Title: To Stop the Suns from Setting

Author: Pallas-Athena  (uscathena@hotmail.com)

Rating: PG-13 (for violence and implied sexual situations)

Category: Alternate Universe, Action/Adventure/Romance

Summary: Queen Amidala's ship never landed on Tatooine.  Now, nine years after the fact, Anakin Skywalker must face his destiny under new circumstances.  Will he escape from slavery?  Will he still meet Padmé and Obi-Wan?

Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me.

Author's Note: This story is told from Anakin's point of view.  You can also find this story regularly updated at the Jedi Council:  http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=6101124

Thanks for reading!  

"But you can't stop the change, Ani, any more than you can stop the suns from setting."

-Shmi, The Phantom Menace


*****

Part One (3/25/02)

Mak's Cantina was quite possibly the loudest, darkest, and busiest club on this side of Malastare. Eager patrons lined the sidewalks and wavered in lines going around the corner and across the block. Some would get in, some wouldn't.

Okay, so most wouldn't. But I would.

The music was playing so loud it thumbed in my chest as I neared the door. I casually walked past the losers standing in the line. Some of them looked at me in annoyance or confusion, while others stood on their tiptoes for a much-desired look at the front door.

A bouncer, Fal'nic, was carefully guarding the door when I arrived. He was shoeing away some of the less attractive costumers. He was a Twi'lek, but stronger than most others of his species. He also had a knack for spotting the best and the brightest of the night crowd.

I didn't bother to wait for too long, besides Fal'nic saw me immediately anyway. He waved me over with that hand-claw-whatever thing.

"Skywalker!" he called out. "Move aside, people."

He shoved a few unlucky clubbers out of the way, clearing a path for me, which I accepted with a smug half-grin. The other costumers, now realizing that all their waiting was in vain, started shouting out their complaints.

When I was just about to across the threshold, I heard someone near the bouncer say: "Who the heck does he think he is?"

I saw Fal'nic turn to address the youth out of the corner my eye.

"He's the best podracer on Malastare," the Twi'lek responded. "Heh, probably the best in the galaxy."

"I am the best in galaxy, Fal'nic," I reminded him, without turning around.

I heard the Twi'lek laugh loudly and speak once more to the whiner. "And you, boy, aren't pretty enough for Mak, go home."

Fal'nic laughed again, and I heard the unique sound of his hand giving the boy a hard pat on the back.

I gave a loose grin and continued walking into the club.

Mak's was no five-star restaurant, I can tell you that! If you were to go into it during the day, or sometime similar, when it wasn't as crowded, I honestly don't think you could figure out what the attraction of the place was.

It wasn't much to look at, really - a few tables, booths, and a long bar. Mak's was in truth no different than any of the cantinas I grew up with in Mos Espa. But still, people came, no, they flocked, here.

If you were to ask me what made this place so popular, I'd probably argue that it was the drinks. Well, at least for me it was the drinks.

Now, Mak's was filled with smoke, which created a kind of hazy atmosphere. Red and orange lights - Mak had an affinity for those colors - lit the entire room, causing the fog to look like some type of moist flame. People - humans or what-have-you were dancing and moving about on the dance floor, though I shuffled through them towards the bar.

I took up an empty seat in front of a holo screen. Mak was on the other end of the bar. I decided that I could wait awhile and turned to watch the last section of the holo news.

It was a recording from an earlier speech in the Senate House on Coruscant. Not that the Republic had anything to do with my life … but I found it interesting anyway.

It was an older man, whom the screen labeled as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. His speech went something like this:

"Honorable Delegates, the time to react to these crimes is now. We have spent years in grips of a corrupt Senate, marred by the power of the bureaucracy. Do I have to remind you of the tragedy that occurred on my own home planet of Naboo? The entire world and her people overthrown by the Trade Federation, a private corporation!" He lifted his arms up in supplication and then lowed them again, his fists clenched.

"They waged war on a defenseless planet," he continued, allowing his voice to reach a pitch, "for what? A trade dispute! Money! Credits! Greed!" He slammed his hand down on the podium to emphasize his point. "No more. This body can no longer function as it was originally intended to."

He waited a moment and the camera captured the expressions of Palpatine's fellow senators. Some were patiently waiting for him to continue, while others looked angry. Some, still, were even sleeping in their little pods.

I found that funny. I had never been to Coruscant. Of course, like everybody else, I wanted to see it before I died. After all, it was the capital of the entire galaxy. Heh, fat chance on that one, Anakin.

Despite the lazy senators, Palpatine droned on.

