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Saga "An Old Song Re-Sung", The Celtic Song Challenge, Anakin Skywalker Short Story - Complete 5/06!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mira_Jade , Feb 4, 2017.

  1. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh, he's going right back. [face_mischief] He can't stay away for too long, you're more than right - but in an all day event, taking twenty minutes away won't be too remiss, I don't think. :)


    Because that is Obi-Wan in a gesture! He needs to have the beard now just so I can characterize him through his mannerisms. :p

    Because she's Shaak Ti. Besides having my favourite non-human design in any fandom ever, she has basically adopted three million sons being stationed on Kamino like that - let's face it. When this goes down, she deserves to be there front and center after biting her tongue for so many years! [face_love][face_love]

    It was so, so bittersweet writing this. Like, this is how it always should have been . . . but it's the furthest from in actuality. :(

    I feel like that sums up their relationship in a lot of things. :p They complete each other, what can I say. [face_love][face_love]


    EXACTLY. I think Luke was always the best example of that - he constantly ignored the way to be a 'proper' Jedi, no matter Obi-Wan and Yoda's counsel to the contrary, but it was his love and compassion and attachment that allowed him to complete the prophesy with his father. Not living a full life out of fear for tempting the Dark Side, I suppose you can phrase it as, is just another form of giving in to the dark. There needs to be balance. [face_love]

    Eugh, don't even get me started on that - Padmé was already little more than a walking womb character-wise in RoTS, and then it was such a perplexingly inaccurate portrayal all the way through. :oops: I was hoping to do slightly better here, even if there was lots of stuff I hand-waved and let the readers fill in on their own. :p

    The entire formation of the clone army is just nauseating when you break it down and think about it, and Anakin, with his background, has to feel that more so than most. It's touched on in TCW - a few clones question their places outright, and the entire Umbara arc really hammers that home; then, Anakin does have a plotline with a slave ring that tackles the matter as much as they could in a 'kids' show' - but, yeah, it's definitely something I think can be expanded on more. You don't just move past psychological scars like that. Then, for him to lead men who are in the same position as he was - no matter how prettily you phrase it - makes for a very complex dynamic to explore as a writer . . . [face_thinking]

    She's the Jedi Master stationed on Kamino in TCW, so she has a frontrow seat to all of the nastiness that is the Kaminoans at work. She deserves to have a greater hand in the throw-down that's going to come, and I am thrilled to be able to write it! [face_love]

    As always, I thank you so much for reading, and I hope that you continue to enjoy! :)


    That really is the most refreshing thing about writing this! It's what should have happened, really - if we didn't need the OT, that is. :p

    That, sadly, is not my own invention. Not one bit. Palpatine needed that extra insurance - otherwise, after three years of fighting side by side, with their being conditioned to respect and then even coming to love their Jedi generals (Plo Koon calls his men his 'sons'; Bly is head over heels for Aayla Secura; Cody would walk on fire for Obi-Wan, etc. - heck, Rex proved it with how he threw down for Ahsoka when he had the choice to do so!) there's just no way they would carry out Order 66 without further questions/proof. So, Palpatine needed to make sure that there was no choice for them in the matter. [face_plain]

    . . . yes, it's as awful as it sounds with all of the further implications when you break it down and think about it. :( (The clones check off all of my feelings, what can I say? [face_love] :p)

    The twins are indeed coming, and our Skywalker family is heading down a much different path than in canon! [face_love] It's one I can't wait to finish writing . . . this story has been such a joy to plot, and I am glad that you are enjoying it too. :)


    Alrighty, look for more up soon! I thank everyone for reading, and for taking the time to leave kudos and/or replies. I appreciate each and every one. [:D]



    ~MJ @};-
     
  2. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    V

    Anakin lasted one round of cu'bikad before his inattention to the game had Obi-Wan sighing and shooing him back to Padmé's side. He did not worry overly much about leaving Obi-Wan alone, however - the Mandalorian pastime had intrigued the men of the Naberrie clan, and between them and Sabé there were more than enough new players to go around. He would even wager on Sabé winning a round or two against the Jedi Master – if, unlike Anakin, she could concentrate without being distracted by the events carrying on in the birthing room, that was.

    He returned just as Padmé was getting situated in bed again. Her ever motion was taut with discomfort, and her body was clearly restless as she squirmed about to ease her torment. Even to his eyes, her contractions were growing more and more insistent; they were closer together now, and coming faster. She had little time between the swells to recover, and her breath came fast and heavy from the panting furnace of her lungs. All the while, her flock of physicians fluttered about her in an easy, practiced way. Watching them and their calm miens in the face of her distress helped anchor Anakin in his own storm of feeling - to the barest degree, that was. The babies were right where they needed to be, he was relieved to hear the midwife assure – one of the biggest worries in a natural twin birth was that of a potential breech – and, so far, everything was proceeding as expected.

    If this was normal, Anakin nevertheless thought with some bewilderment, then he would hate to see complications in a birth. The thought alone felt as a stone sinking in his gut.

    Time became immaterial to him as an hour went by, and then another. They were coming upon the twenty hour mark now, and, far from the long build and sudden cresting of each wave of contractions, Padmé's pains now pounded against her body like the ocean surf in the midst of a hurricane. She was tired – so tired already, he could feel, but her determination was still fervently burning as she bore down to see her labor through to its conclusion. She no longer bantered with him; she hardly spoke at all. Padmé was lost in the trials of her body, and every ounce of her attention was focused on the fledgling lives she was determined to bring into the world. Anakin only knew of her awareness of his presence by the way her small fingers gripped his hand for support; by the way her head sagged against his shoulder whenever her body allowed her a moment to catch her breath.

    More than once, he found himself wishing that he was better versed in the more delicate aspects of the Force. He was no healer; he could not even coax a bruise to mend, no matter the staggering depths of his own power. He tried, in his own way, to sooth the least of her tribulations – he reached out to give her body what strength he could, even as he attempted to coax the twins to do their part and make her job easier. At the very least, he pushed his support and awe and love to her in overwhelming waves of excess. No matter that she was not a Jedi, she was sensitive enough to the Force that she could feel a shadow of his feelings, and understood his gift for what it was. Even that little bit, he could feel from the tight grasp of her hand, was enough.

    At long last, their first baby - their son - was crowning. With a new-found reserve of energy, Padmé listened when the midwife told her to push, and she strained with all of her might to bear their son. She had given up on attempting to silence her body's reactions to the pain hours ago, and though she did not scream like some of the women Anakin remembered from Tatooine, her outcries still twisted at his heart. “You're doing great, love, you're doing great,” he found himself murmuring in a constant mantra, pressing his lips to her brow and hoping as he had never hoped before.

    Luke was born with a final, fervent rally of strength on Padmé's part. At first, Anakin could not hear his son's gurgled voice over his wife's labored breathing before Luke's screams turned deafening. Then, they were all he could hear.

    “Luke?” Padmé found the breath to ask on a raw tone of voice. She tried to peer over the shoulder of the waiting physician who had stepped forward to take the baby, while the midwife stayed with her. “Luke? How is he? Is he - ”

    “ - he is small,” was the distracted answer they got from the healer. All twins were small, Anakin reminded himself, and they would have to be closely monitored for the first few days of their lives. “But he's healthy, as far as my eyes can see – I will know more in a moment, milady.”

    That was not enough to satisfy Padmé, however, and she looked at her mother with a clear, plaintive expression. Jobal well understood and, after squeezing her daughter's shoulder one last time, she rose to go and look after her grandson. Anakin stayed by his wife's side with his heart hammering and his mouth dry as the weight of his responsibilities suddenly crashed down on him. A son . . . he now had a son to guide and shape and nurture. The idea was no longer an abstract concept in the back of his mind; now, it was a tangible reality looming real and expectant before him.

    . . . yet, that was only half of his reality, he did not have to remind himself. Now, his daughter . . .

    Minutes passed, but she was not immediately coming. It was taking too long, he thought as more time elapsed, with the seconds dragging by as hours to his senses. Too long had passed; much too long. He could feel every empty, expectant moment prickle against his skin like needle tips. Something was not right.

    Anakin stared at the frowning midwife, and had to consciously measure his voice to ask, “What is wrong?” with a calmness he did not feel. Not nearly.

    “The girl has shifted,” the midwife responded in a measured voice, but only after she finished her examination. Her pause had Anakin fighting the instinct to stand and loom over the healer while demanding his answers – even if that meant he had to take them by force. But he immediately slammed that dark instinct down, deep down inside of him, unwilling as he was to disturb his daughter even further. The midwife's mouth made a thin line before confirming, “She is now feet first in the womb.”

    That was not how babies were supposed to be born - even Anakin knew that - and he felt a sharp knife of worry anger fear strike through his gut and tear. He sucked in a shaky breath. The strength of Padmé's hand was suddenly crushing as it squeezed his own.

    “Do not be alarmed; not yet. Her heartbeat is still strong - she is not in distress,” the midwife continued, her tone pitched in a practiced, soothing timbre. It did not calm Anakin in the slightest, no matter its well-meaning intentions. “I can assist with the birth and deliver her this way, or I can operate if this becomes too much on the mother.”

    “No,” Padmé's voice was suddenly strong to insist. “No. I can do this. I do not want to operate after - ”

    “ - Padmé,” Anakin found himself cautioning. He did not want to disregard anything that could help his wife, his wife, live long enough to raise their children with him. His heartbeat was an overwhelming pressure in his chest as his blood pounded in his ears. “Love, perhaps it would be better if - ”

    “ - no. I have come this far,” Padmé's voice was a low hiss of sound as she locked eyes with him. She still had not lessened her grip on his hand. If anything, she squeezed tighter. “Let me do this. I know I can do this.”

    Still, Anakin hesitated. He stared at her, feeling her determination and her strength and the raw, pulsing life that burned through her in that moment. He could feel his daughter, too – he could feel her distress and her bewilderment and her fear. In a strange way, he knew that she was looking for her brother, and he understood her grief: she did not know where or how to find him. She wanted to be born; she merely needed guidance.

    Yet, his wife . . .

    He looked down at her, his expression torn, every instinct within him howling to keep her with him by any means necessary, even if that meant . . .

    “I'm stronger than your visions, Anakin. I will not leave you,” Padmé vowed on a low tone of voice, baring her teeth as if daring the universe to prove her wrong. Her face then contorted in a wince as her body rippled with pain anew, trying to move the child in her womb but to no avail. “I will not leave my children.”

    “And your daughter wants to come now,” the midwife said. Their decision was then made for them. “One way or another, she's not staying put.”

    “ . . . alright,” Anakin fought for acceptance - he fought to let go - as he settled back in next to Padmé. “Alright.” He swallowed his own fear, and instead focused on the tenacity blazing from his wife in golden bands of light, burning like a small star to his preternatural senses. His daughter was already an impossibly bright spark to match, and he reached out to her, forgetting his own anger terror panicin favor of guiding her through her fear and confusion. He was a father now; that duty came before himself. He was no longer a single entity, existing alone; he could never make a selfish decision again.

    Your mother and I want to meet you, sweetheart, he tried to convey without words. Your brother is waiting for you, too. Come on now, and this will all be over.

    He could feel her uncertainty as the midwife reached in to try and guide her. She could feel an alien pressure tugging on her feet, and it frightened her. She wanted her brother, that unformed thought was a wail throbbing from her spirit. Her fear only intensified as she felt a shadow of her mother's distress and pain, and, well understanding, Anakin reached out with his senses to assure her: There is nothing to fear. I've got you, little one . . . I promise.

    Though she could not wholly understand him, Anakin knew that she recognized him. She already took comfort from his presence; she already associated his voice with protection love home. As vaguely as her young mind could process, she trusted him; her spirit knew belonging alongside his own. Where he usually summoned and battered the Force about with all the strength of a tidal wave, he then shielded his daughter's consciousness in a hazy glow of warm light. With a delicacy he did not know he first possessed, he used the Living Force to soothe, to protect. Then, just as the midwife worked in tandem with Padmé's contractions, she gave in and yielded to the unknown.

    Anakin could feel the exact moment when his daughter came into the world - the opposite of how she should have, perhaps, but then, she was a Skywalker.

    “What a brave little girl you are,” he could hear the midwife croon at the pink, squirming little creature that immediately started squalling with a healthy set of lungs to voice her displeasure. She was cold; she was sticky and wet; and she still wanted her brother. In spite of himself, Anakin could not hold back a relieved burst of laughter as he felt an echo of her frustration and dissatisfaction blaze in the Force. She was not at all happy, but she was alive. She was alive and healthy, just as her brother was alive and healthy, while, her mother . . .

    - her mother.

    He looked, fear spiking a wild rise in his heart when he saw his wife's closed eyes, but Padmé was merely exhausted - pushed past her physical limits and beyond. She sagged back against her sweat soaked pillows and took a moment to recover from her ordeal. Her hair stuck to her face and her skin was both pale and flushed with exertion in turns, but she had never looked more beautiful to his eyes. She breathed, he could see the clear rise and fall of her chest: she lived, he could feel with an irrefutable knowledge in the Force. She was still there with him; he had not lost her. Instead, they had gained -

    “Your son,” Jobal interrupted his thoughts. “He is ready to meet you, my dears.”

    Just like that, Padmé's eyes snapped open, and her weariness left her expression as she pushed her fatigue aside. Anakin helped her sit up against her pillows, while Jobal rocked the baby boy in her arms. Then, Padmé was settled and they were being passed . . .

    - such an impossibly small bundle, he marveled to see. Anakin sat on the bed with his wife, his right arm wrapped around her shoulders and his organic hand patiently waiting to touch his son for the first time. He peered down as Padmé gently pulled the blanket back to reveal a tiny, scrunched up little face with closed eyes. . . such a tiny, perfect little face.

    “He's so small,” Anakin breathed. Awe was a whispered thread in his voice, even as it pounded through his veins with an exhilarating beat. Carefully – so carefully – be curled his fingers and stroked his son's downy cheek. His skin was so soft, so warm; the wispy fuzz of his dark blonde hair was a texture unlike anything Anakin had felt before. He marveled to commit each sensation to memory.

    “He'll grow quickly,” Padmé's voice was a low, awed mutter to match. “Too quickly for my taste, I suspect.”

    At the sound of his mother's voice, large, deep blue eyes blinked. Luke's brow furrowed in confusion before understanding roused him from his sleep. The infant fussed, squirming in Padmé's arms as small, gurgled noises escaped the open moue of his mouth. Hunger warred for confusion in Anakin's sense of his son; the boy could not choose between his desire to nurse and his anxiety for his sister. Both were causing him to whimper, and he cried.

