Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars. I just created my own little AU sandbox, because I decided that Anakin and Padme deserved a happy ending. :)
AN: Hello everyone and welcome to the tenthForever Destined Vignette. That's right, number ten. Can you believe it? It's been quite a ride and it's about to get even bumpier in this latest Vignette, which picks up directly after the last one. To refresh your memories, you'll notice that I incorporated the last few scenes from the last vignette into the beginning of this one, so you can see how everything ties together. That's enough talk for me. Let's get on with the story. Enjoy and let me know what you think! :)
Oh, and a quick age check on the kids, since I know the passage of time can get confusing.
Luke and Leia: 9
Mara Jade Windu: 8
Jayden, Jenna, and Natalie: 5
Planet of Terror: A Forever Destined Vignette
The crystal chandeliers above them shuddered slightly. Those around them didn't notice that anything was amiss, but being an experienced pilot and Force sensitive, Anakin sensed it immediately.
"Ani...what's wrong?" Padme asked, noticing the sudden pensive look on his face.
"We just dropped out of hyperspace," he whispered. Her brow furrowed in confusion.
"But we're still half a day from Dantooine," she replied.
"I know. Something's not right," he answered, as he held her close. At that moment, they saw the Co-Captain enter and motion for the band to stop playing, as he took to the stage.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please?" the Captain called. The room quieted, as all attention turned to him.
"We've had to drop out of hyperspace momentarily, due to a little spacial distortion. But I assure you, we will be back on course shortly," he said.
"Spacial distortion?" Padme whispered to Anakin, confused by what he meant.
"Any spacial distortion big enough to knock a ship this size out of hyperspace isn't nothing," he replied quietly. Suddenly, the ship began to shake, as it veered sideways. People began to scream and panic when suddenly the ship lurched hard to the right. Padme cried out and Anakin held her tightly in his arms, as they, along with many others, were thrown to the floor. Screams of terror rang out through the dining hall, as mass chaos broke out.
The Captain and crew watched in amazement, as they were pulled violently through the crackling, spiraling tunnel. It was a rough ride and they were thrown all over the bridge.
Tables, chairs, silverware, and dishes flew everywhere. Anakin deflected what large or dangerous objects that he could with the Force, as he held onto a large support pillar. Padme clung to him with her face buried in his chest, as the rough ride threw people all about. With a final lurch, Anakin and Padme were thrown into a wall, as the ship finally stopped. People began looking around and starting to get up, all curious as to what exactly had just happened. Anakin helped his wife to her feet and they quickly started helping other people up, seeing if anyone was injured.
The crew on the bridge pulled themselves from the floor and looked out the view window. There was a brown colored planet before them, like nothing they had ever seen.
"What planet is that?" Captain Thomas questioned.
"It's not in the databank, sir. It must be unknown," Lt. Wesley replied.
"What are our coordinates?" Thomas asked. The Lieutenant's fingers flew nimbly over the console. His brow furrowed in confusion, as the results came back. He quickly ran the scan again.
"What's wrong?" the Captain asked.
"This...it's impossible," Wesley replied in disbelief.
"What is?" Thomas asked.
"Sir, according the ship's computer, we're approximately...three hundred and sixty four days away from Dantooine," Wesley said in disbelief.
"That's impossible! The controls must be malfunctioning," Thomas roared.
"I don't think so, Sir," Wesley replied.
"That makes no sense," the Captain fretted.
"Sir, if I may make a suggestion," Wesley said.
"Anything, if you think it will help us figure out this conundrum," the Captain replied.
"There is someone aboard the ship that has the skills and leadership necessary to deal with situations like these. I believe we should bring him here to see this," Wesley replied.
"Who do you speak of? A passenger?" Thomas asked.
"Yes sir, but no ordinary passenger. The Chosen One is aboard the ship with his wife," Wesley reported.
"Anakin Skywalker?" the Captain asked.
"Yes sir. Shall I bring him here?" Wesley asked.
"No...I will go myself, thank you Lieutenant. Continue to monitor our situation until I return," Captain Thomas replied, as he slowly exited the bridge.
"Yes sir," Lt. Wesley replied.
"Ani...what do you think happened?" Padme asked her husband, as they anxiously awaited word from the crew. Anakin saw the ship's Captain enter the dining hall and his eyes stopped searching, once they rested upon Anakin.
"I don't know, but we're going to find out," Anakin said, as he took her hand and led her toward the Captain, who waited for them. He had a very bad feeling about this...
