Saga Final Stand (sequel to Seeds of Resistance)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by anakinfansince1983, Nov 1, 2012.

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  1. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Sweetly candid conversations. I can totally relate to Anakin's fears and preferences. They've more than earned peace and contentment, but it seems as if their enemies are unvanquishable [face_thinking] It would be strange not to be aggravated and frustrated :p
  2. ccp Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2005
    star 4
  3. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    @Valairy Scot : Anakin is 44 years old, and not quite as stubborn as he was in canon. But...he's still Anakin. I'm particularly interested in your take on the next scenes.

    @Jade_eyes : Yes, and unfortunately Anakin doesn't handle frustration well. Especially when he's also afraid. :(

    @ccp : Thanks!


    **********

    Chapter 5


    Padme had just fallen asleep when Luke returned to her room, a packet of hubba chips in his hand and a frown on his face.

    “What is it?” Anakin asked.

    “Senator Tarkin is in the lobby, asking to see Mom,” he muttered.

    “Oh hell no,” Anakin said, standing. “I’ll be back in a minute.” He went to the lobby to find Wilhuff Tarkin waiting, his hands clasped behind him, his thin mouth set in a forced smile.

    “Master Skywalker,” he said, extending a hand. “I was hoping to have a word with the Chancellor.”

    Anakin took the hand for a second, a limp handshake, then dropped it. “She is resting,” he said. “Is there anything I can help you with?”

    Tarkin’s widening smile looked more like a sneer. “No,” he said. “Senate business, that is all. When would be a better time?”

    Anakin refused to return the smile. The very sight of Tarkin angered him. “I am sure an announcement will be made when she is accepting appointments in her office again. I suggest you call her assistant and set something up at that time.”

    Tarkin nodded, this time the sneer apparent. “I see,” he said. “And if I may ask, what is her office doing to increase her security?”

    Why does he want to know that? Anakin thought. He sensed many emotions coming from the Eriadu Senator, but worry for Padme was not among them. He was unable to fully grasp what he sensed, however. Certainly a lie, an indication that Tarkin’s mask of concern bore no relationship to how he truly felt…but what else? Deceit…treachery…and…betrayal?

    Anakin’s heart jumped in his throat and his fist clenched; he willed himself not to ignite his lightsaber under Tarkin’s throat. He could not disguise his glare though.

    “She will be under the protection of a Jedi at all times,” Anakin said. “Are there any further questions, Senator?”

    Tarkin’s sneer mocked Anakin now. “No, Master Skywalker, there are none,” he said. “Please give the Chancellor my best wishes for a continued recovery.”

    Anakin did not answer, and Tarkin left. Once he was out of Anakin’s earshot, he opened his comlink. “Get me Sly Moore,” he said.

    Anakin returned to Padme’s room. She slept peacefully, and Luke sat in a chair next to the bed, eating his chips. “I’ve got an errand to run,” Anakin said, and tapped his wrist. “My comlink is open.”

    “Where are you going?” Luke asked, looking quizzically at his father.

    "I'll be back soon,” Anakin said, and left before Luke could question him further.



    Anakin walked briskly through the detention center, acknowledging the guards. The lead guard had given him directions to Avlis Bendel’s cell while seeming surprised both that Anakin was alone and that he had not come to the center before. Anakin walked up the stairs, not bothering with the lift, hoping the exercise would settle his nerves and the red he saw at the edges of his vision, but it didn’t.

    “Good day, Master Skywalker,” the guard outside Bendel’s cell said.

    Anakin nodded. “Good day,” he said. “Leave us, please.”

    He nodded. “Yes, sir.”

    Bendel was a human in his mid-20s, with wispy blond hair, cold blue eyes and a thin mouth. When he stood, supporting his weight on his uninjured leg, he was a head shorter than Anakin, but the height difference did not seem to intimidate him. “Jedi,” he said. “Several of you have been by already.”

    “Who hired you to kill my wife?” Anakin snapped.

    He sneered. “I told your pals that I’m not talking. What part of that do you not understand? Look, I have nothing against the Chancellor. But I am not losing my fee nor getting myself killed for any of you.”

    Anakin’s lightsaber flew into his hand and ignited. He held it through the bars, under Bendel’s throat. “Wrong answer. Who hired you?”

    The sneer turned into a sinister laugh. “Are you going to kill me? Your wife already shot me in the leg, did you come to finish the job?”

    “Maybe she should have aimed a little higher. And I would certainly like to. But a lightsaber death would be too kind for the likes of you. Now, who hired you? Tell me now.

    Bendel laughed again, then gasped for breath. His hands went to his throat, clawing at fingers that he could not see, cutting off his airway. He stared at Anakin, whose saber was disengaged, but his right hand was outstretched, the thumb and index finger pinched.

    Anakin could barely see Bendel, his vision swam with red. “Are you enjoying this? No? My wife is having trouble breathing as well, thanks to you. Now are you ready to tell me?” Anakin released the choke hold, and Bendel sneered again.

    “I. Will. Not. Talk.”

    Anakin’s fury almost completely blinded him. His hand went out again, Force-pushing Bendel against the cell wall, and his fist clenched, cutting off his airway. Bendel once again clawed at his throat, his eyes wide with fear.

    Anakin heard a voice, distinctly female, saying, “Master!” Snips? he thought, but in his rage he could not acknowledge her. Another voice called his name: “Anakin! Anakin!” Where had he heard that one before? The Tusken camp, after his mother died. The voice came, that of Qui-Gon Jinn, and then he saw the Tusken child standing before him, face set in terror at the sight of the ignited lightsaber that had cut down his father and uncles
    .
    Anakin released Bendel, who gasped for air.

    “Who hired you?” Anakin asked again.

    Bendel took a couple of more deep breaths, then looked at Anakin. The sneering confidence was gone, replaced by horror. Then, in a voice barely above a whisper, he said, “Tarkin. Senator Tarkin.”



    As soon as he was in his speeder again, Anakin spoke into his comlink. “Obi-Wan, do you copy?”

    “I copy, Anakin.”

    “Meet me at headquarters. I have some information.”

    “What information?”

    “I’ll tell you when I get there.” He started the speeder and drove quickly to headquarters, finding Obi-Wan waiting for him in the Council chambers, Mace, Shaak Ti and Yoda behind him.

    Anakin closed the door behind him. “I need to tell you this where we won’t be overheard,” he said. He was out of breath. “Tarkin is behind the assassination attempt on Padme.”

    The Jedi stared at him and did not answer.

    “He hired the assassins,” Anakin continued. “He orchestrated the entire attempt. Not Ventress.”

    The Jedi continued to stare, and finally, Obi-Wan crossed his arms over his chest and spoke. “Anakin, what have you done?”

    “What do you mean, what have I done? I got the information you’ve been looking for.”

    “You were asked not to interrogate Bendel,” Mace said sternly.

    “I know,” Anakin said. “And I’m sorry I had to go behind your back, Master Windu, but getting him to talk was our only hope to get to the bottom of this.”

    “You don’t know that,” Shaak Ti said. “Another avenue would have presented itself with patience.”

    “We don’t know that,” Anakin said. “Or if we have time to spare. Tarkin came by the medical center this morning, wanting to see Padme, claiming it was ‘Senate business’. Pretending to be concerned for her, pretending to want her to get well. Only not a word that came out of his mouth was true. He practically reeked of treachery.”

    “Anakin, you are in no position to handle this and you know it,” Mace said.

    “And I am less concerned about the fact that you interrogated Bendel after being told not to do so, than how you interrogated him,” Obi-Wan added.

    “Touched the Dark Side, you did. Sense that, we can,” Yoda said.

    Anakin gazed at him. “Maybe,” he snapped.

    “No ‘maybe.’ Attacked him, you did,” Yoda continued.

    Anakin didn’t answer.

    “Again, Anakin, what did you do?” Obi-Wan asked.

    Anakin looked down, and after a moment, he said, “I…I choked him. Not enough to kill him,” he quickly added. “I wanted to scare him. And I wanted him to feel the way Padme has felt. I wanted him to know what it’s like to not be able to breathe.”

    “Guilty, you feel,” Yoda said quietly.

    “Of course I feel guilty but I didn’t have a choice!” Anakin snapped. He crossed the room and sank into his chair, his head in his hands, blinking rapidly to unblur his vision.

    The other Jedi followed him and took their seats.

    “Has this ever happened before, Anakin?” Shaak Ti asked.

    Anakin took a moment before nodding slowly. “I had used that…method of interrogation…one other time. Poggle the Lesser. When the Geonosian brain worms invaded that supply ship that Ahsoka and Barriss were using. He wouldn’t tell any of you how to stop the worms. He would have killed the padawans. I got him to talk.”

    It was a few moments before Yoda spoke again. “Your anger and your fear…overwhelmed you, they did, as your fear for your padawan overwhelmed you then. What say you for yourself?”

    He looked up. “I am not proud of what I did. Or should I say, I am not proud of how I did it. But I am also not willing to give Tarkin time to hire more assassins, plan another attempt…”

    “You do not know that he would do that,” Obi-Wan replied.

    “It’s not a chance I’m willing to take!” Anakin snapped.

    The Jedi did not answer him.

    “Are you really willing to risk this happening again?” He asked, looking at the three Jedi in the room with him.

    Again there were a few moments of silence, then Mace answered. “Anakin, you convinced us to drop the attachment rule after the purge and the revelation of your marriage. You convinced us that having a family was compatible with being a Jedi. I was hesitant, but I relented. Am I now going to regret doing so?”

    Anakin glared at him. “I have been married for 24 years. Do you really believe that my marriage has made me less of a Jedi?”

    “It did today,” Mace said.

    “No, it didn’t,” he snapped.

    “If Anakin touched the Dark Side before out of fear for his padawan, maybe his marriage is not the issue,” Shaak Ti said. “Maybe unmanageable fear is the issue.”

    “There was also the situation with his mother,” Obi-Wan added. “I agree, his marriage is not the issue.”

    Mace’s face softened. “I know all too well what it is like to form an attachment to a padawan. Even if the days of the old Order when we were constantly reminded not to form attachments, our padawans were like our children.” His face hardened again when he turned to Anakin. “But…we have a job to do. We are keepers of the peace. We must not allow our personal feelings to get in the way of our duty. You know this, Anakin, and you chose to disobey us and interrogate Bendel anyway. And you used interrogation techniques that are not appropriate for a Jedi.”

    “I made a mistake,” Anakin said. “There is nothing in the current Jedi Code that needs to be changed because of something that I did.” He looked at Yoda. “You were right. I disobeyed you, and I allowed my fear and anger to make my decisions for me. That fault is entirely mine and has nothing to do with Padme. In fact, she is probably not going to be any happier with me than you are.” He looked at Mace again. “I will ask you not to consider punishing Leia or any of the other married Jedi for my shortcomings. It is not fair to them.” He took his lightsaber from his belt and turned it over in his hands as silence filled the room again.

    “Anakin,” Obi-Wan finally said. “We understand what your intentions were. But the ends here don’t justify the means.”

    “I know that,” Anakin said, sighing.

    “We need to decide how to address this,” Mace said. “Coerced evidence may not be admissible in court. I am not certain we can arrest Tarkin on it.”

    “Can’t we question him?” Anakin asked.

    “I don’t know,” Mace said.

    “So this was all for naught anyway.” Tears filled Anakin’s eyes again. “Alright. I will step down from the Council.”

    “No,” Mace said. “That is not the solution at all. You and I are the youngest Jedi ever to sit on the Council and two of the only Council members to survive the purge. “

    “And we won’t live forever,” Obi-Wan said. “Shaak Ti and I are 59, Mace is 78, and Yoda is…”

    “900 years old, I have reached,” Yoda said, and looked at Anakin. “Young you are, and when we are gone, the last of the old Order Jedi you will be. Need you, we will, to lead the Council and train the next members.”

    “If I can,” Anakin said.

    “Consider this a teachable moment. You need to learn how to stop yourself from doing this again. And you will need to teach younger Jedi how to do the same,” Obi-Wan said.

    “Anakin,” Mace said. “Leia has your temper. So does Luke to an extent, although he seems to have inherited a little more of his mother’s more…even disposition. It is your duty to pass along what you have learned, including lessons you have learned from your own mistakes.”

    Anakin pressed his heels to his eyes and didn’t answer.

    “Difficult for you it will be,” Yoda said. “But do this you must.”

    Anakin looked up. “But how?” He asked.

    “That is for you to decide,” Mace said.

    Anakin sighed. “And…what else?”

    Mace continued. “If we feel we have enough evidence to arrest Tarkin, you will not be allowed to accompany us. You also will not accompany us if and when we question him. You have lost any chance you had to take a greater part in this investigation. You will do nothing now other than wait for information from us. If you disobey us again, we will be forced to ask for your resignation from this Council, as reluctant as I am to do so and as difficult as it would be to replace you. Am I understood?”

    “Yes, Master.”

    “And now,” Obi-Wan said, “Padme deserves an update, as do your children. A full update.”

    “And…” Anakin began.

    “You will deliver it. Alone. This is not something I can help you with, Anakin. And for what it’s worth, they would be much angrier if they heard it from someone else.”

    Anakin sighed and covered his eyes again. “I know,” he said.



    Padme, Luke and Leia sat in silence for several minutes after Anakin told them of the events of the afternoon. Padme munched on a roll. Luke and Leia just stared at him.

    “Well,” he said. “Could one of you say something?”

    “I think it’s only fair that you give us time to process this before demanding that we respond,” Leia said.

    Anakin sighed, and slumped a little. “Fair enough,” he said.

    Leia pushed herself off her chair with some effort, and stood. Her abdomen seemed to have swelled to twice its prior size in just a couple of weeks. “I’m hungry,” she said. “I’ll be back.”

    “Why don’t you both go eat,” Padme said to Luke. “I need to speak to your father alone.”

    Luke looked at her and nodded, then stood.

    On the way out of the room, Leia put a hand on her father’s arm. “We love you,” she said. “But what you did…it is the opposite of what you raised us to be. And right now I don’t know what to make of the discrepancy. When I do, we’ll discuss it.” Without waiting for his response, she left. Luke looked at Anakin but didn’t say anything, then followed his sister.

    Anakin pulled a chair next to Padme’s bed and lowered his head. “I’m waiting for an ‘I told you so’.”

    “You’ve certainly earned one,” Padme said, taking a drink of water and setting down the cup. “Why, Anakin?”

    “Because I was afraid,” he said. “And angry and frustrated.”

    “So you decided to use an interrogation method that you knew I would oppose—a method that would probably be approved by Tarkin, or Palpatine himself, for their political enemies—because the investigation wasn’t happening fast enough for you?”

    “Because it wasn’t going anywhere,” Anakin snapped. And he began to sob, his face in his hands. He felt Padme’s hand stroking his arm, then cupping his cheek.

    It was a few minutes later when she asked, “Is the Council going to question Tarkin?”

    He looked up and dried his eyes. “I don’t know,” he said. “Master Windu said that Bendel’s confession might not be admissible in court.”

    “I don’t know whether it will be or not,” Padme said, and sighed. “Anakin, I need to heal. And I need to be able to do it without worrying about you. Can I do that?”

    Anakin nodded. “Of course,” he said.

    “Really?” she asked.

    “Yes,” he said. “I promise.”

    “Look at me.”

    His reddened eyes met hers, and he took her hand and squeezed it tightly.

    “If you want to help me,” she continued. “Do what the Council has asked. Step back and let them do their investigation. You don’t need to interfere. That isn’t your job.” She smiled slightly. “Your job is to sit here with me. Support me when I need to get out of the bed. Bring me water, and food, and my oxygen tank. Not analyze whether the Council is acting quickly enough or whether they are doing everything they can.”

    Anakin nodded slowly.

    “Can you do that?” Padme asked.

    He swallowed. “Yes,” he said.

    “Good,” she said, and pulled him toward her for a kiss. “I think, once I’m fully functional again…I’d like to go home to Naboo for a couple of weeks.”

    Anakin grinned. “Really?” he asked.

    She returned the smile. “Yes,” she said.

    “What about all that talk about not running away?”

    “I’m not running away. My work station operates there just as well as it does here. And Bail will handle the Senate a little while longer.” She closed her eyes. “I need the rest, and there is not much to be had on Coruscant unfortunately.”