    “Shh, shh,” Anakin instinctively soothed, reaching out with the Force even as he stroked his fingertips back over Luke's head. “She'll be here soon, little one, hold on.”

    Then, Luke stilled as he heard him, and the baby looked up at him – him, and, in the Force . . .

    . . . had such a light ever existed prior to then? Anakin marveled. They called him Chosen, but he was certain that the Force had never settled in another being like this before. In that moment, he couldn't remember why he had ever doubted. He couldn't remember why he ever feared. The pall of his visions was then impossibly far away . . . for how could the shadow of the Dark Side ever think to encroach on such a sure warmth, on such a light as this?

    “See?” there was a throaty, satisfied pride in Padmé's voice. “I told you I was stronger than your visions. That was no worse than a bad day at the Senate . . . ”

    He snorted, knowing that, in manner of speaking, she was not completely wrong. “You,” he whispered, pressing another kiss against her temple, “were amazing.”

    Padmé leaned back against him, boneless with contentment. No matter her weariness, she could not keep her eyes away from their son. She tucked the blanket more securely around him and sighed, a deep exhalation of breath from her chest. “I could not have done this without you,” she admitted. “I thank the Force that you were here.”

    “There is nowhere else I could have been,” Anakin assured her, even while knowing that . . .

    . . . but no. No. His dreams had no place here; not any more. His premonitions were of another time, another place, he already distantly suspected. Instead of that future, now, with him, he had . . .

    “There is nowhere else I will ever be,” he gave his vow with a strong, sure voice. Anakin said nothing more than that as Padmé closed her eyes, Luke safely held in her arms. Instead, he held his small family close, for the moment content to forget anything and everything else.



    .

    .

    After Leia was deemed healthy and ready to join them, they spent their first moments as an entire family, together. Then, after Padmé passed a last exam by the midwife, Anakin helped her over to the 'fresher to wash up from her ordeal. While she got clean again, her sheets were changed, and she returned to sink into bed with no small amount of relief as soon as she was able. Anakin left only after the twins were fed once more, and his wife closed her eyes for a much deserved rest.

    He carried Leia out to the waiting room, while Jobal carried Luke – automatically steering towards her husband to introduce him to their grandson. Anakin brought Leia too, and felt warmth engulf him as Ruwee locked eyes with him. After a long moment, the patriarch of the Naberrie clan inclined his head. The worst of his visions had not come to pass, and the man had both his daughter and grandchildren safe and healthy. Though Anakin knew that he still had ground to make up to repair the lies they had so long told, he was relieved to know that he still had that ground available to him. It had not fallen out from underneath them.

    After Leia was passed around her mother's family, Anakin turned to where Obi-Wan was wrapping up a conversation with Master Ti in the far corner of the waiting room. Seeing his approach, and undoubtedly wishing to forestall any premature questions the sight of him with a babe in arms would bring, Obi-Wan ended the call with his fellow council-member with more haste than he would normally extend. The blue transmission winked away, and Anakin then had his former Master's full attention. Or, rather, the child in his arms did.

    “The girl?” Obi-Wan asked to make sure. “ . . . your daughter?” He spoke as if the idea was still an impossible, foreign concept to his mind, but Anakin could see the soft line his smile made. The seemingly permanent shadows around his eyes - ever deepening as the war dragged on and on - lightened. A more familiar hue returned to his eyes, turning them more blue than grey . . . the changes were so subtle that Anakin had not first noticed them for how gradual they had been. He felt a matching weariness bite at his own heart before he pushed it away. Instead, he focused only on his joy, and shared that joy in turn.

    “Her name is Leia,” Anakin whispered, feeling her soft contentment glow in the Force as she bordered on sleeping once more. “It's Old Naboo – for meadow.

    It was a special meaning for he and his wife; honoring the time when his nameless fascination and vague attraction for the idea that was Padmé solidified into something real . . . something more. He still counted that idyll in the Lake Country amongst the happiest days of his life.

    “Leia Skywalker,” Obi-Wan whispered, and at the sound of her name, his daughter shifted in his arms. Anakin could feel her thoughts sharpen towards awareness. Her mind already moved so quickly; she processed everything around her in a way that was all her mother, he could already well recognize, and marvel for. “Leia.”

    But, even though Anakin stood close to Obi-Wan with an invitation clear in his stance, the older man still carefully kept his hands at his sides. He did not reach out to touch the baby, let alone try to hold her. Yet, Anakin knew . . .

    “Do you want to hold her?” he offered outright. He tilted Leia in his arms as if to pass her, all the while being certain to keep a firm grip on her; he would not let her go.

    “She . . . she's so tiny,” Obi-wan whispered – more to himself than to Anakin, before his focus shifted. His attention centered, and he looked up to admit, “I do not . . . I don't know what to do with a baby.” He swallowed, clearly at war with himself. “I am not sure if I am the best - ”

    “ - and you think that I have any idea what I'm doing?” Anakin could not help but interrupt. He snorted, and held Leia more tightly in his arms. “It's . . . instinct, really. If it is for me, then it most certainly should be for you. Now, take the baby.”

    Even still, Obi-Wan hesitated. He opened his mouth, but before he could demure again Anakin was passing Leia over. He gave his former Master no choice in the matter. Then, it was a brief shuffling of arms and such tiny, squirming limbs - allowing Obi-Wan no choice but to react. Jedi reflexes - no, human reflexes - kicked in, and he instinctively cradled her body in a strong, sure grip. He was overly careful to support her head; she was still small enough to be swallowed in his embrace, never mind how quickly she would grow from there on out. Leia was tucked in his arms as securely as she had been in her father's, leaving Obi-Wan to simply gape down in wonder. He stared, wide-eyed and awed for the tiny little creature who stared back at him with curious, luminous brown eyes. She had her mother's eyes, Anakin had been overjoyed to see. Already her hair was a dark brown color, wisping down over her brow in a thicker crown than her brother's. She would grow into a beautiful woman, Anakin could foresee – although he was sure that all fathers felt as such when looking at their daughters for the first. He felt his heart swell, with all the love and pride he felt within seemingly fit to burst. He did not know how it was possible to contain such a feeling; it was too much to hold onto and keep to himself.

    The Force swirled around him, languid and content, and the deep, serene sea of power soothed his Master as much as it did him. A part of Obi-Wan was invigorated, he could feel. He looked down on Leia as if all that was potentially bright and beautiful in life had been returned to him; everything good in the universe then seemed possible again. In his own way, Anakin knew exactly how he felt.

    “She's perfect,” Obi-Wan finally breathed. She is more than worth it, Anakin could hear him think, even if the sentiment was not spoken outright. Not then. His family was worth everything that he would now have to -

    - but, that was a thought for later. He would not dwell on it then . . . not yet.

    Feeling an echo of his thoughts, Obi-Wan looked up again. He fought a frown, and only hesitated a moment before asking, “And, you, Anakin? Are you - ”

    “ - I'm okay, Master,” Anakin understood what he meant to ask, and interrupted him to assure. The words were truthful, and whole; he omitted nothing. “I'm more at peace than I've ever been.” No matter what would happen next.

    He could have ended there. Obi-Wan would have been satisfied, and, once, he would have only said the scant minimum it took to assuage his former Master's concern. Yet . . .

    “It's strange when I think about it,” even so, he continued. Obi-Wan blinked at him, as if surprised by his voluntarily speaking of his innermost thoughts . . . of his fears. When had their relationship become so strained? Anakin wondered. When had it ever been so easy between them, at that? . . . that admittance was a more painful one to make, but it was a truth he could not so easily ignore. He could only endeavor to fix it now that he had the time and opportunity to do so. “In my visions,” he found a strength returning to his voice to continue, “ . . . in the dreams I have been having. The future I see . . . it's such a dark, awful time. It's a galaxy with so little light, and I fear . . .”

    . . . I fear that there is something in me capable of causing that – even still. He thought, but did not say. He knew that Obi-Wan was capable of hearing him across their bond, even so. Did I . . . could I . . .

    . . . and, yet will I cause -

    “ - dreams are strange things,” Obi-Wan mused aloud before his thoughts could continue down such a dark path. His voice was softly intoned; he'd understood the offering of words for all of its intentions and more. “Perhaps you truly did see a possible outcome of today's events. Maybe, through your actions, you somehow subverted it.”

    “I do not know how,” Anakin was bewildered to admit. “I didn't truly do anything.”

    “Perhaps, there is a lesson to be learned in that as well,” Obi-Wan was easy to accept their reality for what it was. He reached down to tuck up Leia's blanket when she squirmed to free her tiny hands, still enchanted as he was by the infant in his arms. She reached out to curiously inspect Obi-Wan's index finger, and at the strength in her impossibly small grip, his expression melted completely. He was smitten.

    “You'll always play the role of the teacher, won't you?” even so, Anakin could not help but tease. He felt his son approach, and looked over to see Sabé walking towards them with Luke in her arms so that she could take her turn with Leia. Even her normally serene expression was touched with a smile she could not hide.

    “Oh, always,” Obi-Wan did not bother denying it. Instead, he looked down at Leia as if she were a gift from the Force itself. “Something tells me that I am not nearly done imparting my wisdom, at that.”

    . . . Padmé's sharp mind and both of her parents' stubborn determination, molded by the Negotiator himself . . . already a tantalizing, happy glimpse of the future whispered across his senses. Briefly, Anakin wondered if the galaxy was ready for such a combination; mostly, though, he simply could not wait.

    As he turned to introduce his son to Obi-Wan, the Force swirled around him in a lazy, pulsing stream of contentment. Lost in that moment of abject serenity, the future he had somehow subverted seemed very far away indeed.



    .

    .

    And, deep in the stasis of an artificial night, Darth Vader dreamed . . .

    . . . and yearned.



    ~MJ @};-
     
  3. RX_Sith

    RX_Sith C&G Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Mar 13, 2006
    Really like Anakin and Obi-Wan's friendship and I do wonder if Vader is still a possibility no matter how good Anakin is at the moment.
     
    Mira_Jade and AzureAngel2 like this.
  4. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    The last two lines...... Ouch.
     
    Mira_Jade and AzureAngel2 like this.
  5. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    HA! Walking Womb. That is so sadly accurate. I may have to steal it. And yeah, don’t get me started on the horrible portrayal of late stage pregnancy with twins. UGGHGHGHGHGHHGHG. Padmé didn’t die of a broken heart, she died because her uterus defied the laws of space - Luke and Leia were DAMN hefty babies considering how tiny Padme was.

    ANYWAYS :p This is why we have fanfic.


    AWWWW! This is just so adorable!

    THANK YOU - and also for about the risk of one of the twins being breach - some realism - more than we got from ROTS.

    Leia’s moments had me glued to the screen, worried for her! fantastic writing!

    AWWWWWW! She’s okay and so very Leia! And I love that she just wants to be with her brother.

    AWWWWWWWWWWWW! I just love this!

    This line is just so powerful!

    Sorry. I’m just quoting everything, but the image of Anakin telling Obi-Wan to “take the baby” just cracks me up.

    Oh, that is just mean, but knowing the song, I should have seen it coming.
     
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Oh golly, I've fallen behind again... I'm really sorry! [face_blush] RL has been doing a huge number on me these days, but don't worry, this has not fallen from my list of things to read. :) Catching up...

    4: Yep, I begin to see just what these chips are all about now, especially with that continuous signal that's been traced to nowhere other than Coruscant. :eek: I have no idea on whether this is based on established sources or not, but it seems like it would definitely a hauntingly plausible means of at once keeping the clones obedient and transmitting the signal for things like [hl=black]Order 66[/hl]—and ripping sentient beings' free will away from him would be totally consistent with the questionable ethics one would expect of a Certain Closet Sith Lord. If earlier on I wasn't sure whether this would be an AU or not, I'm pretty sure it is now—how different things would be if the Jedi had been able to catch on to this kind of thing at this earlier stage, and thus staved off [hl=black]the untimely demise of the Jedi Order[/hl]. And yes, if Anakin hadn't let his fears and doubts get the better of him as he does in the Saga, he and Obi-Wan—working in harmony—would be just the people to have nipped that whole business in the bud!

    I have to say, I really appreciate your portrayal of Padmé's labor here. Thank you SO, SO much for realizing that "labor is not as quick as it is on the holovids" and that really about 4/5 of it, at least in the first stage, is sitting around waiting (with contractions making up really only the remaining 1/5—and I think there was one labor coach of mine who did suggest playing card games to pass the time :p ). And thank you, too, for your portrayal of Padmé as levelheaded, on top of things, and in sync with her body's signals—such a welcome contrast to the constant screaming in so many "holovid" portrayals of laboring women. Heck, she's the one who's in the best possible to position to realize that what she's going through is totally normal and that her husband doesn't have to worry about any silly stuff he saw in visions! :D

    5: Wow, Padmé really was amazing! =D= Even with the momentary scare of Leia's breech position, she kept on keeping on till the very end, and made it. So glad she got the chance at some much-needed rest afterward. With Padmé's mom and husband nearby, and with her dad just a room away, this was a much nicer birth scene than what we got in the films with that institutional exam room on Polis Massa. And little Leia did an amazing job, too—her determination and her bond with her brother clearly spurred her on, and one could see that in a way he was encouraging her.

    And yet, even though his earlier visions did not come to pass, there's still a feeling of darkness nagging at Anakin:

    You mention that he has the feeling of having subverted a dark future, but, in a way, that feeling seems to be mixed with a related feeling—namely, that that dark future could still somehow come. And that is the dovetail back to the haunting opening image of Darth Vader dreaming about what might have been—as well as the moment that thrusts this story into a very intriguing gray area between AU and canon-compliant. We see, at the same moment, Anakin dreaming of Vader and Vader dreaming of Anakin—and it's really rather trippy and cool! :cool: Very much looking forward to see where you will take that dynamic next.
     
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  7. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    This birth scene was a definite improvement on the clinical setting where the twins were born in ROTS--Padmé has her family and husband, not to mention her ever-loyal attendant, nearby as she goes through her ordeal. And it is indeed an ordeal, as first labors in particular tend to be, instead of the way it was in the movie, where those droids managed to make what I think was a vaginal delivery as clean and bloodless as taking a droid apart. (Another rim-shot.) I don't care if it is a space opera in another galaxy. Childbirth is not like that. But here Padmé is a force of nature, and she keeps on going on her own terms--as she tells Anakin, the way we can only wish she had in the movies, she's tougher than those visions that he had so feared.

    But still, once it is over, she is exhausted and ready for some rest. It was also, as Anakin knew through the Force, quite the ordeal for the twins as well, particularly the girl--and her name is indeed revealed as being Leia, though I couldn't say what that means for my AU speculation as of yet--after she was alone in the womb. They do say it is a good thing we can't remember being born.

