Twins3: Hijacked Honeymoon - Part Two
Beep-beep ... beep-beep ...
"Turn ... off ... the ... alarm," Padmé moaned.
Anakin stretched out his arm, reaching for the bedside table, but his hand met only air. He felt lower, and ended up getting it tangled in a wet plastic bag. The alarm continued to screech, causing Padmé to drag her pillow over her head.
"Can't find it," Anakin said. He opened his eyes, and the sloping roof of the tent came into focus. Understanding dawned.
"It's the comlink," Anakin said, quickly waking up, "I should have destroyed that thing when I had a chance."
"No! It might be Obi-Wan again."
"It's probably for me."
"Then you answer it."
"I can't. I look like hell."
"You look as beautiful as always," Anakin said to the pillow, jammed over tangled brown hair. "More beautiful than everything beautiful in the entire universe."
When there was no reply, he stretched out a hand to retrieve the communication device with the Force. One of the Queen's advisors appeared on the surface.
"What is it?" Anakin asked, not in the mood for pleasantries.
"Is the senator available?"
"She's asleep. Don't you know what time it is?"
"It's 9:30 am, sir."
"Oh boy." Anakin rubbed his eyes. "Well, we're on holiday. Whatever it is, it can wait until we get home tomorrow morning."
"I just wanted -"
"Call Representative Binks," Anakin said, firmly, before cutting it off. He stuffed the comlink in the folds of his nearby discarded robe, making a note to keep it with him today. He wouldn't let anyone try and make Padmé work.
He pulled the blankets over his head, and rolled over to cuddle up against Padmé. After a few minutes of peaceful silence, he looked up.
"Wait a minute," he said, slowly, "If it's 9:30 ... where are Luke and Leia?!"
Within a few seconds, Anakin was outside and pulling on his robe. His search ended a few steps outside the tent.
"Mornin' Daddy!" Leia said.
"You got your own breakfast?" Anakin said, looking in surprise at the empty bowls of cereal.
"We're not babies," Luke insisted.
"Is there any left for me?"
Luke passed him the packet, and soon he was filling up on some healthy sustenance. He sat on a nearby crate, and watched the twins play with some well-loved toys that had been granted the privilege of coming on holiday. Before long, they were arguing over something, and Anakin shuffled closer to mediate.
"What's the problem?"
"She won't play along," Luke complained, pointing at his sister.
"I'm just making it better," Leia insisted.
Anakin stared at the plastic figures, lying in the dirt.
"See, this is Jedi Master Nova-Destroyer," Luke said, holding up the brown-cloaked action figure.
Anakin munched on a spoon of cereal, trying to hide a smile.
"He's trying to rescue the Flower Princess -" he held up Leia's doll, which was a miniature version of Leia, "- from the evil Sith Lord Darth Dark-Heart. But she won't let him!"
"Because he's useless at rescues," Leia complained, "He's still trying to figure out how to get past that twig. Meanwhile, the princess is sitting here getting bored. She can take out the Sith Lord by herself! Watch!"
The princess doll proceeded to kick the head off Darth Dark-Heart and then jump on him until he was stomped flat into the dust. Luke and Anakin looked on in rising shock as the attack became increasingly violent.
"You know, I think Nova-Destroyer needs to rescue Darth Dark-Heart from the princess," Anakin said to Luke, in a low voice.
"I think you're right," Luke agreed.
"I won't even ask," Padmé said, emerging from the tent and casting a glance in their direction.
"Wise," Anakin said, standing up and discarding his now-empty bowl.
"So, you're going sailing today?"
"No!" Luke said.
"No way!!" Leia added.
"Yes," Anakin said, "We're going. Mr Karpsal did a very nice thing by offering us the opportunity, and we're going to do him the honor of accepting it. How would he feel if he knew you actually believed the silly story about a monster in the lake?"
"But it's reeeaaaal," Luke said, tugging on his sleeve.
"Do you think Nova-Destroyer and the Flower Princess would let a fake monster stop them from going sailing?"
"Sure," Leia said, "The Flower Princess isn't stupid you know. Nova-Destroyer, maybe ..."