    “I know,” Anakin said.

    “We wouldn’t be able to stay long…the election, and Leia’s baby…but even if we only stayed a few days to a week, it would do us good.” She opened her eyes again and looked at him. “Both of us.” She touched his cheek again. “I love you.”

    His eyes stung again. “After all that I…”

    “Oh, Anakin,” she said. “Was there any doubt?”



    Han listened to the twins’ story without saying anything, and when they were finished, he leaned back in his desk chair, his hands folded behind his head.

    “Well…?” Leia asked.

    “I’m having a hard time getting upset with Anakin for this one, sweetheart,” he said.

    “Really,” Leia said sardonically.

    “Yes, really,” Han replied. “The method of interrogation is not ideal…”

    “…and would set a very bad precedent if it became acceptable,” Leia added. “Can you imagine such a technique in the hands of a more…ruthless Chancellor?”

    “That isn’t really the point, as no one has suggested incorporating the Force choke into the military handbook as an interrogation technique.”

    “That isn’t the point either,” Luke said. “The person who did that…that wasn’t our father. He even said he barely recognized himself.”

    “He’s been through hell lately,” Han said. “Someone is trying to kill his wife and he has no idea who. I might have done the same thing.”

    Leia stared at him. “I certainly hope not, and that doesn’t make it right.”

    “No, it doesn’t make it right. It makes it understandable,” Han said.

    Neither of the twins answered him.

    “So which is it?” Han asked a minute later. “Are you two that angry at your Dad or are you just worried about him?”

    “A little of both I guess,” Luke said. “He held up better than the rest of us right after Mom…and now he’s falling apart. I noticed a big difference in him just in the past week.”

    “He fought the Clone War…” Han began.

    “And was permanently scarred by it, mentally and physically,” Leia said.

    “You’re making my point for me,” Han said. “And in a way the war never really ended. The resistance cells started reappearing again about the time I joined the Navy, and the war had only been over for four years. Both of your parents have had to continue to fight this, and now you two are on board. With this attack on your mother it’s all coming to a head.” He sighed. “I’m no Jedi. But I think the Council made a mistake in keeping Anakin off the investigation in the first place. He had no control and no input into a mission that seemed to be going nowhere, and he got to the point where he felt he had to take matters into his own hands. I can understand that without condoning the way he did it.”

    “The Council kept him off the investigation because they knew he wouldn’t be objective,” Luke said.

    “…and they were afraid he’d do something rash,” Leia added.

    Han smiled slightly. “Self-fulfilling prophecy much?” he said. “As I said, I’m no Jedi. I’m not going to pretend to understand how your Council operates sometimes. But if it were me…I would have sent Anakin first, so the assassins would know exactly who they pissed off. As it was…Bendel got interrogated by several other Jedi, was successful in holding them off, so he was a bit overconfident by the time Anakin got to him…and had to be worn down a little more than he would have if Anakin had just visited him in the beginning.”

    “I don’t understand,” Luke said.

    “Look, kid,” Han said. “When I first started dating your sister, your father could scare the hell out of me just by giving me that look where his eyebrows come together. And I’m a Navy officer. Would you want to be the low-level hit man who had to face him after trying to kill his wife? I wouldn’t.”

    “What’s your point?” Leia asked.

    “My point is that a Force choke should not have been necessary. It should have never gone that far. It should have never had to go that far.” He sighed again. “But it happened. Let me ask you this…how do you think Anakin feels about it? Would he do it again?”

    “No,” both twins said at the same time.

    “He’s sorry,” Leia said. “He said as much, several times.”

    “So forgive him and let it go. It’s done. I assume that even the Jedi haven’t learned a way to go back in time.”

    Leia shook her head, and suddenly she was crying, her elbows resting on Han’s desk, her head in her hands.

    “Hey,” Han said, moving his desk chair around so that he was next to her. He stroked her back.

    “I’m alright,” she said, looking up, sniffling and wiping her eyes. “Stupid hormones.”

    Han shook his head. “I don’t think this is hormones, sweetheart. Your parents aren’t the only ones who have been through hell lately.” He held her as fresh tears came, and Luke sat by, uneasy, for the first time having no idea how to comfort his sister.

    They heard a knock on the door, and Leia quickly lifted her head and dried her face as the door slid open, revealing a midshipman with bags full of take-out food, heavy with the smell of fried salty meat. “Admiral? Sorry to interrupt.”

    “No problem,” Han said, took the bags, and looked at Luke and Leia. “Sliders?”

    “Your child is craving them,” Leia said.

    “Oh really,” Han said, and handed the midshipman the credits to cover the food. “Who sent you to Dex’s?” he asked him.

    “Captain Calrissian, sir,” the man answered.

    Han nodded, a mischievous grin on his face. “I see,” he said.

    “Good evening, Admiral,” he said. He saluted Han and left.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  4. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Han has a lot of sense =D= His points are right on the dot. [face_thinking] The A/P talk was yummy :D

    I too can understand the frustration and believe Anakin is genuinely remorseful.
  5. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    @Jade_eyes: Han's a realist; I probably mentioned that in the Seeds of Resistance commentary. It's one of the things I like best about him. Anakin is definitely remorseful.

    Thanks for reading. :) Here's more:

    **********

    Anakin and Obi-Wan stood on the observation balcony, watching two padawans practice in the sparring dojo.

    “Soresu,” Anakin said. “And they’ve almost mastered it. They’re ready to advance.”

    The padawans used tight, efficient moves, concentrating on defending themselves rather than winning the duel, keeping their lightsaber hilts close to their bodies, exposing little of themselves to their opponent’s saber. The winner would be judged on endurance rather than physical strength.

    “As long as they can finish this session with no lapses in their defenses, I agree,” Obi-Wan said. He folded his arms within his robe and lowered his voice. “So, you are leaving for Naboo soon?”

    “Tomorrow,” Anakin said. “And no one knows except the Council, Bail and Mon Mothma, and of course the twins.”

    “Are they going with you?”

    “No,” Anakin replied. “Luke is going with Alys when she campaigns in the Castle Lands. Leia and Han might come later, on a Navy transport, but they aren’t coming with us tomorrow.”

    “How much of an undercover operation is this?”

    “Enough of one that I’m not talking about it outside headquarters,” Anakin said. “We’re not taking the Ornate or Padme’s ship. We’re taking a medical frigate; she still needs to be monitored anyway. It will just be us, her medical droid, and R2 and 3PO. Until Tark…the assassin is arrested…the Holonet will keep reporting that she is in the Galactic Senate Medical Center and not accepting visitors.”

    Obi-Wan watched the padawans again for a moment, then turned to Anakin. “This morning Mace got a court order to subpoena the security tapes from Tarkin’s office as well as the logs from his comlink.”

    Anakin turned, his eyes wide. “Really?”

    “Yes,” Obi-Wan said. “We will analyze them for anything suspicious that we can pin to Bendel’s confession. Or a connection to the resistance.”

    Anakin’s look of relief suddenly changed to disappointment. “He’s not that stupid, though, is he? He wouldn’t plan an assassination through his office com station with the security cameras rolling.”

    “Maybe not,” Obi-Wan said. “But one thing we will look for is gaps, unexplainable discontinuity in the tapes. Suggestions that he might have shut them off. If there is any indication of suspicious activity, we can at least question him, if not arrest him.”

    Anakin slowly nodded. Obi-Wan clapped him on the back. “I will keep you posted,” he said. “Meanwhile, I hope that you and Padme have a relaxing, and healing, trip home. It will be good for both of you. I’ve been worried about you.”

    Anakin looked off in the distance, at a point above the heads of the padawans, who were finishing their duel and disengaging their sabers. “I know,” he said.

    “ I am sorry that you felt we were shutting you out. We were trying to protect you—from yourself. And it backfired.”

    Anakin gripped the edge of the balcony and looked down. “And I am sorry for proving to you that you had reason to be worried.”

    Obi-Wan put a hand on Anakin’s shoulder. “Just enjoy this time away. It should give Padme a chance to fully heal, which in turn will do you quite a bit of good. And I hope to be able to call you in Theed and tell you that we made an arrest. That might be overly optimistic but…”

    “…we can hope,” Anakin finished.



    Anakin and Padme strolled slowly down the grey stone sidewalks of Theed, towards Palace Plaza, with R2 behind them. It was a holiday and the streets were deserted, but the sun shone and the smell of millaflowers and shuura fruit trees filled the air. Padme was silent and moved slowly, occasionally leaning on Anakin for support.

    “Tell me if you get too tired,” he said.

    She smiled. “You’ve said that three times already, Ani.”

    He returned the smile. “Well, it’s worth repeating.” He squeezed her hand. “You look healthier already, just in the few days that we’ve been here.”

    “I feel better too,” she said. “You should suggest planting millaflowers in the garden at headquarters. The scent is so relaxing.”

    “I’m surprised it hasn’t been done already,” he said. “We do have a grove of bansgreks.”

    She checked her chrono. “Bail is supposed to be holding a full session of the Senate right about now,” she said.

    He kissed the top of her head. “Don’t think about it,” he replied. “Bail is almost as good at whipping stubborn politicians into shape as you are. It’ll be fine.”

    “I hope so,” she said. “Oh, look,” she said, pointing ahead of her towards the center of the plaza. “I wonder if that’s…”

    “It’s some sort of new monument,” Anakin said. “Pooja had mentioned something…”

    Padme didn’t answer. She picked up the pace slightly, walking directly towards the stone and marble plaque.

    The stone itself was a dark grey, making the light grey marble plaque stand out. Padme stared at it for a moment, then slowly reached out a hand, running her fingertips over the engraved lettering.

    In memoriam: Bek Kessler, age 31, and Exeden Danigo, age 35, who lost their lives protecting our beloved Queen, Senator, and Supreme Chancellor, Padme Amidala. We the Naboo are forever indebted to them for their sacrifices.

    Padme’s hand dropped slowly. Trembling, she leaned on Anakin, her head resting on his chest. He held her, and his tunic grew damp with her tears.



    Anakin sat on the back porch of his home in Theed, a mug of tea in his hand, feeling the gentle breeze moving through the trees in his yard and listening to chirping insects. So different from Coruscant, he thought. And it’s been so long that I had almost forgotten what it was like to sit outside in the evening without seeing the glow of speeder lights zooming by or hearing city noises…

    Padme had gone to bed early, as she had almost every night since they arrived. They were both sleeping much better here. Anakin was having strange dreams, not unpleasant, many of them flashbacks. He leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes for a moment…

    The terrified screaming of the four-year-old girl woke him from a sound slumber. He ran into Leia’s room to find her sitting up in bed, her dark braids loosened, her nightgown mussed, her face wet with tears.
    He sat on the edge of the bed and pulled her onto his lap, holding her close. “Shhh…it’s alright, Princess, Daddy’s here. You had a bad dream, that is all.”

    “There was a man,” she said, struggling to get the words out between sobs. “He had a red and black face and horns. And I can’t find my lightsaber. His lightsaber had two ends and was red…”

    “Shhhh…” Anakin said again, stroking her back. “You don’t need your lightsaber. There’s no one in your room except me.”

    He held her and rocked her until the tears and shaking slowed, helped her dry her face, and then laid her back down. “Can I tell you what I want you to dream about now?” he said, smoothing her braids.

    “What?” she asked.

    “On the moons of Iego, there are beings called angels. They are the most beautiful creatures in the galaxy. They are full of light, and love, and they protect us.”

    Leia smiled. “Are they Jedi?”

    Anakin returned the smile. “No, they aren’t Jedi. They are even better.”

    Leia laughed. “Daddy, you’re silly. No one is better than Jedi.”

    “If you say so, little one.” Anakin kissed her forehead. “Can you go back to sleep?”

    She yawned and nodded slowly, her eyelids drooping.


    Anakin had woken up from that nighttime flashback, gotten out of bed, and walked down to Leia’s room, half expecting to see her in the bed, her dark braids on the pillow, her round little-girl face with closed eyelids and her thumb in her mouth. But of course the bed was empty, Leia had not slept in it in a couple of years, and it had been much longer than that since she needed comfort from a nightmare.

    Anakin sipped his tea and remembered the other dream.

    It was the pain that woke him this time, the searing headache, the throat so sore that it was hard to swallow. He put one hand to his forehead, the other to his neck, before awakening enough to realize that the pain wasn’t his. But whose was it?

    He got out of bed, put on his robe and walked down the hall towards the twins’ rooms. He put his head in Leia’s room and saw her sleeping soundly, peacefully. The pain wasn’t hers. He crossed the hall to Luke’s room, saw the boy lying restlessly among tangled sheets, and the headache increased to the point that it almost blinded him. He sat on the edge of Luke’s bed. “Son, can you hear me?”

    Luke opened his eyes to slits. Tears were leaking from their corners. “Daddy,” he said hoarsely. “It hurts.”

    “I know,” Anakin replied, and bent down to press his cheek to Luke’s forehead. He was, as Anakin had suspected, burning with fever.

    Anakin felt slightly panicked. Padme was on Coruscant, had left that morning. She was better at finding exactly the medication to treat the children’s illnesses, even without calling a healer. Anakin murmured, “I’ll be back,” and to the closet where Padme kept a medpac. He scrambled through it, finally finding the children’s fever reducer and measuring the dose. He hurried back to Luke’s room with the medicine and some water. The boy swallowed it obediently, for which Anakin was thankful, then Anakin lay beside him, holding the feverish boy in his arms until sleep overtook him again.


    Anakin sipped his tea again and blinked. The flashbacks were bittersweet, really. Life seemed so much simpler then, when his mere presence and a few soothing words solved the twins’ problems. When they spent as much or more time in this beautiful, peaceful place than they did in their apartment in 500 Republica. When Padme shuttled back and forth once or twice a week instead of staying on Coruscant all the time. When the responsibility for defeating the resistance did not fall solely on her shoulders…

    Of course Anakin could not think of anyone who could better shoulder that responsibility. He had had to remind himself of that many times over the past four years. If he weren’t married to her, there would be no doubt in his mind about whether he wanted her in the Supreme Chancellor’s office. This was one of many areas where he had had to put his personal feelings aside for the good of the galaxy.

    He leaned back and closed his eyes for a moment. The buzzing of his comlink interrupted his reverie, and he took it out and looked at the identifier.

    Obi-Wan. Anakin quickly turned it on and answered it.

    “Anakin, are you somewhere that you won’t be overheard?” Obi-Wan asked.

    “I’m alone and looking at my back yard,” he replied. “As long as we’re on a secure channel…”

    “We are,” Obi-Wan said. “We’ve analyzed the security tapes from Tarkin’s office and there are several gaps, even more than we anticipated. Apparently he shut the tapes off on a regular, almost daily, basis.”

    Anakin shifted in his seat, put the mug of tea down. “What does this mean? What can we deduce from it?”

    “That he was definitely up to something. As you know, the tapes are in place for the Senators’ own protection, they don’t pick up every word of every conversation that the Senators have in their offices, which makes the fact that he shut them down that often, even more suspicious.” Obi-Wan paused. “We also subpoenaed the logs from his office comlink. Those, too, showed some gaps.”

    “What kind of gaps?”

    “They had been tampered with before being passed along to us. We requested the information from both Tarkin’s personal assistant and the SoroSuub Corporation, and the SoroSuub log was more detailed. Several entries were left off the log turned in by Tarkin’s office, including transmissions to Endor, Tatooine, Bespin and Hoth. Which leads me to believe he might have been in communication with both the Hutts and Ventress herself. Why else would those transmissions be deleted?”

    Anakin didn’t answer. He gulped; his heart pounded.

    “Padawan?”

    “I’m here,” Anakin said. “So what now?”

    “Bail has issued a warrant for Tarkin’s arrest. He had no doubt that Padme would approve.” Anakin could almost hear Obi-Wan’s smile coming through the comlink.

    “He’s been updating her daily,” Anakin said. “What is Tarkin being charged with?’

    “Interfering with a Republic investigation. We can charge him with that just based on the doctored logs. And we can question him on other matters. We have tapes that we haven’t listened to yet, we may pick up more information from those.”

    Anakin sighed with relief. “When will you arrest him?”

    “Tomorrow,” Obi-Wan said. “And Anakin…Leia has requested to be one of the Jedi making the arrest.”

    Anakin took a deep breath, once again willing his heart to stop pounding. “What did you tell her?”