    Then there is the continued actual realism, which others have already touched on: the twins are small, as twins are, and while I had not known before that turning breech is a risk with twins, Briannakin is clear in her reply that it is.

    As for Anakin, he is at the most peace he has probably ever known: his wife has lived through childbirth, along with their children, in spite of his visions; he is on good, open terms with his mentor, and he is in a good place to face the consequences from the Jedi Order he knows are on the horizon. And yet--there is that flash of the dark future that might have been, as well as the knowledge that he still has the darkness within himself that could yet cause it. And finally, those last two lines, returning to a dreaming Dark Vader in an artificial night--

    Which brings the AU aspect, which has been away in the background, back to the center. I still think the story is ultimately an AU, the dream in which Vader fixes the many mistakes of the past, making it--and in so doing, you show just how weakly constructed the story of ROTS, and the larger story of the prequels, really was behind the CGI--what it could have been. I don't know yet how that will finish up, but for the moment, Anakin still has blunders and oversights (I noted which Council Member Obi-Wan was speaking to) to fix, so I'll wait and read on.
     
  8. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    I am also sorry that I had fallen behind reading, Mira_Jade. Since January my life had been turned upside down and now, that I successfully can change jobs and have helped out my old team by leaving, I feel like Padmé: tired, exhausted and trying hard to say something clever that is worthwhile to be listened to/ read.

    Unfortunately, I had to find out recently that I never can be a mother, but thanks that you wrote this scene so intense that I could almost feel it: the pain, the excitement, the worry, the joy.

    New-born babies are truly a miracle.

    I hope that this dream/ vision has some good influence on Vader´s mind, while he lies deep in the stasis of an artificial night, Darth Vader.
     
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  9. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    There is always that possibility, isn't there? [face_thinking][face_mischief]


    :p [face_mischief] I can't say that I am sorry, because I am one of those authors. ;) But I am glad that you enjoyed. :)


    SHE DIED BECAUSE HER UTERUS DEFIED THE LAWS OF SPACE. Thank-you, now I may have to borrow that. ;) :rolleyes: It really did seem like no one working on the movie had experienced, or witnessed . . . or even bothered to look up an internet page on pregnancy. It's hilariously cringe-worthy, though. :p

    Pfft! Please don't apologize! It's wonderful to know exactly what was enjoyed! Quote-heavy reviews are amongst the best reviews. [face_love] And I could not resist that bit with Anakin and Obi-Wan - the Jedi can save the day over and over again, but simple life lessons like how to hold a baby are sadly beyond them. :p It was too adorable a mental image in my mind to pass up. [face_love]

    Again, I thank you so much for reading! I hope that you continue to enjoy. :)


    No worries! RL gets ahold of us all at one point or another! The stories will always be here when the readers are ready. :) [:D]

    The chips are sadly canon - which makes the whole mess surrounding Order 66 all the more awful, but it completely lies within the realm of possibility for a character like Palpatine. It's so frustrating as a viewer to know the answers and watch your heroes sail right on by them - but, honestly, that's just a sign of good writing - which I do approve of through the pain. :p Even so, it would have been possible for Anakin and Obi-Wan to figure the entire mess out and work together to circumvent it if they opened their eyes and asked the right questions a little bit earlier. They were right there. So close! But that's where the joy of fan fiction comes in. ;)

    Exactly! For all that labor is an intense experience - a tribulation, you can call it - it's still a natural process (and, frankly, like you mentioned, a very long and tedious one for the most part). I've known more woman than not who've handled things like Padmé here, rather than constantly hysterically screaming and cursing their husbands - women do not get enough credit in mainstream media for what they go through. They know their bodies, and they do what they have to do to bring their children in the world! It was so refreshing to be able to give Padmé this moment. She deserved it. [face_love]

    I can't tell you how gratifying it was writing this scene, so I'm so glad that it resounded well with my readers, too! [face_love]

    Thank-you! This story has completely spiraled past my original intentions, but it has been a fascinating idea to pursue and explore. I'm thrilled to hear that you are still enjoying it! And, as for that grey area between AU and canon - well, only the end will tell . . . [face_whistling][face_mischief]


    I completely agree with you. Padmé's pregnancy and delivery in RoTS was baffling to watch, and it was refreshing to give her this experience instead. She has an entire support system and an actual personality and life beyond Anakin that I think was conveniently forgotten about in Ep. III. Here, to have her family present and let her do what her body was created to do - I can't tell you how satisfying it was putting that last period into place. She is the mother of Luke and Leia Skywalker - she deserves to be a force of nature in her own right!

    That's an interesting thing, actually! I knew that twins were born small, but I didn't know about the breech risk until doing a little bit of research - following which, the scene just wrote itself. One WebMD tab is all it would have taken for the good folks at Lucasfilm, as well. ;) :rolleyes:

    You are most definitely on to something, which is almost transparent now compared to where it was in the beginning. [face_mischief] The rest of this honestly was my own dissatisfaction with the prequels getting down on paper, just as you said. Because there is so much potential with the characters, and there's a lot I do like about the PT, but, still . . . it was all too easy for me to deconstruct the plot with a few small tweaks. BUT, that's half the fun of fan fiction, honestly - I've simply enjoyed tugging on the threads, even if I am subverting the OT by doing so. :p

    Again, I thank you so much for reading, and for you and Findswoman running the challenge in the first place. I've grown as a writer with this story, that's for certain. [:D]


    Oh, I can't tell you how sorry I am to hear that. :( You have all my well-wishes and prayers. [:D]

    I am glad that, in a small way, you could enjoy this scene. I'm touched to hear you say so. :) [face_love][:D]



    Again, I have to thank you all for reading, and for taking the time to leave your thoughts! As always, your doing so is greatly appreciated. [:D][:D]


    ~MJ @};-
     
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  10. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Notes: This is a rather long entry that I decided to keep as one part, rather than break in two. I honestly can't believe how many times I re-worked this chapter - there was just so much to do and say! But, it's finished now, and I am rather satisfied with the outcome. I hope that you guys enjoy it as well. :)





    VI

    Obi-Wan could only linger until nightfall before returning to Coruscant and his responsibilities there. The day following, Yoda informed the Council that he was leaving Master Unduli to wrap up matters on Kashyyyk, and would soon be inbound for the capital. It was then, with great reluctance, that Anakin left his family behind to join the Masters of the Order in officially asking Chancellor Palpatine to resign his war-time powers.

    “You are his friend,” Obi-Wan had been the one to cautiously suggest. Even in the blue cast of the holofeed, a careful neutrality was tucked in the corners of his expression. “I have a sense that you should be there; it's a feeling I cannot shake.”

    For one outcome or another went unspoken, but Anakin brushed Obi-Wan's reservations aside as he always did. On the contrary, he saw this as an opportunity for Palpatine to regain the trust of the Jedi, to prove that he was more than their doubts and misgivings. Then, together, they could all move forward to put the Secession Crisis behind them.

    Though he'd grown used to saying goodbye to his wife over the course of their marriage – despairingly so, it was then harder than ever before to leave his new family behind. Looking down on Padmé, who was cradling a dozing Luke while he held Leia, he felt his heart clench. His smile was brittle; the longing in his eyes was transparent. He did not want to go.

    But, for the time being, he had responsibilities that went beyond the scope of his family. For sake of that duty, he would see these last few days through before accepting the judgment of the Council – for one outcome or another.

    “Just . . . be careful, Ani,” Padmé tried one last time as he shouldered his pack to leave. “Power is a toxic thing, and it can go to the heads of even the best men. The Sheev we both admire could have lost his way, no matter his best intentions when starting out. Please, don't let your guard down.”

    “Of course I'll be careful, love,” Anakin leaned down to kiss her goodbye. Reluctantly, he passed Leia to her mother and watched as the girl instinctively turned towards her brother before settling in against Padmé. “You don't need to worry.” He ran a tender hand over both of their children, breathing in their sweet baby scents and memorizing their drowsy contentment in the Force before finally turning to leave.

    He could feel the warm glow of his family until he broke the atmosphere over Naboo, and then the distance between the stars stretched his senses as he made the jump to hyperspace. Even so, his wife and children remained an ember burning in the back of his mind, and he was never quite unaware of them – even as he requested landing clearance from Coruscant's planetary control and started his descent.

    It felt . . . strange, returning to the capital. He felt different as he walked through the halls of the Jedi Temple; changed on a deeper level than he first realized whilst soujurned on Naboo. Though the Temple had never quite felt as home to him - not in the way his mother's hut on Tatooine had - this was still a place that had defined and shaped him into the man he now was. For the first time in far too long . . . perhaps, for the first time ever, he did not feel ill at ease as he walked through the vaulted arches and passed alongside the whispering fountains. The thrumming currents of peace and serenity that were the combined presence of several thousand Jedi, compounded and compressed over a thousand years, no longer snagged on his own eddies of restless energy. He no longer felt the light as a pressure; he no longer bruised underneath the weight of its expectations.

    Instead -

    “ - Knight Skywalker,” Mace Windu's greeting was a whip-crack against the contented hum of his thoughts. Hearing him, Anakin turned from the interior corridor and walked out onto one of the landing platforms, high on the walls of the west Temple base. There was a strong wind that afternoon, snapping at his cloak; the constant whine of the air-lanes was a droning noise in his ears. “We're glad that you could return in time to join us. Obi-Wan was . . . most insistent on your presence.”

    “I'm grateful for the consideration of the Council, Master Windu. The chancellor has a chance to show us his best side, and I believe he'll take it,” Anakin bowed his head in greeting. For once, the motion did not rankle; it was simply a gesture of respect, not a subservient motion proving that he had thrown off one yoke only to assume another. He could feel Obi-Wan move to stand at his right, close enough that their shoulders nearly brushed, and his presence further balanced him.

    But Windu was still staring at him; his eyes were blunt and probing. “Was your . . . quest successful, then?” the Korun Jedi asked. Anakin could feel the weight of his question reverberate through the Force, spidering out along the chaotic web of cause and effect that was each and every sentient choice in the universe. Mace Windu's talent was singular, and Anakin knew better than to shy from it. He did not recoil from the search; instead, he held his thoughts still.

    “I saw my vision through to the end, yes, Master.” Years of practice had taught him how to tell the truth without revealing the truth, yet the flush of guilt defiance shame he normally felt for doing so was then absent. It was only a matter of time, and then all would surface; all would come to light. The newfound lightness of his conscience was a liberating thing.

    “Hmm, much change I sense in you, young one.” At first a silent presence further out on the platform, Master Yoda's was a harder probe to shield from. Anakin respectfully bowed his head and allowed the Grandmaster of the Order to seek out what he would, carefully tucking the ember of his family away for a little while longer still. “Much have we to discuss later, I foresee.”

    “Yes, Master,” Anakin allowed. That much he agreed with in its entirety. “ . . . we do.”

    Standing at his side, Anakin could feel Obi-Wan's pride as a bright splash of light in the Force. No matter his fate in the Jedi Order, knowing that he would always have his former Master's support and approval soothed him. It bolstered him. Quelling the leap of anticipation in his heart, of apprehension and resignation both, he inclined his head to focus on the task at hand.

    He had one last duty to fulfill. Then, his future as a Jedi was out of his hands.



    .

    .

    “Why, gentlemen.” Sheev Palpatine stood to see so many Masters of the Order file into his office. “And ladies,” he added when he saw Master Ti amongst those gathered. The Togruta Jedi stood tall next to Obi-Wan's left, her montrals sweeping back with a proud tilt of her head as she levelly met the chancellor's gaze. “What an unexpected surprise this is.”

    Though the chancellor's voice was as warm with welcome as it ever was, Anakin could feel a disquieting thrum of threat patience caution vibrate through the Force. The sensation set his teeth on edge, and he looked about, wondering which of his fellow Jedi was emitting such a terrible backlash of power. He saw nothing that gave the source away, nor did anyone else give an indication that they felt what was clear as day to Anakin. Briefly, he wondered if he was the only one who could feel the negative energy. The sensation was lined with teeth.

    “Your Excellency,” Yoda took his place at the head of their group, shuffling forward to stand before the trio of Mace Windu, Ki-Adi-Mundi, and Plo Koon. “Long you have led the Republic through a dark time. Now, ask we must that you give back the powers you have accepted.”

    “It's time to return the Senate to the people,” Mace Windu's voice was a strong slash of sound. Anakin could feel the force behind his words break over his skin like a wave.

    “With the brunt of the Separatists' military force broken, and their governing members reaching out for talks of peace,” Ki-Adi-Mundi's voice was cordial, but firm, “we are here to officially demand that you hand over your war-time powers.”

    “The Republic is grateful for your service,” Plo Koon's words softened the blow of their visit, but there was steel in the shape of his spine and the set of his shoulders. “Yet, surely you too see the wisdom in returning to the ways of democracy, now that the threat has waned.”

    A long moment passed, pregnant with promise. Anakin felt the sensation of threat patience caution crackle. It threatened to break.

    “And the Jedi have the authority to . . . request such a thing of me?” Palpatine's voice was threaded with amusement. He sat back in his seat, with his hands steepled before his chin. His cool smile did not reach his eyes. “I serve at the will of the people, and until the people ask for me to let go - ”

    “ - our presence here is in concert with the will of the people; we do not act alone. This has been signed by the Loyalist Committee, and others; we have the baking of enough voices in the Senate to see our motion through with a vote. Our coming to you first is simply a courtesy, allowing you the chance to step down gracefully before the motion moves in the Senate to force you to do so.”

    Mace Windu stepped forward to place a holochip on the chancellor's desk – the list of senators' names, Anakin assumed. After him, Plo Koon placed a small comm-unit down on the desk, and, from it, three quarter-sized blue holograms sprang. Anakin started to see his wife as one of the figures, standing tall and proud in her full senate regalia, with not a trace of her recent labor apparent in either her appearance or bearing. Padmé briefly glanced to meet his eyes, and he could see the warmth - and concern - in her gaze before she blinked it away.

    “Senators Organa, Mothma, and Amidala, respectively, have agreed to witness this motion,” the Kel Door Jedi rumbled. “We take no agency of our own, Your Excellency. We act in concert with the will of the people.”

    Palpatine thumbed on the holochip, a genial expression in place as he scrolled through the blue list of holographic names. There were many, Anakin espied, from amongst his supporters and detractors both. Even he was surprised by the number of signatures.

    For a long moment, Palpatine did not speak. The silence stretched, adding to Anakin's feeling of foreboding. But then the chancellor did something surprising: he laughed. The sound was low and pleasant - delighted, almost. It sent a chill up and down Anakin's spine.