"Hey!" Luke protested, protectively hugging his toy.
"Well this Jedi Knight will never let anything happen to his children," Anakin said, tapping his chest, "I promise you. Fear will not be determining destiny in this family, not if I have any say in it."
"Dad, do you have to be so dramatic?" Leia sighed.
"This is about sailing, not des- des-,"
"Destiny, Luke," Anakin said, "The word is destiny. As in 'we are going sailing today - it is our destiny'. Help me out here, Padmé."
He glanced back at his wife, who was munching on a piece of fruit.
"Sorry, kids," she mumbled, "When he starts using the d word, your father has made up his mind."
"At least come with us," Leia pleaded.
"With a monster in the lake?" Padmé said, raising an eyebrow, "Surely you jest, dear."
She winked at Anakin, but was met only with folded arms and a determined blue stare.
"I'm sorry, but -"
"I promised your sister I wouldn't let you work. I keep my promises. You're coming with us."
"I'm not staying behind to work. Someone has to stay here and watch the camp."
"I wouldn't care if everything was flattened by a rampaging Shaak," Anakin said, gesturing around, "It would be worth it to see you forget about the galaxy for once."
"I am relaxed. I'm relaxing now. And I'm going to relax this afternoon - in my tent, with a good book."
"You could read in the boat!"
"They're fighting again," Leia whispered, nudging Luke.
Anakin whirled around. "We're not fighting!" he said, annoyed.
The twins shrunk back, subdued.
Anakin looked at the sky, sighing as he realized he was about to lose his cool. He reached out for the Force, and felt its calming influence sooth his spirit.
"We are not fighting," he repeated, much calmer.
He crouched down until he was on eye level with his children, and beckoned them into an embrace. They eagerly accepted, and he cuddled them close, feeling the last vestiges of his annoyance drain away.
"Go on and get ready," he said, pushing them gently in the direction of their tent, "You'll need to dress warmly out on the lake."
They nodded, and ran off towards their tent. As he stood up, Anakin felt an arm on his shoulder, and soon found himself in the midst of Padmé's embrace.
"I'll come if it's important to you," she said, stroking his cheek.
He shook his head, hastily. "I understand if you're tired. I'm tired too ... those womp rats may be little, but they snore like banthas."
Padmé laughed. "Shh, they'll hear you."
"I just hate the thought of you working when we're supposed to be on vacation," Anakin said, "That's the only reason I wanted you to come. But if you promise me you will be relaxing ... then I'll see you this afternoon when we get back."
"I promise," Padmé said, "And who knows ... maybe we'll actually get the tent to ourselves tonight."
Anakin smiled, and bent down to kiss his wife. He accepted her promise, and he trusted she meant it. But he couldn't help but smile wider when he felt the comlink slip down deeper into the pocket of his robe. That little piece of technology would be staying with him this afternoon.
Lake Wakaitu might have been shaped like a perfect oval, if not for the slopping hills which cut into the length at random locations. Anakin traced a journey on the map with his finger, making a mental note to turn around when they reached a supposed tourist attraction called 'the whistling caves'. By the map's estimate, that should give them time to arrive back three hours before sunset.
Once they had departed from the boat dock, the twins soon forgot about the threat of subterranean monsters, caught up in the experience. Their imaginations were fired by the unfathomable blue depths, and the murky swamps which lined the mountainous banks. Sometimes, they were a family of explorers, lost in the middle of a lonely ocean. At others, they were pirates, on the look out for fellow ocean-goers to board and conquer.
Anakin left them to their fantasies, and focused on staying on course. They stopped for lunch on a shelly island, populated only by birds. When Anakin held the tracking device to the air, the readings indicated they were not far from the dead center of the lake. The shore was a fuzzy, purple blob, barely visible on the horizon.
The twins had brought their toys along for the ride, and after they had eaten their fill, the eternal battle between good and evil continued on the sandy shore. Anakin was content to lie back and enjoy an afternoon snooze, lulled into a doze by the rhythmic sloshing of the water against sand.
This is almost paradise, he thought, listening to the music of the birdsong, mixed with the happy shouts of his children. Almost.