    “I didn’t give her an answer. She wasn’t happy when I told her that I needed to talk to you first.”

    “She knew I wouldn’t like it,” he said. “Obi-Wan, she’s six months pregnant.”

    “And does not want to be treated like a weakling because of that, nor does she deserve to be,” Obi-Wan said. “And I suspect that you would not want her to go regardless.”

    “Probably not.”

    “Yoda and I will make the arrest, with Mace and Shaak Ti providing backup. I think Leia deserves to join us, in fact, I think she is the right Jedi to do so. She is brilliant and skilled, Anakin, you know that. She is almost ready to face her trials; so is Luke.”

    “And he’s on Alderaan right now,” Anakin said. He sighed. “Obi-Wan…”

    “Yes?”

    “Protect her.”

    “I do not think she will need it, but I will certainly do so.”

    Anakin shut down his comlink, stood, and carried the empty tea mug back into the house, setting it in the kitchen before going down the hall towards his bedroom. He looked in the doors of the other bedrooms along the way, first the room that was technically a guest room but which the twins had long ago renamed “Uncle Obi-Wan’s room” as Anakin’s former master had spent the night there at least once a week. Then he looked nostalgically at the empty beds in the twins’ rooms before retreating to his bedroom. Padme stirred slightly as he crawled into bed beside her, but did not awaken.



    Anakin woke the next morning to sunlight streaming through the windows, which were open, welcoming the breeze. Padme’s side of the bed was empty but still warm; he heard her voice coming from her study across the hall. He got up and went to that room to find her sitting at her com station in her robe and slippers, her salt-and-pepper braid tumbling down her back, a hologram of a fully-robed Bail in front of her.

    “I’m sorry to wake you, Padme, it’s afternoon here and I was only thinking of the need to pass this along to you immediately,” the hologram said.

    “It’s fine, Bail, I would not have liked it if you had waited,” she replied. “When did Obi-Wan contact you about this?”

    “About ten minutes ago.” He glanced at Anakin, who was standing behind his wife, his hands on her shoulders. “Good morning, Anakin.”

    Anakin nodded. “Good morning. Or afternoon as it may be.”

    “Obi-Wan said that he’ll update you in the next couple of hours.”

    Another nod. “He told me last night that you signed the arrest warrant for Tarkin.”

    “Yes,” Bail said. “And we’ve accumulated more evidence against him just this morning. Padme can fill you in. I need to call an emergency session of the Senate, and I need to contact the government of Eriadu. This is going to be messy for them.”

    Padme frowned and nodded slowly. “How many more special elections are Republic worlds going to have to hold after their Senators get arrested?” She asked. “Seems like this is the fifth one in three years.” She sighed. “I’m coming back to Coruscant tomorrow, Bail. Just briefly; I want to address the Senate myself.”

    “They’ll be happy to see you,” he said. “Just let me know what time; I’ll call another session.”

    “Alright, I’ll contact you later.” She shut down the com station and covered her eyes with her hands for a moment.

    “What is it, love?” Anakin asked.

    She looked up. “The information that the Council subpoenaed from Tarkin’s office,” she said. “Obi-Wan and Master Windu listened to the tapes this morning. Apparently Tarkin bragged to Ventress about trying to kill me and pin it on her. Of course that segment was deleted from the tapes he turned over, but the SoroSuub Corporation tapes had it.”

    “Bragged?” Anakin said. He smacked a fist into his artificial palm and began to pace. “And Ventress?”

    “Was not on board. Scolded him for it, told him he was foolish.” She gave Anakin a sad smile. “Apparently Ventress had other ideas about how to tear down the government. She wanted to do it legitimately and was hoping to use Tarkin, help put him in office, thinking he would do her favors. He in turn wanted to kill me and blame Ventress.”

    Anakin’s response was a stream of Huttese curses. When he finished, Padme’s head was in her hands again. “Ani,” she said quietly. “It would help me if you would calm down.”

    He sighed and sat down in a nearby chair. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Obi-Wan said they would arrest Tarkin today. I don’t suppose Bail mentioned a potential location on Ventress.”

    “No,” Padme replied. “And the arrest will take place within the hour I believe.” She looked up again. “We need to go back, Anakin.”

    He nodded. “I heard you say that. How are you feeling?”

    “A little weak but I can manage. We can come back here after a day or two.”

    He knelt in front of her, kissed her and took her hands. “Are you sure about this?”

    “Yes,” she said.



    Tarkin’s personal assistant, Zerrak Anin, stood as Obi-Wan and Leia, followed by Yoda, Mace Windu and Shaak Ti, entered Tarkin’s outer office. “May I help you?” Anin said.

    Obi-Wan waved his hand. “We must be allowed to enter the Senator’s office.”

    Anin’s eyes glazed over. “You must be allowed to enter the Senator’s office.” The door slid open.

    “You go first,” Obi-Wan whispered to Leia. “We will be directly behind you. If Tarkin does not consider you as much of a threat due to your being a Padawan, he might reveal more of himself than he would otherwise.”

    Leia frowned, her eyes snapping. “I will gladly go first,” she said. She entered the office, and Tarkin walked out from behind his desk, giving her a patronizing smile.

    “Skywalker-Solo,” he said slowly, emphasizing each syllable. “How beautiful you are; pregnant women have such a glow about them. But you should really tell the Admiral to encourage you not to exert yourself so, in your condition…”

    “Senator Tarkin,” Leia spat. “I should be surprised to find such a flaming misogynist holding Ventress’ leash.” She ignited her saber. “In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest.” She held the saber under his chin and with her other hand, took binders from her utility belt.

    He gave a menacing laugh. “Charming,” he said. “Much like your ostentatious parents.” He shook his head. “Such a pity. What sort of Jedi Master would send a young padawan in less than top physical shape to make such an important and allegedly dangerous arrest?”

    In a couple of deft moves, Leia tossed the binders behind her, then kicked her shin to the back of Tarkin’s knees, causing him to fall backwards to the floor. She was immediately on top of him, her knee planted firmly in the center of his chest, one of her hands gripping his wrist, the point of her lightsaber under his chin.

    “A Jedi Master who knows she can do the job,” Obi-Wan replied, appearing behind Leia, the binders in his hand. He took Tarkin’s other wrist and quickly put the binders on him. He bid Leia to move, then helped Tarkin stand. “Senator, you are under arrest for treason, obstructing a Republic investigation, and attempted murder of the Supreme Chancellor. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

    Tarkin gave Obi-Wan a withering stare. “Jedi,” he spat. “You still think you rule the galaxy, while you and your politician friends are destroying it. If only Palpatine could have finished the job he started...” He looked at Leia. “Your traitorous father is the one who belongs in jail for murder.”

    The business end of a green lightsaber reappeared under Tarkin’s chin. “Shut. Up,” Leia said.

    Obi-Wan glanced at her and sent her a warning through the Force; she disengaged her blade, and Tarkin remained silent as he was escorted out of his office and to the waiting Jedi gunship.
  6. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    [face_dancing] Oh, yes!!!!! Leia rips! [face_dancing]

    **

    Glad A/P had a bit of down time :) I too feel nostaliga for the days when their family life was less cluttered :p :( Hopefully, they can bring some of that back with more "scheduled" ;) times away.
  7. Valairy Scot Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    Those Skywalkers (Anakin and Leia) sure believe in "aggressive" tactics, don't they? I don't really have the time or inclination to really "dissect" their actions in the last two chapters, although you indicated you would be interested in hearing my thoughts - in short, very short, Anakin still is unable to appropriately handle his attachments no matter how "understandable." With his history, he should have stayed out and away as the Council requested because he might very well have jeopardized the whole attempt to get to the bottom of the attempted assassination.

    But this could potentially be a very interesting discussion in real life, in real time, but rather hard to throw out in a story review so I'll leave it at the above and say good couple of updates.
  8. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    Caught up! I love seeing all the characters in this totally new situation, especially Padme, Anakin, and Obi-Wan. Very fun with new, but familiar, adventures. Really enjoyed catching up, and I'm looking forward to the next chapter. Please put me on your batcall list!
  9. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    @Jade_eyes : Leia had Alderaan Royal House diplomacy built into her in canon, muting her kick-assery a little bit...no such muting in this universe. :D

    And I could write a whole story of Skywalker family down time if I could think of a plot to make it interesting. Maybe there's a holiday challenge coming somewhere...

    @Valairy Scot: You nailed what I was trying to portray there; I've read a few AUs in which Anakin doesn't turn but he's also not really Anakin, he's somehow this awesome Jedi who manages to set Padme aside for Order ideals (among other factors). I've tried to keep Anakin realistic in this series, and tried to focus on the communication issues that I think drove a wedge between him and the Jedi in canon (communication issues that were largely Anakin's fault). But Anakin is still Anakin, and his temper and fear of loss were always going to be issues for him regardless of any decisions he made about Palpatine. And Leia--well, she's his child, which is incidentally part of the reason I love her so much. :p One scene that comes to mind in canon is her blistering Lando while Chewbacca was choking him, then their arriving a few seconds too late to get Han out of that cargo hold.

    But yes, the Council did have the right idea in mind, it was just not an idea that Anakin was going to go along with, which I think Han understood. The discussion he had with Leia on the Tusken slaughter in Tatooine Ghost was interesting; I drew some inspiration from that conversation for this one.

    @Luna_Nightshade : Glad you could stop in! :) And more familiar locales coming up...


    **********

    Chapter 6


    From outside the Senate chambers they could hear the voices of the Senators in their pods, waiting for the session to start.

    “Padme,” Bail said. “I’m right behind you. If it gets to be too much and you need me to take over, just say the word.”

    She turned to him and smiled. “I will, Bail, I promise. But I should be fine. I’m not expecting a long session.”

    “Don’t be so sure,” Anakin said. “There will be a lot of questions about Tarkin.”

    She nodded. “I know, I’m anticipating that. But I have the stamina for it.”

    Anakin nodded, although he looked skeptical. Padme took his arm. “Let’s go. It’s time,” she said.

    She walked slowly into the chambers, supported by Anakin, followed by Bail. As she exited the lift that opened to the Chancellor's box, she was greeted by an almost deafening round of applause and cheers.

    “Your Excellency,” Vice Chair Tarin said, taking Padme’s free hand in hers. “Welcome back. It is so good to see you again.”

    Padme hugged her. “Thank you,” she said. Then she turned and raised her hand to the crowd, who gave another round of applause.

    “Thank you,” she repeated, “It’s been a few long weeks, but I am grateful to be standing in front of you today.”

    The Senators cheered her again. She waited a few minutes until the cheers faded.

    “I am sure that Chancellor Organa has updated you on the arrest of Senator Tarkin.”

    Another round of deafening cheers, and a shout of “Fry him!”

    Padme held up a hand. “I appreciate your support, however, we must allow the courts to decide the Senator’s fate for the time being. He is being held in the Republic Judiciary Detention Center under heavy guard, as there is some concern that Asajj Ventress might try to help him escape.”

    “The Supreme Chancellor recognizes the Senator from the sovereign sector of Sern,” Tarin said.

    A pod lowered, and Senator Mikal Albrecht spoke. “Your Excellency, do we have positive intelligence that Senator Tarkin was working with the resistance?”

    Padme nodded slowly, and it was a moment before she spoke. “Yes.”

    A few more shouts of “Fry him!” erupted around the chambers, but the shouts died down when Padme raised her hand again.

    Albrecht spoke again. “Can either yourself or Master Skywalker update us on the pursuit of Ventress?”

    Padme looked at Anakin, who took the comlink. “Our spies are pursuing several leads but we have nothing definite at this time,” he said. “Ventress escaped Hoth in a Firespray-31 class patrol, heading towards the Senex-Juvex sectors, but a search for her there has turned up empty. The only other lead we have is on Raxis Prime, where the Power 5 blasters used in the assassination attempt were purchased. So far there has been no sign of Ventress herself, but it is possible that someone there knows where she is.”

    Padme murmured, “Thank you, darling,” in Anakin’s ear, then took the comlink again. “I will call a session of Congress as soon as the Jedi or the Republic Navy gets a positive lead on Ventress, as I have in the past,” she said. “Meanwhile, Chancellor Organa has contacted the government of Eriadu, who will hold a special election in four weeks’ time to replace their Senator.”

    A round of applause sounded in the chambers.

    “The election for Chancellor will proceed as planned,” Padme continued. “However, I have no intention of running unopposed, you should have choices, therefore, next week I am calling a special session in order that you may nominate and vote on another candidate.”

    A few Senators applauded, then someone shouted, “Re-elect Amidala! Four more years!” Several people joined the chanting of “Four more years! Four more years!”

    Padme smiled and held up a hand again, but not before turning to Anakin and Bail and whispering, “I’m wrapping this up. I’m getting tired.” They both nodded, and Bail took a step forward.

    “Thank you for your support,” Padme said to the Senators. “I will be out of my office until next week but Chancellor Organa and Chancellor Mothma know how to reach me if you have any questions. If there is no urgent business, this session is adjourned. We will meet again in eight standard days.”

    The Senators stood and applauded as Padme took a step backward and took Anakin’s arm.



    The cell opened and Tarkin’s lawyer, Elix Terius, entered. He turned to the guards and said, “Leave us please, so that I may speak with my client.” They nodded and obeyed, and Terius took a seat across from Tarkin.

    “Senator,” Terius said. “Your family is most displeased, as I am sure you are aware.”

    Tarkin scowled and glared at the man. “I am quite aware, Terius,” he said. “My getting caught was an unexpected setback.”

    “How exactly did the Jedi manage to catch onto you? Have you fired the incompetent office staffers who failed to cover your tracks?”

    “No,” Tarkin replied. “My staff did their jobs. However, the Jedi went directly to the SoroSuub Corporation, who manufactured my comlinks. Apparently that company is more interested in complying with Jedi orders than with retaining my business.”

    “Or they don’t want to be shut down permanently and arrested for obstructing a Republic investigation,” Terius replied. “Sadly, due to your own overconfidence and failure, your guilt in this matter is blatantly obvious. There is really only one opportunity to get you out of this, or at least, turn the tide in your favor.”

    Tarkin raised his eyebrows. “And what might that be?”

    Terius scrolled through a datapad. “I have a few contacts at the Holonet,” he said. “Contacts who would like nothing better than to report on a good scandal.” He looked up. “A few well-placed comments about how it seems that someone wanted your guilt to be blatantly obvious, just might raise a few unanswered questions.”

    “What do you mean?” Tarkin asked skeptically.

    Terius smirked. “What better way to ensure that Amidala wins re-election, if the Republic believes that her opposition is willing to resort to assassination?”

    Tarkin scowled. “No one would ever believe that Amidala would orchestrate an assassination attempt on herself. She is no Palpatine. She is far too cowardly for that.”

    Terius laughed and shook his head. “No, no, no,” he said. “Ventress is responsible for the attempt on Amidala’s life. The Republic would certainly buy that theory without question. However, in order to cover the fact that Amidala’s attempts to capture and detain Ventress have been a colossal failure, there must be a distraction and a scapegoat. And who is more convenient a scapegoat than you?”

    Tarkin gazed at the man for a moment, then nodded slowly and smiled. “Oh,” he said. “I see.” The smile disappeared. “Are you sure that Holonet watchers would buy such a theory?”

    Terius smirked again. “As I said, everyone loves a good scandal. And Coruscant loves politician scandals.”

    “And Amidala married a Jedi. They are certainly capable of slandering those who disagree with them. They have proved as much on countless occasions. And they would pay a heavy price for the election of a Chancellor who disagrees with their own perception that they are gods. The motivation to rid themselves of me is certainly obvious, as obvious as my opinion of the Jedi themselves.” Tarkin met Terius’ eyes. “But at the same time…I am taking an awful risk, Terius. This had better work.”

    “It will,” Terius said. “I have worked for your family for decades. Have I ever let you down?”

    Tarkin frowned. “Do not make this the first time,” he said.



    “Han, is it really impossible for you to turn off the Holonet during dinner?” Leia muttered as she ladled kebroot stew into her bowl. Luke and Alys, who were sitting across from them, looked at each other.

    Han swallowed a spoonful of stew. “Fine. Is it possible for you to not be so moody?”

    She glared. “No.”

    “Not for another ten weeks anyway.” He reached for the remote to switch off the holovid player, but the next announcement made him stop in his tracks.

