AN: Welcome, if you are reading this, to my second Fan Fiction in the Star Wars category. I felt like, after reading Inferno, that Anakin must be turning in his ethereal grave. SO… I decided to write this. My second fan fic with Anakin and Tahiri.
Here is a more complete summary of where I am taking this fic.
My last fic brought Anakin Solo back to life a short time after Sacrifice. This one, instead, is going to be my own story line starting from right before Anakin died. Basically, I intend to explore the changes in the SWU if he had not died. I know Star by Star was the major turning points in modern SW literature, and Sacrifice is now included in that group. So, welcome to what could have been. Or, in this case, what is in an alternate universe, only separated by one thing. Anakin Solo's life.
A thermal detonator.
Anakin smiled to himself. Not outwardly, as he felt his body slowly deteriorating into the force, but inwardly. His mind, pumped up though the force, saw his target with absolute accuracy. He knew what he had to do if he was to save the lives of Jedi and innocent citizens from the voxyns. He just needed to get through a mob of Yuuzhan Vong, the warrior race responsible for the creation and cloning of the voxyn and the invasion of the galaxy. He had no hope of surviving through it. He had already surpassed what a normal human could accomplish.
He would die along with Nom Anor and the cells of the voxyn queen.
Anakin prepared to hurl the detonator, glancing over at his siblings in the distance with a command in the force to get going. Jaina and Jacen were still confused as to what he was doing. Either that, or they couldn't believe what they were seeing. His older brother and sister would have sacrificed themselves with him if they had had the chance.
Anakin clicked the trigger three times, for thirty seconds. His brother's eyes widened, noticeably even at the large distance separating them. Jaina looked ready to come back for him, but Jacen pulled her away and they were out of sight in moments.
Good. I only hope that this will let them finally live happy lives.
Anakin blocked a stab from two amphistaffs and took another thud bug in the shoulder, smashing the bone hopelessly. It would take a week in bacta to heal that even with a healing meditation. Anakin just took some of the force that seemed to be in abundance and willed his arm to move, as he threw the silvery ball directly into the head of his enemy, the Yuuzhan Vong Nom Anor. Anakin almost laughed as the warrior fell to the ground, stunned.
Anakin could feel that he was losing control on the force fast. He even saw, when blocking a few swipes from warriors and decapitating the offenders, his arm looked to be n fire in the force and burns were appearing from nowhere. Burns from the power, the pure force energy turned into energy his body could use using his very cellular structure as a converter. It was coming naturally, just like the force had come as he had aged. He instinctively knew how to do it. He also knew it was dangerous to his health, hense the fading of his life energy.
But it didn't matter with twenty alien warriors about to stab him.
Anakin knew he now had two choices. He would either use the force to make sure the detonator was next to Nom Anor without giving him the chance to turn it off, or he could run and hope he would survive from his injuries and hope Nom Anor didn't notice the bomb and didn't move.
Anakin knew not to leave it to chance.
Finish the mission.
But right before he was about to take an amphi in the gut and use the force to keep the bomb Nom Anor had already noticed out of his grasp, Anakin saw something that shocked, angered, and overjoyed him. The amphistaff was blocked by another lightsaber, not a purple one at all. One being held by a human female with scars all over her face. One wielded by a girl who shouldn't have been where she was at that moment. Anakin used a small bit of the force to nudge the silver ball under Nom Anor's stepping foot, causing Nom Anor to slip and fall.
Five seconds left.
Anakin felt his numerous injuries begin to affect him. His body stopped channeling the force and he collapsed. Adrenaline, the only thing keeping him conscious, gave out. Anakin felt reality go from the super clarity the force provided to foggy and blurry in an instant. He fell to his knees. Another lightsaber, another Jedi, blocked a strike that would have decapitated him.
"Anakin, you promised… you said you would be back soon..." The wielder of the first lightsaber was in front of him, and about two others were holding off the warriors. He felt the sweet oblivion of unconsciousness coming quickly.
"Ta…hiri?" A voice from behind him shouted something that sounded like pull before an enormous light and crashing noises caused Anakin to sink away from life.
Across the galaxy, in a meeting with Jedi Master Corran Horn, Luke Skywalker stared into space while his wife and friend looked at him with anxiety. When Luke went from glassy eyed to a look of horror, Corran Horn was the first to speak.
"Luke? What's wrong?"