There was only one thing missing. Padmé, lying beside him.
"Mmm hmmm?" Anakin mumbled.
"Dad!! Dad, dad dad, dad ..."
"What?!" He opened his eyes partway.
Luke appeared above him, looking worried. "Dad, have you seen Darth Dark Heart? I can't find him!!"
"Maybe he was eaten by the leviathan."
Anakin sighed, fumbling around underneath him. His fingers closed around something which felt suspiciously like plastic. Funny, he had thought that particular shell seemed a bit too spiky.
"He had taken refuge from the princess," Anakin explained, sitting up and producing the toy, "But now he's ready to battle Nova-Destroyer for domination of the galaxy."
"Nova-Destroyer isn't fighting for power," Luke protested, "He's a Jedi. He's fighting for peace and justice."
"My mistake," Anakin said, hiding a smile. He played with Luke for a while, controlling the Sith Lord while Luke held on to Nova Destroyer. Soon, Leia wandered up, wearing a pair of fish-shaped sunglasses.
"Is the Flower Princess going to join in?" Anakin asked, "Darth Dark Heart is going to retreat, if so."
"No. She's working on her tan at the moment," Leia said, "Dad, can we get back in the boat now? I wanna see the caves."
"After Nova-Destroyer pushes Darth Dark Heart into the pit of no return," Luke said, gesturing at a nearby hollow in the sand. "The home of the giant shell monster."
"He's not going down without a fight!" Anakin insisted.
"Wanna bet?" Luke challenged, increasing the force of Nova-Destroyer's attacks.
Anakin shifted his left hand around, and made a slight movement towards the plastic Jedi's head. A nearby stone came flying through the air, bouncing into Nova-Destroyer, and sending the doll flying into the pit.
Luke stared open mouthed, while Anakin laughed and laughed.
"Not ... fair!!" Luke managed, finally.
"Oh please," Leia said, folding her arms, "It's just a stupid doll. Why am I more mature than both of you put together?"
"Nova-Destroyer is not a stupid doll," Luke said, retrieving the sandy plastic Jedi, "And that was a dirty trick, Dad!"
"It wasn't me, it was Darth Dark Heart. And he's a Sith Lord," Anakin said, still chuckling, "Dirty tricks are right up his alley."
"Can we go now?" Leia suggested.
Luke put Nova-Destroyer in his pocket, and stalked off towards the boat. Anakin shook his head, making a mental memo to make it up to his son later.
"Have you got the Flower Princess?" Anakin asked, looking down at Leia, "Because we're not coming back here."
Leia took off her wide-brimmed hat, and held it up for Anakin to see. The Flower Princess was stuck inside, held on by a strip of velcro.
"Have you got the locator?" Leia asked, pointing back at the 'pit of no return'.
Anakin glanced back, and saw a long aerial sticking above the sand. "Oh - must have slipped out of my pocket. What would I do without you?"
"I'll be in the boat!" Leia called.
Within half an hour, the shelly island had reduced to a dark blob on the horizon, and Luke was still in a slightly grumpy mood. He was normally quick to get over minor family spats, and Anakin wondered if there was something else bothering his son. He could only work with what he knew, though.
"Come on, buddy," Anakin said, resting in the front of the boat, with his arms crossed behind his head, "At least Nova-Destroyer got out of the pit of no return. That's gotta be worth a statue in the Jedi Library."
"Yeah, in the 'defeated by Sith Lords' section," Leia said, sounding bored with the whole conversation. She was sitting at the stern, trailing a hand in the water.
"You're not helping, missy," Anakin said, pointing.
Leia smirked, glancing at her brother, who was sitting silently on Anakin's legs.
"Besides, even if he was in that section, he'd have some good company. The best, in fact."
"The best? As in, the best, best?" Luke asked, finally looking happier.
"Sure. A great Jedi isn't one that has never been defeated in combat. But one who remains true to his heart ... and true to the ideals that Jedi stand for. Which are?"
"Peace and justice," Leia provided dutifully, from the back.
"And compassion for all living things," Luke added.
"Yes. So if that is what Nova-Destroyer stands for ... then he is a great Jedi. Regardless of what dirty tricks Dark-Heart may spring on him."