    “Today we received some new information on the attempted assassination of Chancellor Amidala,” the reporter said. “Senator Wilhuff Tarkin was arrested last week for treason and for orchestrating the attempt, however, new evidence reveals that Tarkin may have been framed for this crime—by Amidala herself.”

    Leia stood, nearly knocking over her bowl of stew. “What???” she shrieked.

    “You have got to be kidding me,” Luke said, dropping his spoon.

    “Tarkin was arrested based on a transmission log turned over to the Jedi by the SoroSuub Corporation, a corporation that owed political favors to Amidala in exchange for advocacy that she did for them as Senator. We have also discovered that a transmission that the Jedi used as evidence in Tarkin’s arrest, a transmission allegedly exchanged between Tarkin and Asajj Ventress, was most likely a fake. For more, here is Senate Building correspondent Imay Kyle…”

    Han shook his head slowly. “Somebody has lost his damn mind,” he said.

    “Imay, what can you tell us about the new evidence?” the first reporter said.

    “The transmission was very garbled and appears to have been doctored,” Kyle replied. “The Jedi should have been able to pick up on this very quickly, as it takes very little mechanical expertise to doctor a comlink transmission.”

    “But who would be motivated to frame Senator Tarkin?”

    “Anyone who wants Amidala to win re-election,” Kyle said with a slight laugh. “Her friends in the Senate or the Jedi themselves. Even setting aside the fact that Amidala’s husband and children are Jedi, the Order would be motivated to seek her re-election. After the death of Palpatine and the acquittal of Master Windu and Master Skywalker for his murder, the Jedi Order became much less autonomous and much more under the authority of the Senate and the Chancellor’s office. The Jedi need a Chancellor friendly to their cause. They have had such a Chancellor in Organa, Mothma and Amidala, but if Tarkin were elected…”

    Han turned the player off. “I don’t know about the rest of you,” he said. “But I didn’t want to watch anymore.”

    “That’s just disgusting,” Alys said. “The Holonet will report anything they hear these days, with no fact-checking whatsoever.”

    “Especially here,” Luke said. “Coruscant thrives on gossip.” He looked at Leia. “When are Mom and Daddy coming back from Naboo?”

    “Two days from now,” she said, sitting down again and slowly taking another spoonful of stew. “They went back three days ago, right after Mom addressed the Senate. She was hesitant but Daddy insisted. Let’s hope they are insulated from these reports right now.”

    “I don’t know,” Alys said. “It might be better if they heard them. No need for your mother to be bombarded by reporters with surprise questions when she gets back. It’s better that she’s prepared.”

    “They’ve never caught her off guard before,” Luke said.

    “I want to know where the Holonet got its so-called ‘information’,” Leia said.

    “Who knows,” Han muttered. “Alys is right. They report anything they hear these days. That Kyle barve could have overheard death stick dealers talking at the bar at the Outlander Club and decided to report it as ‘news’.”

    Luke and Alys laughed, but Leia looked skeptical. “I think there is more to it than that,” she said. “Someone is behind this. But who? Tarkin himself can’t do anything from prison, but who are his allies in the Senate?”

    “Or his family,” Luke said.

    “They have resources,” Alys said. “And they are accustomed to being able to throw credits around to get their way.”

    Leia nodded slowly, then suddenly a flicker of recognition appeared on her face. “Luke,” she said. “The Council. We need to get them involved in this, preferably before Daddy hears about it.”

    “Yes,” Luke said. “Call Uncle Obi-Wan.”



    Obi-Wan took the proffered bowl of stew and cup of caf and listened to the twins’ story, nodding slowly but not responding right away.

    “Well,” he said. “It’s the Holonet. Some outlets will report anything that will make headlines. But it has no bearing on Tarkin’s fate. The courts will need hard evidence, all of which is against him.”

    “So is there any point to the story? Anything behind it other than some reporter wanting 15 minutes of fame?” Han asked.

    “Possibly,” Obi-Wan said.

    Leia nodded. “That’s what I thought.” She rubbed her belly.

    “A Tarkin supporter could have fed the story to the Holonet in order to discredit your mother,” Obi-Wan said. “And in some circles it may work. I do not think it will cost her the election; I think the Senate would demand proof that she or the Jedi framed Tarkin.”

    “There is enough anti-Jedi sentiment out there that many people will probably pick up on that angle,” Luke said.

    Obi-Wan smiled slightly. “Oh, Luke, what you don’t remember…”

    “What?” He asked.

    “Anti-Jedi sentiment during the Clone War, and even just prior to it, was largely worse. Your mother could have never been elected Chancellor at that time. The very act of marrying a Jedi would have turned many people against her, many more than now. Even if Jedi had been allowed to marry at that time.” Obi-Wan stroked his beard. “Tarkin is a very loyal Palpatine ally, one of the last remaining, the majority are either dead or imprisoned. My understanding is that when Palpatine appointed him Grand Moff, he promised to eventually give the Tarkin family control of the entire Outer Rim. In spite of his connections with Palpatine, or maybe due to them, Wilhuff was considered by his family the most promising candidate that the Eriadu oligarchy could elect as its Senator. His running for Chancellor was the most logical next step towards giving the Tarkins control of the entire galaxy.”

    “How did they react to the news of his arrest?” Alys asked.

    Obi-Wan smiled at her. “Oh, you didn’t hear? They are not happy at all. I believe the words ‘disgrace’ and ‘failure’ were thrown around. They did hire him an attorney, however, probably as much for their own benefit as for his. An attempt to save face, so to speak, if this attorney can possibly get Wilhuff’s charges reduced. I feel quite certain that they will completely wash their hands of him at some point though.” He sipped his caf. “The Holonet clip that I heard, claimed that Tarkin was being framed in order to distract from the Jedi’s—and your mother’s—failure to capture Asajj Ventress, who is of course the real assassin, at least according to this set of reporters. There are still many citizens who are eager to blame Ventress and the resistance for any issue in the galaxy, even issues for which the blame is not deserved, such as this one.”

    Leia sighed, and Luke pressed his fingers to his temples.

    “But don’t despair,” Obi-Wan added quickly. “The solution to this is for us to redouble our efforts to find Ventress.”

    “She’s been pretty successful at eluding us,” Luke said. “And who is working with her now?”

    “Sly Moore is the most dangerous one, as she is another of the last remaining Palpatine loyalists. We can also assume that Poggle the Lesser, and possibly the entire government of Geonosis, is on her side. We have reason to believe that she has hired Boba Fett as well, although bounty hunters are not loyal to people, they are loyal to credits. I am not sure I consider him much of a threat.”

    “Navy intelligence has its ears open,” Han said. “And we can always dispatch more spies into the field if needed. We have several more squadrons available.”

    Obi-Wan looked at him. “That would probably be for the best,” he said. “Particularly on worlds without Navy bases, where she is least expecting you.”

    “Send me a message at headquarters with the exact number of men you want, and I’ll dispatch them right away.”

    Obi-Wan nodded. “We’ll appreciate your help. Unfortunately we have been coming up empty-handed lately.”

    “Have you heard from Daddy?” Leia asked.

    Obi-Wan shook his head. “I am planning to contact him tonight. We are going to question Bendel again. I doubt Bendel is anticipating any sort of reward for silence now, since Tarkin has been arrested, so maybe he will be more forthcoming with information about how the assassination attempt was planned.”

    “Let’s hope so,” Leia said, rubbing her belly again.

    Obi-Wan watched her with raised eyebrows. “Everything alright?”

    “Yes,” Leia said quickly. She and Han exchanged a look, then she continued. “I’ve had a few contractions. It’s not a big deal, and it’s not entirely unusual for them to start this early. But my medical droid wants me to stay on Coruscant. Or at least, not chase Ventress around the Outer Rim.”

    “At this point, your father would put his foot down on that regardless. He was wary about your going with us to arrest Tarkin, as we both thought he would be.” He stood. “I need to go to the detention center. Call if you need me. And I will update you as soon as I have something to report.” He looked at both twins, who nodded.
  10. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    =D= Great post here. The HoloNet is stirring up an already chaotic mess and feeding off high emotions. :p
  11. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    @Jade_eyes : Yes, they are. I had to caricature the gossip press. :p

    @Valairy Scot and @Luna_Nightshade here's the next post:

    **********

    Avlis Bendel opened his eyes to find Obi-Wan and Mace Windu standing before him again.

    “What do you want this time?” he asked, in a voice that sounded more resigned than angry.

    “Information,” Obi-Wan said.

    “Again? From me? Haven’t you bothered me enough?” Bendel sighed. “You arrested Tarkin. And his family will have me killed if I’m ever released from this prison, so I now have a choice: wait for death here or accept it by whatever terms the Tarkins decide, out there.”

    “There are other options,” Obi-Wan began.

    Bendel shook his head. “No. Master Skywalker was right.” He indicated his injured leg. “The Chancellor should have aimed a little higher.”

    “Chancellor Amidala never shoots to kill if she can avoid it,” Mace said.

    “How noble of her,” Bendel said, a tinge of bitterness in his voice.

    “We would like to know the circumstances under which Tarkin hired you,” Obi-Wan said.

    Bendel stared at him. “You Jedi really are trying to get me killed, aren’t you?”

    “No,” Obi-Wan said. “In fact, sharing the information with us, could possibly save you.”

    “Master Kenobi,” Bendel said. “Did you not understand? I either die here or I die by the Tarkins if I am released. There is no saving me.”

    “The Tarkins we will deal with later,” Mace said. “You should not feel so certain that your fate is sealed.”

    “Information that you share with us voluntarily, can be used against Tarkin in court—and if the entire Tarkin family is complicit in hiring you to assassinate the Chancellor, your information could be used to place them under arrest as well,” Obi-Wan added. “We will ensure your safety. You have my word.”

    Bendel now seemed on the verge of tears. “I didn’t want to do this,” he said. “I told you before that I have nothing against the Chancellor. Times are hard, Master Kenobi. I could not turn down the amount of credits Tarkin offered.”

    “Times must really be hard if you would resort to committing murder for money,” Mace said.

    “I had no choice,” Bendel said. “I have a family…children…and I’m in debt…”

    “Where do you live, that hired assassin is the best job available?” Obi-Wan asked.

    “I’m from Raxis Prime,” Bendel said.

    Obi-Wan and Mace looked at each other. That explains a lot.

    “When did Tarkin first contact you?” Obi-Wan asked.

    “Three months ago,” Bendel said. “He said he needed to further his campaign against the Chancellor and asked if I was interested in a job.”

    “Did he tell you what type of job?” Mace asked.

    “No, not at first. Only that he would pay five hundred thousand credits. Which is more than enough to cover my debts and take care of my children.”

    Obi-Wan nodded.

    Bendel continued. “Then he detailed the plan. I didn’t like it, I told him that he never mentioned murder as part of the deal, but he told me that it was too late, and if I backed out, he would have to kill me.”

    “Are you the one who bought the blasters under an assumed name?” Obi-Wan asked.

    Bendel nodded.

    “Did Tarkin ever pay you?” Obi-Wan asked.

    “I got a hundred thousand credits as an advance. All five of us did. The other four hundred thousand were to be paid as soon as the Chancellor was…out of commission.”

    “And did the deal change after she survived?” Mace asked.

    “I was told that I would get the remainder of my reward as long as I kept silent and waited for his plan to fall into place.” Bendel wiped away tears. “Now that Tarkin is in prison, the deal is off. His family has told me that I should watch my back, that if I am ever released, they will kill me.”

    “He is not in prison due to anything you said or did,” Obi-Wan said.

    “It doesn’t matter. They altered the deal.”

    The Jedi looked at each other and did not speak for a moment, then Mace said, “We have protections that we can offer, especially if we can get the Chancellor on board, which I believe we can.”

    Bendel gave a sarcastic laugh and indicated his leg. “You’re joking, right? Why would she want to help me?”

    “Because she is capable of understanding that you have been a victim as well,” Obi-Wan said. “She can offer immunity, and we can find a planet far from Raxis Prime where you and your family can hide, under assumed identities, until any threats from the Tarkins have passed.”

    “We can help you find honest work,” Mace said. “So that you will never have to resort to such desperate measures again.”

    Bendel nodded slowly, wiping his eyes.

    “If we can protect you well enough, would you be willing to talk to the media?”

    Bendel frowned, his eyes widening. “No.”

    Obi-Wan and Mace gazed at him.

    “You know I can’t do that. My name cannot be used and if you pass anything to the Holonet, it can’t be traced back to me.” Bendel looked frantic. “Please. You don’t know what the Tarkins are capable of doing.”

    “Fair enough,” Obi-Wan said, nodding. “There are some Tarkin-planted Holonet rumors that need to be sorted out, and the information you gave us can help do that. But we will not involve you directly.”

    “We will come up with another plan,” Mace said.

    Bendel nodded, looking relieved. “Thank you,” he said weakly.



    Obi-Wan pulled the long, black cloak over his eyes, sat at the bar and ordered a whiskey, using the Force to search the room for the man he was expecting. Late, Obi-Wan thought. Have Holonet reporters been taking lessons from Anakin? He stroked his chin. He had shaved off the beard that morning, and the smoothness felt strange to him. It had been decades since the last time he was clean-shaven. Anakin will have something else to tease me about. And Luke and Leia probably will not even recognize me. At least the beard will grow back in a week or so.

    He touched his back pocket where his lightsaber was hidden. Much less comfortable than his utility belt. But it had to be done.

    He sensed the presence next to him before hearing the voice. “Picla Beelen?”

    Obi-Wan turned slightly. “That’s me. Keep it down. We can’t risk being overheard.”

    “Understood,” the reporter said, waving the bartender over. “Just ale today. I’m working. And put this man’s drink on my tab.” He indicated Obi-Wan.

    The bartender nodded. Underneath the hood’s shadow, Obi-Wan tried to get a good luck at the reporter. Blond, handsome, and clean-cut, in a neatly pressed suit.

    “You said you had some information for me,” the reporter said.

    “That I do,” Obi-Wan replied, being careful to use a heavy Central Station, Raxis Prime accent. “On the Amidala assassination attempt.”

    The reporter’s mouth formed a slow smirk. “Really?” he said. “My boss will pay handsomely for that. She’s an interesting character, isn’t she? One of the best Chancellors the Republic has ever had if you ask me. But there are people who think she’s a puppet of the Jedi Order, that they are really running the galaxy…”

    Obi-Wan bristled slightly but hid it. “I wouldn’t know anything about that,” he said. “But I can tell you that you Holonet schmucks are barking up the wrong tree as far as who really wants to kill her.”

    The reporter had been taking a sip of his ale but stopped, turning to Obi-Wan. “What do you know?”

    “I’m from Raxis Prime. I’ve got friends selling blasters undercover. The Power 5s that were used to shoot the Chancellor—they’re not even legal on Coruscant. People come to us to buy them. Important people.”

    “Why would anyone go all the way to Raxis Prime to buy blasters?”

    “Because they can,” Obi-Wan said. “Because we’re the best. And because we don’t tell.”

    “You’re telling now, aren’t you?”

    “I have my reasons,” Obi-Wan replied. “Do you want to know who one of our most recent customers was, or not?”

    The reporter took another sip of ale. “Sure, go ahead.”

    “The Tarkins of Eriadu.”

    The reporter’s eyes widened. “All of the Tarkins?”

    “They sent one of the hit men to buy them. Paid three times what we were asking as long as we promised discretion.” Obi-Wan swilled his whiskey in his glass and took a sip. “And promised to expand our markets once Wilhuff took over the Chancellorship.”

    “So,” the reporter said, licking his lips. “You’re saying that Tarkin plotted the assassination? That the reports from the Jedi are correct?”

    Obi-Wan intentionally looked at a point behind the bar. “It would seem that way, yes.”

    The reporter leaned in. “Is Tarkin working with Asajj Ventress? Was Ventress on Raxis Prime?”

    Obi-Wan shook his head. “That I don’t know. We haven’t seen her and we haven’t exactly been looking either. We try to lay low. All I know is that Tarkin put the order in for the blasters.”

    “Why are you telling me this?”

    Obi-Wan turned back to him, making sure the hood was still covering his eyes. “As I said, I have my reasons. Illegal blaster vendors are not exactly honest or loyal. A couple of deadbeats owe me. And they haven’t paid up.”

