Disclaimer: I own none of the characters, they belong to the great George Lucas. Lucky him! But, I do own Zankou, Ghanima/Chani and Alia (just three names which I'm borrowing from Frank Herbert's Children of Dune) so no stealing!

Chapter 74

Ghanima and two clones had been prepping the Falcon with Chewbacca all morning. Tarfful had been ordered to keep Han distracted while they did so. She knew that she would never be able to get her work done if he was there, distracting her. She also knew that, had he been there and the job wasn't finished, she would've changed her mind and simply not gone back to the Jedi planet. But the giant Wookie had done his job and distracted Han long enough to get the Falcon ready to go. Just as soon as they had finished, Han rushed into the hanger with Tarfful not far behind.

"Han, sweetie," Ghanima chided, kneeling down to his level and holding him at his shoulders, "what have I told you? You know better than to run around the hanger. It's dangerous!"

"I want come!" he exclaimed, smiling widely. She couldn't help but smile back, amused as his broken words, running her fingers through his hair.

"You can't, kiddo, but I wish you could," she told him, sounding as disappointed as he looked. "I'll be back soon though, I promise. And Tarfful will be here to look after you, okay?" Han's head hung low, chin touching his chest, so she had to duck down even further to see his face. "Okay?"

"Okay," he answered. She frowned at his depressed tone.

"RRROOOOWWWRRRR-WWWRRRR!"

"What do you mean you aren't going with me?" Ghanima questioned her partner, rising to her feet to glare at him. "Chewie, you're my co-pilot! You're the only one who can handle my flying, you know that!" she argued, but Chewbacca insisted that she take Tarfful with her while he managed the army with Luminara in her place. Sighing, knowing that he was right and hating it, because he really was the better leader out of her two closest Wookiee friends, she agreed and told Tarfful to strap in. "If he gets ill on the trip and ruins my ship, I'm blaming you, fuzzie," she threatened as soon as Tarfful was out of sight. "Don't give the fur ball too much trouble, all right, kiddo?" Han nodded sadly. Ghanima nudged his chin up and told him to give her a big smile, and he did so before hugging her tightly. "I'll contact you the second I enter the atmosphere."

"Promise?" Han asked, holding out his pinky fingers to her. Smiling, Ghanima latched her pinky fingers onto his and promised before spinning him around, making him laugh.

"I see I haven't missed your take off. That is good," Jedi Luminara stated as she joined the group in the hanger, her Padawan not far behind her.

"You're in charge while I'm gone," Ghanima informed her, shaking the Mirialan Jedi Master's hand.

"I know this," she answered with a smile. "But I have to ask a favor of you. Barriss has been sworn into Knighthood here. Her orders are to go to Felucia. I was hoping perhaps—?"

"Perhaps I could swing by and drop her off on my way?" she cut off with a smile. Chuckling, Ghanima nodded an affirmative and told Barriss to get her things. "Felucia, huh?"

"Yes. It has become a major stronghold for the Confederacy of Independent Systems."

"Also the headquarters of the Commerce Guild. Damn CIS," she cursed under breath, aware that Han was close. "Isn't Aayla Secura in charge there?"

"She is, but the Council believes she is having trouble. The diverse flora of that planet, it offers the Separatist many opportunities." Ghanima nodded, understanding completely. That planet was a jungle, plain and simple, with many places that the enemy could easily hide and ambush even the most alert Jedi. Ghanima was pulled out of her thoughts with Barriss' return.

"Ready?" With a firm nod, Ghanima said her goodbyes to Han, Chewbacca and Luminara once more. "Let's get this bird in the sky!"

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After dropping off Barriss, stopping to speak briefly with Aayla, Ghanima and Tarrful were headed out once more. Halfway to Coruscant, Ghanima realized that she hadn't checked in on Ronan in quite some time. Telling Tarfful to take over piloting for the moment, she unstrapped and headed to the main room. As much as she loved and trusted Tarfful, talking with Ronan was a private thing for her. Besides, Ronan never took to liking the Wookiees too well; she was never sure why.

"Ghanima Qualsiri to Ronan Tarhrn, come in," she called through the wall comm.. "Ronan, you there?"

"Ghanima?" came the excited voice of young Lando. But his excitement held panic, which immediately put Ghanima on edge. "Ghanima, is that you?" he asked, his body soon appearing in hologram.

"Yes, Lando, it's me. What's wrong? Where are your parents?" she asked. Lando suddenly disappeared from view and there was silence. Ghanima urgently called to Lando, fearing the worst.

"Nothing's wrong, Ghanima." The Jedi sighed at the calm vision of Ronan's wife, Vilandra. "Lando's just worn out. Another batch of orphan refugees arrived today. He's been busy trying to keep their spirits up," she explained amusedly. Ghanima chuckled and shook her head.

"Yeah, I'll bet," she replied. "No attacks?"

"Nothing too severe. There have been a few small battles. The CIS has been trying to take control, but our Republic is beating them back just fine," she answered. "Why were you calling? Everything all right on your end?"

"Things are rough on Kashyyyk, but I have high hopes. I'm on way back to Coruscant for a Council meeting," she explained before hesitantly adding, "and to see Ani. I had a vision."

"Anakin is a good boy. He'll be fine and all your worrying will have been for nothing, you'll see," Vilandra reassured her. Ghanima wished she could be so sure. What she saw, it scared her; it was a side of Anakin that she never imagined she'd ever see. "Ronan is on Coruscant for the Senate debates about General Grievous. Should I tell him to expect a visit from you?"

"Of course. Perhaps I'll be able to get him to come to the Temple this time," she joked. Vilandra laughed, commenting that she wished she could be there to see that. While Ronan was fond of the Jedi, he didn't dare set foot in the Temple, unless drugged and dragged. Something about sacredness and trespassing. "Okay, I just wanted to check up on you guys. I'll talk to you again soon."

"I'll hold you to it. Goodbye, Ghanima."

"Goodbye, and may the force be with you."

"Same to you."

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"Must you insist on troubling the Council?"

Obi-Wan wandered the hallways of the Temple, Anakin at his side. With this latest question, Obi-Wan felt as though Anakin were his Padawan again. Once more, Anakin openly questioned the Council. They were as proud and impressed with him as Obi-Wan was, what with Anakin's defeat of Dooku, but he still troubled them. Anakin was quite the puzzle to figure out these days, his thoughts constantly blocked. He always seemed so distracted, unfocused, as if his mind was elsewhere when it should be on the most important matter at hand: the war.

"I doubt Ghanima, being a Master as well, would appreciate the behavior you demonstrate towards the Council."

"I still feel her, Obi-Wan, her presence," Anakin admitted honestly, sighing despondently. "Sometimes, I even think I can hear her laughter in the wind."

"Mocking your reckless decisions, I hope."

"Why should she mock them?" he asked, staring at his former Master curiously.

"I don't think she would like to know that you've nearly gotten yourself killed numerous times in her absence," was the simple reply.

"Is that what you think? That I'm trying to get myself killed?" Anakin questioned, offended at Obi-Wan's lack of faith in him. Or was it a lack of trust? Anakin wasn't sure anymore.

"No," Obi-Wan answered immediately, a reassuring hand on the younger man's arm, "but I know you, Anakin. There is more to your decisions than anyone else believes. I just wish I knew the ultimate motive behind him. Though, I think I can guess," he added, giving his friend a look that crossed between sly and disappointed.

"You know something I don't, don't you?" Anakin asked, ceasing the leisure walk to stare at the elder man suspiciously. Obi-Wan sighed and turned to look at Anakin.

"As a Master on the Council, Ghanima was informed of what happened with Dooku and Chancellor Palpatine. She's coming back, Anakin, even as we speak," he explained, smiling softly at the inexplicable joy on his young friend's face. "She doesn't have to be here in person, but she is nonetheless."

"So she knows that I killed Count Dooku?" Anakin wondered, suddenly worried about what Ghanima might have to say to him. The only reason she would travel from Kashyyyk to Coruscant for a Council meeting, when she'd previously attended by use of holograms, would be to scold him. "It doesn't matter," he decided, shaking his head and continuing his walk with Obi-Wan. "I wanted my sister back. Dooku and Grievous are simply the means."

"But what does Ghanima want?" Obi-Wan wisely posed to him. Anakin just smirked at the man.

"I've never been able to know that. One of life's greatest mysteries, the mind of my sister!" he joked. Obi-Wan laughed, agreeing with him whole heartedly.

"…Why haven't you contacted her?" Obi-Wan hesitantly asked.

Anakin paused and thought for a moment. The last time he had spoken to his sister, she had been on her way to Kashyyyk. He yelled at her, demanded she tell him the truth about why she was being reassigned so far away from Coruscant. She reluctantly told him the truth, that she and Obi-Wan had petitioned Yoda for permission to marry, and that the request was denied. He had been furious with Master Yoda, and the Council in general, and even with her and Obi-Wan for not fighting the Council's decision. It was difficult to speak with her, as she was rarely heard from outside the Council meetings.

"Why haven't you?" Anakin questioned back.

P.S.: Five pages total.