Luke was silent, studying his plastic Jedi doll.
"I think the Flower Princess should become a Jedi too, now," Leia suggested. "Then she can help Nova-Destroyer defeat Dark-Heart."
"She can't be a Jedi!" Luke protested, "She's a princess. Princesses can't be Jedi. Right Dad?"
Anakin didn't reply; he had sat up to study the tracking device again. Not long to the caves now ...
"Huh? Oh - she can be a Jedi if she wants."
"Yay! Darth Dark-Heart is going down!" Leia shouted happily. Her voice echoed across the water, bouncing off the nearby cliff.
"Have either of you considered the tragic circumstances that may have led to Dark-Heart falling to the Dark Side?" Anakin suggested, "I don't know ... maybe he had twin children or something."
Luke and Leia stared back at him, wide-eyed and mouths open.
"I was just kidding," Anakin said, taken aback at their serious expressions.
Then, he felt it. Just like he had sensed yesterday, when the Loylian children were about to drown.
"Look! Look!" Luke yelled, standing up and pointing in the water.
A dark shadow passed underneath the boat.
"It's the monster!" Leia shrieked, "Dad! It's the monster!"
"It's not a monster," Anakin said, "It's just a fish - I saw a tail. Stay calm."
They kept quiet, but Anakin knew they were anything but calm. All three of them were standing, scanning the water desperately for any sign of their unwelcome visitor.
"There! There!" Luke was pointing to a spot about three meters out. Anakin looked, but the sun was bouncing off the water, into his eyes. The twins were moving up and down the length of the boat, trying to get a better look, and it was causing violent rocking. In the midst of this, Anakin happened to look at the right spot at just the right moment, and he saw the dark shadow appear alongside the bow.
Two meters long, perhaps. Or just under. Anakin stretched out with the Force, trying to get a feel for the animal's intentions. It was hard to sense anything, however. It was very primitive.
There was a sudden splash, and a long tentacle sprung out of the water. On the end was a large, blank eyeball, which hovered in front of them.
The twins were beside him in a second, clinging to his arms.
"It's all right," Anakin said, "It's just curious. It wants to know what we are."
"You said it was a fish!" Luke said.
"It is a fish," Anakin insisted, "With a tentacle. With an eyeball on the end. It's not unheard of!"
Seemingly having satisfied its curiosity, the eyeball disappeared under the surface, and a wide, flat tail appeared partially visible. The bulk of the creature began to swim away, and Anakin let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding.
"Come on," he said, peeling off the twins' arms. "Let's get away from this spot."
"Hurry!" Luke said, bending down to study the controls on the boat, "Can't it go any faster!" He banged his fist again the controls, causing a shout of protest from Anakin.
The engine gave a few splutters, then died.
"You broke it!" Leia yelled, angrily, "You nerf herder!" She punched Luke in the arm, causing him to hit back in retaliation.
"I didn't do anything, gurg-face!"
Anakin could only groan. Padmé left him alone for a few hours, and already the kids were attacking each other, the boat had died, and he couldn't find that blasted tracking device! All he needed now was for -
"Dad! Look out!"
Anakin jumped forward, just as two long tentacles came shooting out of the water, and wrapped themselves tightly around the stern of the boat. He glanced back, in time to see a drooling, pulsating mouth rise out of the water, strategically placed just south of their position. The tentacles contracted, causing the boat to jerk and the twins to tumble to their knees.
He reached for his lightsaber, purely out of habit, but even as his fingers closed around thin air he came to his senses. Like its owner, his lightsaber was in retirement from active duty, on the top shelf of his closet back in Theed.
Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he could see Obi-Wan's disapproving gaze.
"Dad!" Leia called, sounding on the verge of panic.
In a split second, Anakin scrambled to his feet and grabbed both twins by the loose material on the back of their lifejackets. He needed no run-up to gain momentum, and no push to launch into the air. He simply allowed the Force to carry them over the front of the boat, and towards the nearest cliff. He sustained the leap for a good twenty meters, but as the third second passed, gravity took over. They met the surface with a splash that momentarily blinded Anakin. Not to mention the biting cold.