    “Oh my, my, my,” Palpatine took his time in recovering his composure. “I always thought that it would come to this, but now, to actually see it play out . . . I am disappointed, Masters . . . most disappointed indeed.”

    Unexpectedly, the chancellor's attention then turned; it snapped to him, ignoring both the Jedi and senators to singularly focus on the junior-most person in the room. Anakin felt the queer urge to take a step back, but managed to hold his ground. By his side, Obi-Wan visibly tensed.

    “Anakin,” the chancellor addressed him with warm familiarity. “Surely you, at least, see this . . . fallacy for what it is.”

    A dozen eyes focused on him, and he heard the Force swirl as if to whisper: tread lightly. He felt the entity of energy pause to hold its breath, seemingly waiting to see how he would respond. Carefully, as if he stepped out onto dangerous footing with hidden fault-lines, he started, “My friend, you have led the Republic though a difficult time of great need. But that threat has now passed; it's time to step back and let democracy resume its course.”

    “Democracy,” Palpatine made the word - an idea that good men and innocent sentients fought and died for the whole galaxy wide - sound like a curse. His mouth made an ugly line on his face - a foreign expression that Anakin could not first equate with the gentle man he thought he knew. “What is democracy, really?” Palpatine countered. “Is it the will of the people? Hardly. Democracy is nothing more than bickering committees and endless debates, with the powerful extending favors to the powerful only if they think they have something to gain in return. But, let the people have their illusion of control, and they will accept anything that is decided for them, far above their heads. Yes . . . democracy. But, what power does democracy truly have to change things for the better? Can democracy bring peace? . . . can it save innocents? . . . can it end slavery? Can it protect those you love – truly protect them, Anakin?”

    His words hit something deep within Anakin; they struck. Tiny, at first seemingly inconsequential opinions he'd brushed aside over and over again for years seemingly surfaced all at once then. His mind itched; his thoughts were suddenly brittle – as if a hundred little seeds were struggling to sprout up through everything that was himself in his psyche. It was a singular sensation, and for a moment the room swam dizzily before him. Anakin swallowed, but found it difficult to center himself. He glanced to see Padmé's worried eyes staring at him. She did not try to hide the feeling therein, not this time.

    “With the war done,” he struggled to find his words. He felt as if he spoke through a haze, “We can turn our attention inwards.” Anakin did not deny the chancellor's claims – he could not, not when he agreed with them to a certain extent. But he still countered them. There were good people in the Senate, who truly wanted to make a difference - too many to give up on the Republic entirely. From his wife to Bail Organa and Mon Mothma and -

    - but they are hopelessly outnumbered, something darker . . . something dangerous whispered in his mind. You can't patch a hole over corruption when that corruption is not a leak, but a tide. This is the same Republic that could not protect its citizens - that pushed so many of its star-systems into outright civil war to begin with . . . this is the Republic that could not save your mother, that kept you from her side through the Jedi's ridiculous doctrines and inhuman dogmas . . . this is the same Republic that demanded that you, a peacekeeper, pick up a sword and lead the very slaves you first wanted to free -

    Anakin frowned, and lifted a hand to cradle his head, uncaring of who would see. The Jedi in the room, though they could not hear what Anakin heard, at last felt the sense of threat patience caution as it rose. The patience ebbed – horribly so; danger took its place.

    “Yet, how do you think that the war was started, if not by fissures in the Senate widening and finally breaking away after so many fruitlessly protested such corruption for too long?” Palpatine levelly replied. He merely blinked to observe him; concern did not once touch his eyes. “No, you need strength - you need one, absolute voice speaking, telling the masses what they should do and how they should do it. That is the only way to true peace; that is the only way to protect . . . why, everyone you care about . . . isn't that true, Anakin?”

    In a terrible way, the words sounded logical to a part of Anakin; they made sense. And, yet . . . he shook his head, trying to dislodge the whisper from his thoughts, the whisper that was growing louder to say -

    - I can be that one, absolute leader – search your feelings, you know this to be true. The voice in his mind finally gave up all pretense of masquerading as his own thoughts to speak outright. It was a familiar voice . . . a beloved voice, and Anakin started to hear it speak, not upon the air, but deep within his innermost mind - directly into the center of his being, as only Obi-Wan or Ahsoka would do. But they were those whom he trusted and loved and allowed the privilege of doing so. Instead of gently flowing between their minds, as such speech did with his Master and Padawan, the voice pushed itself into his consciousness to overwhelm and state: The Jedi fear me for what I can become; they are jealous. They do not want a voice in the Republic speaking with more authority than their own. They want to silence me before seeing what true peace I can bring.

    For, if there is peace – real, lasting peace, what need is there then, for peacekeepers?

    Anakin blinked, and stared at Palpatine. He could not first process what was happening. “How?” he forced the single word to form aloud, not trusting his power to shape the thought between their minds. The Force was too much of a hurricane at his fingertips, answering his distress, when he needed only a breeze. “How are you . . . ” but he could not finish his sentence. He struggled to find his words as the voice in his head seemingly tugged on every little seed in his mind - painstakingly planted over time by a patient, foreign gardener, and those seeds then burst. They sprouted from their deep roots and grew with a frenetic intensity, tangled and thorny and black as pitch to tear through his psyche. Anakin wavered on his feet.

    This galaxy – my galaxy, will have no need for peacekeepers . . . but there must always be two, and I am only one. I want – need you by my side, Anakin, to ensure – to guarantee this peace. There are powers in the universe beyond your wildest imaginings: powers that the Jedi don't want you to have. They know your full potential, but they are holding you back. They are keeping you from your true power . . . from your wife . . .

    . . . and from your children.

    But there, Palpatine erred. He stepped too far when sifting through his recent most memories. Summoned to the forefront of his mind, even the thought of Luke and Leia cut a spot of brightness through his mental landscape. Feeling the chancellor's almost hungry curiosity for the clear power his children already displayed, a tiny crack tore through the dark, bright in its intensity. Then, that barest veil drew back and allowed -

    - Anakin?

    Anakin!

    Obi-Wan's presence needed no more of an opening than that to push its way into his mind. His former Master zeroed in on that one bright spot, and anchored his own consciousness against the maelstrom of toxic miasma that Anakin struggled to combat. Anakin could feel his horror and revulsion for the thorny rifts tearing through his mind - the work of many, many years - before his determination blazed brighter than his abhorrence. The light from their bond soothed as a balm, and Anakin recovered enough strength to summon the one clear thought he could:

    Master, I think that Palpatine is . . .

    - I know, Obi-Wan did not need for him to explain. Instead, his presence reached to give him a mental hand out of his own mind, pulling him upwards until -

    - with a single, fluid motion, Anakin's lightsaber was in hand and ignited. “You are the Sith Lord,” he declared with absolute certainty - daring Palpatine to counter him. “All this time, and you are the one we've been searching for.”

    No matter how strong his words were, his hands trembled over the hilt of his weapon. The pall Obi-Wan was able to draw back from his mind was unsteady in its confines; it flickered. Anakin could feel perspiration break out on his brow for the amount of effort it took to remain himself. Disturbingly, his eyes burned - as if his irises were swimming with flame.

    You are the Sith Lord . . . you are the reason Master Jinn died, his spirit nonetheless wailed . . . You are the reason this war has gone on for so long . . . you are the reason I have led so many and lost so many while innocents have been sacrificed on the altar of your twisted vision of how the galaxy should be. All of this for your sick desire for power and greed for -

    His rage was a thunderous thing as it built; potent and consuming.

    You lied to me, he thought next. The knowledge of that was a wound, throbbing over the tender parts of his spirit. He still could not wholly comprehend the enormity of the betrayal. I trusted you; I thought that you cared for me - loved me, even. Me, and not my . . .

    Potential. Power. Rage. Pain. The very idea that he had qualities that appealed to the . . . grotesque creature at the desk sickened Anakin. He could not at first acknowledge the thought.

    For the seconds he struggled, however, his declaration brought an instantaneous reaction as every Jedi in the room ignited their weapons to follow suit. He did not have to explain himself. He was instantly trusted; he was instantly supported. Feeling the power of so many Masters at his back – at last understanding the mental anguish he had been undergoing and sensing: Palpatine lying and Palpatine manipulating – cast off blinders on Anakin's eyes that had too long been present. No matter their flaws, the fact remained that the Jedi were good men and woman who tried to make the right decisions and do the right thing. Cutting through Palpatine's insistence of their indifference, to feel those same Jedi he had so long doubted trust him without any spoken proof or explanation . . . following him as one Chosen . . .

    He would still have quite the tangled nest of thoughts to sort through later, Anakin knew. Yet, for that moment, he simply braced himself against the wide, worried look Padmé cast and the strong, righteous indignation he could feel blazing from the powerful souls surging forth to support him.

    Your mind, Anakin, a part of Obi-Wan was horrified to mourn. What has he been doing to you . . . and for years? Then, more softly: . . . what kind of Master was I to miss the signs of it?

    But that too was a thought for later.

    Anchoring himself in the present, Anakin bared his teeth to accuse: “All of this has been you – from Chancellor Valorum's removal to Master Jinn's death . . . to this war, and . . .”

    . . . Dooku's death, he remembered with nauseating clarity. He then understood the former Jedi's wide, disbelieving eyes when Palpatine demanded his execution. Those eyes were not from a fear of death, but from the stunning betrayal of a Master turning against their Apprentice. And why had Palpatine done so, unless . . .

    . . . always two Sith, there were. Two.

    “You wanted me to take Dooku's place,” Anakin growled. Indignation and rage - such a rage - rose in him for the thought. He had been used, manipulated, and nearly chained as he'd sworn to never be again. To think that he had almost willingly stepped into the shackles Palpatine had prepared for him and embraced them . . .

    Everything in the room began shaking - from the ornamental statues to the heavy desk to the wide, thick transparisteel in its window panes and the very ground beneath their feet. Spidering cracks appeared in the walls, and Palpatine smiled such a smile -

    “ - Anakin,” Obi-Wan stepped forward to put a comforting hand on his arm. Feeling that physical contact - the strength in his grasp and the light he shared with his mind, Anakin was brought back to himself. He checked the whirlpool of power at his fingertips . . . and made a fist to extinguish it.

    “He is not worth it,” Obi-Wan spoke gently out loud. But they are, he added between their minds. Concentrate on them; focus on my voice. Breath, Anakin, and let it go.

    Anakin sucked in a deep breath, and glanced again to see where Padmé had abandoned all pretense of impartiality to stare at him with her heart in her eyes. Her hands were held out before her, as if she wanted to rush to his side but could not when she was star-systems away from him. He thought he'd heard her voice, even in his haze; had she called his name?

    At the thought . . . Anakin let his rage go. He let it evaporate into hurt . . . and then to grief . . . and then numb acceptance. His anger was not gone – not yet, not nearly. But, for the time being, it banked . . . that little bit was enough.

    And Palpatine felt the exact moment when he lost his sway: the thorny vines choking his mind retreated, cut off at their very roots. The seeds remained - and would later need to be dealt with, yet his mind was then his own. His thoughts were free.

    “You foolish boy,” Palpatine rose to his feet, all pretense of civility then gone. His face contorted into an ugly, demonic scowl as he spat, “You foolish, trusting boy. So . . . it has come to this.”

    “Yes – it has,” Mace Windu cut in to say. He stepped forward, physically placing himself between the revealed Sith Lord and Anakin. To protect one of our own, Anakin felt the thought from Windu's mind like a tidal wave. For a moment, Anakin could not understand the sentiment, not when it was turned towards him; his balance teetered.

    “Sheev Palpatine,” the Korun Jedi no longer honored him with his title. “By mandate of the Jedi Council, under the authority vested in us by the Galactic Republic, you are under arrest for treason and crimes committed against the galaxy.”

    “Willingly come with us,” Yoda folded his arms to say, “and harmed, you will not be.” Silent until then, the diminutive Grandmaster was the only one who did not draw a weapon - but only a fool would think him as anything less than dangerous. Anakin could feel the awesome might of his power fill the room with a rich, heady light, further soothing the raw places left behind in his own mind. Behind him, each Master moved forward to add their own unique presence to the growing crescendo of power, and the Force all but sang.

    “I'm sorry to disappoint you, my friends, but I find that I must decline.” With a slow, almost lazy motion, Palpatine reached down to touch the comm panel on his desk. “I have been attacked - the Jedi are attempting to stage a coup on the Senate,” he addressed his private security on the other side of the line. “Commander, execute Order 66.”

    It took a heartbeat for the office doors to fly open, and what space there was left flooded with clone soldiers. Several more troopers with red accented armor filled the hall beyond. Anakin could hear the tell-tale whine of an approaching lartie over the constant buzz of the air-lanes, and looked out the window to see gunships arrive to take up point. But, all of the lethal force then leveled at them was merely aimed; the clones were holding fire.

    Just barely, Palpatine frowned, and Anakin felt his rage threaten to break forth anew as more pieces of the puzzle finally clicked into place in his mind. Palpatine had truly intended for -

    - but, in the end, it was Obi-Wan who stepped forward, apparently unconcerned with the blasters leveled at his chest to address the leading clone by name. He locked eyes with the man through the dark visor, and bid, “Commander Fox, the Supreme Chancellor is a Sith Lord and traitor to the Republic. Underneath Order 65 we are authorizing his arrest until a full investigation and trial before the Senate can be conducted. We would appreciate your men aiding us in this endeavor.”

    The commander clearly hesitated – conflicted between obeying so many of his generals and obeying his commander-in-chief. Yet, he trusted the Jedi; and, when given the choice, he would prefer to arrest rather than take a life that did not need to be taken.

    And Anakin watched as, slowly, the threat in the air shifted. Fox did not lower his weapon, but instead redirected it. “Your Excellency,” he still inclined his helmet in respect. “I am sorry, but you will have to come with us.”

    Palpatine's expression turned from a faint frown to a full look of thunderous rage. Anakin felt his skin prickle as the malice danger caution seeping from the Sith turned from threat to intention.

    “You look surprised, Sheev,” Master Ti then chose her moment to speak. There was a rich note of satisfaction in her voice, and her words were punctuated by a high, almost triumphant trill in her own language. “It couldn't be because of this, could it?”

    She held up a familiar biochip between two sienna red fingertips, and, seeing it . . .

    “ - that . . . how is that possible?” For the first time in Anakin's experience, Palpatine was seemingly at a loss for words. He could only growl, thwarted and incensed.