"Anakin…" Luke found a chair quickly and sat down.
"Oh… sith spit…" The room, which had been a calm existence in the force up until that point, was now a whirlwind of emotions. Corran felt rage at the Vong with such passion that the destruction of Ithor meant nothing compared to this. Mara, who also had to grab a chair, felt sadness wash over her through the force. Neither face showed the smallest bit of emotion, but a force sensitive person would have vomited upon entering the room. The room was filled with emotions not of the light side of the force until Luke spoke again.
"You… misunderstand. Anakin is not dead… yet."
"Just injured? You wouldn't act like that if it was just an injury, farm boy."
"Yeah, Anakin can take a few hits and survive as we all know."
"He should be dead. He was channeling more force then any person I have ever felt. It felt like he was next to me, that is how strong it was. And then, suddenly, it was nearly gone. He might not be dead, but he is gravely injured. I can feel that from Jacen and Jaina. Their anger and sadness matches ours."
"He'll pull through, Luke. He's with friends and family. And Tahiri. She wouldn't let the kid die until she died first or at least married the kid."
Leia Solo, in the middle of an important political meeting, collapsed to her knees. Han Solo was at her side before she had fallen an inch further.
"Honey, what is it? What's wrong? Are you ok?"
"A… A… Anakin… is terribly wounded…"
"What? Is he ok? Will he be ok?"
"I… don't… know."
"Damn it… he can't die yet! I have so much left to tell him. I still need to tell him I'm sorry for blaming him for Chewie's death."
"He's so… weak now… he needs immediate care."
"What kind of care? The kind they can find where they are?"
"… I… don't think so…"
Tahiri Veila, young Jedi, was working harder then she ever had. The force flowing around her and the three others with her was the most any of them had ever been able to channel. It was out of desperation and desire that allowed them to use the energy, not the calm and serenity of the light side. She knelt at Anakin's side, trying her hardest to do something to help him. He had been forced into a healing trance and now Tahiri was busy rebuilding some of his skin cells that had disappeared and burned into the force. Alema Rar was busy pouring her own force energy into and through the healer, Tekli. Tekli was working on healing the much more damaged interior of his body.
They had split the group again leaving most of the assault force to go after their prey while the wounded and a few others stayed in a hiding place. The larger group had reported in multiple times already, and said they were closing in on the target queen voxyn. They had found the perfect escape vessel and were hiding inside it near the entrance to make sure it stayed the perfect escape vessel and that they would not be caught in a dead end if the Vong found them.
Tahiri wept as she worked. She didn't know what to think about herself or Anakin's actions. She had let him go. She believed he was invincible, but when Jaina had come back saying Anakin was going down and taking everyone with him… she had to return. She had promised Anakin a kiss. Something they had never done. She was already in love with him and he was going to rip himself from her soul a hundred years too soon for her to accept.
So she had returned.
The rest of the Jedi that had returned had come, not trying to save Anakin, but to catch Tahiri before she made it back. She didn't care if she died with him or if they both survived, but if one survived without the other… she wouldn't accept it. So Jacen had attached the thermal detonator to the back of Nom Anor with a second to go. Jaina and Zekk had pulled a mass of coral from the ceiling with a display of force ability that no one had ever seen, right in the way of the explosion and attacking hoards. Tahiri had grabbed Anakin and ran. He was barely alive, but barely was better then not at all.
"Tahiri… you can stop." Tekli was holding her arm as Tahiri continued to hold them over his left arm. She had been using the force to enhance the regeneration rate of his skin cells, and she could tell it was back to normal, with a layer of dead skin cells already coating his arm. She had gone a little too far.
"How is he? For now… he'll live. He needs total bacta emersion within the next four days or he won't have a chance."
"We'll be out of here by then, right?"
"If we don't miss the target again…"
Tekli sat down to rest and work on the less injured Tesar. The Barabel had been wounded, but would likely be conscious long before Anakin. If Anakin were to survive, it was better that he don't wake up. Tahiri knew that. And still she wanted him to be awake so she could yell at him like when they were younger for doing something stupid. She wanted to punch him to the ground and then hug him until he couldn't move and drown him in her tears. She carefully pulled a blanket out and covered Anakin.
Anakin… damn you. Why did you have to go and try to do something heroic like that? Don't you know I… don't you know there are people here who love you? Who would be hurt to see you go? As soon as you wake up you and I are going to have a long talk about dieing on me, and how I would so kill you if you ever tried to do it again.