    The reporter smirked slightly. “Oh really? And what exactly do you do for a living?”

    “That is of no importance,” Obi-Wan said. “Can you use what I have given you or not?”

    The reporter’s smirk widened. “Check the Holonet tomorrow.”



    Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan and Luke walked slowly around the Jedi headquarters, where they knew they could have a conversation that would not be overheard. “Are you sure you want to visit Bendel?” Anakin asked.

    Padme nodded. “Yes. He deserves to hear my offer of immunity directly from me.”

    “And you are sure you want to offer immunity? Not a reduced sentence?” Obi-Wan stroked his newly-growing beard.

    Padme turned to him. “I am absolutely sure. He’s been exploited by the Tarkins enough, and if he can help the courts hand down a full sentence, the immunity will be well warranted.”

    “But a condition will be that he leaves Coruscant?” Anakin asked.

    “He will need to leave the Core Worlds entirely. It’s not safe for him here. The Outer Rim isn’t safe either. He will need to relocate to the Expansion Regions or the Mid-Rim.” She met her husband’s eyes. “It’s best that you don’t accompany me to the prison, darling.”

    Anakin nodded. “I know. Bendel is probably too afraid of me at this point to make a well-thought-out decision.”

    “Luke and I will go,” Obi-Wan said. “And give Bendel a copy of this.” He held up a flimsiplast copy of the Holonet News from two days earlier. Senator Tarkin is behind the assassination attempt on Chancellor Amidala, an anonymous source confirms. Earlier reports regarding the Jedi framing Tarkin have proven false.

    “Looks like your plan worked,” Anakin said.

    “Why wouldn’t it?” Obi-Wan asked, smirking.

    “I don’t know. You seem much less powerful without your beard.”

    Obi-Wan laughed. “Well unfortunately for you, my very young apprentice, it is growing back quickly.”

    Padme shook her head. “You two,” she said. She turned to Luke. “Are you ready?”

    He nodded. “Let’s go,” he said.



    Padme walked pretty well on her own now, only occasionally needing to take Luke’s arm as they entered the prison. They did, however, opt for the elevator to reach Bendel’s cell.

    Bendel sat on his cot, gazing at them as they approached, not sure if he wanted to believe what he was seeing.

    “Avlis Bendel?” Padme said.

    He swallowed. “Your Excellency.”

    She extended a hand through the bars to shake his. “Can you stand?”

    He hoisted himself up, his injured leg dragging behind him. “Yes.” He clasped her hand, a brief handshake, then sat in a chair. He glanced at Luke, taking in the facial features that were Padme’s, and the sharp blue eyes. Her son…and Skywalker’s. Bendel’s heart pounded.

    “You have offered the Jedi very valuable information on Senator Tarkin,” Padme said. “I am here to offer you immunity and further protections in exchange for your testimony.”

    He blanched, and shook his head slowly. “I cannot take the witness stand, ma’am. I’m sorry. The Tarkins would learn the trial schedule and would kill me before I ever reached the courthouse.”

    “Not if they are in prison themselves,” Padme said. “And it may not be necessary for you to take the stand personally. A recorded interview would suffice, and then you could go into hiding.”

    “Hiding?”

    Padme indicated Obi-Wan. “Master Kenobi has been in touch with your wife. I have arranged housing and a job for both of you, under assumed names. Far away from Raxis Prime.”

    “Where?”

    “You will be given the location at another time. I am not certain we are safe, even here. But I think you will be comfortable.”

    Bendel nodded slowly, seeming at a loss for words. Finally, he gave a weak, “Thank you.”

    Padme smiled slightly. “You are welcome.” She turned to leave.

    “Ma’am?” Bendel said cautiously.

    Padme turned.

    “I…I am sorry.” He clenched and unclenched his fists nervously.

    Padme’s gaze travelled to his injured leg. “So am I.”

    “I really am. I’ll always regret what I did.”

    Padme faced him directly. “Mr. Bendel. I understand the difference between a deed done out of desperation and one done out of hatred. The former I can forgive, the latter…I have a much more difficult time. If you can help us bring justice to those who hired you to do such a deed, you will have more than atoned for it.”

    Bendel nodded again. “I will do what I can.”

    “That is all I can ask,” Padme said.



    “This must be good news,” Padme said, noticing Han’s grin as he approached her desk.

    “Let’s just say that Navy spy networks are the best,” he replied. “We got a lead this morning. A big one.”

    “From where?” Padme asked. She and Anakin looked at each other.

    “Subterrel, of all places,” Han said.

    Anakin’s eyebrows went up. “Wild Space?”

    “Yes. Mining colony. They’re doing quite a bit of hiring out there.”

    “That’s a good sign,” Padme said. “It means that the economy is picking up on the Outer Rim.” She looked at Han. “So what is your lead?”

    “Recently an off-world ship full of miners arrived on Subterrel for work. They were veterans of the Mensix Mining Facility on Mustafar and were looking for work elsewhere—anywhere but Mustafar. According to them, Ventress, Sly Moore and Poggle the Lesser are on Tulrus Island.”

    “Tulrus Island? Are they alone?” Anakin said.

    “Apparently so, there was no mention of any sort of army.”

    Padme pressed a button on her desk, illuminating a hologram of the galaxy; a couple of more buttons zoomed in on the Outer Rim and Mustafar.

    “It’s a volcanic planet,” she said.

    Han nodded. “Very nasty, volatile place,” he replied. “They actually mine the lava there.”

    Anakin frowned. “Of course Ventress could never pick a hiding place with a normal climate,” he said. “From ice block to fireball…why not, I don’t know, Dagobah…”

    Han laughed. “She’d be too afraid of losing her ship in that slimy mudhole.”

    Padme zoomed in further on the planet’s hologram. “Tulrus Island is surrounded by mountains,” she said. “It’s on the north end of the planet.”

    “That’s probably why she’s hiding there,” Han said. “The planet is sparsely populated anyway, only 20,000 beings, and I’m sure the resistance thought the mountains would be a good hiding spot.”

    Anakin nodded. “You’re probably right.” He looked out the window, stroking his goatee.

    “What is it?” Padme asked.

    He turned. “I don’t know. There is something about that planet.” He put his hand down and reached for his comlink. “But no matter. We’ll take care of it.”

    Han’s comlink buzzed just as Anakin was punching Obi-Wan’s code into his. Han looked at the identifier and shook his head. “Why would Alys be calling me?” he mumbled. He switched the comlink on. “Solo.”

    “Han.” The Princess of Alderaan’s voice sounded panicked.

    “Alys,” he said. “What’s going on? Is Luke alright?”

    “He’s fine. He’s at headquarters training. I’m with Leia. The contractions have gotten really bad. And they’re 15 minutes apart.”

    Behind him, Anakin blanched, his eyes widening.

    “I assume you have your speeder? If not, you know where Leia parks hers…” Han said to Alys.

    “I have mine,” she said.

    “Take Leia to the medical center. I will meet you there.”



    In the medical center waiting room, Alys sat, her hands folding and unfolding in her lap. She looked up when Han, Anakin and Padme came in.

    “Her medical droid wouldn’t tell me anything,” she said, her blue eyes snapping with irritation.

    “That’s normal,” Padme said. “I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.” But she didn’t sound that reassured herself as she put her hand on the girl’s shoulder. She looked around the room. “Where are your guards?”

    Alys pointed with her thumb at the two Alderaanian royal guards standing on the other side of the room, then patted her hip. “Besides, I’m armed. I always am.”

    Padme nodded slowly, distracted, her eyes travelling to the double doors that led into the patient area.

    Han, heedless of any protocol, had already rushed through the doors into the next room. Anakin paced, running his hands through his hair. The ten minutes that passed in silence seemed an eternity. Finally, Han emerged, and three sets of eyes gazed at him expectantly.

    “Pre-term labor,” he said. “Here’s the good news. Her water didn’t break. If it had, they’d have to go ahead and deliver. As it is, she got a magnesium injection and it’s stopped the contractions.”

    Padme sighed with relief; Anakin’s face relaxed. “And…what’s the bad news?” Anakin asked.

    “She’s on bed rest until the baby is born. And they want her to stay pregnant for at least another month.”

    “If that’s all the bad news…it could be much worse,” Padme said.

    Han turned, looking back at the closed doors. “She’s going to lose her mind.”

    Anakin shook his head. “No,” he said. “Although she might think she will. She was down that long after Hypori.”

    Han looked at him. “As I said…” He sighed. “Anyway, the droids are done poking at her if you want to see her.”

    Anakin practically ran into the room; Padme and Alys followed him. Leia was leaning back on the pillows.

    “Hey, Princess,” he said, sitting on the edge of the bed.

    “Daddy.” She sighed. “It looks like I’m on research duty for awhile.”

    “It’s for a good cause,” he said, glancing at her swollen belly.

    She smiled. “I know.” She looked up. “I just hope I don’t end up really out of shape; I’ll never get back in action if that happens.”

    “I think there are some katas you can do that will be med-droid-approved,” Anakin said. “Don’t worry about that. I’ve trained Jedi who were in worse shape than you’ll ever be.”

    Leia sighed. “I hope that will work,” she said.

    Padme stood on the other side of the bed. “You and Luke were born six weeks early and you were fine,” she said, brushing a lock of Leia’s hair off her forehead.

    “That’s a month away,” Leia said.

    “But there were two of you,” Han added.

    “I know,” Leia said. She looked at her father again. “So are you going to be leaving soon? Han said he had some intelligence…”

    Anakin nodded. “I’ll come by your apartment later and tell you more. That research duty will need to start right away.”

    “Your medical droid said you can go home in an hour,” Han said. “As soon as the magnesium drip stops.”

    Leia nodded. “Good. Alys?”

    Alys had been standing behind the others; she approached the foot of the bed. “I’ll come back with you. I’m hoping Luke gets out of that sparring dojo long enough to answer his comlink.”

    Leia smiled again. “Good luck with that.”



    “So, are you set? Do you need anything else?” Padme asked. Anakin, Obi-Wan, Mace and Luke stood in her office.

    Anakin shook his head and held up a datapad. “Leia downloaded all the information on Mustafar that she could find. We’ll just need to land as close to Tulrus Island as possible and get the job done quickly. The atmosphere on that planet is not conducive to long-term survival.”

    Padme frowned, and stood. “Be careful,” she said.

    “Finding Ventress should be fairly easy. I doubt she will have strayed from the island,” Obi-Wan said. “And one does have to wonder how she has made the area habitable for herself and Sly Moore.”

    “Poggle the Lesser would be able to tolerate it, but you’re right about that,” Anakin said. “We have to wonder if the Tarkins set her up in some climate-controlled bunker or something.”

    “Probably,” Luke muttered.

    “If so, the fight will be much easier for us,” Mace said. He looked at Padme. “Am I to assume that you want her brought in alive?”

    Padme looked at him, and hesitated a moment before answering. “No,” she said.

    All four of them stared at her. “No?” Mace said in surprise.

    “No,” she said, swallowed and sighed. “I had you bring her in alive last time, and prolonged the resistance by two more years.”

    “We didn’t know she was working with Tarkin, or the Hutts,” Anakin said.

    “And we don’t know who she might seduce to her side this time,” Padme snapped. Then she sighed, her shoulders slumping. “As much as I dislike Tarkin—when he’s right, he’s right. Ventress is too dangerous to be left alive. The last remnants of the Separatists must be eliminated from the galaxy…for good.” She met Mace’s eyes. “Do what must be done, Master Windu. You have my permission.” She turned to Obi-Wan, then Luke, and finally to Anakin. “All of you.” She looked away, and Anakin noticed the slight, almost imperceptible, tremor of her hands.

    He turned to his son. “Luke, go get R2 and get the Ornate ready to take off. I’ll meet you there in 15 minutes.” He looked at Obi-Wan and Mace, who took the unspoken hint and followed Luke out the office door.

    Anakin walked over to Padme and put his hands on her shoulders, turning her to face him. Her eyes were filled with tears. “I’ve spent my entire career arguing against capital punishment every chance I got,” she said. “And now I’ve ordered an execution.”

    “You tried every alternative,” he said. “She and her cronies are endangering the galaxy. You didn’t have a choice.”

    “I know,” she said, wiping away the solitary tear that fell down her cheek. “That doesn’t make it right.”

    “No, it doesn’t make it right,” Anakin replied. “It makes it necessary. I’m just sorry this decision fell on you.”

    “I’m not,” she said. “But I am sorry that the decision has to be made.”

    Anakin sighed, and held her. “So am I,” he said. “So am I.” Padme’s idealism had both amazed and frustrated him in the early days of their marriage, when all he could think of was finding any means necessary to end the Clone War. Now, it saddened him to watch the 20-year-long disintegration of that same idealism. Some of the optimistic young Senator of Naboo still remained under the Chancellor’s robes, but the resistance had stolen much of that from her.

    Padme was not one to compromise her ideals in order to feel successful. But as Chancellor, she would set aside a principle she valued rather than allowing the galaxy to struggle any longer.

    The best Anakin could do was to ensure that she didn’t regret it.
  12. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    Padme having to order an execution was quite sad for her character, with all of her idealism having to be set aside. I love that she helped Bendel, and I am also looking forward to Leia's stircraziness. Exciting update--looking forward to Anakin's work on Ventress.
  13. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Awesome post and Padme did make a hard choice but a necessary one. I'm glad she has a soulmate to confide and ease her mind as much as it can be. :)
  14. Janakin Skywalker Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Great update. So, as an old friend of ours once said, "This is where the fun begins".... really looking forward to the next couple of updates. They should be really exciting! Keep up the great work!
  15. ccp Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2005
    star 4
  16. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    @Luna_Nightshade : I'm opposed to the death penalty myself so this was interesting to write.

    @Jade_eyes : Definitely.

    @Janakin Skywalker : Oh yes, the, um, fun is beginning .

    @ccp: Thanks!

    Thanks for the feedback everyone. :)

    This update is short but I'll put another one up tomorrow night:

    **********

    Steam and flames rose from fiery ground. Anakin walked along the balcony above, his fists clenching and unclenching. He was angry. Furious in fact. But he didn’t know why. Did this place make him angry? Where was he, anyway? Who was he?

    He held out his flesh hand. It was his, but it was smoother, younger looking. Underneath the glove, he could feel the metal of his artificial hand, not yet covered with synthflesh. He touched his face, which was clean-shaven, and his hair, which was longer. Maybe the better question was
    when was he?

    A ship landed nearby, and he went down to investigate. Padme’s ship. The ramp lowered, and she ran into Anakin’s arms. He hugged her tightly, then held her at arm’s length. Her face was less lined, her hair was dark without a streak of grey, and her midsection…Luke and Leia were still inside her? What was happening?

    Obi-Wan appeared at the top of the ramp, and Anakin’s anger boiled.

    “Get away from him, Padme,” Obi-Wan said. “He’s not who you think he is.”

    Anakin knew his former master was telling the truth. Was that why he was so angry at Obi-Wan? Someone or something had hurt him, enough to drive him insane, transform him into a different person, a person that Obi-Wan once again found “dangerous”, as he had when they met? He had no idea. But his body seemed to move unbidden, his hand extended, his fist clenched together, and Padme clutched her throat…

    “Anakin!” Obi-Wan said sharply. “Let. Her. Go.”
    He did, and she collapsed. He screamed at Obi-Wan and ignited his saber. Obi-Wan ignited his in response and charged.

    Then Anakin was falling, tumbling down a hillside, the hot ash from the erupting volcano scorching his skin. The flames licked his feet, then ignited his clothing. Anakin couldn’t breathe, couldn’t feel anything but pain from his burning skin, he was drowning in a lake of fire…


    Anakin gasped, opened his eyes and looked around. He was in the lotus position on the floor of a Naboo skiff, his ship, the one he had bought two years after the end of the war and had since lovingly taken care of. Everything looked exceedingly familiar. He felt his face; it was slick with sweat, but his hair was clipped short and the goatee was there. He looked at his hands; the flesh one was lined, the artificial one covered with smooth synthflesh.

    But what had happened? The volcanic planet, which he knew to be Mustafar…his hands choking Padme into unconsciousness…Obi-Wan…Obi-Wan knocking him into the hot sulfuric ash…his flesh burning away…and Anakin knowing, somehow, that that was exactly what he deserved…

    He felt his stomach turn over, and he barely reached the ‘fresher in time before forcefully ejecting the meal pack he had eaten earlier.