    “I have held my tongue since ARC-trooper Fives was conveniently silenced by your guard,” Shaak Ti continued. Her words were low and controlled, but not a soul present doubted the righteous blaze of her indignation. Fives had been her cadet long before he was Anakin's trooper, and her grief and ire had hardened into a protective fury in her voice. No matter how intrinsic her Jedi serenity was, she was still Togruta at her core, and she had folded all of the growing clones who passed through her care into her clan. Her claws were out. “Since then, I have investigated, and set up . . . contingencies.”

    “With Knight Skywalker's premonitions, and Master Kenobi's further evidence,” Plo Koon's voice was deep with a checked anger as he came to stand by Shaak's side, “we were moved to put one of those contingencies into effect.”

    “A counter-signal, to be precise – overriding any activation of the chips from your office,” Obi-Wan was clearly too pleased to take up the explanation. His trademark cheek and over-familiarity were as infuriating to an enemy as ever; Palpatine was no exception. “You may remember a certain senator by the name of Garm Bel Iblis, whom your policies pushed away early on in the war; it turns out that Corellia was all too happy to lend us a hand with the more . . . delicate technical aspects of setting up such a signal. The countermeasures will stand until we can physically remove each and every biochip from our men.”

    Commander Fox - who had been the one to pull the trigger on Fives - had been paying close attention. He instantly understood all of the implications . . . and repercussions involved in their words. His entire posture stiffened, and his weapon lowered just long enough for him to reach up and remove his helmet - uncharacteristically fumbling with the pressure seal as if he could not longer stand to wear it. Anakin felt something deep inside of him clench to see such a familiar face furrowed in horror – in betrayal, and his heart went out to the clone.

    “Sir,” Fox turned to Palpatine again. “Your Excellency,” he still struggled against what had been conditioned in him since infancy, “but . . . you said . . . ARC-trooper Fives attacked you; he was a danger to himself and others without his chip, and he had to be . . .” He faltered, and his voice turned very small to whisper, “ . . . there was no choice.”

    For a long moment his eyes glazed over, and then his expression sharpened. Anakin could read the intent in his eyes as he refocused his weapon and -

    “No, ad'ika.” He reached out with the Force, ready to deflect the shot, but Shaak Ti was the one to step forward and put a gentle hand on Fox's armored shoulder before he could pull the trigger. “Not like this. He has the blood of too many on his hands to answer for so simply. We want justice, not skira, no?”

    “Justice,” Fox repeated dully, but he did not focus his weapon again. “Yes . . . justice.”

    “Yes,” impatient with the delays, Mace Windu was the one to return them to their course. “Justice. Which means - ”

    “ - oh, enough,” Palpatine finally spat in disgust. “I have entertained this . . . amusing interlude for long enough, but, now - ”

    Faster than the naked eye could follow, a flash of steel glinted and then a red blade snap-hissed as it sprang to life. Faster than his age and persona would first suggest, Palpatine was then airborne with an impossible corkscrewing maneuver and his lightsaber came crashing down against Windu's violet blade with a surprising display of force. Windu deflected the blow, and spun out to open up room for his fellow Jedi; the duel was on.

    Yet, for their overwhelming advantage in numbers, the relatively small size of Palpatine's office proved to be their undoing. Only a Master or two at a time could move to engage the speed and ferocity of the Sith, and they had to be careful against his unchecked power while gingerly avoiding getting in the way of their comrades. The clones were delegated to simply blocking the exits – there was no way possible that they could fire into the melee, and they would be no match for the Sith Lord in closer combat – a fact which Palpatine was more than aware of, and eager to press to his advantage.

    Yet, Anakin felt adrenaline thrum through his body as the Force pushed in on him, bidding that he act, that he challenge. He slowed before joining the dogfight of controlled aerobics and staggeringly powerful blows, and instead tried to open his eyes to what the Force was trying to tell him. Palpatine was not immediately aiming for killing blows, it took Anakin a moment to understand – though he clearly had the skill to do so. His motions were conservative; his movements were controlled by a larger strategy. Slowly, deftly, he was fending off his opposition while moving backwards . . .

    . . . back and back and back, until -

    - the window, Anakin understood. He pushed the thought out mentally to everyone in the room instead of wasting his breath on saying the words aloud. The window – he is trying to escape!

    Once free in Coruscant's underbelly, who knew how far Palpatine could go before he was apprehended? Who knew how many would be caught in the crossfire of such a chase, before -

    - with a wave of his hand, Palpatine chortled to unleash a massive wave of crackling blue electricity – such as Anakin had never seen before, even from the likes of Count Dooku. Reflexively, the Jedi in the room caught the blue energy, using their sabers or outstretched hands to defend themselves. Yet, for every soldier there who was blind to the ways of the Force -

    - no, Anakin thought. No.

    Without a thought for his actions, he held up his hands and willed all of the lightning to come to him.

    At first, the maelstrom of unholy power was overwhelming. The dark energy danced over him, illuminating each still bleeding scab in his mind that Palpatine had so long tried to coerce and manipulate into action. His immaterial senses recoiled from the pressure-pain of the yearning want greed that threatened to erupt within him anew, but he pushed past it. He made himself stronger than the dark – at last he understood, and even accepted his fear . . . his rage . . . his pain. Because, didn't every sentient being in the galaxy also feel the same? For he felt love, as well . . . devotion . . . duty . . . belonging. Those things were greater than his anger, stronger than his pain . . . and when he focused on them, he felt no fear. Balance, he thought wildly, it was about balance.

    Briefly, he remembered standing as a fulcrum for the Son and the Daughter . . . feeling the awesome might of their polar opposite powers and wielding each as if he was born to do so . . .

    . . . for, in a way, he was.

    Around him, the Force sang – it soared – and Anakin was powerless to resist the siren's song of its call. He demanded that the lightning obey him, manipulating it without surrendering to it, channeling the dark without becoming the dark. Then, instead of merely dispersing it, he redirected it. He added his own power to it as no Jedi would dare to do for fear of staining their own souls black. He poured the overabundance of his power into the storm, and white, blindingly bright eddies of his own energy blazed amongst the crackling blue beams of the dark.

    The massive outpouring of power was returned on Palpatine ten fold – throwing him back against the window and consuming him in its violence. Anakin watched as his one-time mentor's fiery eyes narrowed, filling with pain. The Sith Lord howled in agony as his skin grotesquely melted, morphing to better match the twisted creature he truly was on the inside. The window cracked against the onslaught of lightning, yet Anakin kept feeding the storm until he was certain that Palpatine could resist no longer. He would never hurt another being again; not while Anakin was there to stop him.

    Yet, with the last bit of his strength, Palpatine reached behind him and struck the weakened transparisteel with the hilt of his lightsaber. The glass shattered, and a strong, stiff wind blew through the room, forcing the Jedi closest to him to brace themselves lest they be taken by the sudden change in air pressure.

    Palpatine smiled, and threw himself out of the window -

    - only to be taken by the void of Coruscant, far below.

    The Jedi immediately rushed to the window, and most of them jumped out to follow. Anakin was not certain if Palpatine could have survived such a fall – not with how much energy was overloading his body when he leapt. Yet, they would take no chances. They would bring him back alive, or they would bring back proof of his death. Anakin heard the whine of the gunships as they dove to pick up the airborne Jedi and then zoomed after where Palpatine had disappeared. He could hear the rest of the clones retreat from the room, already coordinating their search efforts, and, knowing that, for the moment, the situation was contained . . .

    . . . Anakin finally let go of the Force, and dropped to his knees, spent.

    It took a long moment for him to recover himself. His breathing was labored, and his fingertips still sparked with a potent white energy. He stared down at his hands, not yet able to believe what he'd accomplished. He was still shocked by his own actions.

    When he felt he could breathe again, he glanced to see where Padmé was staring at him with wide, luminous brown eyes. He could feel her relief and her love – and even her own fierce, righteous desire to protect – pulse across the vast distance between them. He felt open to the Force then as he never had before, and his new sense and understanding of the universe humbled him. He felt small; he felt indomitable; he felt centered. He sucked in a shaky breath, and glanced to see where Master Yoda was watching him – and Padmé too, with a thoughtful glint in his ancient green eyes. He knows, Anakin realized, but the thought did not fill him with panic. Not then. Instead, he simply bowed his head in acceptance.

    In the end, it was Mace Windu who helped him up. There was gratitude in his expression – and even a small, grudging amount of respect and awe. Once, Anakin would have been gratified for the recognition of his power - triumphant and proud and satisfied. Then, he simply cracked a tired, accepting smile, and concentrated instead on the relief concern love he could feel flooding in from Obi-Wan's more familiar presence within his mind. He did not protest when Obi-Wan moved to help him stand; instead, he leaned his weight against him, unsure if he could yet keep his balance on his own.

    A long, stunned moment of silence passed. Then: “Knight Skywalker,” Windu rumbled, struggling to find his words. “We . . . we are in your debt.”

    “No,” Anakin shook his head to forestall any further thanks. “I am a Jedi . . . it was simply my duty.”

    But Mace Windu was not a foolish man in the slightest. He tilted his head to repeat, “ . . . was?” with a clear question in his voice. His eyes narrowed in a more familiar expression to Anakin's gaze.

    Tall by his side, Obi-Wan helped him stand up straighter. His pride was a balm against his still bruised psyche, encouraging him to hold his head up high. Beyond him, Padmé's smile was soft with acceptance, with pride and encouragement and love. Master Yoda simply leaned forth on his gimer stick, waiting for him to confirm what he already knew.

    So, Anakin looked ahead, and at last surrendered his future to admit, “Masters . . . honored members of the Council . . . there is something I have to tell you.”



    ~MJ @};-
     
  11. RX_Sith

    RX_Sith C&G Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Mar 13, 2006
    A great battle scene that Palpatine manages to escape. Meanwhile, Anakin's power grows exponentially while becoming strong enough to avoid Palpatine's schemes.
     
  12. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    This is interesting as it really shows the well-tuned facade Palpie was able to put up. Padmé still believes there was good in Palp’s intentions.

    Kriff yeah Shaak Ti!

    The whole confrontation with Palpatine was amazingly woven. I love how Luke and Leia are Anakin’s entering point.

    This literally had me saying “No! No!!” AND THEN I REMEMBERED SHAAK TI IS AWESOME!

    No!

    The whole fight was simply epic! And that end! I cant wait for the next update!
     
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  13. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    I read that earlier on today, but than I was forced to put my mobile phone away in favour of the family breakfast and DarthUncle. Now I will reply briefly that he does not give out that I am late for the fitness centre. (Sauna meeting at 7:30pm on the roof top.)

    Anyway, your Au shows how the Jedi Order and its individuals could have backed up Anakin. The strength of the Jedi is in union & unity. Plus honesty and compassion. Sith are not really team players.

    Together they form a sort of Force meld in the end (is it really called thus?) and win against Palpatine.

    I really, really loved this... @};-
     
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  14. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    WOW! :eek: This AU just keeps getting incredibler and incredibler with each chapter. What an amazing confrontation! Just imagine if it had happened in ROTS, with Anakin using his prodigious powers not to destroy the Jedi but to aid them—and with the Jedi banding together as one rather than all scattered about the galaxy as generals, outnumbered by their clone troops. You create a truly stunning scene here, with all the Jedi taking a stand against the evil that threatened to take out their order and darken the face of the galaxy. (And yes, your rendition of Shaak Ti here does indeed kick major shebs! I always was partial to her, too.)

    Now as for Anakin, I hope I'm understanding this right: it looks like he just basically absorbed all of Palpatine's Force lightning, and then returned it? And that the impulse that allowed him do so was the thought of his children, and of the balance they bring or could bring? WOW—and that on top of the fact that he is the prophesied Chosen One, who's supposed to bring balance to the Force—it's as though we're witnessing the very act of that happening, right here in this battle scene. Yow. Za. :eek: (And when he recalls "standing as a fulcrum for the Son and the Daughter"—I can't help but feel that as tying in with [hl=black]the "Fulcrum" code name in both TCW and Rebels—maybe?[/hl])

    And then the scene's tantalizingly ambiguous ending... is the situation really contained? Has Sheev been defeated, or will he get away? And what, I wonder, is the deal with Anakin's elusive "was" and the knowing look from Mace (who obviously is wise to more than we are about this situation)? And what could Anakin's announcement to the assembles Masters be? I'm starting to have a theory or two that this is where [hl=black]the AU reverses itself: that Anakin really has gone to the Dark Side after all and that the "defeat" of Palpatine may actually have been planned[/hl]. Then again, the announcement could just be [hl=black]"hey, I'm a dad now."[/hl] But I'd be lying if I said I weren't getting serious vibes of an impending "headsplode moment." [face_nail_biting]

    Keep up the fantastic work—this is taking the concept of AU to all-new heights! =D=
     
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  15. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Once again, this scene is a definite improvement on what actually happened in ROTS: Shaak Ti had the appearance she should have made in the movie (instead of a cut-scene where she apologized to Our Heroes before being killed by General Grievious, but I shall stop right there); the Jedi have already dealt with the issue of those Chips; and they are working in solidarity. But it is also a difficult scene, in which Anakin realizes--in one of the most painful ways imaginable--that the man who he thought of as a mentor, as his friend, had in fact been abusing him for years. I'm not certain what term to use for what Palpatine does to Anakin in this scene, but it is a violation. It also made me realize that it's a good thing telepathy doesn't exist--when even your own mind can be invaded like this.

    The action in this scene is fierce, but the real action is not fighting with lightsabers, but with words and thoughts. And Anakin is not the only one present to have the truth thrust upon him: Obi-Wan realizes how much he did not see, but should have, and Commander Fox learns the truth behind the lies he believed when he shot down one of his brother-clones. Palpatine was always been terribly good at lying, adding just enough truth to make it work, but now those lies are coming out.

    But the physical action is not inconsiderable--and this time, Palpatine doesn't cut down four Jedi masters with the greatest of ease, which alone improves on the original. And at the end of it, Palpatine does make his escape, and is still at large. So that situation is contained, but it is almost certainly not yet over.

    And then: after the action, the scene ends with Anakin about to reveal his own hidden truth to the Jedi, and he looks to be ready to live with any possible consequences. (Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not Padmé will do the same in her own sphere--though unless she plans to hide her twins away for the next eighteen years, she is going to have to say something at some time.) And I do think there will be consequences, but I shall have to wait to find out what they are.
     
  16. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Haven't caught up all the way, but I just wanted to say that I'm somewhere around Chapter 5 and this story is amazing! :D I especially love how (so far?) we don't know whether Vader's dream is a fantasy of what could have been, a real other universe, or a memory from somewhere in a past that still led him to the dark side somehow. The characterization of the prequel trio is really interesting, and I often have trouble connecting to Anakin's perspective.
     
