Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars. I just created my own little AU sandbox to play in.
AN: Here's chapter 22! Thanks for all the great reviews. Sorry for the delay on this. Once the holidays are over, I hope to be back to more regular updates. Enjoy this next installment and let me know what you think! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all who celebrate!
Here are notes to those who reviewed. Many thanks, as always:
sexystarwarslover: Thanks, I'm glad you're enjoying the story so much. More heartwarming scenes to come. :)
foggraven: Thanks, I'm glad you like the story. I don't like crossovers that just throw two worlds together. I tried to make it believable, so it's nice to know that I was able to pull it off. :)
JediQueen: Thank you, your review was very humbling. I'm glad you're enjoying the story and the characters so much. I enjoy writing them. Hope you continue to enjoy with this next installment.
Dolphingirls: Thanks, glad you're enjoying the story.
GreyJedi1: Yep, Scout is in a bit of trouble. Enjoy this next installment. ;)
Harry2: Yes, Hunter and Blake have found a home. I just want to make sure you know that this is not crossing the PR universe with SW. The characters names of the boys are the same and the personalities resemble them, but this is more of a character adaptation. The dynamic between these two characters is what I needed for these characters. I simply chose not to change the name, because there is even a chemistry with the names. Just want to be clear on that. Glad you're enjoying the story.
Jedi Angel001: Yeah, I'm glad he saved the boys too. The boys have already grown on me too. I adapted these two character personas from another pair of characters in another universe, because they have a dynamic I was looking for, so I'm hoping they grow on the readers as well. As for Scout, yeah she's in trouble. There is much more her path to be seen. Enjoy! :)
Guest: Thanks, glad you're enjoying the story. As for having their own Order, I don't know about that, but they are definitely expanding their ranks. Enjoy this next installment. :)
Guest: Thanks, glad you're enjoying the story. :)
Melcangel: Thanks, glad you're enjoying the story. :)
Chapter 22: Somewhere to Belong
"There you are…I was getting worried," Padme said, as he came into the kitchen with the things he had purchased at the marketplace, before his detour. Anakin kissed her cheek and she saw the two young boys behind him.
"Who are they?" she asked, smiling at the boys.
"I sensed them nearby and stopped Cox from killing them," Anakin explained. Padme frowned.
"Cox is here on Naboo again?" she asked. He nodded.
"Don't worry, I made sure he couldn't follow us here," he assured her.
"They're Force Jumpers too?" she asked.
"Just the oldest, but they're brothers and I wasn't about to leave them in some orphanage. This is Hunter and his little brother Blake," he said.
"It's very nice to meet you both, I'm Padme," she said, as she knelt down to them. Blake looked at her shyly.
"You were right, Mr. Anakin, she's pretty," Blake said. Padme giggled.
"Well, aren't you the little charmer," she teased, before standing up.
"I bet you both must be hungry. I was just about to make lunch," Padme stated.
"Great, I'm starved too," Anakin said.
"That's not surprising. Then after lunch, we'll get you boys settled in rooms upstairs. We'll be here another day or so before we go visit Master Quin and Master Dyas," Padme said.
"You…you mean you're going to let us stay here?" Hunter asked in disbelief. Padme exchanged a glance with Anakin.
"Of course sweetie, you have powers that you need trained to use and there's no one that can help you better with that than Anakin and his Masters," Padme said, as she took Anakin's hand.
"We know that you've never been able to trust anyone before, but we promise we're not going to hurt you. Just give us time to prove ourselves. That man that tried to kill you won't hurt you as long as I'm around," Anakin promised. Hunter nodded, as they sat down at the table. Padme poured them each a glass of blue milk, before going about making lunch. When she finished, she sat the plates of sandwiches, sliced shurra fruit, and cookie on the table.
"Eat up boys, there will be no one going hungry in this house," she promised. The two orphans ate almost ravenously.
Mace Windu stormed into the secretive Xal'Kaar headquarters down in the Works. He was furious and had released his anger into the Force, though it had only helped minimally.