    He was rinsing his mouth and drying his face when he heard a familiar voice calling his name and turned.

    “Master Qui-Gon?” He stepped out of the ‘fresher and looked around. The shimmering form of Qui-Gon Jinn appeared in front of him.

    “That was an interesting vision, was it not?”

    “Interesting? Is that what you call it?” Anakin said.

    “From a certain point of view, yes,” Qui-Gon said.

    Anakin shook his head and pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes. He felt a headache forming. “What was that?” he asked. “It wasn’t the future, I was much younger…but it wasn’t the past either.”

    “No,” Qui-Gon said. “It was neither the future nor the past. But sometimes the Force shows us possibilities.”

    Anakin looked up. “Possibilities?”

    “You were so afraid then, Anakin. And you were very angry.”

    “But not at Padme and Obi-Wan. Why did I want to hurt them?” Anakin blinked back tears.

    “You allowed your anger to control you, and once that happened, there was no stopping it. It was like a tidal wave of fire, destroying everyone in its path—including Padme and Obi-Wan.”

    “But why?”

    “Your fear led you to feel desperate, and hopeless. Do you remember?”

    Anakin nodded slowly and swallowed. “Yes.”

    “And you don’t handle hopelessness very well, Anakin. You never have. That made you angry.”

    He closed his eyes. “I was angry then. And I did feel helpless.”

    “How did you manage it? Do you remember?”

    He sighed. “It was Padme. She believed in me. She trusted me to do the right thing.”

    “Even when you thought she was going to die,” Qui-Gon finished.

    Anakin wiped away a tear. “And Palpatine offered me the power to save her. I knew what he meant by that, and a part of me was tempted to do it. But…I couldn’t. I loved her enough to know that she would not want to be saved…not that way.”

    “And she lived,” Qui-Gon said. “Do you know that if you had taken Palpatine’s offer, she would have died anyway? The destruction of both the Republic and her family would have killed her.”

    Anakin nodded slowly and wiped his eyes again. “I believe it.” He sniffed. “There was another reason.”

    Qui-Gon waited patiently as Anakin took a deep breath.

    “I couldn’t turn against Obi-Wan. And if Palpatine were really my friend, he would have never asked me to do so. I didn’t always get along with the Council, but…”

    Qui-Gon smiled slightly. “Neither did I. They at least thought enough of you to give you an appointment based on your skill and accomplishments.”

    Anakin returned the smile for a moment, then rubbed his eyes. “They had…supported me. Taken care of me. Taught me as much as they could. Why would I throw that in their faces? Turn on the Order that you and Ahsoka died for?”

    Qui-Gon nodded. “You made the right choice, Anakin, but there is a reason I showed you the consequences of the wrong one.”

    “What would that be?”

    “Let’s not pretend that the Hero with No Fear really has no fear.”

    “I’m not pretending that for a second.”

    “This will be a difficult mission for you. Do not let your fear lead you to anger. You have seen a fate similar to what awaits you if you do.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “You choked a man for refusing to give you information, and you might have killed him if Ahsoka and I hadn’t stopped you. What would happen to someone who committed a worse atrocity? Case in point, what would you have done if you had actually seen Ventress attacking Leia?”

    Anakin shook his head. “I don’t know.”

    “It’s a question you need to consider.”

    Anakin’s eyes suddenly widened. “Is Luke in danger? Do I need to make him stay on the ship?”

    Qui-Gon looked amused. “Luke isn’t going to stay on the ship, and it would be rather amusing to watch you try to force him to do so. He has too much of his father in him.”

    “But is he…?” Anakin couldn’t finish. His hands clenched and unclenched.

    “Not that I’m aware of,” Qui-Gon said. “No more than the rest of you are anyway. But be careful, Anakin. Ventress is the shatterpoint of every problem that your family has had over more than two decades. I’m afraid that when you confront her again, that fact will hit you hard. Don’t let it break you.”

    “I won’t,” Anakin said, determination in his voice.

    “I will count on that. May the Force be with you, Anakin.” He disappeared.

    Anakin put his head in his hands again, rubbing his temples. The headache that had begun after the vision was now blazing in full force.

    The door to the compartment slid open and he heard another familiar voice. “Anakin?”

    He looked up. Obi-Wan stood framed by the doorway, Obi-Wan with the lined face, the formerly-ginger beard gone almost completely grey, but with the same sharp blue eyes that he had when he was younger. And there was no anger in these eyes, only kindness and concern.

    “Are you alright?”

    Anakin found himself unable to speak. Obi-Wan hugged him, waiting for the moment to pass.
  17. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Awesome conversation. =D= Very necessary and I'm glad Anakin listened and learned from prior choices and current possibilities. :D :relief:

    Noted a tribute line in your siggy. @};- [:D] [:D] !! @};-
  18. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Thanks. [:D]

    As far as Anakin...well, it's about to hit the fan, in a lot of ways.

    Thanks for reading.

    **********

    Chapter 7

    “Where are we exactly?” Mace asked, sitting directly behind Anakin as Anakin brought the Ornate in for a landing.

    Anakin pointed straight ahead of him, at the land mass surrounded by mountains. “That’s Tulrus Island,” he said. Then he pointed east. “That land mass? It connects the island to the mainland where the old Klegger Corp Mining Facility was.”

    “Klegger Corp?” Obi-Wan asked, leaning back in his chair and stroking his beard.

    “It was destroyed at the end of the war,” Mace said. “Mensix took over afterwards. It has a monopoly on all mining on the planet now.”

    “No wonder miners are desperate to find work off planet,” Luke said.

    Anakin laughed. “I doubt that’s the only reason,” he said. The island was growing larger and larger in their view as he descended. “Ah, there’s the hangar.” He slowly brought the ship down, then unstrapped himself and turned to the others. “We need to be careful,” he said. “Ventress isn’t the only danger here.”

    “What are you sensing?” Obi-Wan asked.

    Anakin held up a datapad. “Among the information that Leia found was an entry on beasts called Tulruses. The island is named for them, and they aren’t exactly known for giving warm welcomes.”

    Obi-Wan looked around. “The only warm welcome anyone might get from this planet has to do with the climate,” he said.

    Anakin smiled. “Well, these beasts…let’s just say they’re huge, a bit paranoid, and they tend to charge first and ask questions later.”

    “Remember that reek on Geonosis?” Obi-Wan said.

    Anakin handed him the datapad. “Yes, there is a resemblance. This one has a few more horns though.” He stood, and put his hood up. The others did the same. He lowered the ramp to the Ornate, and said, “Alright, let’s do this.”

    They descended, walking slowly to the end of the hangar, stretching out with the Force.

    “What is everyone sensing?” Anakin whispered. Obi-Wan, Mace and Luke responded by pointing to the northeast.

    “Ventress,” Mace said.

    “The bunker is close enough that we should be able to see it,” Obi-Wan added.

    All four Jedi whipped out binoculars and scanned in that direction. “There it is,” Luke said. “It’s not very big, but…”

    “That’s a good thing,” Anakin said. “It should be easy to smoke her out.” They stepped out of the hangar, using their cloaks to shield their faces from the onslaught of sulfurous air, and walked in the direction of the bunker.

    They reached it quickly and found themselves faced with a large metal door. “Should we knock?” Anakin quipped. Luke and Obi-Wan smiled slightly, but Mace closed his eyes, drew his hands together, then slowly pulled them apart. The double doors slid open, revealing a dimly-lit, narrow corridor.

    They walked down it slowly, Obi-Wan and Mace in the lead, followed by Anakin and Luke. At the end of the corridor were two sets of stairs leading upward on both sides, and a door straight ahead. This door was open, and on the other side was a large room with a table and chairs in the center. Sitting in the middle of the table were a com station and what appeared to be a hologram of the galaxy.

    “Anakin,” Obi-Wan whispered fiercely. “See if you can dismantle that com station and copy its records.”

    “Evidence against Tarkin?” Luke whispered to Obi-Wan as Anakin quickly made work of the station.

    Obi-Wan nodded. “Along with the other imprisoned resistance members,” he said.

    Anakin was done within a couple of minutes, downloaded the transmission records into a data crystal, and replaced the crystal in his utility belt. Just as he finished, the Jedi heard footsteps on the stairs. All four of them put their hands on their lightsabers.

    Asajj Ventress seemed even taller than last time they had seen her, her skin more pale, and her red lips curled in a sneer even more defiant than before. “Master Windu,” she said. “Seems that I forgot to mention one little thing at our last meeting. My surrender to the Republic was temporary.”

    “As is your futile resistance,” Mace said. His saber ignited, its blade casting a purple light into the dim room. The other Jedi followed suit, igniting their sabers.

    “Kenobi,” Ventress said, turning to him. “How good to see you, my dear.”

    “Asajj,” Obi-Wan said. “It has been a very long time.”

    Anakin and Luke looked at each other, then at Obi-Wan, whose face was expressionless.

    “Skywalker,” Ventress sneered. “How nice of you to bring your boy with you. I can easily take revenge for my lost hand, just as you killed my master over yours.”

    “Smashing half of my sister’s body wasn’t enough?” Luke snapped.

    “No,” Ventress said. “I meant to smash all of it. But yours will do nicely.”

    Anakin charged her. Her red blades came to life, and the duel was on, just as Sly Moore appeared at the bottom of the stairs.

    If anything, Ventress had become more aggressive since her escape from prison. The other Jedi joined Anakin in blocking and parrying the slashes and thrusts of her sabers, but being outnumbered did not seem to slow her down at all.

    “I have been practicing,” she said directly to Obi-Wan, as if reading his thoughts.

    “So I see,” Obi-Wan replied. “You cannot win this, Asajj.”

    She cackled. “Oh, I can’t? I have been winning for years. The Republic has won some battles but the war is all mine.”

    “There are alternatives to fighting,” Obi-Wan continued.

    Ventress’ smirk turned into a scowl. “Like what?” She snapped. “Allowing you Jedi and your favored politicians to continue controlling the galaxy? You Jedi who abandon your own to certain death when they outlive their usefulness to you?” She charged Obi-Wan, one of her blades singing his ear. He winced and grabbed the ear for a second but quickly recovered, deflecting her blade with his own.

    “You have killed far more Jedi than you think we have abandoned, Ventress,” Anakin said, joining his former Master in deflecting her dual blades. “And it is you who have outlived your usefulness.”

    “Not so fast,” came a voice to Anakin’s right. He turned. The voice came from Luke, but it did not sound at all like Luke. Luke’s face had also changed, his mouth curled in a defiant sneer, his blue eyes turned a putrid yellow.

    Anakin was so shocked that he disengaged and lowered his saber. “Son? What has happened?”

    “I don’t know,” Luke asked. “But the fact that you don’t either, does not surprise me at all. Leia was always your favorite.”

    Anakin’s mouth gaped open. “What???

    “Anakin,” Obi-Wan whispered fiercely. “Ignite your saber. That is not Luke. And you are in danger.”

    “What do you mean, that isn’t Luke?” Anakin replied.

    Mace had taken over the battle with Ventress. The blur of purple and red sabers filled the room.

    “Exactly what I said,” Obi-Wan replied.

    Luke ignited his saber and charged his father. “Leia was the one who was always chosen for missions first, while you sent me away. You enjoyed it too much every time she beat me in sparring. You taught her to do that.”

    Anakin deflected his son’s attack easily, barely noticing that he was doing it, staring at Luke in shock. “Why would you say such things, Luke? You know that isn’t true.”

    “Do I need to tell you again?” Obi-Wan asked Anakin. “That is not Luke. He’s been tricked.” Then he addressed Luke directly, calling his name.

    “Uncle Obi-Wan,” Luke sneered. “I was never enough for you either.”

    “Luke, search your feelings,” Obi-Wan said. “This is not who you are. Someone has done this to you, implanted in you such dark thoughts.”

    At that moment Anakin saw another bald, white faced woman duck around the bend of the stairwell. Sly Moore.

    Anakin ran after her, his saber igniting, brushing past his son as he ran.

    Luke started to follow. Obi-Wan yelled, “No!”

    That was the same tone he used in my vision, when he told me to let Padme go, Anakin thought.

    And Luke stopped in his tracks. Anakin turned. “I will not fight you, son,” he said. Then he turned to Sly Moore. “You, on the other hand…”

    As Palpatine’s former aide’s sneered, Anakin felt his anger grow to the point where he thought he would burst from it. He imagined killing her with his bare hands, gouging her eyes from their sockets and shoving them down her throat, smashing her skull into the floor…

    He replaced his saber in his utility belt, took Moore by the shoulders and knocked her forcefully to the ground. “What have you done to him?” He snapped. He hands were around her neck, choking the life from her, but this time he didn’t use the Force, only sheer physical strength. And anger.

    “No…thing…” She gasped.

    Liar!” Anakin screamed. He slapped her, hard, then ignited his saber again, holding it to her throat. “What have you done to my son?”

    Sly Moore’s lips curled in a smirk. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” Her yellow eyes met his, and Anakin felt it. A level of anger that he had never before experienced, a level surpassing even that which he felt against the Tuskens who murdered his mother.

    They never wanted you. You were nothing but a common shag. Obi-Wan only agreed to train you because Qui-Gon made him promise. The Council never trusted you. You were only appointed because they wanted to use you against Palpatine. They never really understood your abilities. And Obi-Wan…he would have turned Padme against you and taken your children if he had had the chance…

    Anakin squeezed his eyes shut. “NOOO!!!” He screamed. It’s not true. It’s Not. True. Get out of my head, just get out of my head…

    Anakin opened his eyes again and with a swift turn of his blade, severed Sly Moore’s head from her neck. The head tumbled to the side, blood spilling on the duracrete floor, and the angry fog cleared from Anakin’s mind.
    He stood and turned. Ventress’ dual blades were still moving rapidly against Obi-Wan’s blue one. Mace lay on the ground. Anakin wanted to check on him but there was no time. Obi-Wan was tiring. And Luke…
    Anakin stretched out with the Force to find his son, and was horrified to discover how weak his Force signature was. No, Anakin thought. Please. No.

    He ran to Luke, who lay in a corner, his back on the duracrete, his eyes closed. Anakin took one of his hands and laid the other hand on his forehead. He was icy cold, as cold as the day Anakin had found him in the Hoth snow.

    No. The anger that Anakin felt earlier was replaced by overwhelming grief. He felt frozen in place, unable to move or even breathe.

    “Anakin.” Obi-Wan was gasping for breath. Anakin felt the cry for help over their bond, and that was enough to move him from where he stood. He ran towards Obi-Wan and Ventress, his blade engaged.

    “You see, Skywalker, I am going to win this one as well,” she sneered. “Your teacher is exhausted, Master Windu and your son are down, likely never to rise again…”

    “No,” Anakin snapped.

    “Just you and me now.” She held the tip of one of her blades under his chin. “And I’m debating the best spot to give you a matching scar. Or maybe more than one.”

    Anakin’s blade met hers, knocking it out of the way. “Your overconfidence is your weakness,” he said.

    “Your faith in your friends is yours,” she replied.

    “Don’t be so sure.” Obi-Wan’s voice came from behind him, still tired but less so than earlier. Another blue blade joined Anakin’s in the fight.

    “Are you alright?” Anakin whispered out of the corner of his mouth, as they blocked the new onslaughts from Ventress’ blade.

    “I got my second wind,” Obi-Wan whispered back. He turned to Ventress. “Asajj, I thought you would know better than to underestimate an old man.”

    “Just as you underestimated me, Obi-Wan?” She replied. They were moving backwards, and Anakin and Obi-Wan suddenly found themselves outside the compound, and hit with a blast of sulfurous air. Anakin struggled not to choke.

    “Clearly I did,” Obi-Wan said.

    She Force-pushed him against the wall of the compound and loosened a metal beam from the roof, which fell towards his head. Anakin reached out an arm and deflected it, sending it into the lava. She loosened two other beams while walking backwards across the platform; Anakin deflected both of them. One of her sabers made contact with his thigh. He winced against the burn, and swung his saber against hers, cutting off her other hand, sending the hand and saber into the fiery pit below.