Alema Rar, Twilek beauty and fellow Jedi, sat on Anakin's other side. She had no tears in her eyes, but appeared to be more in shock. The twilek had been making advances on Anakin for a while, but he had not responded as most men would have to her. Tahiri, to say the least, had never gotten close to her before. It had something to do with an emotion Jedi shouldn't possses.
Worst of all, Alema seemed to know Tahiri's feelings. And she still moved in on Anakin like he was prey and she a hunter. But now... she seemed to not understand what had happened any more then Tahiri.
"I… I thought he was invincible…"
"He could kill hundreds of the voxyn that slaughtered my sister… he could kill thousands of Vong… but… he was so close to… his is so close..."
"You… what are your feelings towards him? When you went back… you looked ready to die with him."
"I decided a long time ago that life wasn't worth it without Anakin. I decided that… probably the third year at the academy. He was my first, best, and only friend."
"Is that it? Friendship? Friends don't commit suicide to stay with other friends."
"No, they mourn and remember. There is more… isn't there? You acted like I did when my sister was killed. Is it... do you..."
"… I think so."
"I thought so. The looks you gave me when I would not so casually brush him. The glares."
"I wasn't glaring."
"Yes, you were. If it makes you feel any better, I am not in love with Anakin."
"I never said I was…"
"Yes, you did. You said it in everything you have done over the time I have known you. You are in love with Anakin Solo."
"Well, not to make you feel bad or anything, but you almost lost any chance you had at telling him."
Tahiri didn't answer. She hadn't moved her eyes from Anakin's pale, cold body. She lay out next to him a second later and gave his unconscious cheek a small kiss.
"I won't lose another chance, Alema, I promise."
"Good, but if you do, just remember that I will always be waiting on the sides to steal him the moment you make a mistake."
Tahiri cracked a small smile that had not been one her face in hours… days it seemed. She wrapped her arms around Anakin's chilled form, warming him with her own body heat.
"I won't make any more mistakes…"
I can't afford the consequences...
Tahiri ran on hand over her facial scars. Reminders of her time spent in the clutches of the Yuuzhan Vong, experimented on and tattooed like a warrior of the race. They marred her normally beautiful face, but she wouldn't remove them. Anakin had told her they made her look "cool". Every time she ran her hand over the fresh scars they reminded her of when Anakin pulled a daring save against all odds to rescue her. They reminded her of him. And so they stayed even when cheap surgery would remove them.
Tahiri took her hand from her face and rubbed Anakin's cheek. She didn't care that Tekli was watching her from her position next to Tesar. She didn't care that Alema was smirking at her. Tahiri was in a world of her own which contained only two people. Anakin and Tahiri.
Tahiri woke up what she thought was only an hour later to the return of the second team. She hadn't remembered even falling asleep, but somehow, with a fractured arm, had fallen asleep with Anakin in her arms. In any other situation she would have been embarrassed, but none of the Jedi seemed to care. They had all sensed her feelings through the force and worry, and they knew that if she wasn't assured Anakin was alright then chances are she would not be fit to fight anyway. Tahiri painfully sat up, the soreness of days of fighting the Yuuzhan Vong made itself felt without adrenaline and the force to block it out. Tahiri quickly compensated by using the force to aid her in standing.
Jaina was sitting on Anakin's other side. Tahiri was about to speak when she felt the entire ground shake. Jaina looked up.
"Tahiri, I'm glad you're awake."
"Are you back because you killed it? Already?"
"Already? Did we get it? What do you think we are doing now?"
Tahiri finally started to grasp her surroundings. They had fallen asleep in the escape ship… which was now been shaken. No… shot at.
"Were on our way? How long was I out?"
"A day and a half."
"A DAY AND A HALF? Why didn't you wake me?"
"We took off a minute ago. The voxyn was destroyed completely. Zekk has the helm and is doing a good job at piloting this heap of coral. All of the turrets have people on them already. I came to see my brother. Besides, no one wanted to wake you up because… well… it was kind of the thing we all needed to see."
"What do you mean? I need to help doing something…"
"Every station in this ship is taken, there is nothing to help with and I can tell that you are in no condition to fight right now. I… I am not exactly in any shape either. But walking in and seeing the three others watching you two sleep in each other's arms was something that raised all of our spirits. I didn't think Anakin would survive. I even… I even killed a Vong with the force out of anger. A lightning bolt as dark as my hate stopped his heart… But Anakin looks better now. Thank you."