"Master…" Cox said nervously. Mace simply stared at him with a cold expression.
"Let me see if I have this correct," Mace stated, as he paced before Cox's team.
"You engaged a young Force jumper on Naboo, whom you witnessed killing one of us with Force lightning of all things and you let Skywalker get away with the little bastard?" Mace questioned.
"Master…I didn't let him get away. There was a chance I would not survive an encounter with him and I knew you needed to know what the brat did," Cox stated. Mace glared at him.
"If you're that incapable, then perhaps you should be relieved of your duties," Mace stated coldly.
"Master please allow me another chance! I will get Skywalker and that boy," Cox insisted.
"I have no more patience for your failures. We now have the most powerful Force Jumper we've ever encountered, one that can jump from planet to planet, now taking another powerful one under his wing, one that can perform Force lightning, the worst abominable use of the Force that there is!" Mace hissed.
"Master…" Cox tried to explain.
"Save it…you are relieved of your duties. You will return to Haruun Kal and be given remedial work until further notice," Mace ordered. Cox stared at him in disbelief. He hated the idea of a desk job.
"Yes Master," Cox said coldly, as he was dismissed. As he stalked away to his quarters to pack his things, thoughts of Skywalker and those brats burned in his memory.
"You and those little bastards are going to pay…" Cox growled, as he started to pack.
Count Dooku's cape swirled, as he rounded the corner and entered the laboratory where the Kaminoan scientists worked.
"Status report," Dooku ordered.
"The General is stable, My Lord and the readings are promising," the Kaminoan doctor reported.
"Will he be able to do what we discussed?" Dooku questioned.
"It will be unclear until he is conscious and we're able to test him, but the test results we have so far are very promising," the doctor informed.
"How long until he will be awake?" Dooku demanded to know. Master Sidious was impatient and had demanded that he get the General in fighting form in order to turn the war in their favor.
"We should be able to rouse him in a few days and begin testing," the doctor reported. Dooku was not satisfied, however.
"I don't care what you have to do, doctor, but I want him conscious in the morning," Dooku ordered, as he left quickly to make his report to Master Sidious.
After lunch, Anakin and Padme decided to take the boys out to the meadow. Anakin decided that it would be the perfect place to assess Hunter's skills, while Padme played with Blake and let him run around in the fresh air. Anakin and Hunter phased around the meadow with Anakin monitoring his abilities.
"You're definitely comfortable with Force jumping. When did you make your first jump?" Anakin asked.
"Two years ago. The orphanage we grew up in was really rough so I learned how to fight young. Some of the older kids, three in particular, made it their mission to bully the rest of us into doing or giving them whatever they wanted," Hunter said, remembering their time in that horrible orphanage.
"Blake was two and he had only been there a couple days when I caught them hitting him one day," Hunter said, clenching his fists in anger. Anakin put his hand on the boy's shoulder.
"The leader used to tell the kids that he tortured all about the things his dad used to do to him before he came to the orphanage and how he was going to do the same to them. Blake and most of the other kids were terrified of him and his friends," Hunter said, pausing for a moment.
"Anyway, I came in and got really mad. I started hitting them and fighting them off. I think I caught them off guard, because they left, but not before the leader told me that he'd get me back. The other little ones they were hurting ran off scared, but Blake stayed with me, looking up at me with these wide eyes…and then he smiled and hugged me. When I got over the shock of that, I smiled too. It's one of the only times I remember smiling in that place. Since then, Blake has been my baby brother and we've been inseparable. But the kid that promised to get me back tried to make good on his word a few months later," Hunter recalled. By now, Padme and Blake were sitting with them. The little dark haired boy was curled up in Padme's lap, fighting sleep and Hunter watched the woman gently stroke his black hair, before he recalled that day of his first jump with frightening clarity.
Hunter coughed violently, as two boys held him down, while the leader pounded his fists into his stomach and face. Blake was sitting nearby, crying, as Hunter struggled to break free.