He could hear his children gasping for air, but they were already swimming for the cliff. Anakin again called on the Force, propelling them forward as fast as he could manage. As the detail of the rocky face became visible, Anakin feared for a moment that it was too steep to climb. It was Luke who spotted a refuge first, though - an entrance to a cave. The floor of it was submerged in waist deep water, but the walls were dotted with shelves and hollows. He helped the twins scramble up onto the largest shelf, and then he bent down to see what had become of their boat.
At first he didn't see it. Then the front half of it, bobbing upside down in the water, floated leisurely by.
Some fish, Anakin thought, it ate half a boat!
Suddenly aware of the potential to be its next meal, Anakin began to climb the walls of the cave, grabbing what foot and hand holds he could find. The twins had since moved up to a higher ledge, and watched his ascent with wide eyes.
Once he reached them, they clung to him, struggling to both fit on his lap. He hugged them back, trying to squeeze the water out of their clothes in the process.
"You think it's coming back?" Leia whispered, finally.
"No - it's choking on our boat, I think," Anakin said.
"What are we gonna do?" Luke asked.
"Call for help," Anakin said, digging around in his pocket for the comlink. He discarded a pile of sand, before pulling up a dripping wet comlink. "Lucky I brought this."
Anakin tuned in a frequency, then clicked the transmitter to the on position. There was a splutter, then static.
"Blast it! The transmitting circuit is waterlogged!"
"Fix it, then! You can fix it, right, Dad?" Leia asked.
"I don't know. I'll try."
Anakin shuffled back on the ledge, stretching his legs out straight. Luke and Leia sat on either side of his lap, facing each other. They didn't speak while Anakin worked, and so the only sound was the rushing water down below, and the click of the tools against the components.
Just as the twins were beginning to get drowsy, they all jumped at the sound of a screech from below.
"It's back!" Luke said, immediately, climbing off Anakin's lap.
Anakin handed Luke his tools and the broken comlink, then shuffled over to the edge. Luke was right. Even in the dim light of the cave, it was impossible not to recognize those threshing tentacles.
Leia crawled up alongside him.
"There's the locator," she said, pointing to the edge of the water.
Sure enough, the missing device was indeed floating in the shallow water.
"And your toys." In fact, Anakin could see most of the contents of the boat was now floating in the cave. "I guess they didn't taste very good."
"The Flower Princess! Mean fish!" Leia tossed a rock over the edge, and it hit the fish on the dorsal side of its body. Two eye stalks came shooting out of the water in response, tilted up towards the ceiling of the cave. Leia drew back in fright.
The sudden movement attracted its attention, though, and its two longer tentacles crept up the wall of the cave. They stopped a good two meters from their position, though. After a futile attempt to launch itself partially out of the water, to extend its reach, the fish gave up and retracted the appendages. It didn't leave the cave, though. Instead, it patrolled the entrance, swimming up and down and slapping its tail against the surface.
Anakin glanced back at his children, who were sitting very close together.
"It's okay," he said, "It can't reach us."
"I'm not scared," Leia said.
"Me neither," Luke added.
"I'll get your toys back," Anakin said.
"No! Don't go down there!" Leia said, reached out to grab his tunic.
"I wasn't planning to. Come and see."
Leia shuffled forward, keeping a good distance from the edge. Anakin extended a hand towards the floating debris, and the Flower Princess rose into the air. It floated through the cave until it hovered near Leia, who reached out to grab it, giggling.
"You want to try?" he prompted.
Leia nodded, and came forward. The twins knew a little of using the Force, but he and Padmé had agreed to wait until they were a bit older, before discussing any extensive training. He wanted to keep their mind off their dire situation, though, and this seemed the perfect distraction. They could be here a long while yet.
His daughter had a little success with lifting the debris out of the water, and with his help, they managed to retrieve the locator. Luke soon came over to join them, and between the three of them, they reclaimed all their belongings, plus a few rocks for the fun of it.
The moment came to an abrupt end, though, at the sound of the comlink beeping. Anakin dived for it, hoping against hope that it was Padmé. Or, at the very least, a coastguard.