"That is why I have decided to declare my decision to elect myself Supreme Commander of the Republic. This new position will allow me to oversee all functions of this body and other branches of the government, until I deem that the Senate is ready to have unsupervised control over policy-making. That is all."

The broadcast faded out to the sound of shouting senators. I stared at the holo screen in disbelief. What was that all about?

"The galaxy's falling to pieces around us," was my answer. It was said by a shrill female voice, definitely human.

I turned a bit to lock eyes with a girl roughly my age. (Well, now see, I was about eighteen at the time. I don't really know when my actual birthday is, so I just count it from the first of the year.)

She wore a skirt that was a bit to short for her long legs and a colorful, skin-hugging top. Her annoyingly bouncy blond hair was obviously dyed with some sort of chemical compound and tied loosely back, in the form of a ponytail.

Oh, I knew her type. I planned my move.

"Maybe in the Republic," I reminded her, "but those laws don't apply to us here." She flashed me a toothy smile and sat on the stool next to mine. Absentmindedly, she played with a loose curl and waited for me to say a line.

She must have thought herself attractive to be picked up by a guy like me. I took another look at her. Not too bad, why not?

"You from around here?" I asked.

"No," she shook her head playfully. "Just visiting."

I offered up my most charming smile. "Buy the tourist a drink, then?"

She giggled and nodded. It was just our luck that Mak had come down to our side of the bar.

"Hey, Mak!" I yelled. The toad creature - I never found out what species his was - looked at me and I raised my fingers to form a 'two.' Mak nodded and strode off.

"You didn't tell him what kind of drinks we wanted," Blondie mock pouted.

"Wow, you're quite the tourist indeed," I laughed lightly. "Mak here only serves one kind of drink."

"Oh," she shaped her lips in to a perfect 'O', and then giggled again. Mak came back with two glasses full of a slushy liquid.

"On the house, huh," Mak grumbled. "You won me a lot of money today, Skywalker." I gave him a mock salute with two fingers of my right hand.

"Skywalker," Blondie mused on the name a bit. "Hey, are you that podracer guy?"

I gave a sheepish nod.

"Oh, wow," her already infectious happiness was turned up a few notches. "I saw that race, you were amazing."

I flashed her a smile. I was used to such comments. I'd say I was easily the best podracer around these days, and the only human. My presence in the sport had caused many humans to pay more attention and money to the games. I also had the perks of being a racing star. You see, everybody wins.

Blondie moved a bit to get closer to me. Had she been a few inches over, she would have been sitting on my knee. She giggled again. This was going to be an interesting night.

~

Several hours and many free drinks later, Blondie and I were having a quite colorful conversation. We sat around laughing at ourselves laughing, actually. Mak had moved us to a back booth and ordered his waitress to give us as many drinks as we could swallow.

I don't remember how many I drank, but I knew by the time the club was closing that I was thoroughly drunk. So was Blondie - I never bothered to learn her real name.

She did find the time to tell me the entirety of her life story. She was with her family. Her father was a reporter for some scholarly magazine. Apparently, he was researching an insect native to Malastare. We must have laughed for an hour at that one.

Before we knew it, closing time had come. Crowds of sweaty teenagers poured out of Mak's. And, even though I was somewhat of a celebrity, Blondie and I had to leave as well.

She hung her arms around my neck, making me support her. She rested her hand against my shoulder as I attempted to walk down the street.

"Take me home with you," she slurred. I stopped, unraveling her arms as I went. When I was sure she could stand on her own, I let her go.

"No," I told her. Her lips formed into a drunken pout. She glared at me. "Where are you staying?"

She put her hand to her mouth to suppress another stupid giggle.

"Pack's Lodge." The giggles forced their way out. "But, we can't go there, silly, my parents …"

"I'm not going to sleep with you," I told her flatly. I hailed a landspeeder cab.

"Why not?" she moaned as the cab pulled up. I shoved her into it and handed the driver the credits I had brought for my drinks.

"Take her to Pack's Lodge."

The driver nodded; I turned back to Blondie.

"Be with your family," I told her. "You never know when you might lose them." She nodded slowly, confused by my sudden philosophizing. I closed the door and watched the cab pull away.

I would have walked her back to her room, but that lodge was out of the range of my transmitter. I would have been blown into a hundred pieces.

"That wouldn't have been a good way to end a date," I said out loud to no one in particular. I laughed. Okay, so I was still a bit drunk.

I turned the other way towards my master's loft.

Yes, I said 'master.' I was a slave.

*****