Tahiri was slightly stunned. Jaina was just running her hand through her brother's hair with tears in her eyes.
"Wha… thanks for what?"
"For staying with him. For having the courage to go back and stop him from sacrificing himself. For being his friend and helping him survive. Really, you're the best thing that ever happened to Anakin. I don't know where he would be without you as his friend. If you ever need my help, I'll consider myself in your debt."
"… It was nothing. I just… needed to help."
"It wasn't nothing."
Jaina smiled at Tahiri and Tahiri had to smile back. The smiles slipped as the ship shuddered again with another near hit.
"Zekk… you would think that guy could pilot a living ship enough to dodge flying balls of magma. Tahiri, stay here and make sure nothing happens to our wounded. I'm gonna go find out what's wrong and who's place I need to take to fix it."
"A… alright… but Jaina…"
"What is it?"
"I… can't sense Jacen."
Jaina instantly went from smiling to a completely expressionless face.
"He… was taken."
"No, but his force presence is gone, so he was either killed later or something else is going on that can fool Jedi."
"Jaina, don't give up hope."
"Hope?" Jaina looked away from Tahiri and towards the ground. "Hope is for people who can't do."
Jaina walked away leaving Tahiri alone with the few injured Jedi. Tahiri felt the waves of regret mixed with anger and resentment flowing off of Jaina, surprised to find that some of it was directed towards Jacen, and not just the Yuuzhan Vong. Jaina had gone from a shinning beacon of the force to a storm cloud that threatened to either destroy its container or maybe, hopefully, break back into the sunlight. Tahiri couldn't help but think that it mostly relied on whether or not Anakin recovered.
"Jaina, they'll be fine. Your family always finds a way to survive."
Jaina gave a final sad smile back as she went towards the head of the ship. Tahiri knew that look.
No one is immortal. Chewie proved that.
Tahiri stepped in as a gunner during the fight, as being able to more fully connect with the ship gave her accuracy and ability to hit the skips the instant the black holes shielding them went down the instant before a shot was fired. It was a rough ride, one they almost didn't get through, but they managed a jump to hyperspace on route to the Hapian Cluster in the nick of time. Tahiri slid out of the targeting hood with only one thing on her mind. It wasn't that her mind was in two parts, one Yuuzhan Vong and one Jedi. It wasn't thinking, either with pride or regret, her high kill count in the mission. It was to get back to the unconscious boy in the makeshift sick bay.
When she arrived, the rest of the Jedi were there already. Tahiri guessed it was time to talk. All the surviving Jedi stood around the unconscious one, protecting more then looking. The surviving members of the team were down to about ten, too little to call the mission a success. It was only accomplished. Tenel Ka, Tesar Sebantyne, Alema Rar, Lowbacca, Jaina, Zekk, Tekli, Ganner Rhysode, and Tahiri all stood around Anakin, the only critically injured to survive. Six had died. One was missing in action.
As soon as Tahiri entered the room they all sat down and instantly the tiredness of the Jedi team was felt throughout the ship. Comrades had been lost. Not one person had come away unchanged or uninjured. Everyone needed rest. But they also needed to know what to do. The trip to the Hapian Cluster would only last six hours, and they had to have a plan when they arrived or Anakin would not make it. Tenel Ka was the one to step foreword, in words at least because even the warrior woman was too tired to actually stand when it wasn't required. Tahiri could see that her left ankle was swelling, probably from a bad sprain. It was days old by the looks of it, and Tenel had carried it the entire way.
"We have no way to contact any ships that attack us, so one of us needs to get to the palace so we can land without getting shot out of the sky. I will take the escape pod and go for the palace."
"I don't like it. What if you get picked up? What if the pod is spotted and shot? I say we come out of hyperspace and try to contact a Jedi."
"That won't work, there would be no assurance there would be any Jedi in the system, and help could be hours in coming if it comes from Coruscant."