"Master Skywalker, I am Captain Thomas," the Captain greeted. Anakin nodded.
"What's going on? Why was this ship just thrown around like a rag doll?" Anakin questioned.
"I think it's better we discuss this on the bridge and show you rather," the Captain replied. Anakin nodded and took Padme's hand.
"Captain, what are you refusing to tell us?" Steph demanded.
"We don't know much of anything yet. We require Master Skywalker's analysis of the situation. When we know more, you will know more," the Captain replied.
"Master Skywalker and the Senator are passengers just like the rest of us. If you are allowing them access to your bridge, then that courtesy should extend to the rest of us," Steph argued.
"Master Skywalker, in terms of military rank, out ranks us all. In a situation like this, it is both required and in the best interest of everyone on board that he take command at this time. But if I have use for a gossiping Holonet Hound, I'll let you know, Ms. Stark," the Captain snapped. Anakin took Padme's hand and led her to the lift. He knew that if the Captain was willingly handing control of the situation over to him so eagerly that it meant the situation was indeed dire and the Captain didn't know what to do. He glanced at his beautiful wife beside him and instantly didn't like where any of this was going. He had a feeling that this incident had the Imperial Underground written all over it. But instead of being able to take them on face to face, he had a ship full of innocent people to protect, including his wife. If this was their doing, then they were all in grave danger...
The lift arrived at the bridge and they followed they Captain.
"Okay Captain, what exactly is going on?" Anakin asked.
"Lt. Wesley, please show Master Skywalker the recording of the strange anomaly we encountered," Thomas ordered. The Lieutenant did so, bringing up the recording of the strange, blue, swirling hole.
"What...the hell?" Anakin said, as he stared at it for several moments.
"We were pulled out of hyperspace by this disruption. This thing trapped us in its gravitational pull and we went through it," the captain said. Anakin and Padme looked astonished.
"What is our position?" Anakin asked. The Lieutenant brought the coordinate figures up on screen.
"That's impossible!" Anakin exclaimed.
"That's what I thought, but the navigation controls are not malfunctioning. We arrived here, before this planet, but we have no idea what planet this could possibly be. It is not listed in any known data banks," the Captain said.
"Of course it's not. We're in uncharted wild space," Anakin replied.
"Wild space? Ani, what's going on?" Padme asked. Anakin looked at her regrettably.
"We're in wild space, approximately 364 days from Dantooine," he stated. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped open.
"But how is that possible?" she asked, confusion washing over her beautiful face.
"That thing we were pulled through had to be responsible. We need to find out what it was and how we can get back through it," Anakin said.
"But what if this thing was just a freak spacial anomaly?" the Captain asked.
"It wasn't. I'm almost sure that someone is responsible for it. And my instincts are telling me that the answers lie down on that planet," Anakin said.
"So, you want to attempt a landing?" the Captain asked.
"No," Anakin answered.
"It's too dangerous to take the whole ship down there, especially since we have no idea what's waiting for us," Anakin continued.
"I'm going to put together a team. I won't force anyone to go down there with me, but I'd appreciate volunteers from your crew. I'll also ask for volunteers from the passengers, particularly ones with medical backgrounds or other helpful skills. I will need a shuttle packed with enough survival packs, including food, water, tools, scanners, first aid supplies, blankets and other basic survival items," Anakin said.
"I'll explain the situation to the passengers. Once we're underway in the shuttle, I want you to move the ship a safer distance from this planet and wait," Anakin ordered.
"Yes Master Skywalker," Lt. Wesley said. Anakin took Padme's hand and led her back to the lift.
"I'm going with you," she insisted. He smirked.
"I know. I couldn't stop you if I tried," he replied.
"Well, I'll not wait up here while you go down on some Force forsaken planet and worry myself sick about you," she said.
"No, that wouldn't be good. Besides, I don't have a good feeling about any of this. I'd just rather keep you as close to me as possible," he replied. She slipped her arms around his waist.
"If anyone can figure this out, it's you," she said confidently. He smiled at her and caressed her face.
"I hope so," he replied. Padme raised herself up on her toes and pressed her lips to his in a sweet, loving kiss. He kissed her back, moving his lips over hers passionately. He held her tightly against him, as they lost themselves in each other for just a moment. Together, they would find out what was going on, because nothing would stop them from returning to their beautiful children back home.