But the blue figure on the projector was the last person he was expecting.
"Obi-Wan!" the twins yelled.
"Ah, I hear you have company. Well, I won't keep you long. I was just wondering how the research was coming along."
"The research?" Anakin said, frowning. "Oh, the research! It's coming. You will receive it before you leave on the mission, I promise you."
"How are you, anyway? I trust I haven't caught you at one am again?"
"No, it's late afternoon, here," Anakin said, "And we're all fine. Never been better."
"That's good to hear."
"And you, Master?"
During the conversation, Anakin hadn't noticed that Luke was sneaking up on his left. Now, he sprang forward, grabbing the comlink from Anakin before Obi-Wan could reply.
"Obi-Wan!" Luke said, "We're camping, and then we went sailing, and our boat was eaten by a giant fish, and now we're stuck in a cave, and the comlink is majorly busted!! We can't call anyone for help!"
Anakin wrestled the comlink away, holding Luke back with his right arm while struggling to hold the comlink steady with his left. The holographic Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow, looking bemused.
"Sorry, Master. You know Luke ... he's got a crazy imagination. Everything is under control."
There were disadvantages to having twins. Never more obvious than when they ganged up on you. Leia snatched the comlink from his hand, then threw it behind his back to Luke.
"Obi-Wan, we told him there was a monster in the lake," Luke continued, "And he laughed at us! But it was real."
"He never listened to me, either," Obi-Wan said, nodding in understanding.
"What are we going to do, Obi-Wan?" Luke asked. "Can you come and rescue us? Please?"
Anakin groaned, sitting back in defeat. He might as well toss his lightsaber in the waste disposal when they arrived back in Theed, because if this didn't convince Obi-Wan he was a lost cause as a Jedi, nothing would.
"Perhaps if you let me talk to your father, I could offer a few suggestions."
"I don't think he wants to talk to you," Luke said, "Right now, he's sitting against the wall groaning, because he thinks that you think he's not a good Jedi anymore because every time you call him, he's not in the middle of some amazingly wonderful mission."
Luke grinned at Anakin, who was staring at his son in disbelief. Children could be frighteningly perceptive, at times ...
"Tell him that's utterly ridiculous," Obi-Wan said, "I have no doubt that raising you and your sister takes more skills than all the missions your father and I served together combined."
"Did you hear that, Dad?" Luke called.
"Can you also tell him," Obi-Wan continued, in a slow, deliberate fashion, "That there is no shame in asking for help. Even the best Jedi find themselves in tight spots, on occasion."
Anakin sighed, holding out his hand for the comlink. Luke passed it back, grinning.
"What do you suggest, Master?" he asked.
"Have you tried lifting it and holding it above the water until it asphyxiates?"
"It has tentacles, Master," Anakin explained, "And it has gills on the tips. Also, this cave has a low ceiling ... there isn't enough room, unfortunately."
"Stopping its heart, perhaps."
"It has a decentralized circulation system."
"Hmmm," Obi-Wan said, looking extra-thoughtful.
"I've really fallen into it this time, haven't I?"
Obi-Wan nodded. "This sounds like a job for your wife, my old padawan."
"Normally, I would be the first to agree," Anakin said, rubbing his forehead, "But there's one problem. Padmé is back on shore, and we only brought one comlink. And I have it."
"And it's broken?"
"And it's broken," Anakin agreed.
"I'll contact the Naboo government, then, and they will send out the emergency service."
Anakin groaned. "Tomorrow's headlines - 'Senator's Husband, Jedi, and children rescued from medium-size fish!'"
"Send me a copy," Obi-Wan said, "I'll look forward to reading it."
After the conversation with Obi-Wan, Anakin settled down to wait, with the twins returning to their positions on his lap. They were all wet and exhausted, and it wasn't long before Luke and Leia were dozing against his chest. He was nearly at the stage of drifting off himself, despite the rocky surface at his back, when he heard the most wonderful sound in the entire universe.
He opened his eyes, stretching out with the Force.
"Mom?!" Luke said, stirring.
It was closer, this time. "Yes, it's her! Wake up, kids!"
