. He wondered if she knew about who he had claimed to be, and if so, he wondered if she thought he was insane. “Yes. They really admired him.”

    “Were they Jedi, too?”

    “No.”

    Now he sensed sadness, a flash of genuine heartache that had snuck past Tahiri’s shielding.

    “He really was unique, even among his fellow Jedi,” she said, her voice soft. “Even compared to the rest of his family. Sometimes I think we clung to that uniqueness a little too much, tried to turn him into something he wasn’t.”

    “He was a hero.”

    “He was a kid.” There was an old, old bitterness in her voice. “We were all just kids.” She shook her head. “Would he have gone on to do more great things? Or do you think he would have eventually turned on us?”

    Anakin’s voice sounded small in his own ears. “I don’t know.”

    Tahiri met his gaze and quirked one corner of her mouth. “Sorry. I’m just an old woman rambling on.”

    “You’re not old.”

    “No, I’m not.” She looked away again. “But then sometimes I am.”

    After a moment, she turned and fixed him with a hard stare, one that he was sure had stopped many Jedi dead in their tracks.

    “I don’t know if you are who you say you are, but regardless, I want you to know something. I would have died. Maybe not right away, maybe not until they’d wiped away all my human memories and turned me into the perfect hybrid. But I would have died. Anakin Solo saved my life. You’re right to say he was a hero. He was my hero. And then he got himself killed, and one by one I’ve had to watch the rest of his family – my family – follow him to the grave.”

    Anakin looked deep into her green eyes and felt his stomach twist into a cold knot, and he wondered if maybe she knew exactly who he was.

    Tahiri’s lower lip was trembling, but there were no tears. “Anakin was a hero,” she said firmly. “But I wish to the gods or the Force or whoever’s out there that he didn’t have to be. I wish none of them had been heroes. I wish they’d let someone else take up that job.”

    He thought she was going to say more, but she didn’t. His hands were shaking now, and he crossed his arms to hide them from her. “Why are you telling me all of this? You barely know me.”

    Tahiri shook her head as if amazed he hadn’t caught on yet. “It’s because I barely know you. And because maybe one day you’ll be in a position to make a difference, and you’ll remember this conversation.”

    She blew out a frustrated breath and narrowed her eyes at the horizon. Anakin understood that she was very close to his family, was in fact handpicked by Jaina to be her sons’ guardian. But he hadn’t realized just how much she loved them. All of them, not just his namesake or the twins. And that meant he had failed her, too. He had brought this evil world down on her, had destroyed her life just as surely as he had destroyed Luke’s or Leia’s.

    Would he ever have the chance to redeem himself? Was it even possible at this point?

    Tahiri sighed and looked up at him. “Take care of him,” she said, and then began to move back toward the tents.

    “I will,” he called after her. She didn’t respond, and he watched her walk away, her long coat flapping in the breeze.

    ~~


    Ben had been riding for hours when he finally stopped to take in the sunset. He planted one foot in the soft sand and dismounted, leaving the gently humming swoop bike to float in place while he climbed the steep dune before him. Ben stopped at the crest of the dune and stared out at the horizon. Tatoo II was a half circle, resting along the line of brown rock and sand that separated earth from sky. Its color had deepened from orange to almost blood-red, staining the dark blue around it. Above and to the left, Tatoo I glowed softly, its yellow-white surface tempered by the deepening dusk.

    There was a slight breeze in the air; a few strands of hair tickled his ears and face as Ben leaned his head to one side, reflecting on the simple majesty of Tatooine’s sunset. Just about everyone in his family had seen this sight at some point in their lives. Sometimes it seemed as though Tatooine was a fulcrum upon which the destiny of the entire Skywalker line turned. He had been the last to come here, the last to return to the place where so much had started. He had hoped to avoid it; instead, he found himself using it as a base of operations, tying himself to the planet.

    Tatooine was not simply his birthright or part of his bloodline. It had become his home.

    A home that he desperately wanted to be free of, but a home nonetheless.

