This chapter came out to four thousand words and was 10 pages in Word. Just so you guys know! I'm actually rather proud of this piece. It remains to be seen if I can keep this quality up though. I'm making a conscious effort here though, and I really want to improve my writing overall. But here we go!
Oh, and the Medic is a little homage to Blank101's Nathan Hallin from his Son of Suns Trilogy. Nathan is a medic in that series and I absolutely fell in love with his character. Though my Hallin and his don't exactly have much in common, I did want to incorporate him. So Hallin is kinda not mine, but like I said there isn't really anything in common besides career. More of a namesake thing I guess. That's popular in SW, right? (Ben/Anakin for example?)
The Coruscanti General MedCenter was a highly esteemed MedCenter that catered to some of the higher citizens of Coruscant, its reputation well known amongst the Senatorial Circles for providing good, private care. The tall building was easily over one hundred stories, half of those devoted to their own research in the Medical field. They were responsible for the technology that created Anakin's first limb, though it had been replaced within a year as technology improved. Since that replacement though, Anakin hadn't seen another medic regarding the arm. He never needed to.
He sat in the chilly room, staring out the window calmly as the various speeders went passed, leaning back on the gurney. Padme stood next to him with her hand firmly laced in his left, having been there since before they'd entered the building.
The door cycled open with a whoosh and the medic entered, datapad in hand. Anakin looked over expectantly, as did Padme, at his arrival. Her hand tightened in expectation around his, to which Anakin responded with a slight reassuring squeeze. The medic was younger than Anakin, mid thirties with a few graying streaks by his ears. His navy-blue medical tunic stood in direct contrast to the off-white medical coat that he wore, proudly proclaiming him as a Medic of Coruscant General.
The medic glanced up from his data-pad with a smile, setting it to the side and stepping up to Anakin's arm.
"Well, hello there," he greeted with a smile. "I'm Hallin, I take it you are Master Skywalker?"
"Anakin," Anakin pressed. It still unnerved him slightly when people outside the Jedi order referred to him by that title, though twenty five years ago he would have proudly boasted it to the highest mountain. He'd definitely changed, matured since receiving the title, something that made him proud to no end.
"Why of course, then, Anakin," Hallin smiled reassuringly. "Now, you wouldn't happen to have the missing limb, would you?"
"Not on me," Anakin smirked, glancing down at the stump. "Why do ask?"
"Oh, it just makes my life mildly easier," Hallin chuckled. "See, in your artificial limb lies a small but valuable chip with a copy of your DNA strand. It sends that code in through the neural attachments that bind your limb to the artificial one so that you don't reject the arm. It also incidentally transfers the information from the touch receptors into actual feeling so that you can respond to heat and pressure."
"Can we still replace the arm without it?" Padme asked, worry in her tone.
"Of course we can," the medic grinned. "That's how he got the limb in the first place; by creating the chip in the first place. We'll simply repeat the process today."
"And what does that require on my part?" Anakin asked, not so fond memories of the rough attachment of the first artificial limb in his mind. The medics on the transport ship that had taken the remaining Jedi back to Coruscant following the cremation ceremony had been in a nervous haste, working to get his arm patched up in anticipation of the looming war. It had been painful to say the least.
"A blood sample, and a few decisions," Hallin shrugged. "Now, I assume you'd like the most updated technology?"
"Of course," Padme answered for Anakin. "Money is no object, I assure you."
Hallin smiled. "Then I'd like to let you know of our newest model, Chancellor. There is a new synthe-flesh model available these days. It has great reviews from our patrons so far, and the Republic Medical Association has given it a five star rating. The arm would be fully covered in flesh, warm to the touch, and has over a million nervous receptors for touch sensitivity over the length of the arm. We can also take a few hair samples and match them to your flesh arm, giving your limb a new, organic look."
"You mean my arm..."
"Would be just like your left, yes," Hallin nodded at Anakin's trailed off question.
Anakin's mind raced with the possibilities. His arm... The arm Count Dooku had sentenced to robotics and odd stares from the majority of people he'd met... It would be normal once more. The thought both terrified and elated Anakin. After nearly twenty four years of an artificial limb, he'd finally be able to hold his wife and feel everything, not just the dull comparison he'd lived with.
"Just out of curiosity, would I still have the extended strength my new arm?" Anakin asked. He'd gotten used to the ability for his right hand to achieve some feats just beyond the human range. Though he'd accept the lack of extra strength, it would be something he'd miss.
