All standard author's notes and disclaimers apply (see profile.) Please forgive this little clarification/my alterations- I have OCD and was raised in a religous household and, even though Star Wars is just entertainment and shouldn't be taken seriously, I still feel the need to state my personal viewpoints and highlight certain religious themes I don't mean to support, which could be implied in the Star Wars mythology. So, to begin... "the Force" is not to be confused with the holy spirit or a diety and the use of the term "destiny" is only to convey something purposed by an individual or the Force or something that is seemingly inevitable, not relating to Fate. Bringing balance to the Force is not related to the ying-yang and/or the ideas/beliefs held therein. The term 'the will of the Force' is used to describe the interworkings to naturally balance itself and/or the laws of attraction; whatever sentience the Force has is limited to the lifeforms it encompasses and not to be misinterpreted as a consciousness in itself. The 'republic' does not refer to a government but is a "group whose members are regarded as having a certain equality or common aims, pursuits, etc." Essentially it's the means of how different planets and major organizations decide how to interact together and the chancellor is like the principle of a school, specialized in organizing and overseeing the disputes of the republic with the power to conduct and rule on certain affairs. If you actually read this, I'm impressed; believe me, I hate feeling like I have to stamp all this up there but I'm not going to be able to rest easy unless I do. I hope you enjoy the story!
Redux: Forging Ground
The Death Star shook with another blast, the tremble jolting through his failing body, but Anakin hardly noticed as he looked at his son- truly looked at his son- for the first time. With his own eyes, he met Luke's, a pale blue not dismilliar from how his used to be, and admired the beauty of the life he'd created with Padmé. His dear Padmé... Although Luke most resembled his father, Anakin could see traces of her as well in his features, could feel echoes of her discipline and compassion softening the edges of the impulsiveness and anger he'd inheireted from Anakin, and the dying Jedi felt the warmth of pride filling him. In a life full of errors, Luke was not one of them, and the love Anakin had shared with Padmé would live on through him- them. It was sorrowful that only now did he know that Leia was his daughter and he wondered that he hadn't sensed it before, or at least detected her strength in the Force.
Then again, if he had, it would have only been to her harm, so ultimately he was grateful that she had successfully been protected. "Luke, you were right about me." Anakin wheezed, struggling as he felt life going out of him. He felt Luke's alarm, his grief already setting in although he wasn't yet gone, and for an instant Anakin remembered what it was like to lose a parent, his mother dying in his arms. But Luke was stronger than him and this death, at least, was of his own doing and, because of Luke, he would die as Anakin Skywalker, not as the villian he'd been for over twenty years.
"Tell your sister... you were right." he repeated, it insurmountably important to convey what a gift Luke's faith was and hoping that one day Leia might find a place in her heart to forgive him. To love him was too much to hope for.
His eyes grew heavy and he looked at his son one last time, time slowing as death came, and peace filled him, all his anger and hate gone and replaced with forgiveness- forgiveness for all those that had let him down and wronged him, like Obi-Wan and the Jedi and even, somehow, himself. He remembered the love he'd felt for Obi-Wan, his mentor and brother, and the comraderie they'd shared, the crazy jams they'd get into but how they always got out of them together. He remembered Qui-Gon and Mace Windu, the Jedi Council and his years training at the Jedi Temple, and even Watto, who'd been good to him as masters went and who had not been without affection for him.
Then his strength was gone and he was falling backwards, into the darkness closed in on him like an iris, and Luke's hand gentled his descent. "I won't leave you!" Luke swore passionately as the ship shook again.
The last thing Anakin felt was his son's love, shining on him with light and warmth that defeated anything to be feared.
Virtigo enveloped him in the darkness, as if he'd been violently expelled from a raging tornado, and he struggled futily to collect his senses, feeling the weight of his body but being unable to determine his position or the ground's, hearing sounds but unable to identify their meaning or source, smelling something but having no context for it. He feared opening his eyes, lest the virtigo worsened, and he wondered if death was usually like this, if this was what Padmé and Obi-Wan had experienced. Should it take this long, or did it only seem like it was long?
Slowly, the sensation of spinning faded and his senses began to pull together, allowing Anakin to think more clearly, and his first thought was that he didn't feel like he was dying anymore, but perhaps that was normal. He did, however, feel extremely strange, although he couldn't place how; it just wasn't the way his body should feel.