    Ben kicked the sand with his boot, looking away from the suns. It was almost time to leave. Anakin and the others would be waiting. He still wasn’t sure what to do about his grandfather. He couldn’t leave him here; just being on Tatooine seemed to stir many dark and troubling things inside of the future Sith Lord – not something Ben wanted to encourage. On the other hand, was it any safer to take him to the rendezvous? To include him in the rescue of the children? Not to mention that the rest of the Council would inevitably start asking questions about this mysterious stranger who shadowed Ben’s every step.

    He could only imagine how that conversation would go.

    Ben ran a hand over his eyes. He had to take Anakin with him; he didn’t have any other choice. If his grandfather went off the deep end, he needed to be there to stop him.

    If he could. Ben had the sneaking suspicion that his victory over Anakin earlier that day had as much to do with chance as it did skill. Once his grandfather got over being distraught and disoriented, he would probably be a lot harder to take down.

    Now there’s a comforting thought.

    Ben watched Tatoo II slip below the horizon. He turned his back on the sight and returned to his swoop.

    Time to go.

    ~~


    The shuttle arrived during a particularly violent downpour of acid rain, one that burned most of its black paint right off of the hull. It docked in a sheltered hangar and was met by Darth Festus and Doctor Mezzon, a pale slip of a man who watched quietly as the guards led six individuals – all children – off the shuttle and into Château Malreaux.

    Darth Ferrus watched all of this on a vidscreen in the control room where he had just concluded an audience with his master. He wasn’t exactly anxious to tell his brother how the conversation had gone, but it had to be done.

    “We had hoped, my lord, that we might lead the Hunt.” Ferrus was still afraid to be alone in a room with his master, even when they were light years apart.

    Darth Krayt regarded him coolly from behind his mask. “What makes you think you have the necessary experience?” It wasn’t a taunting tone, and yet Ferrus felt shamed by it.

    “We are the youngest Sith Lords in your Order. There’s a reason you chose to promote us so young.”

    His master leaned away from the transmitter, his voice deceptively soft. “And you think that reason is sufficient to justify removing Lord Dominius from the Hunt?”


    Ferrus sighed and smacked his palms alternately against his cheeks. He’d had a response all planned out in his head, but when it came time to tell his master, of course he’d messed it up. His brother should have been the one to do it; he was more eloquent than Ferrus by far. But Festus refused to make the call, insisting that they go along with the Master’s plan.

    Lord Krayt had quickly taken control of the conversation and redirected it to said plan. Ferrus and his brother were to remain on Vjun and worry about the impending attack. No need to look for the Jedi because the Jedi would come to them.

    And after that, Dominius will lead the Hunt again, and we’ll still be here on this rock, babysitting a lunatic and his stupid project.

    Ferrus jumped out of his seat and made his way to the prisoners’ cells, where his brother would surely be. He was starting to wonder if his twin cared at all about moving up in the ranks. Maybe he really did just want to stay on Vjun.

    Ferrus arrived in the cellar where the prisoners were being kept, and sure enough, Festus was there. Ferrus bumped his brother’s shoulder as he passed him, stepping into the dimly lit cell. Two guards were shackling the new arrivals to the wall. They were all human children, two girls and four boys, none of them any older than twelve.

    “I like that one,” Festus said, leaning on the doorframe. He nodded toward a small blond boy who was sitting close to a dark-haired girl, staring up at them with big eyes. “He’s a little creepy, don’t you think?”

    Ferrus looked over his shoulder at his brother and frowned. “Yeah, reminds me of someone else I know.”

    Festus let out a short, smug laugh and sidled up next to his brother. “I imagine,” he whispered, “that we must look quite frightening when we stand together like this.”

    Ferrus studied the faces of the younglings and smirked. Most of them were trying not to look at their captors, but a few had noticed that there were now two Sith Lords standing shoulder to shoulder in the doorway. Their eyes were wide as they shrank away from the sight.