As Anakin and Padme returned to the dining hall, chatter quieted, as all attention was now focused on them. Captain Brand nodded to Anakin from the stage, as they stepped up on it.
"Captain Thomas just informed me of your plan. I am volunteering to accompany you down to this planet, as are several of my men, General Skywalker," Captain Brand said, using Anakin's military rank.
"Thank you Captain. We welcome the help," Anakin said, as he turned to the questioning faces of the passengers.
"The ship has been pulled through some type of warp and we are sitting in an uncharted section of wild space, approximately 364 days journey from Dantooine," Anakin began. There were gasps and cries of disbelief.
"We are orbiting an unknown planet and I believe the source of the spacial phenomenon that brought us here is down there. I am assembling a team to go down to the planet to investigate. Our goal is to find out how to operate the gateway that brought us here, so we may return through it. I am asking for volunteers to accompany us on this mission," Anakin said, pausing for a moment.
"I won't lie to you. We may encounter danger down there, but I will do my best to protect our team. I am hoping that if there are any healers on board or people with the necessary skills in situations like this, will consider joining, but no one is obligated. If you are going to join the team, meet by the check in desk in thirty minutes. As for everyone else, we will do our best to get us back to where we belong," Anakin said, as he took his wife's hand and led her to the lift, so they could go back to their room and prepare.
"I didn't think we would need them, but I'm glad I packed all our battle gear," Padme said, as she pulled a bag out of the closet.
"I'm so sorry Padme," he said regretfully. She looked at him with a furrowed brow.
"Sorry for what exactly, sweetheart?" she asked, as she pulled clothes out of the bag.
"For this. It's not supposed to be what we're doing. I was supposed to take you on a worry free, stress free, and most importantly, danger free trip," he replied.
"Ani, you can't possible be blaming yourself for this. It is not your fault," she said.
"What if it is? What if a ship full of people are in danger, because it's me they want?" he asked, as he watched her undress down to her undergarments.
"None of this is your fault. I won't have you feeling guilty for something that you couldn't have possibly prevented. We'll find a way out of this and everything will be fine, you'll see," she said, as she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him softly, before she went about dressing. Anakin sighed and shed the blue wrap tunic he was wearing, exchanging it for his new charcoal gray Jedi tunic, which was a replacement color for the brown he had always worn previously. It had been Padme's idea for the slightly new look. He slipped his black pants on and his favorite leather jerkin, before fastening his utility belt around his waist, making sure it was fully equipped with his light saber, grappling cables, and vibro blades. He slipped on his boots and waited while Padme fastened her hair up in a looped bun. Her battle jumpsuit was also slightly different. It was the same exact style as her white variety, but it was black, complete with her silver arm cuffs and a charcoal gray cloak, with matching black boots. She stood, as she finished and approached him, placing her hands on his shoulders. He held her slender, petite form close, as he gazed lovingly at her.
"If anything ever happed to you...I don't know what I'd do," he said.
"Nothing is going to happen to me, not with you there by my side, my handsome protector," she replied softly
"Please stick close to me down there. Don't go anywhere by yourself...not even for a second," he stressed.
"Don't worry. I'll stick to you like glue. You'll have to pry me away," she promised. He captured her lips with his own, kissing her deeply, their tongues dancing in a passionate rhythm over each other's with feverish intent. They were completely breathless when their lips parted, their love flowing so effortlessly between them.
"Everything will be fine," she promised in a breathy whisper, as she combed her fingers through his hair.
"Yes it will, because I'll fight for you with everything I have, until there is no longer breath in my body," he whispered fiercely, as he held her close.
"And I, you, my sweet Jedi," she whispered back.
"Come on, we better go," she said. He nodded.
"Nothing can overcome our love, Ani...nothing. It's too powerful, as long as we remember how much we love each other and cling tightly to our bond," she said. He smiled and wrapped his arm around her waist.
"You're right angel...nothing will ever separate us. I'll take down anyone who is foolish enough to try," he replied, as they left their room, headed for the lift.
As Anakin and Padme approached the desk, they saw a surprising amount of volunteers.
"Wow...it looks like your speech inspired some people, baby," she said softly, admiration shining in her eyes for him.
"I don't know about that. They're probably more curious than anything," he replied, as he spotted the two reporters among the group. Ethan looked very unsure of himself and Steph had probably bullied him into coming.
"Well, I wasn't sure if you were coming, Senator. Aren't you afraid your precious little wife will break?" she asked Anakin rudely. Anakin glared at her.