He was lying down somewhere, he realized, somewhere soft. This wasn't the Death Star- there was an antiseptic smell and the lights were too bright, even through closed eyes. An infirmary, maybe? Had he somehow survived long enough for Luke to get hiim to a hospital ward? It didn't seem possible- he'd felt himself dying- but he could think of no other explanation.
"Anakin?" a familiar, accented voice encouraged. "Can you hear me? Anakin?"
He knew that voice, but... No, it couldn't be- he was confused. Needing answers, Anakin forced open his eyes, squinting and blinking at the harsh light that filled them. The first thing he saw was white, a white ceiling and white walls, with shiny pale blue counters. Then a face moved into his line of sight and Anakin blinked more, trying to reassamble what he saw because what he saw wasn't possible. But the man's features remained, redish-brown hair hanging just above slender shoulders, a thin mouth circled by a beard and, above the gently curving nose, two bright blue orbs that stared down at him.
"Obi-Wan?" Anakin asked, breath-soft with disbelief. Not only was this his dead former master, but he was young, the picture of how Obi-Wan had been when he'd been his apprentice.
Missing the depth of Anakin's confusion, Obi-Wan's expression became teasingly chideful to mask his relief. "Well, finally! I know you find these diplomatic missions dull, Anakin, because there's no high-speed chases or people trying to kill around every corner," he scoffed, "but that's no excuse for trying to sleep through it!"
At a loss for what he was talking about, Anakin glanced about the medical room he was in for clues of where he was and how he'd gotten there. Aside from a med drone, however, there was no one else there and the architecture was non-distinct, providing him no insights on his baffling situation until he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the metal of a piece of machinery. If he'd been shocked by Obi-Wan's appearance, there were no words for how he felt on seeing his own; instead of a black helmet or pale flesh riddled with scars, he was young and unmarred, short brown hair crowning his head and a braid running over his shoulder. Stunned, he sat up, still staring at the reflection as he reached for the braid, and he felt the strands of silky hair between his fingers, assuring him it was real, but then his attention quickly shifted to the hand itself- flesh and blood, not a prosthetic.
He held his hand out before him, examining it in disbelief and slowly turning it over, but he was not mistaken, and he gave his inspection over to his other hand, then his unencumbered chest, and finally his legs. It was his body, not the series of machines that had replaced it, lean and healthy and strong, but he couldn't reconcile himself to the impossible transformation.
By now, Obi-Wan had noticed something was distinctly wrong with his padawan and touched his shoulder to get his attention when repeated vocal solicitations failed. "Anakin?"
Finally, Anakin looked up at him, his chest heaving with the shock that only grew as he became more and more emmersed in the new-old surroundings, and the feel of his lungs working of their own accord at their own pace and depth- something they hadn't done in 25 years- drove him further into panic. He couldn't lose control, though; it wouldn't help him figure out what was going on or how any of this could be happening- if it was even happening- and he forced himself to calm himself, to clear his head, to accept this so he could begin to work through it.
"Are you alright?" Obi-Wan asked, his eyes filled with concern.
Anakin swallowed as he finally slowed his breathing but couldn't answer Obi-Wan's question, instead replying with his own. "What is this?" His voice was thick and the words barely made it out, but there could be no mistaking his desperation.
Obi-Wan's brow furrowed, unsure what he meant. "You're in the med center at Ansion. You had another dream about your mother and were meditating when I discovered I couldn't rouse you." he answered slowly, allowing Anakin time to recall events. "You were brought here shortly afterwards and have been unresponsive for nearly a week."
Anakin struggled to piece together what Ob-Wan was saying, to find a place for it in his memory, and while he clearly remembered the horrific dreams that had preceeded his mother's death and their start at Ansion, it had all been decades ago, and he'd never been in the med center. "No," Anakin countered, agitated, "that never happened. I meditated, you came and got me, and we had dinner with the negotiating factions in the grand hall."
Obi-Wan shook his head slightly, his worry for Anakin growing but hoping he'd simply been confused by a dream or his prolonged meditation. "I was very concerned for you, no one could find an explanation for your state, and the Jedi Council was about to send Master Yoda and several of our best healers to help you." he further entailed to convince Anakin, but the effort was wasted.
"This can't be real." But all of his senses told him it was and he stretched out with the Force, feeling the universe he was suddenly in, and he recognized the signature from a time long gone. It wasn't a dream or some strange hallucination caused by the last firing of synapsis as he died, although either were far more plausible explanations than time travel- the only other possibility he could think of.
If this was real... "How did I get here?" he wondered aloud, looking at Obi-Wan's young face and knowing he didn't have the slightest clue of what he meant.
"Anakin," Obi-Wan addressed, a flicker of fear emenating from him through the Force, "what happened? Why couldn't we wake you?" he inquired, needing to know if Anakin was still ill or if his mental faculties had been effected by the bizarre catatonia.
"I died. This-" Anakin struggled to find the words to say what he couldn't believe himself, "this happened 25 years ago! How can I be here?"
Obi-Wan took him by both shoulders now, his concern skyrocketing, and his eyes penetrated into his padawan's, willing him to come back to his senses. "What are you talking about? You haven't gone anywhere. It's only been five days, not 25 years!" he corrected sternly.
"But it has!" Anakin insisted. "I was on the Death Star, I'd just killed the emperor, and I was dying. Luke was with me!"
Obi-Wan's brow gathered quizically, not knowing any of the things he was referring to- what was a Death Star? Emperor of what? And he couldn't recall ever meeting a 'Luke', at least not one of any significance. "Who?"
Seeing that Obi-Wan truly didn't remember his son or the last 25 years, it was pointless to continue to try to make him and Anakin's shoulder's sagged, wondering what he was to do now. If he had been sent back, then it had to be for a reason. Was he being given another chance to do things right, to fullfill his destiny without the destruction of the Jedi and the loss of the ones he loved? The ones he loved...
"Mom." he whispered, more to himself.
Suddenly, Anakin remembered what Obi-Wan had said about the dreams he'd been having of his mother, remembered where he was and realized just when he was; his mother was being held captive by the Tusken Raiders, being beaten and tortured! He'd waited to act too long the first time, letting a month pass before seizing the chance to go to Tatooine, but it had only been a week this time- maybe it wasn't too late.
Leaping off from the bed, Obi-Wan was forced to let go of him and take a step back in alarm as Anakin quickly gathered his cloak and belt. "Anakin! What are you doing?" Obi-Wan demanded.
"I have to save her." Anakin explained, puting on his boots. "I have to try."
"You can't just go running off, we have an assignment," Obi-Wan objected, "and it's our duty to fulfill it. Not to mention that you've just spent the last five days unconscious in a med center!" he added for good measure.
But Anakin wasn't arguing. "I can't stay here and let her die."
Obi-Wan shook his head. "You don't know that she is." he refuted.
"Yes," Anakin corrected firmly, shooting a sharp glance up at his old master as he clipped his lightsaber onto his belt, "I do. And the truth is, I'll never be who you want me to be, never be the Jedi you believe I should be. But we must each go our own path." he stated resolutely.
Taken aback by the admission, Obi-Wan gaped at his padawan as Anakin turned and marched through the door, effectively dismissing him, and Obi-Wan had to hurry after him. It wasn't unusual for Anakin to be brash and even insubordinate at times, but he'd always ceaded to his elders' commands and endeavored to conform; for him to suddenly deny all he'd strove so long and hard for was unprecidented and exceedingly out of character.
"You're in no condition to leave!" Obi-Wan shouted, nearly having to jog through the corridor to keep up with Anakin's brisk pace. "Anakin, stop!"
The order fell on deaf ears and Obi-Wan was forced to pull in front of Anakin and physically block him, a hand going around the younger man's left arm. "Listen to me," he commanded, determined to regain control of the situation and reason with Anakin, "we have no idea what just happened to you or why and, until we do, you're not going anywhere. What if it happens again while you're out there and there's no one around? It's too dangerous."
"It's not going to happen again." Anakin replied, trying to move around him, but Obi-Wan continued to block him. He wasn't used to having anyone oppose him anymore and it was a strange feeling, memories stirring of so many past battles of wills with his mentor, and Anakin's urgency abated for a moment. "Obi-Wan, I appreciate that you're just trying to look after my well-being, but you have to trust me. I know what I'm doing."
"Says the man who just told me he was dead!" Obi-Wan pointed out.
Anakin shook his head. "I don't pretend to understand what's happening or how I can be here like this, but I'm here for a reason and I can't let this opportunity to change things slip away. Please don't try to stop me; with or without your approval, I'm going." he stated, further shocking Obi-Wan with his defiance.
"No, you're not!" he declared sternly, his tone reprimanding. "I'm your master and you'll do as I say. Now, get back into the infirmary."