    “I think it’s the eyes,” Ferrus replied, keeping his voice low. “You were right about them.”

    Festus inclined his head slightly. “Why go for those awful yellow things when we were born with such wonderfully eerie ones of our own?”

    “Well, the yellow is useful sometimes.” He looked over at Festus, the edges of his blue irises turning the color of fire. “I’d say we look pretty scary this way, too.”

    Festus sighed, but there was a hint of a smile around his mouth. “I suppose, if you’re only interested in frightening small children.”

    “That’s all you’re interested in.”

    “It’s really not.” Festus turned to leave the room, but he lingered for a moment, watching for Ferrus’s reaction out of the corner of his eye. Ferrus’s face twisted in a grimace.

    “I really wish I didn’t know half of what goes on in that brain of yours.”

    “Trust me, brother,” Festus said as he left the cell. “You don’t know half.”

    Ferrus turned to follow him. “I spoke with the Master about—”

    “I know.” Festus tapped the side of his head. “Twin intuition, remember?”

    “How could I forget?”

    Festus gave him a bored look. “Save the sarcasm and put on a smile, brother. Judging by the stink in the air, I’d say Dominius and his little entourage have arrived.”

    “I think that stink is coming from Mezzon’s lab.”

    Festus rolled his eyes. “Why are you always trying to ruin my fun?” He jerked his head toward a stairwell at the end of the corridor. “Come now; we don’t want to keep our dear friends waiting.”

    ~~


    The Jedi enclave was as still as the night air as Anakin followed Valin Horn to the waiting landspeeder. Kala Di Nal was sitting in the driver’s seat, as solemn as she’d been upon their first meeting; now she was waiting to take them to Ben’s ship, waiting for the man who was responsible for the whole operation.

    Ben’s swoop appeared as a black speck on the moon-drenched horizon, growing steadily larger until it came to a roaring stop alongside the speeder. He was silent as he dismounted and guided the bike to its stall, silent as he tossed his bag into the back of the speeder and swung himself into the passenger seat. Anakin and Valin settled into the back.

    “I’m sorry about the Council,” Kala Di murmured before firing up the engine. Thankfully, the speeder was much quieter than the swoop Ben had been riding.

    Ben dismissed Kala Di’s concerns with a wave. “We’ll be fine as we are. Just take us to the Daybreak.”

    The girl nodded and took off into the night.

    In the back seat, Anakin held his lightsaber in the palms of his hands. He couldn’t see the path ahead, but he knew there would be blood. He could feel it.

    All things die, Anakin Skywalker.

    Even stars burn out.


    ~~
    Last edited by ViariSkywalker, Jun 18, 2014
  15. RebelMom Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2000
    star 6
    Ben's maternal and paternal genes are going to get him in the thick of things. He's not got a choice.
  16. lost_lauries_grapes Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2006
    star 1
    There was a slight breeze in the air; a few strands of hair tickled his ears and face as Ben leaned his head to one side, reflecting on the simple majesty of Tatooine?s sunset. Just about everyone in his family had seen this sight at some point in their lives. Sometimes it seemed as though Tatooine was a fulcrum upon which the destiny of the entire Skywalker line turned.

    True! And I have a sudden urge to watch binary sunset. Thanks XD

    Peace,
    Bea
  17. Lady_Tahiri Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2001
    star 4
    DAMN. That was a difficult call. Puts me in mind of the leadup to Myrkr, actually, with Anakin going toe-to-toe with Han. Not that anybody here is an analogue to either Anakin or Han. I, too, have wondered what Tahiri would have been like sans Riina. Actually I think what Ben is wondering is not a what if scenario but rather a factual question - what kind of person was Tahiri Veila prior to the Peace Brigade invasion of Yavin? Most of the people who know the answer are either dead or unavailable. And the more I look at it the more this rescue mission is looking like Myrkr. Not the specifics of it, it?s just that they are at a comparable place in the war ? ie, the nadir ? and the pervasive feeling of utter hopelessness, of being backed into a corner with no way out, is so strong you could drown in it. Also, I do wonder how much of Valin's decision was influenced by having kids himself.