"I warned you not to cross me," the older boy hissed, as he continued to beat on the seven-year-old. Blake sobbed loudly and the boy glared at him.
"Shut up you little brat, you're next," he spat, as he punched Hunter again.
"Leave him alone," Hunter cried through a cough. The older boy smirked and stepped back, motioning for his friends to release him.
"I think it's time to take this up a notch and really teach you a lesson," the boy hissed, as he took off his belt.
"My dad used to use one like this on me when I did something he didn't like…and sometimes he did just because he felt like it. I'm about to give you something to cry about," he hissed, glaring at Blake. Hunter crawled to him and took him in his arms, shielding him and waiting for the pain. Suddenly, he felt his entire body tingling and dizziness swept them both, as their surroundings changed. They landed unceremoniously on the dirty ground of an alleyway Hunter vaguely recognized that was near the place he had lived with his drunken mother before she had died and he was taken to the orphanage two years ago.
"Both Blake and I got sick after the first jump, but we realized that we were free from that place, even though we were on the streets, and we didn't want to go back. I tried to find a job, but no one wants to hire someone my age," Hunter said, as he lowered his head.
"What's wrong sweetheart?" Padme asked gently.
"You're going to hate me," he replied. Anakin squeezed his shoulder.
"I promise that we won't. You survived and you took care of your little brother, no matter what you had to do. We'd never hate you for that," Anakin promised.
"I had to steal food sometimes. It was really easy when I got good at Force jumping. I felt guilty…but we were so hungry…" Hunter said, as he swiped tears away from his eyes.
"You did what you had to for Blake," Anakin told him softly. Padme gently scooted next to him and put her hand on his shoulder.
"Anakin's right and now neither of you will have to worry about not having enough to eat or somewhere to sleep," she promised.
"But why? Why would you help us when no one else would?" he demanded to know, a bitterness in his voice that didn't belong in someone of such tender years.
"Because we want to and it's the right thing to do. Plus…you need training. Those people that were after you are after anyone that can do what we do, simply because they don't believe we should have such power. There are also bad people out there that would like to use you to do bad things for them. But we're not going to let anything of that happen. I'm going to teach you to use your powers for good, just like Master Quin and Master Sifo-Dyas taught me," Anakin explained.
"What if they don't like us?" Hunter asked. Anakin chuckled.
"Trust me; they'll love you both too. Plus, I don't think we could separate those two now if we tried," Anakin said, indicating Padme and Blake. The little one was curled up against her, sound asleep, thumb in his mouth, as Padme continued to cuddle him and gently stroke his soft hair.
"Ani…we should go put him down for a nap," Padme said. Anakin nodded and lifted the little boy into his arms and took Padme's hand, helping her up. She held out her hand to Hunter. The older boy looked at her for a moment and then took her hand, a beginning step of trust established between them, and they trekked toward the house together.
"Master Windu…surely you jest…" Adi Gallia protested, as she and a few others sat in the Council room, namely Master Yoda, discussing matters of the war, among other things.
"This is not a joke, Master Gallia; I see promise in young Esterhazy. I think she will make a fine padawan," Mace responded stoically.
"I am inclined to agree with you, Master Windu. I believe we all have underestimated Scout due to her low midichlorian count. However, I'm not sure she would be suited to you, Master, no disrespect," Shaak Ti spoke.
"None taken Master Ti, I realize that my decision might come as a shock, but I have been observing her lessons as of late. She is very dedicated and very determined, despite being behind some of her peers. Those kinds of qualities can sometimes make all the difference in a student," Mace argued.
"Agree with Master Ti, I do. More suited to someone like Master Ti, she might be," Yoda suggested.
"I respect your opinion Master, but there is no changing my mind on this. I'd like to try this out," Mace stated.
"If firm in your decision you are, then have no objections, do I," Yoda stated. The other Masters declined to speak out against Master Yoda's decision and Mace nodded.
"I will go inform padawan Esterhazy that we will be leaving for the battlefield tomorrow," Mace stated, as he left the stunned Council Room behind.
Even though none of his peers were aware of his life as leader of the Xal'Kaar, he knew he couldn't simply eliminate Scout without causing a firestorm of inquiry into her death, no matter how careful he was. He had concluded that even simply sending her to Agri-Corps, only to have one of his agents take her out once she arrived, would still raise too many suspicions as well. But thrusting an inexperienced padawan, especially one as weak as Scout, onto the battlefield was the perfect way to see to her demise without raising any suspicion…
"And so the little boy destroyed the droid control ship, which made all the droids shut down. No one thought he could do it, because he was so young, but in the end he was the only one that could. He saved all of Naboo that day," Padme said, as she told the boys a bedtime story. They were content to share a room for now, as the two were very close, even though Padme had offered them their own rooms. But the queen sized bed in the room she had designated for Hunter was more than big enough for both. She knew as they grew up, they would eventually desire their own space, especially when Hunter got to the point that he fully trusted them.
"Was the Queen happy?" Blake asked, listening with rapt attention. Padme smiled.
"She was very happy and she made sure all the people knew what the little boy had done for them," Padme said, concluding her story.
"Wow…will you tell us another story tomorrow night?" Blake asked. Padme smiled and kissed his forehead.
"Sure sweetie," she replied, as she tucked them both in. She dropped a kiss on Hunter's forehead as well, before retreating to the door where Anakin stood and turned the light down.
"Goodnight boys…sweet dreams," she called, before shutting the door and walking down the hall to the bedroom that she and Anakin shared.
"Thank you," Anakin told her, as they shut their bedroom door.
"For what?" she asked curiously. He responded by kissing her tenderly.
"For taking them in with such warmth, even though I didn't talk to you first," Anakin replied. She smiled.
"Of course, there was no way I was going to send them to an orphanage. Even the ones on Naboo are overcrowded and understaffed. They're special…there is something about them and it's more than just Hunter's powers," Padme said, explaining her eagerness to take the boys in.
"I know, I sensed it too when I met them and it's more than Hunter's unique abilities," Anakin replied.
"You mean his Force jumping abilities?" Padme asked.
"Not just that. He wielded Force lightning and that's not usually something a Force novice can do. In fact, it is usually only something a Sith uses and is strictly forbidden by the Jedi. But I didn't sense any evil from Hunter. He was just angry and scared, so he lashed out," Anakin explained.
"I'm sure Master Sifo-Dyas might have more insight," Padme suggested. He nodded.
"I was thinking the same. We should take them to Yavin IV tomorrow," Anakin suggested. She nodded and kissed him tenderly.
"Everything is going to be fine. Now…let's go to bed," she suggested. He smirked and swept her into his arms, used the Force to dim the lights, and carried her to their bed.
Scout looked at Master Windu in sheer disbelief.
"You want me…to be your padawan?" she stammered. He nodded curtly.
"But…why?" she asked.
"I've been watching you train lately and I have seen a unique potential in you that is absent in many other padawans," Mace explained.
"But I'm further behind the other padawans my age," she protested.
"Yes, but that makes you work harder, because it doesn't come as easily to you. That is the kind of padawan I want at my side," Mace stated, as he turned away to gaze out the window of the Council room.
"I'm…I'm honored Master Windu," the young redhead replied. Mace smirked.
"Pack your things then. We leave for the war in the morning," Mace informed. Scout nodded and took her dismissal, walking from the Council room in a daze. Just when she was sure she would be sent to Agri-Corps, she had finally been picked! But not by just any Master, no she was chosen by the great Master Windu. Whie and Ahsoka weren't going to believe this…
The first thing he saw when he regained awareness were bright lights above him. The first thing he felt was…nothing. No pain of any kind and his limbs felt oddly heavy. He could hear his own heartbeat and it sounded irregular in a way, like something was helping it beat. But he was most startled when he exhaled a breath and heard a raspy, mechanical sound. His eyes darted around the room wildly, as the table lifted and turned him upright. He tried to move his limbs, but they were in restraints and he could only watch as a cloaked figure strode toward him. The person dropped their hood, revealing an aging, white bearded man with a light saber hanging from his belt.