"I asked for people that could be of use on this expedition. A bitter reporter wasn't what I had in mind. And don't underestimate my wife. She's a formidable woman," Anakin retorted.
"This little expedition could be the biggest story of the century and I'm going to get it. You asked for volunteers and I'm volunteering," Steph replied.
"Fine, just don't get in our way," Anakin said sternly.
"You won't even know I'm here," Steph replied.
"I doubt that," Padme commented.
"I haven't forgot about my other story though, mind you. My source just sent me a full background report on Zander, before this whole thing started. He has quite the laundry list of misdeeds. Why ever would your mother want to be involved with a man like that?" Steph goaded.
"Leave my family alone," Padme warned, as Anakin pulled her along behind him. It was time to load the shuttle.
Captain Aaron Brand and his seven men he'd chosen had the shuttle all packed with supplies, as the other passengers arrived. Besides Anakin, Padme, Steph, and Ethan, there were nine more people that were joining them, making a total of twenty.
"Tyler...are you sure about this? It probably won't be a picnic down there?" Anakin said, as he spotted the young man.
"Yes sir, I'm positive. I'm not missing the chance to be led on a mission by the great Anakin Skywalker. You're the reason I entered the academy. I don't plan on being assigned to this kind of job forever. This just may get me assigned to a real post...no offense Captain Brand," Tyler said, as he deflated a little at the Captain's stare.
"None take Ensign," he responded. Anakin patted his shoulder, as he met the other people that would be accompanying them. The first was a dark skinned woman with raven hair and the man next to her was fairer skinned, with spiked brown hair.
"Master Skywalker, we are both healers. My name is Lexie," she said.
"And I'm Daniel," he added.
"It's nice to meet you both. Thank you for volunteering to come," he said. He and Padme moved on to the next people. The first was an aging man that looked like he may have been in the service at one time, identifying himself as Brent. He was a little haggard and worn, but looked plenty strong, like he may have been quite the Officer in his day. The next couple were husband and wife. Anakin and Padme learned that they were archeologists and spent their lives studying ancient culture. This was the opportunity of a lifetime for Xalus and Madison. Xalus was very tall, with shoulder length limp blonde hair. Madison was much shorter and petite, with dark brown hair and eyes. The last group were all three travelers by profession. They went all over the galaxy as a team, documenting places and people for a living. This was also quite the opportunity for them. The two men identified themselves as Sean, Jeremy, and Lily. Sean was dark haired and tan, while his friend Jeremy was a few inches taller, with neatly combed white/blonde hair. Lily was a tall, slender red head with green eyes. They all seemed quite certain that they wanted to embark on this mission. Anakin just hoped they understood the danger.
"All right. If everyone is ready, we'll get underway," Anakin said. They agreed and boarded the shuttle. Once it was underway, Lt. Wesley did as Anakin had instructed and moved the ship half a parsec away, out of the planet's view or reach. And they waited to hear from their team...
"Commander Calmek, we detect a small shuttle entering the atmosphere," one technician said.
"The Master is not expected for another three days. On screen," he ordered. The Commander did not recognize the shuttle.
"Monitor this shuttle. We may have pulled some unfortunate beings through the warp by accident," Calmek ordered.
"What will we do with these people?" the man asked. Calmek smirked evilly.
"The planet's elements will take care of them. If for some reason, they survive, then I'll see to their demise personally," Calmek said, as he watched the shuttle land.
Qui-Gon held out his hand, as he shook hands with Jac.
"Qui-Gon...it's been too long. Good to see you," Jac said enthusiastically.
"Good to see you too, Jac. I thought it was about time I came and thanked you in person for helping my son and his wife all those years ago," Qui-Gon said.
"No thanks necessary. He's a good boy, with a precious little family. I wasn't going to let that rotten politician execute him for something he didn't do. Even if he had done it, that little weasel deserved it," Jac mentioned.
"Yes, he did. I do hope you're ready for this lot. They're quite a handful at times," Qui-Gon said. Jac smiled, as he watched the children scamper off the boat with their grandparents.
"The more the merrier, I always say. Besides, Anakin and Padme will certainly be surprised to see all of you," Jac replied. Qui-Gon smiled.
"Yes, I know they will," he replied, as Neela approached.
"They are all so precious. Five kids...Anakin and Padme certainly have been busy," Neela gushed.
"Yes, they have," Qui-Gon chuckled.
"I can't wait until they get here. It's been too long," Neela replied.