    "My dad would have saved them."
    "But your mom would have agreed with me."
    For a certainty! Classic.

    ?I?m sure you felt the same way about Jacen once.?
    Oh, Ben. You really do know how to bring the punchworthy lines. This, on the heels of that zinger about Anakin coming back for her?

    "He was a hero."
    "He was a kid."

    Yes, he was both. This exchange says a lot about Ani and Tahiri, as well as the kind of person Anakin was.

    Sometimes it seemed as though Tatooine was a fulcrum upon which the destiny of the entire Skywalker line turned.
    This line ? this whole passage ? is beautiful.

    As always, nicely done. =D=
  18. DARTH-COPAZIE Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2010
    I'm loving this fic so far. Very, Very well done.

    In response to Tahiri's insistence that Ben not risk himself because of his status as a symbol... If he didn't, and let those kids die, what kind of symbol would he be?

    As for the raid itself, I don't think Anakin should be underestimated... After all, Vader had a castle on Vjun... I can just envision the following scene...

    ... Keeping to the shadows, the Jedi made their way across great hall. Anakin winced, cursing each footfall, try as he might he couldn't keep his boots from echoing on the endless marble floor. As the team crossed the raised dias to the small door on the opposite side of the hall, Ben hung back.

    "What's taking you so, kriffing long, Gramps?"

    "Watch your language.." countered Anakin emerging from the shadows, boots in hand. Ben gave him an odd look. "What? I'm walking like a Bantha in these things.."

    A violent flash of light cast the entire hall into sharp relieve and filled it with long shadows. The thunder strike reverberated so powerfully that Anakin could feel it through the stone. Anakin's heart nearly leaped free of his chest as he noticed the dark figure looming in front of the tall arched windows. His lightsaber was already in his hand and activated before he realized it was a statue. Ben stifled a chuckle, as his grandfather holstered his blade, face flushed. "That kriffing thing scared the hell out of me.." Anakin growled under his breath.

    "Hey, watch your kriffing language."

    "Kriff you!"

    Ben's grinned, but he paled as he glanced at the statue, even in complete darkness, the silhouette was instantly recognizable. another flash of lighting and Ben flinched. Like a flash memory, the image of the statue, and his grandfather standing there before it, was now seared indelibly in his mind, and was bound to give him nightmares for years to come.

    "Told you it was creepy."

    "You have no idea."

    "Why, what is it?"

    A cold chill traveled the length of his spine as turned gazed upon it again, and Ben leaned in to tell him was he already expected to be true.

    "It's you."
  19. Lady_Tahiri Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2001
    star 4
    [face_laugh] Well played, DARTH_COPAZIE.

    Vi, you know you wrote a good fic when people write fic about your fic.
  20. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    LOL, that is definitely a first on my end! :D:p
  21. pregnantpadme Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2004
    star 4
    I'm very hooked and loving this story.

    Since you aren't posting on a regular basis, or, I tink you said that in your notes, can you shoot me a PM when you do post?

    Thanks,


    Elle
  22. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Mom ? Ben's maternal and paternal genes are going to get him in the thick of things. He's not got a choice.

    --How could he not? ;)

    lost_lauries_grapes ? True! And I have a sudden urge to watch binary sunset. Thanks XD

    --You and me both! I actually had the music from that scene playing as I wrote it. :p

    LT ? DAMN. That was a difficult call. Puts me in mind of the leadup to Myrkr, actually, with Anakin going toe-to-toe with Han. Not that anybody here is an analogue to either Anakin or Han. I, too, have wondered what Tahiri would have been like sans Riina. Actually I think what Ben is wondering is not a what if scenario but rather a factual question - what kind of person was Tahiri Veila prior to the Peace Brigade invasion of Yavin? Most of the people who know the answer are either dead or unavailable. And the more I look at it the more this rescue mission is looking like Myrkr. Not the specifics of it, it?s just that they are at a comparable place in the war ? ie, the nadir ? and the pervasive feeling of utter hopelessness, of being backed into a corner with no way out, is so strong you could drown in it. Also, I do wonder how much of Valin's decision was influenced by having kids himself.