"Let's not argue." Tahiri had shifted from her spot near the door to next to Anakin. He was not looking as well as he had hours ago. The damage to his internal organs was taking a toll on his body, and it was seen in the cold sweat that covered his body. Tahiri ripped a cloth from her outfit to wipe his forehead. "Anakin would probably not want to see Tenel Ka go alone, but it would make the most sense in this case and he would agree reluctantly. Tenel Ka has connections and if she gets down it is guaranteed that we will be allowed to land. We… we just need to do it fast. Anakin… might not make it if it takes hours to land after we emerge from hyperspace. Tenel Ka's way is fastest. It wouldn't hurt to call out to the Jedi masters when we get out at the same time, but we need to be ready for if they aren't there to help."
"That… actually makes sense. I never thought I would be taking orders from someone so much younger then me, but you're plan makes sense. And Anakin was only a little older then you, now that I think about it. I just wish there was a way to guarantee Tenel getting down safely."
"There is no way to guarantee anything in this war, as this mission showed us. But it is the best chance we have… and the only one Anakin has."
"Alright then, Tenel Ka will be ready to leave then instant we hit Hapian space. Before she launches we send out a call to any Jedi in the area. We launch after ten seconds of no response. That's the plan, and objections."
No one said anything. The realization that Anakin's only hope was a expedited landing at the nearest emergency care ward had silenced any hoping for a safer and slower route to the mission's ending. Everyone present admitted that without his leadership there would have been times in the world ship that they would have ended up captured or dead with certainty. He deserved to get every chance to survive, just as he gave them their chances.
"Good. Now rest. We all need it."
Jaina Solo awoke to an interesting scent that seemed to permeate her mind. She found that the rest of the Jedi had also awoken. Tahiri explained that it was the scent that warned they were coming out of hyperspace soon, and Jaina was instantly in the cockpit area with the pilot's hood on. As soon as she dropped out of hyperspace the Yuuzhan Vong vessel was prepared to defend against imminent attack. If only someone out there would have the intelligence to know that a singular Vong vessel invading the Hapian cluster while never shooting to kill didn't make as much sense as a captured Vong vessel. But, then again, not many people had ever captured a Vong ship.
She plotted a course towards the capital planet and accelerated as fast as she could directly towards it. She sensed through the hastily formed battle meld that the rest of the Jedi were already in place, either in turret stations or, in Tenel's case, the escape pod. Tahiri had been elected as the one to make sure Anakin didn't move around if they came under fire.
'If'… more like 'when' we come under fire.
Jaina's mind was barely hanging onto the edges of the battle meld, because she didn't want any of her inner feelings to get out and distract her teammates. She felt anger, sadness, and loss at the leaving of Jacen. She was still angry from Anakin's injury and could feel her heart break into sharp fragments every time she saw his near lifeless body. Anakin was more of the old brother then the younger one in some ways. He was often more mature then either of the twins and yet, equally as often, showed how he was still a growing teenager in the tricks he would play. Then he could joke and laugh with you one minute and be seriously discussing super weapons and their benefits and drawbacks in the next.
He had changed when Chewie died. He had changed again when Thraken had fired Center Point Station and destroyed most of the home fleet of the planets they were now cruising through, all because he had activated it. Jaina knew that he would probably change again after this latest mission, with the loss of Jacen and his own near death expirience, but she hoped he would still be able to joke with her and make her laugh. He wouldn't be Anakin if he didn't.
Jaina reached out as they got closer to the planets, trying to reach a Jedi who would understand. Nothing. Tenel Ka readied the escape pod.
Almost at the same time that everything was in position the first ships began to attack. Hornet interceptors came out of seemingly nowhere and began to attack. The dovin basal of the ship had a very hard time keeping up with the relatively weak, but plentiful, shots being taken at the Vong frigate. The Jedi in the turrets tried their hardest to get only non lethal hits on their aggressors. In only a few moments Jaina had gone from flying towards the planet to flying away in retreat. But the escape pod was away, and the sensors showed none of the small interceptors eager to shoot it down.
Ganner had accidentally fried three ships and their pilots in the fight, and when the ships broke off pursuit Tesar managed to pull one of the least damaged ones into the docking bay. Lowbacca had the com system working in minutes.
Tahiri had tried her hardest to keep Anakin from getting any worse in the fight, and had succeeded for the most part. Tekli had come back after the battle and had explained what was happening. They would be on planet within minutes, and Anakin would be in a bacta tank within the hour. Tahiri couldn't think of anything to do but hug Tekli as tears of happiness came to her eyes.
Everything was going to be ok.
If only… if only…