They crawled off his lap, and he shuffled to the edge. He could no longer see the fish, or sense its presence.
"Padmé!!" he called. "We're in the cave!"
It was just outside the entrance, now. He jumped down into the water, slowing his descent with the Force.
"Stay there!" Anakin said, pointing up at the twins, "I'll help you down in a moment."
He waded to the entrance, and was soon grabbed in a loving embrace.
"I guess I owe you a rescue," Anakin said, burying his face in his wife's hair.
After relishing the moment, he glanced up to see two waiting boats. One contained the gungan dock-minder and a uniformed member of the royal coastguard. In the second boat was a medic, a wildlife service officer, and one oily fish carcass.
"The twins are fine," Anakin said, releasing Padmé, "They're up on a ledge ... I'll go and help them get down."
The coastguard and the gungan jumped into the water, and waded forward.
"We'll get the children, sir. You need medical assistance."
"I'm fine," Anakin protested.
"Ani!" Padmé pointed at the second boat, and Anakin sighed.
"All right, I'm going."
He climbed up into the boat, and immediately reached up to hold his nose.
"Sorry, sir," the medic said, moving forward to offer him a thermal blanket. "They want to study it. Don't ask me why."
"Never seen one this big before," the wildlife officer said, rubbing his hands together, excitedly.
"How did you kill it?" Anakin asked, still holding his nose.
"I didn't - your wife did." He tapped his blaster, "In one shot, too. Amazing."
You don't know half of it, buddy, Anakin thought, as he saw Padmé wading out of the cave, with one twin cradled in each arm. He shared a smile with her.
"I better swap boats," the medic said, "I need to inspect the children. You don't mind riding back with the fish, do you, sir?"
He didn't wait for a reply.
It was dark by the time they arrived back at shore, and they were guided only by the lanterns the coastguard had brought along. The medic offered to fly them back to Theed, but the twins protested so passionately, Padmé had to decline. It was the last night of their holiday, after all.
Anakin woke the next morning to find the sun streaming in on his face. He reached up to shield his eyes, then rolled over, instinctively reaching out for Padmé. He felt her hand touch his, and opened his eyes. She was sitting up, fully dressed, and reading a datapad. Around the bed were several crates, all neatly packed.
"Oh boy," Anakin said, stretching. "I feel like I've slept for twelve hours!"
"Oh." Anakin rubbed his eyes, somewhat sheepishly. "I fell asleep early last night, didn't I?"
"Yes, you did." Padmé ruffled his hair, putting aside the datapad. "Don't worry. Considering the way the rest of this romantic getaway has gone, I wasn't holding my breath."
"Maybe I can reverse that, right now," Anakin said, kissing Padmé's hand.
Outside, there was the sound of pattering feet.
"Too late," Anakin sighed.
Leia appeared in the tent doorway.
"Mom, we packed our tent into the back of the speeder. Can we take down yours, now?"
"After your father gets out of bed, sweetie."
"I just woke up!" Anakin protested.
"Luke," Leia called, "Come and help me drag Dad out of bed!"
"Be right there!" came a reply from beyond.
"This is not fair," Anakin moaned.
But fair or not, they soon had him up and packing. Within an hour, they had left their campsite as clean and green as they had found it, and they were back on the road to civilization.
They spent the first half of the speeder journey reliving the fish ordeal of yesterday, in minute by minute detail for Padmé's information. Telling the story seemed therapeutic for the twins, so Anakin let them do most of the talking. They were tough little womp rats, though, despite their tender years, and were already thinking of the whole incident as an exciting adventure.
Halfway home, Anakin shifted over into the passenger seat, and let Padmé take over the driving. He glanced over the back, planning to start a game of 'spot something beginning with ...', but found his two children were both sleeping.
"I guess they'll want to stay up late tonight as compensation," Anakin said.
Padmé glanced in the rear-view mirror. "They had a little too much excitement, I think."
"It was some holiday," Anakin agreed. He glanced at his wife. "Do you think we made the right decision? To bring them along, I mean."
"Well, considering they nearly got eaten by a fish ... you can't blame me for thinking they'd have been better off with my sister."
"They could have been mentally scarred by our nieces, there."