    --I?m having a lot of fun writing the parallel-yet-not situations in this story. :D And even though I?ve mentioned Myrkr in the story, I actually hadn?t thought of that particular parallel before now, but I have to agree with you, absolutely. I can see what you mean about it being that kind of mission, a desperate attempt to keep the good guys? heads above water for just a little while longer. As for Valin, I?d say almost definitely it?s got something to do with his own kids. ;)

    For a certainty! Classic.

    --:D

    Oh, Ben. You really do know how to bring the punchworthy lines. This, on the heels of that zinger about Anakin coming back for her?

    --The boy really does have a mouth on him. I blame both sides of his family. :p

    Yes, he was both. This exchange says a lot about Ani and Tahiri, as well as the kind of person Anakin was.

    --Is it weird to admit that I actually got a teeny tiny bit emotional as I wrote this exchange? I really wanted to respect the relationship between Tahiri and Anakin without making it seem like Tahiri was still mired in the past. And now that you?ve pointed out the parallels to Myrkr, I think it actually makes sense that Tahiri might let some of those feelings slip past her defenses, especially in Anakin Sr.?s presence. (So maybe I caught onto the Myrkr connection unconsciously? [face_thinking] :p)

    This line ? this whole passage ? is beautiful.

    --Thanks, LT. It?s one of my favorites in this chapter. [face_love]

    As always, nicely done.

    --Thanks, babe! [:D] Glad you?re enjoying it! :D

    DARTH-COPAZIE ? I'm loving this fic so far. Very, Very well done.

    --Thanks! And welcome aboard. :D Hope you continue to enjoy it!

    In response to Tahiri's insistence that Ben not risk himself because of his status as a symbol... If he didn't, and let those kids die, what kind of symbol would he be?

    --Exactly. Ben has made certain promises and vows and whatnot, and damned if he?s going to break them just because it might risk his status as a symbol. :)

    As for the raid itself, I don't think Anakin should be underestimated... After all, Vader had a castle on Vjun... I can just envision the following scene...

    --The first time anyone?s written fanfic of my fanfic! [face_dancing] :p The exchange between Anakin and Ben is priceless. [face_laugh]

    I actually almost set the Vjun scenes in Vader?s castle! I thought it would be all kinds of creepy for Anakin to see a statue of himself as Vader. I ultimately went with Chateau Malreaux for a few reasons, mainly because it figured so prominently in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous (a book I really enjoyed) and it has some
  23. Darth_Cable Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 3, 2005
    star 1
    Could I be on the pm list?
  24. Falcon Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 7, 2002
    star 8
    Great update and loved the way Ben reflected on how Tatooine was a turning point for his heritage.

    I can't wait for more
  25. Rew Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2008
    star 4
    So I was bored last night, thought the title of this one seemed interesting, clicked and started skimming. The next thing I knew it was well past my bedtime, and I was completely hooked. :p

    Might I be added to the PM list please? [face_batting]

    Anyway, Anakin sure is going through a hard time right now, isn't he? I'm sure he's going to have some choice words for good ol' Palpatine when (if) he returns to his own time. *just got a mental image of a Millennium Falcon/DeLorean time machine hybrid*

    I think the part I'm looking forward to most is when Anakin and Allana meet face-to-face. From what I've seen, Allana is already showing signs of being very spunky, outspoken, and even crudely blunt at times. Putting in her in the same room with the man who is (however indirectly) responsible for her father turning into Darth Caedus--well, I suspect there will be fireworks.
    [face_mischief]

    (As one who is an unabashed Jacen Solo fanboy, I'm looking forward to seeing how your Allana turns out.)

    It is very depressing how this is a galaxy where Luke and Leia and Mara (and Han, I think?) are already dead. :(
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