"Who…who are you?" the Kaleesh general demanded, startled by the sound of his new voice. It was a mixture of his old voice with what sounded like a droid voice.
"You may call me Master, since that is what I am to you. But if you must know, I am Lord Tyrannus, dark Lord of the Sith and you are my new apprentice, chosen to lead my droid army and the Separatists against the Republic," Dooku informed him.
"I don't understand…I was dying…" the general rasped.
"Yes and my Master and I gave you a second chance. With your new abilities, you can seek revenge on all that have wronged you if you work for us," Dooku continued.
"New abilities?" he questioned. Dooku did not respond, but simply Force jumped closer to him and then further away, before striding back toward him.
"Release the General's restraints so he may test his new powers," Dooku ordered to the scientists and they did so. Grievous stared at the man with glowing yellow eyes.
"What do I do?" he asked.
"Visualize moving to another place in this room without walking," Dooku instructed. The Kaleesh General closed his eyes and did as instructed. He suddenly felt the few parts of him that were still organic tingling. The organic droid disappeared and reappeared across the room, dropping to his metal knees and coughing violently.
"It will become easier with time and practice," Dooku said, as he tossed a light saber to the droid general, who caught it and stared at the weapon in awe.
"Your training has begun, General Grievous…"
Boba hopped down from the Slave I, as he and his father arrived home on Kamino. As usual, there was a torrential downpour and he was soaked. He hated this blasted place, but the room and board was free, so they couldn't complain much.
"Dad…what are we doing back here?" Boba asked, as they went inside the compound.
"We're taking it easy for a few days. Besides, I'm sure the scientists need more samples from me," Jango replied.
"But…Anakin probably isn't going to like that," Boba mentioned. Jango rolled his eyes.
"I promised him that I wouldn't go after his woman, not that I wouldn't continue to get paid handsomely for letting them swab me for DNA. The easy money is too good to pass up. Besides, Skywalker isn't fighting that bloody war, the Jedi are and you know how much I care for Jedi," Jango replied. Boba sighed.
"I'm hungry," he complained.
"Ah Jango…you have returned. Lama Su will be pleased," Taun We stated. Jango nodded.
"Did we miss dinner?" Boba asked.
"Run along to the kitchen and the cooks will make you anything you like," Taun We said, as Boba did so, while Jango followed Taun We to the lab.
Hunter was beginning to wonder if he was dreaming. They had awakened in a soft, warm bed, in a house with two people that cared about them for some reason, even though they barely knew them. The woman, Padme, had showed him to the fresher where he could bathe. Once he was done, she had taken his little brother and helped him with his bath. The smiles on his little brother's face were enough to know that he was happy and he really liked her. He knew he was hoping she would be his new mother. He just hoped that the woman didn't disappoint him. After they were cleaned up, they had gone downstairs and ate a hot, delicious breakfast together. To the woman, this seemed routine, but to the boys, this was very new. But now he was worried, because they were going somewhere to visit two people…he couldn't remember their names. Anakin's voice cut through Hunter's thoughts.
"Ready?" he asked. He nodded apprehensively. Anakin knelt beside him.
"Are you sure?" he pressed.
"Yeah…I…we just like it here and I think we're both afraid that we won't come back," Hunter confessed. Anakin and Padme exchanged a glance, as Blake clung to her.
"Sweetie, I'll admit that we may not live here all the time and that we have several places we call home, but I promise that no matter where we go that we're going to be together and that each one will be your home as much as it is ours," Padme explained.
"Are we going to have another room at the other place?" Blake asked. Padme smiled at him.
"Of course," she promised. That answer seemed to erase any of his little brother's worries and did a lot to ease Hunter's as well. Anakin took Padme's hand and put his other hand on Hunter's shoulder, while Padme held Blake in her arms.
"Ready?" he asked again. Hunter nodded more eagerly this time, as the four of them disappeared…