  17. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Yep. I couldn't have put it better myself. :)


    Palpatine's Grandpa Naboo act is good. Seriously, Sidious gets all of the points on the villain scale, because he is just brilliant. I had fun pulling his plans apart here, that's for certain. ;) [face_mischief]

    Because she's kriffin' SHAAK TI. :cool:[face_mischief]

    Luke being the key to Vader's redemption is so timelessly beautiful that I had to echo that here. [face_love]

    BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AWESOME PEOPLE WORK TOGETHER TO BE AWESOME INSTEAD OF BEING ALL DUMB AND SITHY! ;)

    Your wish is my command! The conclusion will be right up in a few minutes . . . :)


    Aw, thanks! It's always amused me, honestly, that it's always one Jedi hero that comes through in the end. They have such a vast organization that it was gratifying to write them coming together as they could have done. Anakin was never as alone as he felt. [face_love]

    As always, I thank you so much for reading! :)


    Thank-you! There are so many amazing players in the Jedi Order that it was refreshing to have them all here working together as they could have done. I am glad that the team effort worked so well for you. (And Shaak Ti is SHAAK TI! I'm happy that she was so well received. [face_love] :D)

    Honestly, it's just so hard to improve on those final moments aboard the second Death Star in ROTJ that, at first, I just drew a big ol' blank for writing this scene. In the end, I still don't even think I came close to improving on the original, but I wanted to keep Anakin's children as his impetus to stay on the right path, and, of course, Palpatine 'dying' in a haze of Force lightning. My thing is: Anakin is a prodigy, and it can be easy to forget that with some of the sloppy writing and characterization in the PT. Who knows how his powers could have grown if he'd kept an organic, light-based presence as opposed to becoming Darth Vader? Anakin being able to channel Palpatine's power, and then add lightning of his own is just one possible way to showcase those potential powers, and it was a lot of fun to write!

    Then, there's this really powerful scene in TCW where the Anakin/Obi-Wan/Ahsoka go up against these Force entities called the Father, Son and Daughter. The Son and Daughter are just manifestations of the Light and Dark Side of the Force, and Anakin literally stands in the middle of them both, and was powerful enough to subdue them with his mind. It's a perfectly animated moment, and it still gives me chills to rewatch - the implications in the design and execution were stunning, simply put. So I was trying to draw a little bit on the same themes. And then, I couldn't resist with the Fulcrum verbiage - so I'm glad that sentence stood out to you! ;)

    I hate to disappoint with the next update, now! I'm afraid that it's going to be terribly mundane and still somewhat open-ended - I have my brain already thinking ahead to a sequel, so of course I had to let Palpatine go. For now. [face_mischief]

    (But I love that this story prompted you to think so deeply - I love reading your thoughts every update! [:D]

    I thank you again for all of your kind words! I can't wait to see what you think of the last update, now. [face_thinking][:D]


    This story really is just me venting my frustration with ROTS, isn't it? [face_laugh] ;) I'm glad that we share so many of the same gripes, however. ;)

    It was hard writing that scene with Palpatine, but I usually subscribe to the theory that Palpatine has been manipulating Anakin for years, planting those little mental seeds, as it were. While that does not excuse Anakin's actions in the slightest, it does add a very interesting layer to their dynamic to explore, and it gave me a very intense framework to build upon. You're right, it was indeed a violation - and definitely an unfortunate danger in a world where telepathy exists. :(

    There was so much emotional turmoil and revelations to weed through here that it was at first overwhelming to plot out while retaining a decent flow! But I'm glad that you enjoyed all of the opened eyes in this update. :)

    I too hate how easily the Jedi went down in ROTS. I get that the writers were trying to showcase just how powerful Palpatine is . . . but, seriously, no. I was glad to write something a little different here, even if the Jedi didn't completely prevail. [face_thinking]

    Nope - Anakin and Padme are finally going to do the right thing here, and accept all of the consequences that means. They'll build from there, after that, but there'll be no more ridiculous charades, you don't have to worry. :p

    As always, I thank-you so much for reading, and for taking the time to leave your thoughts! :)


    Welcome to the party! [face_love] I always love receiving your kudos, so I am extra thankful for the comment as well - I am glad that this story is interesting for you! I personally love the potential of the original trio, and the potential of Anakin - I get what the writers were attempting to do with him, but it really is fun to get into his head and try to flesh him out into a more relatable character. I hope that you enjoy the rest of the story as you go! :) [face_love]


    Then, I have to say a big thank-you to everyone who has reviewed, or left kudos so far - you guys really are the best, and you make writing this more of a joy than it already is! [:D][:D]

    Now, for the final update . . .


    ~MJ @};-
     
  18. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    VII

    It took the better part of a year for the Republic to negotiate and sign a treaty with the Separatist Senate.

    It took the next two years to neutralize the straggling resistors to that peace, and the military threat they still represented on hundreds of different worlds.

    It took three years for the reformation of the Jedi Order to take effect . . . three long, painstaking, worthwhile years.

    Now, almost four years later, Anakin Skywalker sat on the lakeside terrace of his family's Naboo home, and instructed his children in the ways of the Force.

    Luke had more patience for the minutiae of moving the building blocks into place with his mind, trying to figure out how the different pieces fit together with an almost solemn sort of determination. He'd learned early on that the quicker he completed what he considered boring, then the sooner he could move on to the more interesting aspects of his training, and he admirably maintained his patience. Well . . . most of the time, that was. Other times, Luke could show his Skywalker colors with gusto – or so Padmé was wont to grumble after parenting those episodes away.

    Leia, in her quest to beat her brother's time, had first rushed through the exercise and missed a piece. Now, her brow was furrowed and her power was a flare of luminescent color to his senses as she applied her mind to the problem. Feeling her triumphant burst of satisfaction for solving the puzzle, Anakin let her momentarily experience the emotion - for he was proud of her progress, after all, almost to the point of obnoxiousness when discussing his children with others - yet he recognized a growing ego when he saw one.

    So.

    Leia moved the last piece into place just as Anakin subtly twitched one of the base pieces, and the entire tower came tumbling down. She would have to begin again.

    Yet the girl looked down at her pile of blocks, her mouth tugging a frown. Then she confidently looked him in the eye to declare, “You cheated, Papa.” - just as Luke moved his last block into place.

    “Aw, c'mon, La!” her brother clapped his hands together to crow. “I think you're just sore that I won - admit it.”

    “Am not,” Leia retorted, throwing her nose in the air. “I would've beaten you a whole minute ago if I didn't miss - ”

    “ - alright, that's enough,” Anakin cut into the well meaning squabbling before it could escalate. He held up his hand, and, stronger than any Force trick, his children obediently quieted. “Your education is not a race; it's a journey. And I'm proud of both of you for completing the exercise.”

    Luke gave a small huff of breath. “That sounds like something Uncle Obi-Wan would say.”

    Almost word for word, in fact, but his son didn't need to know that; not just yet. Instead, Anakin cracked a lopsided grin to challenge, “How about you put both sets into a single tower now? I want to see if you can work together.”

    Leia looked sideways at her twin, a brow arched in question; after a moment, Luke smiled. They didn't say a word aloud, but then, they didn't need too. They both held up their small hands, and, at the same time, mismatched blocks rose in the air before locking into place to form the base of the tower. Not for the first time, Anakin watched his children in wonder, quietly marveling at the unique bond pulsing between them.

    He continued to watch their progress, yet he was soon distracted by his wife's voice inside the house - speaking to her mother with a note of stress coloring her words. Confident that Luke and Leia no longer required his guidance to complete the exercise, he rose from his place on the training mat and walked in to see Padmé bustling about - uncharacteristically frazzled as she went over the same list of instructions that they had already discussed with Jobal the night before . . . at length.

    A far cry from the indomitable presence she normally cut in her official regalia, Padmé was only half dressed for their impending trip to Coruscant. She wore just the base layer of her rich blue gown; pearlescent white beads were intricately sewn into the brocade of her skirt, and gleamed in the bright morning sunlight as the fabric fluttered to follow her step. Her hair was only partially up and styled into a matching white headpiece; the remaining curls spilled over her shoulders in careless waves. Sabé was patiently waiting for her lady with an amused expression covering any well-meaning exasperation she may have been feeling - their schedule for the day was always close enough as it was, Anakin knew. He felt his concern rise a notch.

    Yet Jobal patiently listened to her daughter without a word spoken for the redundancy. Instead, there was a twinkle in her eyes as she rocked her youngest grandson in her arms. Anakin caught her gaze, and shared a rueful look; Jobal did not need the Force to silently echo her own thoughts on the matter.

    An intervention was required, it seemed.

    “Love,” Anakin came up behind Padmé and placed his hands on her shoulders, effectively stilling her. “Your mother has successfully raised two beautiful, healthy women - and if the twins haven't already done her in, then I'm certain she has this under control. Wouldn't you agree?”

    Right on cue, Padmé's face flushed, and she clipped her speech mid-sentence. Her mouth shut with an audible click of her teeth. “I know, I know – you're right,” Padmé gave a deep exhale to calm herself. She reached up to cover his hands with her own, and squeezed. “It's only . . . I've never been away from him before.” Ruefully, she met his eyes before turning to catch her mother's sympathetic gaze – for Jobal truly did understand. Her expression was soft with pride as she looked on her daughter.

    At four months old, Shmiq Skywalker was a quiet, happy babe with his father's bright blue eyes and his mother's dark brown hair. He was a calm child, docile to the point that he rarely cried – even for the things he needed, which oftentimes led to guessing games for his worried parents. Anakin could already feel the Force pooling in their son in awesome, staggering waves, so much so that it was humbling to witness as he grew. Where Luke and Leia were bright, colorful flares against his mental landscape, and Padmé a pure white light, Shmiq was a kaleidoscope of stars, always shifting and dancing across his senses. The spiritual consciousness of his family was a tapestry of awareness that defined his being; the cornerstone of his balance and contentment. He did not care to imagine the shadow that would exist in his life without them.

    “I know,” Anakin finally exhaled, squeezing Padmé's shoulders one last time. “I don't like it any more than you do – but it's only for a five-day. We'll be back before you know it.”

    “It's only a few days,” Padmé glumly echoed. “Not long at all.” But her voice lacked conviction; her eyes were still locked on her son, content and cradled in her mother's arms.

    It was just a five-day, but an important few days for both Padmé and the Republic as a whole. When the truth of their marriage at last came to light, the story was at first a shock and a scandal across all of the major news cycles. As predicted, Naboo's queen did ask her to step down from her seat in the Senate, and an ethics panel was convened to review her conduct. Yet, the HoloNet eventually turned out to be their unexpected ally. After years of war, the galaxy was all too eager to welcome something good coming out of the mess of broken families and recovering star-systems from the Core to the Outer Rim. There was a love story to be found in two people who hid their relationship to remain true to their duty as well as to their hearts, and the newscasters ran wild with the story. They eagerly embellished the forbidden nature of their romance, and effectively turned their family into a symbol of the rosy, peaceful days ahead as the Republic took a serious look at its innermost self and went about making changes for the better.

    At first, Padmé was simply grateful for the time off from her political career, as it allowed her to be a devoted mother throughout the twins' infancy. Yet Anakin could see how her enforced idleness eventually chafed at her when there was simply so much to do following the end of the war. It was not at all a surprise to him when Bail Organa - the newly appointed Supreme Chancellor, following the elections that ousted Mas Amedda's temporary stewardship - asked Padmé to be his Special Adviser to the Chancellor's Office, and used her as his far-reaching hand in conducting peace talks with the Separatists. With her children and husband in tow, Padmé became instrumental in repairing the burned bridges and soothing the ruffled feathers that were at the root of the Separatist worlds' defection in the first place. She went from being a moralistic and outspoken Senator, respected on both sides of the war, to an Angel of Peace in the eyes of the galaxy, and the HoloNet took great delight in dubbing her as such.

    Once peace with the Separatists was officially declared, Padmé did not campaign to represent her planet in the Senate again. Instead, she used her new-found influence and further reaching sphere of power to push her own personal projects through in the Senate as part of the chancellor's staff. Now free to lobby without a planet weighing her down and coloring perception of her motives, she took on the mantle of several special interest causes – from seeing war refuges returned to their homes, to the GAR/Jedi Reformation Act, to demanding equal sentential rights and financial compensation for the clone soldiers who survived the war.

    Her last push for supporters, and the final outcome of the Clone Rights Bill was Padmé's primary reason for traveling to Coruscant now, and Anakin with her. The impending trip offworld would be their first time away from the children since Shmiq was born, and Anakin didn't care for that aspect of their journey any more than Padmé.

    Once on Coruscant, Padmé would also inform Bail Organa that she would be unable to run with him as his Vice Chair in the upcoming reelection for the chancellery. While Anakin knew that Padmé had political aspirations of her own, she would not sacrifice her children to her ambition – especially with Shmiq being so tenderly young in age. She still had more than enough time to cast her eyes upwards; there was no need to vault through the ranks when she already walked the fine line between her career and her family with such a careful balance. Though Anakin had resolutely kept his opinion out of the equation, and encouraged her to come to her own conclusion, he was happy with the choice she'd made. He was proud to call such an amazing woman his wife.

    For the time being, however, thoughts of politics and the greater good were far from Padmé's mind as she took her son from Jobal. She leaned down to bury her nose against his cheek, and breathed in deep of his sweet baby scent. Shmiq cooed, content in his mother's arms, and Padmé only held him tighter. Anakin stood close enough to touch them both, and committed every sensation of the moment to memory. Shmiq already pushed back against his mental presence with all of the simple trust and affection his developing mind could muster, and Anakin felt something deep inside his heart clench.

    But the soft family moment was interrupted by the sound of Threepio announcing visitors at the door, and, like a cork popping from a bottle of Daruvvian champagne, the twins raced in from the terrace, their training blocks forgotten. Anakin didn't bother checking their exuberance besides a simple no running in the house! that he projected directly into their minds – he couldn't when he too caught sense of the visitors' identities. As recognition set in, he had just a moment to receive and return his Master's mental greeting before Obi-Wan's attention was completely taken by the children, and he became an afterthought.

    “Uncle Obi-Wan! Uncle Obi-Wan!”

    Following more sedately behind his children, Anakin could not tell one giddy voice from the other as Luke and Leia ran up to greet the older Jedi. Obi-Wan looked torn as he grinned down at the children, but his indecision was solved when Leia held up her arms expectantly. No matter that she was almost four, and beginning to frown on such affection from her parents, she wanted Obi-Wan to pick her up and spin her about – and Obi-Wan was all too happy to oblige.