"We miss them terribly and it's only been a week," Riley said, as he put his arm around Jobal.
"Well, I believe I should introduce everyone. Jac and Neela, this is Riley Zander and Jobal Naberrie, Padme's parents," Qui-Gon began.
"These are my parents, Yan and Elana Dooku. My wife Shmi, my eldest son Obi-Wan, his wife Sola, and their daughter's, Ryoo and Pooja. And these are Anakin and Padme's children. Luke, Leia, Kimberly, Jayden, and Jenna. And finally, these two little ladies are children of our very good friends. This is little Natalie Organa and Mara Jade Windu," Qui-Gon announced.
"Everyone, this is Jac and his daughter Neela," Qui-Gon finished.
"It's so nice to finally meet all of you. I've met you two before, but you were too little to remember. You both look just like your mommy and daddy...you all do," Neela told the children.
"I'm sure you're all hungry. How about some of Neela's famous manzana berry pie?" Jac suggested. They agreed and started in for the open air dining area, as Threepio unloaded the bags and Artoo pestered him. Artoo blew an electronic raspberry at him.
"I am making myself useful, you overweight grease glob. You've been no help at all," Threepio complained.
"Come on Artoo!" Jenna called excitedly. Artoo whirled excitedly as well and chuckled electronically at Threepio.
"Oh switch off!" Threepio said crossly. Kimberly tugged on Riley's pant leg. He smiled and lifted the tiny child into his arms.
"Hey little sweetness, you hungry?" he asked.
"Uh huh. When are mommy and daddy going to get here, grampa?" she asked.
"Pretty soon now, sweetie. Come on, let's go get some of that pie," he said, as he carried her to the table.
Anakin landed the shuttle in a clearing near a rough, choppy river. He lowered the ramp and the crew began filing off. Padme waited for her husband and they joined hands, as they stepped off the ramp too. The team members looked around at the lush greenery in awe.
"I don't understand. This planet looks brown from space," Padme said.
"It is very strange," Madison mentioned. Padme noticed the pensive look on her husband's face.
"Ani...what is it? What do you sense?" she asked.
"Nothing...this planet is dead," Anakin stated. Steph snorted.
"It looks pretty alive to me," she replied.
"With all due respect, Master Skywalker, I agree with her," Captain Brand said.
"This is all wrong. I'm not getting any life readings from any of the plant life. This place is deader than Coruscant," Anakin said, as he plucked a large leaf from one of the huge trees before them. He broke it in half, confirming his suspicion. The plant life had no moisture.
"It's artificial," he stated.
"What? All of it?" Padme exclaimed. He nodded, as he crunched the leaf in his hand and opened his palm. They watched, as the leaf recovered its form, showing no signs of any creases or breaks.
"This entire forest is fake?" Tyler asked in disbelief.
"But how?" Lexie asked.
"Well, if you have the technology to rip open an gateway in space, then creating some artificial plant life probably isn't too hard," Anakin replied.
"So wait, you think people did this?" Steph asked.
"Of course. Now, we just have to find them and get them to send us back where we belong," Anakin replied.
"But what if they're not friendly? You could get us all killed!" Steph spat.
"I'll take care of any aggressive negotiations we encounter. Do you have a better plan?" Anakin questioned. Steph was silent.
"I didn't think so," he replied.
"Wait, if all this is fake, then is the river real?" Ethan asked.
"Yes. I feel trace life forms in it, though it is extremely dirty and polluted. I'm not sure what kind of creatures could live in water like that, but I suggest we don't find out," Anakin replied.
"What do you suggest then?" Xalus asked.
"I think we should start out through this forest. We'll bring our survival packs and hopefully cover a lot of ground before nightfall, which I have no idea when that will be, since this planet has no sun," Anakin said.
"No sun? Okay, now how is that even remotely possible?" Steph snapped. She hated not having all the answers. Padme spoke next, as she fixated her gaze on the sky.
"Well, my guess is that the people that live here use a man made energy source. They create their own night and day. That's the only way they could sustain this planet without a sun. The sky is too brown. It just doesn't make any sense," Padme fretted. Anakin put his hand on her shoulder.
"We'll get to the bottom of his. Let's head out," Anakin said. They all shouldered their survival packs and locked the shuttle up. Anakin took Padme's hand, as they blazed the trail through the artificial forest for the rest of the team, who followed closely behind. They were in search of answers and ultimately a way back home...