"I know. But you have to admit ... when you and those two children of ours get together, trouble seems to follow."
"Only when you're not there to keep things under control," Anakin said.
Padmé nodded. "Point taken."
Anakin grinned, leaning back in the seat with his arms crossed behind his head. He was still in the same position a short while later, when they pulled up outside their home. Anakin was first out of the speeder, and he pointed with concern at the door control. It was flashing with a green security light.
"Did we forget to lock up?" Padmé asked, with concern.
"Nothing would surprise me," Anakin said, walking towards it, "As if monster-fish aren't enough ... now we have a burglar."
"Dere's a burglar?" came a voice behind him. "Where?! Mesa didn't hear anydin!"
Anakin whirled around in surprise, only to find himself face to face with Jar Jar.
"No, its okay, Jar Jar," Anakin said, breaking into a smile, "See I thought you were the - ah, don't worry about it. It's good to see you."
"Mesa arrivin' a moment ago, to see if yousa back from yousa holiday-a-way yet. Got a few dings to drop off on yousa."
The sound of Jar Jar's voice had caused the twins to stir, in the back seat of the speeder. Within a second, they were up and out of the speeder, and tearing across the garage floor.
"Uncle Jar Jar!!"
Anakin hastily backed away, not wishing to get squashed by two bundles of energetic eight-year-old. Jar Jar was more than a match for them, though, and he bounced right back as the twins barreled into his legs.
"Sorry," Anakin said, "They just woke up."
"Its okeyday," Jar Jar said, "Mesa know how dat is."
Luke looked up from his embrace, and tugged on Jar Jar's sleeve. "Uncle Jar Jar we nearly got eaten by a fish, and our boat got eaten and -"
"Mesa know, mesa know!" Jar Jar said, pulling a newsfax out of his pocket, "Da Senator made da front page!"
Anakin cringed as he held it up, fearing the worst. But there were no pictures of him or the twins to be seen.
"Senator Takes Down Monster-Fish!" he read, out loud. He grinned at Padmé, who was walking past them with armfuls of luggage.
"Haven't they got anything to better to publish?" she asked, "I've got to start drafting that submission to the tax department and -"
"All taken care of, m'lady," Jar Jar called.
"Jar Jar, you shouldn't have!" Padmé called back, from within the house.
"Sounds like you need a holiday yourself, Jar Jar," Anakin said, "You shouldn't have worked on the weekend."
"'Tis no problem-o," Jar Jar said, shrugging, "Work keeps mesa out of trouble. Mesa did some research for yousa, too, lil' Ani," he added, "On da Droogan Subsidary sub-council."
The twins were giggling at Jar Jar's nickname for their father, but Anakin was too surprised to care.
"How did you know I needed -?"
"Obawan told mesa. He callin' to tell mesa yester-aday to tell mesa dat yousa were stuck in a cave."
"Jar Jar, you're a lifesaver," Anakin said.
"Mesa just doin' mesa job. Mesa da senatorial assistant, yousa know."
"I know," Anakin said, clapping him on the back. "You're also a lifesaver."
"How about mesa take Lukie and Leia out while yousa and Padmé unpack?"
"Yeah!" Luke agreed, happily, "Let's go see a holo-movie!"
"Can we have a food fight?" Leia asked.
"Wesa'll be back later," Jar Jar said, herding them towards the speeder, "Maybe for dinner, maybe no. Don't wait up."
Anakin waved goodbye. When the speeder disappeared from sight, he suddenly turned, entering the house. Padmé was just coming down the stairs, after washing up.
"Did I just hear Jar Jar leaving?"
"Yes," Anakin said, coming forward and scooping Padmé into an embrace. "He's taken the twins - they've gone to see a holo-movie. They'll be back late."
"Late. Our romantic holiday has finally begun, my lady."
"I'm going to buy him a starship ticket to the most beautiful holiday spot in the galaxy," Padmé said, "That gungan is a miracle worker."
"I just had a crazy idea," Anakin said, releasing Padmé and gazing into her eyes.
"Does it involve the Jedi Protector and his lady never leaving their castle again?"
"No arguments here."