    “Hello, my little princess!” Obi-Wan enthused, his expression beaming with joy as Leia pecked a kiss against his bearded cheek.

    “Uncle Obi-Wan!” Leia's expression scrunched up in a piqued look that was all her mother. “I've told you before, I'm not a princess.”

    “Hm, I don't know about that,” Obi-Wan pretended to consider. “You are the daughter of a queen, are you not?”

    “An elected queen,” Leia reminded him, carefully forming the syllables of the newly learned word. “And I don't want to be a queen, I want to work in the Senate, like ma'ma.”

    “Well then, let me just say that you are my princess. Perhaps we can reach a compromise on that?” Obi-Wan could not help but grin as he put her down. He met Anakin's eyes in delight, and softly added, “And if it is the Senate you seek, I believe that you can do anything you put your mind to.”

    Yet, is the Senate ready for her? even so, Obi-Wan could not help but add between their minds – where an easy, open bond existed since Palpatine's reveal. She'll take them all by storm, I foresee.

    I don't know, Anakin answered truthfully, but I can't wait to find out.

    Obi-Wan snorted in amusement, but his attention did not last as he dropped down to ruffle Luke's already messy hair in an equally enthusiastic greeting. Obi-Wan wasted no time in asking of the child's progress with the model R-22 Spearhead fighter he was building, and Luke gushed to tell him about the project with an attention to detail that did Anakin's own flying heart proud. The boy looked ready to remain on his tangent, but Luke's attention did not – or, could not, rather – remain with Obi-Wan long when the Jedi Master's remaining two traveling companions came into the foyer.

    Just as Luke did, Anakin glanced up when he felt Ahsoka Tano's familiar presence brush across his senses. Widely grinning, he opened his mouth to greet both she and Rex – but his children beat him to it. Once again, his own welcome was pushed aside, and he was forced to wait.

    'soka, 'soka!” Luke gleefully called as he darted up to the Togruta woman, his joy a dancing light in the Force.

    Ba'vodu!” Leia echoed her brother to happily chirp. Her braids bounced over her shoulders as she bobbed in excitement. “You're here! You're here!”

    “Skykids!” Ahsoka's delight was as vibrant as the twins' as she dropped down to scoop Luke up and spin him in a wild circle. Leia was only a moment behind her brother, and Ahsoka snatched her up too, holding both children close at the same time. Her azure eyes were bright, and her lekku flushed a rich shade of indigo as she gave a happy, trilling welcome in her own tongue. Rex patiently waited for his turn with the children, and then fondly enveloped them in warm hugs of his own – a soft, pleased expression on his face that only the twins ever seemed to inspire.

    All the while, Anakin stood back and watched the happy scene with a warm glow in his heart. The picture of his family - his entire family - in one place, together, was simply right to his eyes; necessary, even. Having changed from her GAR ensemble for the journey to Coruscant, Ahsoka wore one of Padmé's recent gifts: a long, sleeveless blue robe over a belted, pearlescent white dress. The burnt-orange of her bare arms was dramatic and exotic against the white, and offset by the deep, cobalt shade of the blue. High slits in the sides of the dress showed her supple leggings and the lightsabers she still had strapped to her body – giving her a look that was both classically elegant and dangerous all at once. The coloring of her wardrobe matched Padmé's for the trip to Coruscant – and Rex's too, for that matter. On that note, Anakin reminded himself with a sigh, he too would have to change before leaving. Padmé had been very clear on that regard: no black. Politics was all a game of appearances, and that included him as long as he stood by his wife's side.

    “You've grown so tall – the both of you,” Ahsoka rocked back on her heels to remain at eye level with the twins – drawing Anakin's attention again. Her teeth were sharp and white as she grinned. “You'll be as tall as your dad in no time! When did that happen?” At the open invitation in her words, Luke and Leia both gushed to fill their honorary aunt in on everything she'd missed since her last visit. Their voices were a happy chatter in Anakin's ears as Obi-Wan stepped over to him, a faintly miffed expression souring his face.

    “I,” the Jedi Master declared, a note of exaggerated sullenness to his voice, “have been forgotten, it would seem.”

    “Sorry, Master – but she's my favourite too,” Anakin could not help but tease with a wink. “Don't worry, though – you're a very close second.” He felt as Obi-Wan pushed him with the Force in playful retaliation, but managed to keep his feet. “Besides, you'll have time to pull ahead on Ossus. You'll even out the score in no time, I'm sure.” While Obi-Wan would be taking Luke and Leia to the Jedi Temple to further their training while their parents were away, Ahsoka and Rex would be coming to Coruscant with them to hopefully see their long, painstaking efforts over the Clone Rights Bill finally pay off.

    It was a fitting end to a long, arduous journey, Anakin could not help but think. After successfully ending the Siege of Mandalore and subsequently taking Darth Maul into custody – a feat none of the Jedi before her had managed to accomplish – the Council had extended their invitation, again, for Ahsoka to return to the Jedi Order. At the time, Ahsoka had still turned them down, but she did accept the GAR's offer of sharing command of the 501st with Rex when Anakin was drawn from active duty following the revelation of his family and his loss of privileges within the Jedi Order. Rather than serving as a Jedi General, however, she operated as a military officer, and a military officer only, and it was her example within the GAR that prompted a great deal of their reformations following the war - namely: returning the Jedi to their roles of peacekeepers, and peacekeepers only.

    After much debating - a debate that Anakin would fully admit to instigating and then pushing after his own rights as a Jedi were stripped - a reformation of the Jedi Order was finally agreed to. The Jedi had grown too entwined with the politics of the Senate over the last thousand years; dangerously so. No matter that there should always be a certain level of cooperation between the Republic and the Jedi, they'd lost their path; they'd sank in too deeply, enmeshing themselves to the point that they were powerless to maintain their mandate when events inevitably spiraled outwards beyond their control. While masterfully being manipulated by a proponent of the Dark Side, they'd forgotten what it meant to be Jedi, and serve the Force, first, before any political organization. After much deliberation, the Temple was returned to its ancient seat on Ossus, far from directly overseeing the politics of the capital, and there the Jedi devoted themselves to being Jedi, first and foremost, before acting as servants of the Republic.

    When Anakin's own example was eventually emulated as one to follow - with his family proving to be the impetus that helped him resist the Dark Side, rather than the anchor pulling him under - the ancient dogmas of the Jedi Order were at last reexamined. Refusing to fully live, as the Force rejoiced in, all for fear of the Dark Side, was just another form of surrendering to the Dark. Taking children from their families to cloister them away from elements that could eventually lead to the Dark Side, too, was also flawed thinking: it cut at the very heart of the living Force. After reevaluating themselves, the Jedi Temple truly became a seat of knowledge and shared wisdom, with growing children traveling to and from their families to master their gifts and then choosing whether or not to stay on to their Knighthood when the time came.

    Underneath such an arrangement, even those with scant Force abilities were now allowed to train for a season or so, all to better understand their place within the Force, and contribute to the greater good of the galaxy as a whole. With such age-old strictures finally lifted, other Force wielding civilizations and orders also passed through Ossus for the joy of sharing their knowledge and discovering new aspects of the Force in their turn. Healers, historians, scientists, philosophers, architects, farmers, diplomats – all were needed by the galaxy, and with the constrictions of a Jedi's lifestyle finally lifted, their numbers swelled before being reintroduced back into the general populace again. At last, the Jedi were truly bringing balance to the Force with their roles, as they always should have done.

    Of course, there would always be conflicts in the galaxy, and the Senate still sent Jedi Knights and their Padawans on peacekeeping missions to mediate and negotiate whenever neutral third parties were needed. That role of the Jedi Order would never change. Yet, when a stronger hand was needed, and righteous violence was inevitable – well, that was where the GAR came in. Now, the mantle of a soldier was one a Jedi could choose, and they could enter the military as cadets and rise through the ranks the same as any other citizen of the Republic. There was no favoritism in the military any longer, and the thousands of Jedi - and their Padawans, especially - who never should have exposed themselves to the rigors of combat in the first place were shielded from such an unnatural calling. Meanwhile, hundreds of Jedi like Ahsoka thrived in the army, and found their niche with the structure and order and honor inherent in defending their Republic from harm. They would never be caught unaware and overwhelmed by an outside threat ever again.

    As his reflections took him, Anakin knew that he was staring, but he was proud of his former apprentice – and he couldn't keep his affection from showing in his gaze. Ahsoka had matured in leaps and bounds over the last four years, and she'd grown into a remarkable, beautiful woman. With the same fierce tenacity of her youth now honed and cultivated into a blade-sharp weapon by experience, her voice had been amongst the loudest to demand the division of peacekeepers and warriors within the Jedi Order. As a result, a great deal of the GAR/Jedi Reconstruction Act had her fingerprints all over it. Now, as the Jedi Council's official representative to the GAR, she'd proven to be as instrumental to the Clone Rights Bill as she was to their first motion in the Senate.

    The Clone Rights Bill, Anakin thought next – fondly watching as his former captain interacted with the twins - was not only a matter of honor and principle, but a personal crusade in the purest sense, as well.

    At the beginning of their campaign, now over a year ago, Padmé had been quick to declare that the people needed to see the clones as living, breathing men if they were going to win any sort of public favor. To realize that goal, the white, faceless armor had to go while they were on tour. Padmé had chosen Rex to stand as her figurehead for all of the vod'e, and the clone captain could scarce say no when asked. Anakin had never seen Rex more uncomfortable than when Ukla – Padmé's Chandra-Fan seamstress and wardrobe designer – bustled about him, taking measurements and chatting about fabrics and patterns and color palettes with a practiced air. The tiny non-human had ordered the veteran soldier around with almost comical ease, but won herself a fast friend when she suggested keeping the 501st blue as a focal-point of her design. By the end of the process, Anakin had even accused Rex of enjoying himself – no matter that Rex's discomfort quickly returned with the amount of attention he received as they traveled from one Core world to the next to drum up votes for their cause. The first time Ahsoka followed Padmé's speech to speak of her own experiences with the 501st, only Rex's strict military training kept him from fidgeting in place; yet, by the end of the tour, he held up his head proudly, and accepted the praise that was truly due to he and his men by right.

    Yet it was their long-term goal that primarily helped Rex stand up as an individual, not just one of many, Anakin suspected. There was already a clone colony growing on Mandalore for those who wished to live apart from the general populace of the galaxy - following Skirata's group as a mold, and many more were already making plans for what they'd do when released from the military. Kix, Anakin knew, wanted to go to medical school on Alderaan as soon as the vote passed, to augment his battlefield education, while Jesse already had several galleries clamoring for his artwork with the galactic populace now curious about clone culture in general. Others, however, like Cody and Rex, could scarce imagine – and didn't quite relish – the idea of leaving the GAR behind. It was all they'd ever known, and they relished their calling. “Who will watch your back, General, if not for us?” Rex had been unable to contemplate any other course in life, and so, he would not. They would continue on as paid soldiers with the rights of any other Republic citizen, however . . . and they would do so for a natural lifespan. Although it had taken time, and no small amount of bullying, Shaak Ti had worked very closely with the Kaminoan scientist Ko Sai, and they finally developed an answer to the clones' unnatural aging. They would not grow old and waste away before their time. They were no longer weapons to be thrown away once their usefulness had expired.

    Ahsoka had been very, very quiet the day the serum had been finalized, Anakin remembered - as if trying to hold in some great emotion. Her chevrons had turned a deep and vibrant shade of blue, and her eyes had shone with happy tears - no matter that, for all of their years together, Anakin had never once seen her cry. In the Force, her spirit had rippled as if a door had been opened before her, and she had smiled such a smile.

    Now, he watched the way she rested a hand on Rex's shoulder – lingering for just a moment too long to be considered casual . . . and wondered. Anakin still didn't know what to think about the recent-most development between his captain and apprentice – he'd honestly been blind to the possibility before Padmé mentioned her observations as if they were the most natural thing in the galaxy, and . . . perhaps, in a way, they were.

    Yet . . . still. He felt his stomach turn, and wondered how he would feel when Leia finally decided to bring a suitor home -

    - but no. No. He put that thought in a box and shoved it deep down in his psyche, where it would hopefully stay for another twenty years. Thirty, even. Fifty, hopefully.

    His thoughts - thankfully - were turned from such a disturbing path when he heard Luke try to cajole: “Are we really too young for training sabers, 'soka? Are we?”

    “Do you think that because your father said no, you can ask me?” Ahsoka arched a white brow marking to return. “I don't think so, Skykid. You'll get your sabers when you're ready, and not a moment before.”

    “I don't know,” Rex countered - looking down on Luke and Leia the same way he would a pair of shinies, judging their potential worth on the field with a tactical eye. “We were training with vibro-shivs when we were four, and no one lost their fingers.” The often, at least went unspoken, and Anakin swallowed a purely parental protest. There would be no gifts of weapons before the twins turned five, at least.

    “Your four is not the twins' four, cyar'ika,” Ahsoka rolled her eyes. She swatted at Rex's shoulder affectionately. “Besides,” she sniffed almost haughtily to say, “my future apprentice is not going to train with knives.”

    Obi-Wan glanced over from where he was taking his turn holding Shmiq, and quietly chatting with Padmé and Jobal. He couldn't help but interject, “My future apprentice will be able to talk circles around them all – she won't even need a sword.” He glanced down at Leia, and winked. “Isn't that right?”

    The girl all but beamed at his words. And, yet: “That doesn't mean I can't have a lightsaber, though. Right, Uncle Obi-Wan?”

    “See?” Obi-Wan smirked in pride, passing Shmiq back to his mother. “Such a skilled negotiator she already is.”

    Anakin snorted - already well able to imagine such a future to come. Though he currently floated between the various branches of the Jedi Order as needed, and hesitated to commit to any particular course in life – he wondered if the future would bring to him another apprentice, as well. There was a red headed orphan girl that Luke and Leia - and Anakin himself - had taken a liking to at the Jedi Temple, whom the future already pooled around in a hazy whisper of potential. Mara Jade was a slip of a thing who'd been born amongst the worst of the war, mute and lost in her own mind when Master Billaba and her Padawan initially brought her to Ossus. She'd latched onto Anakin's mental presence when he first met her, however, and, through him, Luke and Leia were still the only two children she was completely comfortable with, even a full year later. Seeing her was always a highlight of the twins' time spent at the Temple – and Anakin's, as well.

    Which was for the best, he instinctively felt. They would eventually need every strong hand with a sword, a part of Anakin whispered – warned . . . knew. For, out there, somewhere . . .