    She screamed, gripped her lost limb with her artificial hand and fell backwards against the railing. The railing loosened but didn’t break, and Ventress quickly recovered, coming at Anakin and Obi-Wan with her remaining saber in her artificial hand, with slashes and thrusts so rapid and furious that they could barely repel them. The fight continued further down the catwalk, with the Jedi forcefully blocking Ventress’ increasingly combative blows. Her face had turned red; whether it was from anger, the pain from her lost limb, or the heat rising from the lava, Anakin was not sure. He was hit again by her saber, this time on his upper arm just above the artificial hand. They had reached the other side of the catwalk by this time; below them, a bank of hot black sand sloped to the sea of lava. Anakin heard Obi-Wan mutter “Ow!” and fall to the platform, clutching his leg. Ventress raised her saber, poised to slice him in half…

    Anakin closed his eyes, channeled the Force through his organic hand, and gave Ventress a push. He heard the snapping sound as the platform railing broke, and then Ventress’ screams as she fell.

    He opened his eyes and looked down. The hot sand was burning her skin; the bottom half of her face, up to her eye sockets, was blackened. She grasped at the sand with burnt artificial fingers, struggling to make her way back up to the top, but she kept losing her grip.

    Meanwhile Obi-Wan was struggling to get to his feet. Anakin ran to him and reached out a hand. “Master?”

    “It’s not bad,” Obi-Wan said. Anakin looked down at his leg. A gash ran from the top of his thigh to the bottom. Obi-Wan stood, dragging the leg behind him.

    Fresh screams came from Ventress; Anakin and Obi-Wan went to the edge of the broken railing only to see that she had slid further down the bank to the sea of lava. The flames had ignited her boots, then her clothing. She was engulfed in fire.

    “Obi-Wan!” She yelled. “Help me!”

    Obi-Wan looked down at her, an expression of genuine sadness on his face. “I am sorry, Asajj,” he said. Then he turned to Anakin. “There is nothing further we can do here. We need to see to Mace and Luke.”

    He leaned on Anakin, and they made their way slowly across the catwalk, back to the compound.



    “They’re still alive,” Anakin said as they entered the compound.

    “Yes,” Obi-Wan said. “But only just. And Mace’s signature is weaker than Luke’s.”

    Anakin looked at Obi-Wan, whose voice was tense with pain. “What about you?”

    “I’ll be alright. Have you called a medical frigate?”

    “I am now.” He opened his wrist com. “This is Anakin Skywalker. I need a medical frigate around Mustafar immediately.”

    “Yes, sir,” came the voice of the Republic Navy ensign manning the frequency. “How many injured, sir?”

    “Three, two of them critical. Please hurry. Skywalker out.”

    “I’ll check on Mace,” Obi-Wan said as Anakin helped him walk towards the Korun Jedi Master. “See to Luke.”

    Anakin did not need to be told twice. He set Obi-Wan next to Mace and then ran to his son.

    He took Luke’s hand, which was still cold, and kissed his pale forehead. He stretched out with the Force—yes, Luke was still alive. “Son, what did she do to you?” Anakin asked, not really expecting a response, and not receiving one. He slid his arms under Luke’s shoulders and legs and lifted him as he stood.

    “Obi-Wan,” he said.

    Obi-Wan looked up. “He’s still alive,” he said, indicating Mace. “But barely.”

    “I’ll take Luke to the Ornate and then fly it here. Don’t try to walk anymore, I can get all three of you on the ship.”

    Obi-Wan nodded. “I’ll do what I can to try to heal him…”

    “Be careful,” Anakin said. “You’re going to need most of your healing energy for yourself.”

    Another nod. “Get the ship, Anakin.”

    Anakin obeyed, rushing out of the compound, and ignoring the pain from the burns on his own arm and leg, broke into a run.

    He sensed the herd of stampeding beasts before he saw them. Tulruses. The huge animals looked just like the image that Leia had given him—at least ten feet tall, thick around the middle and legs, the top of the head and back covered with horns. The eyes were small; tulruses could not see well. But they were charging him.

    Wincing from pain and exhaustion, Anakin forced himself to sprint. He managed to get ahead of the tulruses, who ran straight for…

    Stang. That’s the compound, was Anakin’s only thought when he heard the crash. He quickly lowered the ramp on the Ornate and boarded it, settling Luke on one of the sleep couches, strapping him in and covering him with a blanket.

    “R2, I’m bringing two more injured people on board and then we’ve got to get out of here quickly.”

    The droid beeped a question, and Anakin replied, “It went as well as could be expected I guess.” He went into the cockpit, started the ship and flew it quickly to the hanger, whose side was dented, parts of it smashed. The ramp lowered, and Anakin ran inside.

    “I saw that herd of tulruses…” he began.

    Obi-Wan held up a hand. “We’re fine,” he said. “They banged up the wall a bit and made quite a bit of noise. Then it appears they ran in the other direction.”

    Anakin lifted Mace.

    “His Force signature is weakening by the minute,” Obi-Wan said.

    Anakin looked sadly at the still face of the strong Jedi Master. “I know,” he said. “The sooner that frigate gets here…” He broke off, looking at Obi-Wan again. “Can you pull yourself up and lean on me, Master?”

    Obi-Wan smiled in spite of the exhaustion and pain etched on his face. “I believe I can,” he said. He did, and together they walked slowly up the ramp of the Ornate, where Anakin settled Mace on another sleep couch.



    The com transmission came in from the medical frigate in orbit above Mustafar, and Anakin flew the Ornate to meet it. The medical droids took charge of Mace, Luke, and Obi-Wan immediately, bandaging Obi-Wan’s leg wound and checking vital signs on Mace and Luke. Anakin paced as he waited anxiously.

    A few minutes later Luke’s medical droid approached him. “Medically there is nothing wrong with him, sir,” he said. “He should regain consciousness soon.”

    “Why did he lose consciousness in the first place?” Anakin asked.

    “We are not sure. It is likely that he received some sort of shock to his system. But he will recover.”

    Anakin nodded slowly and looked towards Mace. “And Master Windu?”

    “I do not know, sir.”

    Anakin frowned and nodded again, and went to Luke’s side.

    Luke’s eyes were closed, his skin pale and clammy. Anakin sat on the edge of the bed, smoothing Luke’s hair away from his sticky forehead. His other hand went down to Luke’s hand, resting on top of the blankets. Some warmth had returned to it but the fingertips were cold. Anakin gripped it, squeezing it tightly, then rubbed it between both of his hands, trying to send some warmth into the fingers.

    Luke’s eyelids fluttered, then opened. The yellow that Anakin had last seen was gone, replaced by the normal blue color that matched Anakin’s own. Luke licked his lips slowly. “Daddy?” He managed.

    Anakin’s hand cupped his son’s cheek. “Luke?”

    Luke smiled, and Anakin hugged him, biting back the tears of relief that filled his eyes.



    Obi-Wan limped slowly to Luke’s bed, dragging his now-bandaged injured leg behind him. “You’re awake,” he said to Luke, smiling and touching his head.

    “What happened?” Luke asked, the side of his face still pressed firmly against his father’s chest.

    Anakin gently laid Luke down again, and brushed away a tear that had escaped the corner of his eye. “We were going to ask you that,” he said.

    “I don’t remember,” Luke said. “It must have been pretty bad.”

    “We thought we had lost you,” Obi-Wan said. “In fact, for a little while, we did.”

    Luke’s eyes widened. “You mean I…?”

    Anakin shook his head. “Not to death,” he replied. “Worse. To the Dark Side.”

    Luke looked horrified, and turned away for a moment. “The last thing I remember,” he said, looking at his father again, “was that set of yellow eyes, staring at me. I felt like she was boring holes into my head.”

    “She was, although not literally,” Obi-Wan replied. “That was Sly Moore’s trick. She got inside people’s minds. She turned several Senators to the resistance that way. And there is no telling how Palpatine had her use that power in his time.”

    “You were…very angry,” Anakin said. “You tried to fight us.”

    Luke’s horrified expression deepened. “I did?”

    “It’s alright now,” Obi-Wan said. “You’re safe. Your father killed Sly Moore.”

    Luke nodded. “What about Ventress?”

    Obi-Wan and Anakin both frowned. “She’s dead,” Anakin replied. “Fell into the lava during our duel.”

    “The lava?” Luke replied.

    “Not exactly a pleasant way to go, but it wasn’t anyone’s choice. As terrible as her deeds were, I think we would have all preferred that she die a more merciful death,” Obi-Wan said. Anakin thought he detected something in his former master’s expression—was it grief?—but it disappeared quickly.

    “Where is Master Windu?” Luke asked.

    There was no mistaking the grief on Obi-Wan’s face this time. “He was injured in the fight with Ventress,” he said. “He’s on this medical frigate. And it’s not looking good.”

    Anakin looked at Obi-Wan. “Really?” he said.

    Obi-Wan shook his head. “I’m afraid it’s only a matter of time. Mace is almost 80 years old. The fight took quite a bit out of him.”

    Anakin looked down, and bit his lip. “You should sit with him,” Anakin said. “He…shouldn’t be alone. He doesn’t deserve that.”

    “Mace has been alone quite a bit in his life, but you are right.” Obi-Wan shuffled out of his seat and began limping towards Mace’s bed.

    “I’ll be there in a minute,” Anakin said. He turned to Luke again.

    “Can I ask you something, son?”

    Luke nodded slowly.

    “Do you really feel that I preferred Leia over you?”

    “Did I say that?” Luke asked.

    “You did. You said that she was always selected first for missions, that I spent more time on her training, and that I sent you away a lot.”

    Luke shook his head. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know what I was saying.”

    “You don’t have to apologize. If there is any truth in it, I’d like you to tell me though. I’ve done you a disservice.”

    Luke hesitated and then shook his head. “No, not really. Maybe once in awhile. You’ve always been protective of Leia.”

    Anakin sighed. “I may have spent a little more time on her with self-defense and other physical training. But…she’s tiny and…”

    Luke looked amused as he finished the sentence. “…a girl.” He laughed. “Daddy, if you told her that…”

    Anakin laughed as well. “I know. I’d get a tongue-lashing capable of tearing down the government of at least one planetary system.” The laughter stopped and Anakin ran his fingers through Luke’s hair again. “I am sorry if you felt shunted aside or treated less equally.”

    Luke shrugged. “Well, it couldn’t have been easy with twins. I’m sorry for…whatever it was I said after she got me.”

    “No apology needed. I’m just glad you’re back.” Anakin hugged him again. “I love you, son.”

    “I love you too,” Luke replied. “It has been awhile since you said that.”

    Anakin laid him down again. “Well, not a second has passed since you were born that it wasn’t true, I promise you that.” He looked down, smoothing the blankets. “Do you need anything? I need to go check on Master Windu.”

    Luke shook his head. “I’m fine.”

    Anakin stood. “Alright, I’ll be back.”



    Mace Windu’s breathing was slow and labored; the monitor attached to his arm beeped steadily; an oxygen mask covered his face. Anakin pulled a chair to the side of the bed and took his hand. “How is he?” Anakin asked Obi-Wan, who sat on the other side of the bed.

    Obi-Wan shook his head and didn’t answer. Anakin looked at the medical droid at the head of the bed and repeated the question.

    “He is in multisystem organ failure, sir,” the droid replied.

    Anakin closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Basic, please,” he said, although he had a pretty good idea already of what the droid meant.

    “In Basic, we’re losing him, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said.

    “Sir,” the droid said, and Anakin felt a cold blunt instrument against his shoulder. “Have your wounds been attended to?”

    Anakin had been ignoring the burns on his upper arm and thigh, but he felt them sharply when the droid mentioned them. “No,” he said.

    “This should not need more than bacta ointment but you do not want an infection. I will be back.”

    Anakin nodded, his eyes still closed. Master Windu was dying. One of the most venerated Jedi in the history of the Order, the youngest to ever be appointed to the Council, the Jedi Master who had dealt the killing blow to Palpatine, ending a regime of terror, restoring the Republic. He had stood trial with Anakin for Palpatine’s murder, emerged victorious, and led the rebuilding of the Order after Palpatine’s purge.
    A long life, well lived, coming to an end.

    Ventress and Sly Moore were dead, the resistance was officially over, but at a final, terrible price.

    Anakin remembered at the end of the war, at the end of his trial, feeling the way he felt now—so very tired, and ripped raw on the inside. He forced himself to set that aside; he knew that if he allowed himself to weep now, he would not be able to stop. I’ll be home soon, he thought. There will be time for that then, when I talk this over with Padme…

    The medical droid reappeared and began swabbing bacta ointment onto Anakin’s burns.

    Anakin, in an effort to fill the void of silence, asked the one thing that came to mind. “Master…”

    Obi-Wan looked up.

    “How is it that you and Ventress were on a first-name basis?”

    Obi-Wan looked more tired than ever. “To make a long story short, Anakin…I once thought I could turn her back to the light side. That I could convince her to stop blaming the Jedi for the loss of her Master. But…Asajj had a very difficult and lonely life. And she was not as able—or as willing—to overcome the demons of her youth as you were.”

    “So you were…close,” Anakin said.

    “I think she was in love with me once,” Obi-Wan said. “So, close…you could say that.”

    Under different circumstances, Anakin might have laughed. “Ventress? Really? The two Jedi, the Duchess of Mandalore…I could understand. But Ventress?”

    “I didn’t say her love was requited,” Obi-Wan replied, a little more sharply than he intended.

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything by that,” Anakin said. “This is all a big surprise, that is all.”

    “I was never quite as eager to display my love life on a billboard as you were,” Obi-Wan replied. “Even if I did, with Satine, briefly share your fondness for peacemongering female politicians.”

    “There was always only one for me, Obi-Wan,” Anakin replied.

    “I know,” Obi-Wan said. “Neither of us seems to be able to convey teasing very well right now.”

    Anakin looked at Mace. “I don’t think either of us is in the mood for it.”

    “No,” Obi-Wan said. He sighed. “We really should have been merciful enough to deal the final blow to Asajj. We left her to burn alive.”

    Anakin shook his head. “We would have endangered ourselves by stepping onto that bank. We were both needed to get Master Windu and Luke off the planet. If one of us had slipped, and also been trapped by the lava…” He trailed off.

    “You are right,” Obi-Wan said.

    The monitors attached to Mace suddenly erupted in a cacophony of beeps. Mace gasped, a slow, struggling breath, then another, and another, one slow, final gasp.

    “Master Windu…” Anakin said, squeezing the hand.

    Then suddenly his hand was empty, the monitor let out a long, shrill, beep, and Mace Windu’s robes collapsed onto the sleep couch, empty.

    Anakin patted the robes, looking for a presence, something…

    Obi-Wan shook his head sadly. “He is gone, Anakin.” When Anakin’s eyes met Obi-Wan’s, he noticed that they were filled with tears.

    Anakin moved to the other side of the sleep couch to sit next to Obi-Wan, and the two men embraced.
  19. Valairy Scot Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    Oh - nice - two chapters ending with a [:D]! And one for the author. [:D]

    So, is Ventress going to turn up in a black suit?
  20. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Riveting action and heartstopping close call with Sly Moore and Luke there!!!! Wonderful father-son talk and I am so glad Anakin has someone to confide in and heal with [face_dancing] back home. :) And nothing speaks fatter volumes than the attempt at teasing at the end [face_thinking] They're both so good at it and would have found some relief if it had felt and been the right moment for it.
  21. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    Exciting action between all the different fights! I agree with Valairy--I think leaving her behind means there is a black suit moment coming! And a moment of silence for Mace. Great updates!
  22. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    @Valairy Scot : I didn't even make the connection with Obi-Wan and Anakin hugging at the end of two posts in a row. Well...they both needed the hugs. :p (And thanks . [:D] It has not been an easy week.)

    @Jade_eyes : Yes...both family and close-friend bonds were sadly missing in canon. :( I tried to rectify it here with a lot of "what might have been..."

    @Luna_Nightshade : Well...all I'll say is that Palpatine isn't there to rescue her. [face_thinking] And more on Mace...

    Thanks for reading. :) Last post until Friday as I'm out of town for the holiday and will only be posting from my phone. Hope you all have a great one. :)

    **********

    Han Solo activated the receiver in the communications room at the Navy headquarters and found himself staring at a hologram of his father-in-law.

    “Anakin,” he said. “Where are you?”

    “Near Thyferra,” Anakin replied. “We’ve dropped to sublight for refueling, but we’re on our way back.”