"I suppose we could tweak it," Hallin smiled conspiratorially. "But first things first, blood."
Anakin shook his head and held out his left arm to Hallin. Hallin reached into the cabinet behind him, searching around for a moment before letting out a small 'aha' and turning back with a hypodermic in hand.
The blood taking was easy, though Anakin winced at the feel of the foreign needle in his arm. But once more he and Padme were alone as Hallin worked on synthesizing the new arm to him. By Hallin's estimates, it would be close to two hours before they would even being to fit the arm to him, and then another hour at best before they could return home.
And Hallin was spot on in his estimate. The sun had set over the Coruscanti skyline by the time a med droid was finishing up on the final attachment issues while Hallin worked with Padme regarding risks and signs to look for that his body was rejecting the arm. She would be much more mindful of the new limb than he would for sure.
Two hatch-like doors sat at the conjunction between his forearm and the artificial limb that, when open, exposed the mass array of tiny metal rods that represented bones and muscles. It was fascinating to watch. His old arm had the hard metal out casing, but it was nothing like this was in its finesse and detail.
A small prick to his thumb jarred him out of his revere and he hissed at the sharp pinch. The droid had poked with him with a sharp metal prod, moving onto the next finger. He only jerked on the second one, and after the third he flexed his fingers, rolling them a few times towards his thumb before clenching his hand into a fist. The droid backed off and he snapped the doors shut, taking that he was fully fitted.
"All done?" Hallin asked with a smile, walking around to the side of the gurney.
"I'd say so," Anakin grinned. He held his arm up, twisting it around fully to get a good look at it. He was stunned to say the least. The hairs they'd grafted into place were amazing feeling absolutely real. The skin was warm, just like his own, he could sense the temperature of the room along his entire arm suddenly, a trait he'd been so used to being without now suddenly there again.
"What do you think?" Hallin asked with a small smirk. His patient's reactions had never failed to make him proud and happy inside. Especially since they'd come out with the skin version, now patients weren't really getting their limbs radically changed.
"It's..." Anakin began, his words choking in his throat. How could he properly express the swell of emotions at seeing the arm he thought he'd lost back before the clone wars? Were there even words for the overwhelming emotion that choked his thoughts and speech? "It's... I don't know what to say."
Hallin smiled. "Then my work is done. Take good care of that arm, Anakin. That skin won't grow back if you damage it, so you'll have to come back and visit me to get it healed back up."
"Alright," Anakin nodded, only half listening. He continued to turn his arm around any way possible, desperate to see it completely. Hallin and Padme shared an amused look at his fascination.
"Okay, let's get that tunic of yours on and head home," Padme said, cutting off Anakin's examination. He glanced up and threw her a crooked grin, shaking himself out of his revere. She passed him the tunic he'd long abandoned on the chair next to her when the actual attachment occurred. He pulled it on himself, startling slightly at the feel of the warm fibers against his new arm. So much had he missed...
"Thank you," Anakin said once he'd had the tunic on and turned to Hallin. Hallin only smiled in appreciation.
"It was no problem, Anakin," he smiled. "Now, I don't want to see you back here for being so careless with it you ripped that synthe-flesh."
Anakin chuckled. "I can't promise you anything."
"No one ever can," Hallin shook his head. "Go, enjoy your new arm. Be with your family."
"I will, thank you," Anakin nodded, hopping off the table. He and Padme walked out of the small exam room and into the greater hallway, ignoring what others hoped to be sly looks shot their way. They had long since grown used to the quiet whispers at their passing; they were the famous hero of the Clone Wars and the current Chancellor of the Republic. There were few titles greater than theirs that people cared about, amongst them being royalty. Which, technically Padme had been once...
Anakin flew the speeder home, for once taking his time and not speeding through traffic for that age-old thrill of his. His new right hand was holding Padme's and his left on the controls. The mere simplicity of the moment was amazing. He felt like he could do anything at the moment.
Anakin pulled the speeder up along the side of the Apartment, locking it into place behind Luke's and cutting the engines. They both got out and headed in, Anakin throwing his new arm over Padme's shoulders and holding her close to him. They entered the main area which was empty, but the sounds of the Holo-Net drifted in from the living area, prompting them to check there first.
The apartment was relatively dark, the only light coming from the dimmed lamps that lined the walls and sat on tables. As they rounded the corner, they saw Han and Leia curled up on the couch together fast asleep, having drifted off sometime during the nightly news. With a small wave of his fingers, the 'net shut off, blanketing the room in darkness.