    All of those years ago, they had failed to find Palpatine's body in the underbelly of Coruscant. Though many on the Council believed him dead, there were others who were not quite certain. Anakin was one of that latter number – he could feel an echo of Palpatine's survival as an itching against the scars lining his mind, and he knew that the Sith Lord was a figure in the shadows, patiently waiting to reveal himself. Besides standing as a guard for his wife on her diplomatic missions, and helping with the reformation of the Jedi Order, the search for Palpatine had been his project since he was first revealed as Darth Sidious. In those early days, his search had him following whispers of the Dark Side from one end of the galaxy to the next, dragging him – with Obi-Wan by his side – through more near-disasters and close calls than he cared to remember. But their ultimate goal remained just beyond their reach: Palpatine was always one step ahead of them, and remained elusively out of their grasp.

    Even so, Anakin knew that it was only a matter of time before Palpatine emerged from the shadows - even if that time was years. Yet, he refused to give into the threat posed by the Dark Side and not live his life to the fullest. So, until that time came . . .

    . . . he cast his eyes from his comrades to his children to his wife, still cradling their youngest son in her arms, and wondered: what more could he ask for than this? Anakin felt his heart swell as he contemplated his blessings - for he was all too aware of just how easily everything he cherished could have amounted to nothing. He glimpsed that dark, far off fate at night when he closed his eyes. But he breathed in deep, and exhaled, knowing: that future was not his own. Instead he focused on the here and now; he centered himself, and lived in the moment.

    Padmé caught his eye, and raised a dark brow as she sensed the undercurrent of his thoughts. She knew him too well.

    “What are you thinking about, Ani?” she asked, shifting Shmiq in her arms.

    “You,” Anakin answered truthfully. “Us,” he added on a whisper. “All of us.” He couldn't keep the warmth from his eyes; his mouth formed a slow smile as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. The Force swirled around them in lazy contentment, languid and bright to Anakin's senses.

    “Mm,” Padmé hummed in the back of her throat. “All are happy thoughts, then?” she still had to make sure.

    “The best,” he assured her, firmly pushing away his visions of another time . . . another place. The echoed notes of some far off song. “There's nothing more I could have asked for from life.”

    Padmé simply smiled up at him, her heart in her eyes. With such an invitation, Anakin could not help but kiss his wife – briefly and happily before turning his attention back to the rest of his family. Looking at each content, joyful expression, he let his eyes linger on his children, already marveling at the bright, awesome destines he could glimpse for them through the Force. They had such a path carved before them, he could not help but sense, and he'd be there to guide and advise them every step of the way.

    There was no possible path in life he could have preferred to the one he walked, Anakin could admit that simple most truth with pride. He was living the life he was meant to live.



    .

    .

    Anakin Skywalker dreamed . . .

    . . . and Darth Vader awakened.



    .

    .

    The Force moved in turbulent, roiling waves since the destruction of Alderaan. The incorporeal entity was distressed to feel a void where, once, a planet teaming with life had existed; it undulated to fill that nothingness with its shock and thunderous outrage. There was a hole in the cosmos that night, and the galaxy turned in on itself as if trying to stem the flow of a wound. It struggled to spin with its equilibrium thrown off balance, as if adjusting to the birth of a new star or the death of an ancient supernova; the living Force screamed, pained and incensed at its loss.

    The Dark Side, of course, rejoiced in the rippling aftereffects pulsating from the violence of Alderaan's destruction. Darth Vader could still feel echoes of panic and terror whispering from the decimated planet; he could feel as bruise-like spots of mourning grew in the Force like stains, blooming from an uncountable number of survivors and onlookers the entire galaxy wide. It was a good day for the Empire, he was content to know, a day that put them one step closer to peace - true and uncontested peace - as their grip on the galaxy tightened.

    Even so, as he roused himself from the sleep his remaining organic tissue still required . . . a part of him could only remember the princess' wide, horrified eyes as she watched her planet's destruction. She had not blinked; she had not looked away. Her shoulders had trembled underneath his iron grip, but she had not wept – not where the likes of Tarkin could see her grief, at least. Instead, she had stubbornly held back her tears, standing regal and tall only through the force of her rage, righteous and indignant as it was. From her spirit, such a powerful wave of disbelief and agony had swelled – so much so that Vader had eventually tightened his grip on her to anchor himself, rather than to keep her from moving. The Dark Side had reveled in her pain; Darth Vader had known satisfaction that she at last understood that the seeds rebellion sewed were only loss and destruction. There could be no victory reaped against the Emperor. Not this way.

    Yet . . . a whisper of Anakin Skywalker had risen from the depths of his psyche in response to the outpouring of grief from the girl's soul. That thread of warmth, of light, had tried to pierce through the thick black of his consciousness in outrage, with hands outstretched to defend, to protect. Darth Vader had banked the resurgence of his former self with no small amount of annoyance, wondering why then, of all times, he would be drawn to remember a past that no longer mattered; a past that had no bearing on the here and now.

    . . . even though almost twenty years had passed, he could still recall Padmé's eyes, reflecting the hellish fires of Mustafar, terrified and disgusted by the lengths he had taken to secure the galaxy for her . . . for their child. What would she think of the destruction of Alderaan? Of the death of the Organas, whom she had loved? Of Princess Leia's pain, even, who reminded him so much of his lost wife that he -

    - but Vader extinguished his thoughts with a low exhale of wheezing breath. Sharply, he gestured for the medical droids to bring him his mask. He was frustrated with himself, with the glaring reminder of his weaker self, and his rage pooled black and thick in the sterile chamber. It had been some time since he last allowed himself to remember Anakin Skywalker's wife and child; his potential family. Darth Vader did not pay much thought to his former life; Anakin Skywalker had been a weak shell of a man, unable to do what was necessary to restore peace and order to the galaxy. Darth Vader entertained no such illusions.

    Inorganic organs and steel bones in a shell of black leather and faceless plastoid - all bound together by rage, by pain, by a deep, bitter disgust; that was Darth Vader, and he accepted the finality of his identity. There was no place for Anakin Skywalker's softness, his weakness in such a form – not while the Emperor's hand was still wrapped about the galaxy in a chokehold. This galaxy was one he'd devoted his life to, and if others had to lose as he had lost to see it protected from any further harm – well then, so be it.

    Yet, no matter his most stringent efforts, Anakin Skywalker still dreamed – he yearned, and Darth Vader was forced to suffer through his visions of another time, another place. The dreams had lessened in frequency over the years, yet it was worse aboard the Death Star, and, since Alderaan . . .

    So many faces crossed his mind's eye at night; old friends, long gone, all turned to traitors, to ghosts . . . to enemies.

    His former mentor.

    His apprentice.

    His captain.

    His wife.

    . . . and his child . . . . his children. What a curious thing his sleeping mind tried to suggest. Anakin Skywalker had always battled with an overabundance of dreams, with visions, and they remained as frustratingly vague now as they ever were. Darth Vader could only recall bits and pieces – glimpses, incomplete and insensible, detailing the impossible, the ridiculous. He grit his metal plated jaw in frustration, and felt his remaining teeth grind.

    The black shell of his mask at last clicked into place, sealing him from the outside world, and Vader dismissed his artificial attendants with a gesture. The harsh, deep sound of his breathing filled the room, louder than the hiss of steam and the whine of the hydraulic arms as the pressurized chamber released him to prowl through what remained of the space station's night. He would not find sleep again that eve.

    Long strides took him through the mostly deserted corridors. The unlucky crewmen he did pass bowed low in reverence, and their fear was a pulsing balm to the wounds left by Anakin Skywalker's attempted resurgence in his mind. He gorged himself on their terror and respect, and let the Dark anchor him. Eventually, his path took him to one of the viewing rooms, where the long transparisteel windows showed the remaining cloud of debris and atmospheric gas that was left of Alderaan. The distant sunlight glittered on the nebulous cloud in a hauntingly beautiful play of light and color. Soon, even those gases would disperse into the vastness of space, and only dead stone would remain where once a planet had thrived.

    It was a fitting memorial to the price treachery paid, Darth Vader crossed his arms to reflect. Rebellion had to be met with a ruthless and firm hand; betrayal could not be born.

    Betrayal.

    Darth Vader had tasted the bitter drought of treachery time and time again . . . he'd drank deep from a cup prepared by every soul Anakin Skywalker had once loved - with one after another refusing to stand by his side, time and time again . . . from Obi-Wan, leaving him as a shell in which to burn instead of ending his misery with typical Jedi mercy . . . to Padmé, refusing to stand by his side and instead choosing to follow him, him, and taking their child with her in death . . . to his apprentice, who had shouldered the Rebellion's mantle in its earliest days and forced his hand to raise against her in violence . . . to his captain, who could not follow orders and put the girl down when he was first supposed to, all those years ago. He too now aided the Rebels in a gross mockery of everything they'd once fought for, together. Traitors, all of them were, and Anakin Skwalker - Darth Vader was better off without them. He did not need them; he needed only the Dark Side of the Force as his ally to do what must be done.

    Then . . . when Sidious was at last toppled from power and the galaxy was freed from his tyranny, perhaps then Anakin Skywalker would allow him to dream in peace.

    Yet, until that day came . . . Darth Vader simply stared out at the graveyard of Alderaan in silence. He listened as the Force whispered - warned - of a shifting note in its song . . . and remembered.


    FIN






    The end! [face_batting]

    . . . well, kinda, that is. Truthfully, my brain is not quite ready to let this AU-ish world go, and I have a few more stories left to tell. I have a vignette detailing Anakin meeting a very young Mara Jade in this 'verse that I already have mostly written - and I would like to tell Ahsoka's parallel tale to Anakin's here, too. Then, if the muse cooperates, I do have ideas for a sequel - and it's a trippy blend of alternate universe dimension-hopping with the teenage twins and Mara Jade in tow. I honestly can't wait to tell it - that is, if you guys are not sick of me and this quirky world by then. ;) [face_mischief]

    Yet, for now, I simply want to thank you all for reading! Writing this has been a wonderful journey as an author, but reading your comments and having your support every step of the way has truly made this even more of a worthwhile experience. I owe a debt of gratitude to Findswoman and Pandora for hosting this challenge, and I wanted to give a big shout-out to RX_Sith, Briannakin, Findswoman, Pandora, Mistress_Renata, divapilot, AzureAngel2, and Kahara for taking the time to leave such wonderful thoughts! To everyone else who left kudos, or simply lurked and enjoyed, I thank you all, and hope to see you all again soon. [face_love] [:D]


    ~MJ @};-
     
  19. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Poor Vader. There is nothing and nobody he hates more than himself.
     
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  20. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    What could have been... and yet, there wouldn't have been a wonderful trilogy of stories for us to enjoy!

    But this was a masterful AU, Mira_Jade, with such excellent and credible characterizations of all the characters...and Anakin comes off as so much more appealing and sympathetic than in the movies!! Just so well done! =D=
     
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  21. RX_Sith

    RX_Sith C&G Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Mar 13, 2006
    Still wondering if Vader is a possibility as it seems to be despite Anakin having the life that he wants; or does he really?
     
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  22. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    There was a delicate balance between tenderness and coldness in your update. Between sweet dreams & a harsh reality. Your Vader is a person split in two halves, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One personality not respecting the other fully.

    But your ending did not deprive us of all hope. You left a single light on for us in the dark night of his soul. Small, but constantly burning. Thank you!
     
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  23. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    AWWWW! Little Luke and Leia had me squee-ing so much and little Shmiq! I loved the moment with Obi-Wan and Leia!



    BAHAHAHAHA!



    IT WAS ALL SO HAPPY! HOW DID I KNOW THIS WAS COMING? Oh… yeah…. the song.

    But still, the ending was amazing.

    I really enjoyed this small insight into Leia in that moment from Vader’s POV.

    The entire fic was so amazing. I really enjoyed your take on the challenge. =D=
     
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  24. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    It looks as though Anakin's dream ended with what indeed should have been--with what is the best of all possible galaxies, with only the dim shadow of Palpatine being still alive, and patiently waiting out there, in the background. Anakin and Padmé came clean about their marriage and faced up to the resulting consequences, and now they have made new lives on the other side. The Clones are going about the process of becoming individual citizens who can make their own choices. Even the monoliths of the Republic and the Jedi Order have looked within and made some changes for the better. It all seems almost too good to be true.

    (As an aside, regarding the subject of Anakin's protective stance towards Leia's still imaginary future boyfriends: I don't think that attitude will go over terribly well with Her Worshipfulness when she is of an age to date.)

    And then Darth Vader wakes up in the artificial night, during the aftermath of the destruction of Alderaan: and it is fully revealed as the dream, as the AU, that it was.

    But some mystery still remains: it is clear that Darth Vader is not the one, at least with his conscious mind, who is dreaming this dream. He despises his past, and who he was, and shows no wish to reimagine it. He does not believe the world of his dream when he is awake--at this point in the timeframe, he does not yet know that he has a surviving child; he certainly does not so much as guess that the Alderaanian Princess is his daughter. Vader credits these dreams to his former identity, Anakin Skywalker, but I can't help but wonder if the Force has a hand in it. And after all, even in this dark galaxy, its song has begun to change.

    Finally, thank you, once again, for writing this for the challenge!
     
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  25. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    What might have been, what might have been! In this final chapter I really see the full extent of just how impressively detailed this AU of yours is—it takes into account not only the major, familiar characters (Padmé and Anakin still happily married with a third child, Ahsoka alive and well and an item with Rex, Palpatine out of power, Jedi like Shaak Ti surviving) but also whole groups and organizations: it provides for both a full reform of the Jedi Order (which in this case doesn't get near-eliminated) and for the future well-being of the clone troopers, including remedying their short lifespan. It's just so cool that you take ALL the implications into account here! :cool:

    I like too, though, that everything isn't necessarily perfect even in this revised reality: Palpatine's fate is unknown, and it's not inconceivable that he's still out there as a menace in some form. Also, and potentially related, is that one little shadowy thread of doubt in Anakin's mind—the "visions of another time, another place," which suggest (and how cool is this)...

    ...that just as the armored, deformed Vader is dreaming in his universe of this happier, more stable alternate universe, the happier, redeemed Anakin in the alternate universe is starting to dream of the Vader in the universe that's more familiar to us? So they are dreaming of each other, and creating each other continually through that process of dreaming, continually re-singing each other's song (so to speak)? Wow, if that's not a unique take on the song prompt, as well as a unique take on the whole concept of AU (kind of a "nested," in-universe AU), I'm not sure what is! :cool:

    Great job with this—can't thank you enough for being part of this challenge, and if you continue to write within this AU, I will be very glad to see where it leads (and the story ideas you mention do indeed sound quite cool). Thanks again for sharing this tour de force! @};-
     
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