    Han nodded. “I’m sure you’re going to tell me at some point but…how did it go?”

    “It was a success,” Anakin replied. “If success is defined as ‘we won’. Ventress and Sly Moore are dead.”

    Han grinned. “That is great news,” he said.

    Anakin nodded but didn’t smile. “Where is the closest naval facility to Mustafar?” he asked.

    “Anoth,” Han replied. “It’s pretty far out, but we have a small space station there. Why?”

    “We need a search and recovery mission.”

    “For?”

    “Ventress’ body.”

    “You don’t know where you left it?”

    “We do,” Anakin replied. “But she was still alive when we left her.”

    Han frowned. “You just lost me. Can you start over?”

    “Obi-Wan and I fought her, and she fell into the lava.”

    “Oh,” Han replied. “And…exactly what condition was she in when you left?”

    “The lava ignited her boots first, then the rest of her clothes.”

    Han frowned again and nodded slowly. “So we’re going to be looking for…charred remains, not easy to identify.”

    Anakin nodded. “Not the best search and recovery mission but it’s necessary. I don’t want a mess. There are too many conspiracy theorists out there who will not believe that Ventress is dead unless someone has positively identified a corpse. Especially with Padme up for re-election in two months.” He sighed. “The station on Anoth—do the men there have the equipment to do a search and recovery in that climate?”

    “I think so,” Han replied. “If not, they can get it. I’ll need Padme’s authorization for disposal of the body.”

    “You’ll have it without a problem, I’m sure. I’m about to call her.”

    “I’m headed to her office in an hour or so anyway. I’ll take care of it,” Han said. “So…is everyone coming back unscathed?”

    Anakin sighed and shook his head slowly.

    “Oh,” Han replied. “Maybe I shouldn’t have asked…”

    “It’s fine,” Anakin replied. “I was going to tell you anyway. We lost Master Windu.”

    “Oh,” Han repeated because he wasn’t sure what else to say at the moment. “Stang, Anakin. I’m sorry to hear.”

    “He went down fighting,” Anakin replied. “Which is what he would have wanted.” Anakin sighed again. “Let Leia know, will you?”

    Han frowned and nodded. “I will.”

    “Is she staying in bed?” Anakin asked.

    “Other than the night I came home and found her doing a handstand on one hand, yes,” Han said.

    “That was not on her prescribed list of katas,” Anakin replied.

    “We all know that,” Han said. “Padme threatened to send 3PO to supervise her bed rest; let’s just say she wasn’t as interested in deviating from the rules after that.”

    Anakin managed a smile. “Well, tell her to stay put. And I’ll see you when I get back.”

    Han nodded. “May the Force be with you,” he said.



    “Bendel and his family are settled then?” Padme asked. She sat at her desk; Bail and Alys both stood on the right side of the desk. Behind the large windows of the Chancellor’s office, the buildings of the Coruscant cityscape sparkled in the midday sun.

    “They’re in Crevasse City,” Alys replied. “I met them there, and made sure their apartment was in order, along with their employment papers.”

    “They could certainly do worse than Crevasse City,” Padme said. “What a comfortable place. And the jobs…”

    “They’ll be in one of the power plants,” Bail said. “The job itself isn’t overly comfortable but Bendel seemed happy just to have one. And the schools are really good, the children will be in good hands.”

    “Your people have always been so generous,” Padme said. “Alderaan is unique in taking its responsibility to its fellow citizens so seriously. Not everyone…”

    She was interrupted by her comlink. “Milady?” Sovi said. “Master Skywalker has just come out of hyperspace over Coruscant.”

    “Thank you, Sovi,” Padme replied. She disengaged the comlink and looked at Bail. “I’m going to go ahead and leave for the day,” she said. “Anakin is going to need me.”

    Bail stroked his goatee, shaking his head sadly. “Mace Windu…” he said. “Such a terrible loss for the Jedi.”

    Padme nodded slowly, a mournful expression on her face. “Yes,” she said. “Somehow I knew it was too much to hope that we could defeat Ventress without…sacrificing at least one of our own.”

    “Is it really over this time?” Alys asked.

    Bail and Padme both looked at her. “It is,” Bail said. “The Navy is on a search-and-recovery mission for Ventress’ body as we speak. Sly Moore is also dead; the remainder of the former Separatists are either dead or in prison. After 21 long years, we can safely say that the resistance is defeated.”

    Padme’s weak smile didn’t reach her eyes. “Once Admiral Leeran sends me his report, I’ll make an official announcement over the Holonet.”

    “You might want to tighten security around the Senate building and 500 Republica,” Bail said. “People are going to go crazy. And happy mobs can get out of hand just as easily as angry ones.”

    Padme sighed. “Good point. I’ll have Han send an extra squadron to each building.” She stood. “I’m going to meet Anakin.”



    The reunion was silent and somber. Luke embraced his mother more tightly than usual before running into Alys’ arms. Obi-Wan followed Luke, limping down the ramp, with Anakin directly behind him. Both men looked pale and exhausted, their eyes puffy and bloodshot. Obi-Wan carried a carefully-folded dark brown Jedi robe; a lightsaber rested on top of it. A lightsaber whose purple blade would never again be wielded by its owner.

    Padme gave Obi-Wan a quick hug, then turned to her husband, who wrapped her in a tight embrace.

    “Welcome home,” Padme said. Anakin didn’t answer, just continued to hold her.

    Obi-Wan said, “I’m going to headquarters, I need to report to Yoda and Shaak Ti.” He looked directly at Anakin. “I’ll contact you later. We’ll all need to meet tonight or tomorrow morning, to plan a…memorial.” He held Mace’s robe more tightly.

    Anakin nodded slowly.

    “I’m going to visit Leia,” Luke said.

    “Tell her that we’ll stop by later,” Padme said.

    Luke nodded, kissed Alys again, and climbed into his speeder. Bail and Alys also said their goodbyes and left.

    Anakin and Padme were alone. Padme held Anakin’s hand, her fingers laced with his. She didn’t need to ask if he was alright; his eyes gave her the answer, and she knew that if she asked, he would break.

    She led him to the speeder, and he didn’t object when she sat in the driver’s seat, just leaned back and closed his eyes as she started the engine and took off. Neither of them spoke as Padme flew them back to 500 Republica. They both waved at her guards and then wordlessly entered the apartment.

    “Ah, welcome back, Master Anakin,” 3PO said, meeting them at the door. “I trust your mission was successful?”

    “Successful, yes,” Anakin replied.

    “Excellent,” 3PO said. “May I…”

    “3PO, I need you to go draw a hot bath,” Padme said, removing the Chancellor’s robes and hanging them up.

    “Of course, Mistress Padme, right away,” 3PO said, and left.

    Padme took Anakin’s hand again and led him to their bedroom, then helped him out of his utility belt, tunic and boots, leaving only the pants and undershirt. He sat on the edge of the bed; Padme sat next to him and began rubbing his back, her small hands kneading the muscles in his neck, then moving down to his shoulder blades and spine.

    “I didn’t tell you what happened to Luke,” Anakin said after a few minutes.

    Padme’s hands stopped, then as she realized that her son must be alright, she resumed the massage.

    “What was it?” she asked.

    “Sly Moore attacked him. With her mind.”

    “Her mind?” Padme asked.

    “She had a way of getting into people’s heads, preying on any subconscious resentments, and bringing them forward into vicious anger. Luke came after me after she attacked him, drawing his saber, wanting to fight. Accusing me of playing favorites with Leia, of sending him away…”

    Padme frowned. “Oh, Ani…”

    “We talked after he recovered. It’s fine.” He pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes. “But I got taken off guard. It didn’t hit me that Sly Moore was involved until I saw her in the shadows. Obi-Wan left the fight with Ventress to help me with Luke, knowing that Luke wasn’t himself, and—I guess he wasn’t sure I’d be able to stop him on my own.”

    Padme’s hands made their way to Anakin’s shoulders. He dropped his hands from his eyes and continued. “I don’t remember the last time I was that angry. I wanted to crack Sly Moore’s skull open like a hubba gourd and smash it into the floor…”

    “You killed her?” Padme asked.

    Anakin nodded slowly.

    “How?”

    “She tried to get inside my mind as well,” Anakin said. “Unlike Luke, I knew what she was doing and could resist it. And then I killed her—quickly, with my saber. I controlled my anger. Mostly.” He swallowed. “Obi-Wan got back into the fight with Ventress, but Master Windu…he had had to take her alone…for too long…he was wounded and exhausted…he needed more help…” Anakin lowered his head as tears slid down his cheeks.

    Padme held him. “Shhh…it wasn’t your fault…”

    Anakin didn’t answer, and Padme held him more tightly as the sobs came harder and faster. It was several minutes later when he let go of her, snatched up several tissues from the box on the nightstand, and with his other hand, used the Force to retrieve his comlink from his utility belt. “I need to call Obi-Wan,” he said hoarsely.

    Padme covered his hand with hers, stopping him from engaging the comlink. “No,” she said. “Not right now. He’ll be alright. Yoda and Shaak Ti will take care of him.” She kissed his cheek. “When is the last time you slept?”

    Anakin looked away, sniffling and wiping his eyes again. “I don’t know. Just before we left?”

    “That’s what I thought,” Padme said. She put her hands on his shoulders, turning him to face her again, and began undoing the buttons on his undershirt. “3PO ran you a bath. You should soak for awhile, I’m assuming the bacta handled the burns well enough…”

    “Yes,” Anakin said.

    “Good. You can wash the sulfuric air of Mustafar off of you then.”

    Anakin gave a shuddering sigh. “It’s not the air and grime that needs to be washed off.”

    Padme kissed his cheek. “I know. But this will help. And then you need to lie down, at least for a few hours. The Council can wait that long, and I suspect Obi-Wan needs a nap as badly as you do.”

    “Probably,” Anakin said. "But..."

    Padme put her finger to his lips. "No buts," she said.



    “I’ll miss Master Windu,” Leia said sadly, sipping the cup of tea that Luke brought her. She was propped up on pillows; Luke sat on the edge of the bed.

    “I know,” Luke replied. “One of the Order’s greatest members.”

    “Did you know that all the Korunnai are Force-sensitive?” Leia asked.

    Luke turned to her in surprise. “Really?”

    Leia nodded. “Apparently, during the Sith War, a starship full of Jedi crashed into Haruun Kal, Master Windu’s home planet. The Jedi were the only humans, they reproduced, and therefore all the Korunnai can use the Force. The planet itself is a bleak place, though. A lot of untrained Force users who have turned to the Dark Side.”

    “The Dark Side.” Luke shuddered and looked away. “Did you know this already or have you been researching Master Windu?”

    “After Han gave me the news, I looked for as much information I could find. It was the only thing I could do, other than cry.” She reached for her brother’s hand. “Luke, what happened to you on Mustafar?”

    He turned. “What do you mean?”

    “I felt…something. I don’t know what it was, other than it came from you. Blind rage. Fury. Resentments. You hated Daddy, Uncle Obi-Wan, the Order itself. And me.”

    Luke frowned. “I didn’t hate anyone, least of all you, Daddy or Uncle Obi-Wan.” He sighed. “They were all fighting Ventress. I was standing to the side, my saber ignited, ready to join in. Sly Moore emerged from a corner, literally came out of nowhere, and I remember seeing a set of yellow eyes, and then the anger. But I don’t remember anything else, not attacking Daddy and Uncle Obi-Wan…the next thing I knew, I was waking up in the medical frigate.”

    “And the battle was over?”

    Luke nodded. “Master Windu was in a coma and Uncle Obi-Wan was injured. Daddy made sure I was alright, then went to Master Windu. He came back 20 minutes later to tell me that Master Windu had died.”

    Leia sighed, and frowned. “Did I tell you that he had promised to teach me Vaapad?”

    “No,” Luke said, eyes widening.

    “He said he thought I would be a good candidate for it and that we would start as soon as I passed my trials.”

    “Leia, that’s the highest form of combat. It’s supposed to be the most dangerous, too. Master Windu hardly gave anyone permission to use it, because it required…”

    “…internalizing darkness,” Leia said. “I know. I think Daddy was a little afraid of the idea of my learning it. But Master Windu used Vaapad to defeat Palpatine.”

    “Which is how he was able to do it,” Luke finished.

    Leia sighed again. “He, of all people, deserved to see the resistance end.”

    “I know,” Luke said. “I have to believe that he is seeing it—from the other side.”

    “That’s all we can do I guess,” Leia said.

    Her comlink buzzed, and she answered it. Padme’s voice came through the other end. “Your father is, mercifully, asleep,” she said. “I don’t know how long it will last but I’m hoping for a few hours. Are you lying down, and is Luke with you?”

    “Yes and yes,” Leia said.

    “The Council is going to make arrangements for a memorial service for Master Windu. I don’t know when the service will be yet, I suppose they’ll decide tomorrow. The next week is going to be a long one for me. I’m supposed to give the State of the Republic address in ten days. Dignitaries from all over the galaxy will be here. I’m just hoping that the search and recovery mission for Ventress’ body is finished by then.”

    “Are you giving a separate speech when the Navy does finish that mission?” Leia asked.

    “Yes,” Padme said. “Which is another reason the next week is going to be a long one.” She sighed. “Master Windu’s memorial will not be available on the Holonet but we’ll try to ensure that there is some way you can watch it.”

    “I could get a hoverchair and actually go to the service.”

    Luke frowned, but Padme said, “That might be an option, depending on what your medical droid says. We’ll see what we can do. Meanwhile make sure that you’re resting, and we’ll come by sometime this evening.”

    Leia nodded, and disengaged her comlink.



    Han Solo’s face was flushed; he had practically run into Padme’s office.

    She stood behind her desk as he entered. “What is it?”

    He retrieved a data crystal from his pocket and looked from Padme to Anakin. “The results of the search and recovery mission. Have either of you eaten recently?”

    “Not that recently,” Anakin said. “A couple of hours ago. Why?”

    Han handed Padme the crystal. “The images here are only for strong stomachs.”

    Anakin smiled. “We can handle it.”

    “OK,” Han said. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

    Padme put the crystal into the transmitter and pressed a button to illuminate the image.

    The body that appeared before them was a charred, mangled skeleton. One of the arms was missing a hand, on the other arm, the hand was singed metal with burnt plastisteel clinging to it. Only the skull was covered with bits of blackened flesh; the rest of the body was nothing but bones covered with soot.

    Padme looked away, her fists clenched, her nails digging into her palms. Anakin put a hand on her shoulder. He was slightly green himself.

    “There is no doubt whatsoever that that is Ventress?” he asked.

    Han shook his head. “We had to match dental records, but we’re positive.”

    Anakin nodded slowly, and Padme looked up again. “Han, who has seen this?”

    “Only Admiral Leeran, Admiral Madine and myself. And of course the squadron who recovered her,” he said.

    “Good,” Padme said. “I need you to ensure that this crystal is classified top secret. If the Holonet gets its hands on this—and they will try, they love sensationalism—we might have an intergalactic incident.”

    Han nodded. “But what of the people who will demand proof that she’s dead?”

    Padme’s eyes blazed. “They will have to accept our word for it right now,” she said. “The Republic Security Committee has access to top secret classified material, so they will be able to see it. We can hope that will be enough. I am not about to allow the greatest Republic victory in two decades to be reduced to tabloid fodder. Or worse, some bored screenwriter’s version of a horror movie plot.”

    Han nodded again. “I certainly understand that,” he said. “I’ll take care of it.”

    She smiled. “Thank you.” She opened her comlink. “Sovi. I’m going to need to make an announcement on the Holonet in three hours.”

    “Yes, milady. On what subject?”

    Padme smiled. “The defeat of the resistance.”
    Last edited by anakinfansince1983, Nov 20, 2012
  23. Valairy Scot Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    The witch is dead, the witch is dead, ding dong, the witch is - oh, wait - that's another movie. :)

    What obstacles doth now lie ahead?
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  24. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    [face_dancing] [face_dancing] Nothing starts healing better than being in the bosom of your family again and seeing a real, almost can touch it, end to cosmic struggles. :D
  25. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    Quite surprised to see Ventress' body was recovered.... A part of me still doesn't think that was her. Conspiracy theory. ;) It was good to see Padme taking care of everyone. Looking forward to what happens next. Great update.
Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade