Gryphon: Wow. You really know your EU, huh? I'm glad that you're okay with Thrawn being in my story (I really got into his character after reading Djuva's The Art of War) especially considering the discrepancies with EU-Canon. However—Thrawn is the ONLY EU character that will be appearing in AR, for two reasons. 1) I haven't read EU, and thus don't know anything about the characters other than what I've read in fanfic and 2) there's simply no room! The next chapters will be focusing heavily on the characters and with my plot, I don't think there's room/time enough to introduce any other EU characters like Mara Jade, Tremayne, etc.

My true reasons for putting Thrawn into the story are because I was absolutely fascinated with the idea of a strategic and tactic genius being on Vaderkin's side and I thought the interplay between him and Vaderkin would be really interesting to write and, hopefully, read.

That said, I appreciate your knowledge of the ships of the Imperial fleet to no end! I've always been a bit leery about the logistics of the Executor, etc, and I've mostly resorted to making ships up. : ) Again, thanks for your helpful review! I really appreciate an insightful reader/reviewer.

--

Another Route

Chapter 26

Anakin stepped inside the spacious apartment that he had given Padmé, Han, and Chewie. The room was darkened, and the viewport showed only the swirl of hyperspace. He was tired, and weary from the day's events. Was it only that morning that Luke had been taken? Nonetheless, his body was sore and exhausted from everything that had happened. He sank into a chair, the flare of his helmet irritating him as he tried to lean his head back.

After a few minutes, he stood once more and walked to the door that was his wife's bedroom, intending only to check to see that she was sleeping. The door slid open at a wave of his hand and he entered, the night-vision capabilities of his helmet's eye-plates showing her slim form beneath the covers, clad in a simple shift. Before he could stop himself, he sat beside her on the bed and removed his right glove, resting it on her shoulder.

"Ani…" she murmured, her eyes still closed as she reached up and took the hand and held it to her cheek, as she so often had done at the beginning of their marriage, when he had been so self-conscious about the prosthetic. He shut his eyes tightly, unwilling to recall the many nights that he would return from a mission, exhausted, only to watch her sleep in their bed.

He wanted so desperately to touch her cheek, and feel her soft skin—to run his hands through her hair and feel the silken strands slide through his fingers. He wanted to trace his hands over her shoulders, and feel the smooth skin that only he had ever touched.

But he couldn't.

Releasing a ragged breath that overrode his respirator, he lurched up and left the room, unable to handle the sight of her any more. Once back in the main room, he sat and clenched the helmet in his hands. Why did the Jedi Council refuse to heal him? Didn't they know that it was the only way he could defeat the Emperor and get Luke back? Or was it more punishment?

With a growl, he slammed his fist down on the wooden arm of the chair, shattering the carefully carved piece. And he couldn't feel it.

The reminder only served to incense him more, but this time he had no energy to demonstrate it.

"Can't sleep?"

He jerked his head up to see Han leaning on the wall, his expression hidden in the shadows.

"I don't sleep," he replied once he had gotten over his surprise. When was the last time someone had sneaked up on him? He was surprised—and a little worried—that Solo had been able to do so with such apparent ease. "How long have you been standing there?"

"Since you came out," said Han unconcernedly. "What's wrong?"

Anakin was inclined to dismiss him like he would anyone else, but he couldn't find the strength. "You don't know what it's like," he said wearily. "Nobody does."

Han walked over and sat down in a chair across from him. "What 'what's' like?" he inquired.

"This suit," he spat bitterly. "I can't feel anything! I can pick this up—" he grabbed a decorative engraved rock—"but I can't feel it!" he threw it with all his might at the viewport, but it barely made a scratch against the transparisteel and fell to the floor. "I get vision and audio fed to me like I'm some sort of computer, I can't breathe without this blasted machine, and this Force-forsaken suit is the reason that my son is now in the hands of my worst enemy!" He stood up and began to pace the length of the room.

Han said nothing for a few moments. "But you've overcome it all, right?"

"What are you talking about?"

"If you were anyone else, you'd be dead," said Han logically. "That's got to count for something."

"I'd rather be dead," he spat. "I should be dead. It should have ended that day on Mustafar. I should have burned to death."

"But you didn't," said Han quietly.

"That's debatable," he muttered.

"You're still alive," Han continued. "Your wife still loves you. Your kids love you. That's not so bad, in my book."

"Leia hates me," Anakin reminded him. "With good reason."

"She won't always," said Han calmly. "Look, if I've figured out that you're not such a bad guy, then she'll come around too. You've just had a rotten deal, that's all."

"A rotten deal?"

"First you were a slave," said Han, ticking off one finger. "Then you got to go say 'yes, Master' and 'no, Master' every time you turn around to the Jedi, who then decided to kill you and put you in that suit. Then you had to go and bend your knee to the ugly old guy for half your life. Sounds like a rotten deal to me."

"Half of it is my fault," Anakin said. "If I hadn't—"

"Ah, shut up," said Han. "We're all tired of it. What's done is done. Now you've gotta make the best of it."

Anakin stared at him. "When did a smuggler learn this?"

Han shrugged. "You learn a lot of things on the street," he said offhandedly. "Go back in there and sleep. Or watch her sleep. Whatever it is you do. Seems to me if I'd been away from Lei—" he stopped and coughed for a second before continuing—"I mean, if I'd been away from my wife for twenty years, I'd wanna spend time with her." Han stood up. "G'night," he said, returning to his room and leaving Anakin in darkness.

What if Padmé woke up and was terrified to see Darth Vader in her room? What if she screamed? What if she got angry with him for making pretenses? The possibilities were endless of what she might do, and Anakin didn't really want to find out.

But Han was right. Anakin had been away from her too long not to want to be with her. He gathered his courage and walked to the room, hesitating for a split-second before reentering her room. He sat by the bed and rested his hand on her shoulder, rejoicing in the small curve of her smile as she felt his touch.

"Hold me, Ani?" she whispered, pulling at his arm.

He swallowed a little nervously before easing onto his back and pulling her petite form into the crook of his arm. He unclasped his cloak and pulled it around to let the warm, heavy material cover her. She sighed and draped her arm over his chest, thankfully missing the control panel.

Anakin lay there for a long time before allowing the hypnotic rhythm of his respirator to overcome his drooping eyelids and he fell asleep.

——

When Padmé woke, the first thing she noticed was that she was warm. The second was that she was nestled beside another, and that a large arm lay behind her shoulders and was currently her pillow. She heard familiar, rhythmic breathing next to her ear and recalled vaguely that Ani had entered her room the previous night.

"Ani…" she whispered, her voice still groggy with sleep. "Are you awake?"

He made no reply; his rhythmic breathing continued on unaltered. She frowned and sat up, careful not to disturb him. Not that it was likely she could move him, she admitted wryly. He had been bigger than she when he was whole, and now he was positively massive.

She slipped into the 'fresher to get ready for the day. When she returned, he had disappeared.

——

"ETA five standard minutes," said Thrawn as Anakin approached the bridge. "Do you want to send a transmission?"

"No," said Anakin after a moment to think. "Perhaps they will reconsider my offer once they are surprised by the fleet."

"Perhaps they will feel threatened," Thrawn countered.

"Excuse me, Admiral," said a breathless ensign, appearing at Thrawn's elbow. "I thought you'd want to know," he said. "Six systems have declared allegiance to Lord Vader."

"Turn on the INN," said Vader at once.

The ensign made a motion over his shoulder to the pit technician controlling the vidscreens. Four screens activated.

"—and I've just received word that Vicereine Castana of the Cethir system has also declared Rebellion and joined the other systems with allegiance to Darth Vader. Seven Imperial garrisons have been destroyed and—"

"That's enough," said Vader, and the screen switched off immediately. He turned back to Thrawn. "What do you think?"

Thrawn wore a small, rare smile. "I think that it is a good start."

"Oh?"

"And depending on when the new commander takes over, phase two will begin nicely. How long are you planning on staying at Mustafar Base?"

"Five days, or as long as they let me," Anakin replied. "ETA?"

"Two minutes," Thrawn replied. "Any updates on Luke?"

"No. Nothing," said Anakin, glad for once that the vocoder betrayed no emotion. Thrawn, however, recognized the subtle troubled tone, and changed the subject. "Shall I inform Lady Vader and the others?"

"No. They're coming," said Anakin, feeling the presence that was Amidala in the back of his mind growing nearer. "Prepare a shuttle."

"Already done."

Now that Vader was back in the suit, Mothma's former ease was gone completely. She approached them on the docking bay as soon as they arrived, her face tense and her strides carefully measured. Anakin stepped down after Han and Chewie, and then held his arm out to Padmé, who took it with a smile.

"I hope you don't think that we're going to change our minds because you showed up with those destroyers," Mothma said sharply, trying in vain to be as calm and authoritative as she normally was, regardless of the presence of Darth Vader in his full regalia before her.

"Not at all," said Anakin, the clean, crisp tones of Vader slipping from the mask. "But we seek refuge here, and perhaps a partnership between our two organizations. After all, we both serve the same cause."

"Really," said Mothma dubiously. "And what part of twenty years of unjustified murder, tyranny, and terror corresponds with the Rebel Alliance's agenda?"

Padmé winced, but Anakin took it in stride. "You know very well, Lady Mothma, that I am no longer the man I was, regardless of the mask I wear. We have disturbing developments about which the Alliance must be briefed. Princess Organa foremost."

"I see," said Mothma coldly. "And how do you think my staff will react to Darth Vader roaming the halls?"

"I am sure that they are aware already of my defection, after my last visit here. Now, shall we have a discussion, or will you turn your back on new information because of the messenger's face?"

Mothma glared at the manipulation. "Very well. Follow me."

They walked into the building and immediately drew stares of fear and awe. The Rebels might be fervent opposition to everything that Vader represented, but nonetheless he was a man of mythic proportions; there were few at the base who had ever seen more than a holo of him. Whispers and slight screams of surprise and fear surrounded them, but Anakin and Padmé gave no signs that they heard.

Finally, they entered a large, cavernous room that seemed to act as a mess hall. On one wall, there were several holoscreens that were stationed on the latest news, and tables dotted the rest of the room. At one of the center tables, Princess Leia was clearly visible, deep in talk with one of the other council members. She glanced upwards at the sudden silence as the party entered the room, and her face flitted through surprised, dread, and finally, excitement to see Han. She excused herself from the conversation and moved over to them, giving Han a quick hug and her mother a kiss on the cheek. She very carefully ignored looking at Anakin or drawing his gaze, and he said nothing. "This is a surprise," she said. "Any news of Luke?"

"Nothing," Padmé admitted unhappily. She glanced up at her husband. "Anakin has sensed no sign of him through the Force."

Leia frowned, her eyes troubled. "But I have not felt his death," said Anakin firmly. "And that I am sure would have created a large signal in the Force. Do not fear, Princess. Luke will survive."

"May we sit?" Padmé asked, careful to insert the 'we' so as to include Anakin.

Leia glanced quickly to her father, whose insectile mask gave no hint of expression. "Very well." She sat, and Padmé with her.

"I'll stand," said Anakin, crossing his arms behind his back and adopting the pose that was familiar to anyone who had seen half the holos of him standing at the bridge of a star destroyer. Padmé looked up at him briefly, a small frown on her face, before Leia drew her back down.

"What happened? Lord Vader was characteristically concise in his report," said Leia.

"There's really nothing more to say," said Padmé unhappily. "They caught us in a Tractor, and refused to let us past even when Ani had convinced them who he was."

"And then Palpatine came?" Leia continued, troubled. "And Vader could do nothing?"

Anakin stiffened.

"Surely the executor of hundreds of Jedi could manage to prevent his own son's capture," Leia said coldly. "All the more evidence for Vader's doubtful motives."

"Leia," Padmé said sharply, knowing that Anakin would not argue with his daughter. "You are not helping the situation."

But Leia's gaze was drawn to the giant holoscreens.

"We have just received news that His Majesty, Emperor Palpatine, has organized one of his rare public appearances to make an announcement. The Imperial News Network will cut away shortly."

A chill settled in Anakin's breast. "Padmé…" he said as quietly as he could. "I don't have a good feeling about this."

Her face was tight. "Me neither."

And suddenly the Emperor was on screen, his face carefully shrouded by a dark robe. "Peoples of the Galaxy," he began, sounding much like he had when he had been just a senator, and later, the Supreme Chancellor. "I come before you today with news both disheartening and encouraging. Long has this Rebellion lain as a shadow over the greatness of this most noble Empire. Long has my most loyal subject addressed this same Rebellion, and made it his life duty to bring justice to those who desire ill will and violence. You all know of whom I speak. Darth Vader, to my very great sorrow, has perished from this galaxy, while performing a difficult and dangerous task for me, his Emperor. Some may now wonder, how can this Galaxy continue to labor against the terrorist efforts of the Rebellion, without one of its figureheads and most loyal servants?" Palpatine stopped for an artful pause. The mess hall was flooded with whispers, as the members of the Rebellion looked upon Vader even as the Emperor announced his death. Padmé and Anakin, as well as Leia, Han, and Mon Mothma, all remained very still.

"However, as always is the case, there is a chance for hope, for renewal, even in the wake of this terrible loss," said Palpatine in a convincing tone of sorrow. "The loss of Lord Vader, while difficult to bear, has proven to be a new beginning—a point from where we can reaffirm our goals and values. Thus, I present to you Lord Vader's last legacy."

"No," Padmé breathed, hoarse and afraid.

"Lord Rexus, please step forward and be recognized by the Galaxy," said Palpatine, stepping slightly to the side to allow a slender, pale man dressed in black robes step forward. A hood mostly obscured his face, but from what could be seen, he had terrible scars—deep gouges that ran the length of his face, and distorted his features.

But Padmé, Anakin, and Leia recognized him.

Anakin let out a terrible roar of fury and reached down at his belt to unhook his saber. He lifted it and threw it with all his might at the visage of the despot, the blue blade slipping through the holo and burying itself in the wall behind. "No," he snarled. "NO!"

"No, no, no," Padmé whispered, swaying her feet. Her baby—her child, her beautiful son—so soon returned to her! Palpatine had taken him, had hurt him, had twisted him as he had twisted Anakin!

"I am honored to serve the Emperor," a hoarse and painful-sounding voice announced. A voice that, if listened to properly, was undeniably Luke's.

Anakin sank to the floor, his palms resting on his thighs and his head bent. All was silent, save for Padmé's weeping and his regulated breaths that echoed throughout the chamber. Abruptly, he stood and raised his hand. The saber flew to his palm and he angled it out, stalking past the rows of tables. With the flick of a hand, he turned off the holoscreen.

"I will get him back," he growled. "I will not let Sidious take Luke from me."

He turned and strode towards the closest exit, the tables and chairs flying up to provide a path. "Hey!" Han shouted.

Anakin paused. "What, Solo?"

Han caught up to him. "Listen," he said darkly. "You can't go on runnin' off," he snapped. "Lady Amidala needs your help. Leia needs your help. And you're not gonna be able to do anythin' by yourself anyway, so there's no point in jumping on a ship and blasting to Coruscant. What you have to do is take a step back and look at the situation rationally for once, 'stead of leaping off to do something at a whim. And if you're tryin' to be good again, then stomping around with your lightsaber lit isn't gonna help."

"You know nothing of what you speak, Solo," Anakin snapped. He turned, but Han shoved him in the shoulder and Anakin, caught unawares, stumbled slightly.

"Hey!" Han shouted. "Luke's my friend too, okay? But you don't see me runnin' off on a suicide mission! We gotta work together here! Despite what you think, you ain't exactly all-powerful. If you want Luke back, you gotta look at this smart!"

They all waited through several breathing cycles. "I understand once more why you are valued so highly," said Anakin finally. "Thank you, Solo." He extinguished his lightsaber and hooked it to his belt.

Han nodded once. Everyone stared at him. Since when had Han Solo earned Vader's respect? "Lord Vader," said Leia in a small voice. "If you'll follow me." She stood and took Padmé's arm. Silent tears still coursed down her pale cheeks. The company followed Leia into a smaller conference room where all but Anakin sat down. They sat in silence for a few moments. "You know, when we first came here, there were over one hundred skeletons scattered all over these chambers. Cut in half, some of them. Others, dismembered. Most of them, beheaded," said Leia.

Anakin tensed and clenched his hands behind his back. He stalked over to the wall and stared out a viewport, ignoring the fiery hell that was the environment. "That was a long time ago," he said tightly, his discomfort evident even through the vocoder.

Mothma gasped. "That was you? That carnage?"

"The point is," Leia continued on determinedly. "If that is what a fledgling Sith Lord does, then I refuse to believe it. I refuse to believe that Luke has become such a monster. It simply isn't possible. There must be another explanation."

"Ani wasn't a monster," Padmé said quietly. "He wasn't."

"Padmé—" Anakin interjected. "Don't—"

"Any man who throttles his pregnant wife is that, and more," said Leia coldly. Mon Mothma gasped, and did not try to hide her horror.

"Leia," said Han suddenly. "Luke was a good kid, right? A good person?"

"Of course," said Leia hotly. "The best."

"Then if Luke's become a Sith—if he becomes what your dad used to be—then ain't it fair to say that maybe he was a good person too? I mean, wasn't he? He was a hero—they called him the 'Hero Without Fear.' Even I remember that," said Han, scratching his head.

Leia stared at him, her mouth slightly open with surprise. Anakin shifted in discomfort by the window. "You're right," said Padmé quietly, wiping her eyes. "Which means that even if this is true—if Luke has—"she swallowed thickly—"if he has turned… to the Dark Side, then he can come back."

"How could he do this?" Leia asked with a sob. "How could Luke turn?"

Behind his mask, Anakin closed his eyes and bowed his head. Was this terrible feeling what his wife and his friends had experienced after his turn? Had they felt the same tight breast, the ache in their throat? Had they felt frozen, unable to process what had happened? Had they felt betrayed, as he did? Did their eyes sting and burn and shed tears, as his would if they were still capable? A new wave of self-loathing swept over him. He had been a fully trained Jedi Knight on the brink of Mastery and a member of the Jedi Council. He had been the Chosen One. He had had no excuse to turn!

But Luke—Luke had just barely scratched surface of the Force. He was largely untrained. For him, temptation to the Dark Side would be all the more difficult to turn away.

Was this suffering—this awful suffering—what he himself had given those he loved the day he knelt before Sidious and proclaimed his loyalty? Had Obi-Wan struggled to keep in the screams of why as he stood over him, watching his beloved padawan burn with the flames of his own foolishness? Had Obi-Wan felt as though he would shatter, stretched thin and heartbroken?

"Sidious is cunning," Anakin managed finally. His voice sounded strained even to his own ears. "Whatever devilry he created in Luke will be difficult to destroy. But in the meantime, Mustafar is no longer a safe base."

"That is true enough," said Mon Mothma heavily.

"We can't just forget about Luke," said Leia angrily. "We have to do something! We have to rescue him!"

"He doesn't want to be rescued," said Anakin. "We must wait until an opportunity for us to confront him presents itself."

"What do you mean, 'he doesn't want to be rescued?'" Leia snapped. "I won't sit here and do nothing!"

"I didn't want to hear anything my wife and my best friend had to say," said Anakin quietly. "I was blind and deaf to reason. That is how I ended up in this suit."

"You would be the authority on the Dark Side, wouldn't you?" said Leia scathingly, brushing angry tears from her cheeks.

"Yes, Princess. I am," said Anakin. He swallowed, grateful that he was able to do so. "I must return to my flagship. Padmé, do you want to stay here?"

"For a little while," she said, frowning. "But I will return with you. Can we stay for another standard hour or two?"

"If you would like," said Anakin immediately. "I am going to take a walk, I think."

"Are you all right?" Padmé asked instantly. "Are you angry?"

"Of course," said Anakin heavily. "But not so much that I will destroy the base," he said with a barely perceptible dryness. He felt heavy, somehow—tired—as though the shock of the past half-standard had sapped all his mental energy.

"Then I will stay and talk with Lady Mothma," said Padmé, slipping into her diplomatic role of old. "

"Very well," said Anakin, turning to leave the room. "Then I will return in one standard."

"Actually, may I accompany you?" Leia asked swiftly.

The helmet turned to her sharply. "If you wish," said Anakin, sounding surprised. "I was going to leave the building so that I won't alarm anyone, but—"

"That's fine," said Leia coldly. "I'm wearing appropriate clothing."

Anakin said nothing. He left the room and she followed him, walking at his side silently. They said nothing until they were outside the building. "What do you need, Princess?"

She noticed his quickened breathing pattern, clenched fasts, and rapid strides as they crossed a bridge over a lava flow. "You're afraid?"

"Wouldn't you be?" he replied. She fell silent. "You did not come with me to question my fears, Leia. What is it that you want to say?" he asked wearily.

"How did you turn back?" she asked finally, her words spilling out in a rush. "How did you go from being—what you were—back to Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight?"

"Then you have accepted the truth."

She didn't reply.

They stepped off the bridge onto crumbling rock and black sand. "Don't get too close," said Anakin sharply as she stepped on a rock and it tumbled down the slope to disappear in the lava flow. He grabbed her arm sharply and jerked her back. "The sand is at such a temperature that it will ignite anything too close to it." He pulled her roughly to the other side of him and she stared up at him.

She didn't ask him how he knew.

"Thank you," she murmured quietly. "But you haven't answered my question."

He stopped walking and stared out over the landscape. Almost absentmindedly, he held out his hand and several rocks floated upwards. He spun them around a few times before letting them fall to the ground. "I can't tell you an exact date," he said finally. "After Luke came to live with me, I think parts of Anakin began to shine through. I finally admitted to myself that what I did was wrong. Luke was so trusting—so caring of me, that I tried to understand what he could possibly seen in me that would instill such loyalty and devotion. When he accidentally killed a boy and I saw his reaction, that was a turning point. I was horrified, sickened. I stared at him, and I was afraid that because of me, he had lost the innocence—the naivete—that made him what he was. I defied the Emperor that day and spent the next three years warring with myself. I tried to reconcile what I'd done with my Sith teachings, tried to rationalize the situation—when all along I knew in my heart that Darth Vader would not have helped his son escape against the will of his master."

Leia stared pensively for a few minutes. "Then why did you do such horrible things for the past three years?"

"I was trying to convince myself that I was still Darth Vader. That I had not changed. I still had a job to do, and I still had incompetent subordinates."

"So…" said Leia, her brow furrowed, "It might take years to turn Luke back?"

"I don't know," said Anakin truthfully. "There's no way to tell. There are no precedents for this, no models. I am the only Sith ever to return to the good side. Let us hope that Luke becomes the second."

Leia said nothing for a while. "How could you do it?" she asked finally. "How could you turn like this? How could you do this to people you love? Murder people?"

"I have no answers for you, Leia," said Anakin, troubled. "I'm sorry. That is all I have to offer."

They lapsed into silence once more. "You know, when I was mad at my adoptive father—"Anakin winced—"I used to wish that my real father, wherever he was, would swoop down in a great starship and whisk me away. I used to wish that I could have my real father whenever there would be father/daughter games at school, and all the other students would bring their dads. I never told him about them, because I didn't think that those games belonged to me. They belonged to people whose fathers hadn't left them." Leia frowned.

Anakin stood stock-still. "I'm sorry, Leia. I wish that I had made different choices. I wish that I had had a different life, but I can't change what I've done."

"I understand that now," she said quietly, glancing up at him. "And in spite of everything, I am glad that I found you. I can see now that you were a good person once. That you're trying to be a good person now." She hesitated. "Thank you," she said slowly, holding out her hand.

Anakin had no words. He held out his own hand. She took it and slipped the glove off of the prosthesis, taking the metal fingers in her palm. "That means more to me than I can say," Anakin finally managed.

She nodded, and turned to look at the lava flow beside them. "Where did it happen?"

He didn't need her to tell him what she meant. "Further down."

She stood looking at the bank for several minutes. "I'm sorry for you," she said finally. "Not just about the suit, but for everything that happened to you in your life. I think I've begun to understand what made you this way."

He said nothing for a long time—just let the unending cycle of his breathing fill the space between them. "Thank you, Leia."

"Just… Can you promise me something?"

"Anything."

"Bring Luke back." Her eyes were alight with a pain and ferocity that truly exposed how much his daughter she was. "Bring him back."

He reached for her hands and held them clasped in his own. "If I can bring him back by my life or death or anything in between, I will. I promise you."

"If you learn any new information, please inform us immediately," said Mon Mothma, executing a stiff, formal bow to Anakin.

He returned the cordiality. "Of course."

"Senator Amidala," Mon Mothma continued.

Padmé's face was drawn and pale. "Senator Mothma."

"As we once were," said Mothma with a tired smile. "Best wishes."

"How long will you be in orbit?" asked Leia of her mother as she embraced her.

Padmé glanced up at her husband. "Ani?"

"Not more than three days," said Anakin swiftly. "We will draw too much attention if we remain here. Besides that, we don't know enough about Lu—" he paused very obviously. "About Rexus' mental state to decide whether he will attack here. In the meantime, my forces are on active duty."

Leia nodded. "I understand. Farewell, Mother." She hesitated. "Farewell, Father."

"Take care, Leia," said Anakin quietly. "Padmé, are you ready?"

She nodded. They boarded the shuttle together.

--

A/N: I actually like this chapter. Wow.

Review?

A/N #2: Oh, yeah. I just wrote a lil viggy that isn't L/V, but it's my take on Obi-Wan's state of mind about 3 weeks after RotS and then what he feels when he learns Darth Vader is still alive. Please check it out and lemme know what you think! It's my first foray into that genre and I could really use some feedback.