Of course, as far as Obi-Wan was concerned, Anakin was still his apprentice and he felt a twinge of regret of how disrespectful he must seem, but it couldn't really be helped. "Not anymore." he replied gently. "That was a liftetime ago, but I don't expect you to believe me. I have to go; I'll meet you on Coruscant when I'm done."
With that, he pushed past Obi-Wan, who sensed his indefeatable determination through the Force and at last yielded to the confusion flooding his mind. In an instant, Anakin was gone, disappeared around a corner and nearing the landing pad his and Obi-Wan's ship was at. If Obi-Wan decided to give chase after collecting himself, he was too late, Anakin within the ship and lifting off without having seen him again.
It was all impossible, but it was also all real and, for the first time as he saw the city and then planet falling away, Anakin felt the thrill of hope, excitement replacing agitation and fear of failure replacing disbelief. But he knew now, knew what was going to happen and how to resist the dark side, knew not to believe Palpatine's lies, knew what had to be done to restore balance to the Force. He could do it, he could save his mother and Padmé, he could save the Jedi...
And he would.
Obi-Wan's arms were folded together inside the sleeves of his robe, trying to effect an air of calm and bring order to his thoughts as he stood before the holocom, but it was a difficult task with Anakin's wild declaration and subsequent departure flooding his mind. The holocom flickered to life and a miniature projection of the Jedi Council appeared before him, Yoda near the center of the semi-circle, and Obi-Wan bowed in greeting.
"Master Kenobi," Mace Windu reciprocated, "how is your apprentice?" he inquired, getting right to the point.
"Well, that's why I'm contacting you," Obi-Wan began, hesitating as he considered how to explain the recent developements, "he woke up just a few minutes ago."
"All right is he?" Yoda asked, pleased to hear the progress but detecting the other Jedi's consternation.
"Physically, yes, but he was very dissoriented." he answered.
"Dissoriented?" Windu repeated. "How?"
This was going to be the tought part to relate without sounding crazy or like it was a joke, but there was no way through it other than to just say it. "He didn't know where he was- or when. He was surprised to see me and was even more startled to see himself. He said-" Obi-Wan caught himself, perplexed as he ran through his conversation with Anakin again in his mind, "he said it had been 25 years and that he'd died." he repeated.
The council members glanced at each other, unsure what to make of the information but most silently believing that Anakin needed to be examined by one of their healers, while Yoda came to his own conclusion.
"Lost in a vision, he is." he stated certainly.
Obi-Wan shook his head. "I'm not sure. He was quite adamant about having come from the future in one manner or other and that he needed to change things."
Windu's gaze narrowed as he heard this. "What things?" his pressed, his distrust of Anakin well known to everyone present and not entirely unshared.
"Almost immediately after awaking, Anakin insisted on leaving to save his mother. I was unable to stop him." Obi-Wan entailed, aware it was his responsibility to look after and control his padawan and somewhat shamed that he'd failed to do so.
"Gone to Tatooine, young Skywalker has." Yoda concluded, compassion for both master and apprentice overriding his disapproval for their respective actions- or inactions, as they case may be.
Obi-Wan nodded and went on, trying to insert some optimism as he finished the report. "He said he'd meet me back on Coruscant when he was done. Perhaps by then, he'll be more collected and we can figure out what happened during his meditation."
Pensively, Yoda put a finger to his lips as he considered what he'd been told, then made a small grunting noise. "Alone Anakin should not be right now. Send another Jedi to Tatooine to accompany him, we will." he concluded.
Instantly, Obi-Wan wanted to be that Jedi and knew he should be, but also knew he couldn't abandon his duties overseeing the border dispute. "If someone was sent to relieve me, I could go after Anakin and help him." he suggested hopefully.
"You must complete your assignment, Obi-Wan." Mace stated, swiftly refusing the request without appology.
Obi-Wan wasn't surprised, but he couldn't help being disappointed. He was worried for Anakin and wanted to be with him, to make sure he was all right, and it seemed wrong for it to be otherwise, but he couldn't argue the decision.
"Kit Fisto will go and find your padawan." Mace continued, a hint of rebuke in his voice for having lost him in the first place. "You're to stay on Ansion until the dispute is settled."
Submissively, Obi-Wan bowed. "Yes, Master."
The meeting now finished, the holocom turned off and the projection of the council members disappeared, leaving Obi-Wan alone again- alone to wait and wonder about Anakin. Impatience bubbled up in him, reminding him of his padawan's propensity for restlessness, and he had to admit Anakin was rubbing off on him.
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