Anakin and Padme continued through the apartment, searching out the remaining occupants. The door to Luke's room was open, but he lay fast asleep as well on his bed, boots kicked off haphazardly on the floor and data-reader abandoned on the nightstand. Padme shook her head amusedly at the sight before hitting the release for the door, closing it with the muffled whoosh.
"They all fell asleep about an hour ago," came Mara's voice down the darkened hallway, causing Padme to jump at the sudden noise in what had been silence. "Sorry," she mumbled at Padme's reaction.
"No, it's alright," Padme assured, stepping out of Anakin's embrace and stepping forward down the hall towards Mara. "Why are you still up?"
"Couldn't sleep," she shrugged, though not for lack of exhaustion. The argument earlier with Luke egging at her conscious more than she'd care to admit. She couldn't pinpoint why the conversation left her so tumbled and bitter, but alas it was, and now it was disrupting her precious sleep.
"Did you try some tea?" Padme suggested and Mara waved her hand dismissively.
"Nah," she played off. "It's no big deal, really." If Anakin had picked up on the half lie, than he didn't show it.
"Well we're heading off to bed now, don't stay up too late," he said instead.
"Wait!" Mara called out quietly, mindful enough not to raise her voice too high in the sleeping household. "How'd the thing with your hand go?"
Anakin held up the newly flesh arm in response with a grin, Mara's gaping reaction eliciting a small delight within him.
"No way," she hummed, stepping forward to get a better look in the dim light. "Don't show Luke without me there, I want to see his reaction."
Anakin chuckled. "I'll do my best," he laughed. "Go to bed, Mara."
"Yeah, yeah," she said, turning and waving dismissively behind her at them. "Night."
"Goodnight," Padme whispered back, turning her husband in the opposite direction to where their quarters lied at the opposite end of the sprawling apartment.
Padme hit the release for the door as they entered, quickly turning on the light to see as they readied for bed. She slipped into a nightgown and started to head for the bed before she noticed Anakin's stoic position by the window, gazing out at the bright city-planet before him.
"Ani?" she questioned, coming up next to him and sliding her arm up to his shoulder.
He smiled and looked down at her, easing her worries within moments. "I was just thinking..."
"About today," he sighed. "We came too close to losing Leia today, Padme."
"I know," she nodded, the pang of sadness echoing through her heart as she contemplated the events of the day.
"Remember when the Jedi sent me to be your body guard? All the way back before the war?"
"Of course," she said, furrowing her brow in confusion. Where was he going with this?
"It was the same circumstances as today, if you think about it," he shrugged. "Just a few details different."
"Ani, what are you getting at?"
"Padme, I think we need to send Leia away."
"What?" she asked, her thoughts racing. "What do you mean, away?"
"Just until this thing blows over," he sighed. "Like when you hid out on Naboo. We could send Han with her. He can hold himself in a fight. And Luke and Mara can escort them, even. Play bodyguards."
"Anakin," she started, but quieted, the idea turning over in her mind, making ever the more sense as she thought about it.
"They could stay in the Lakehouse, you know how much we loved it there," he smiled. "How much they loved it there as kids. And your parents haven't seen them since before this whole Empire thing."
"She has to agree, you know," Padme sighed. "She's almost twenty now, Anakin. She's all grown up."
"I know," he said, smirking at the thought of how desperate he'd been at twenty to prove himself to the galaxy. Leia was already proven, already the senator that Padme had been all those years ago. She was so strong willed, just like her mother. "It won't be easy to convince her. I remember a certain Senator's annoyance at having to go into hiding."
Padme shook her head, looking down to hide the mild red flush that tinged her cheeks. She had been so stubborn in those days...
"But we can save that for tomorrow," Anakin sighed, closing the conversation. "I'm sure Han will do most of the convincing for her. He seems to have a certain way with our daughter," he finished, glancing out the window, torn between worry of his daughter's choices and his approval and general like for the ex-smuggler.
"Oh, stop, Ani," she laughed, swatting his arm playfully. "You know you like him."
"I do," he sighed, tossing a small grin to his wife. "Now, I also happen to like my wife considerably more."
"Is that so," she raised an eyebrow suggestively, stepping closer as Anakin trailed his new hand down her arm, knocking the strap to her nightgown off her shoulder in the process.
"It is," he said, leaning in and catching her lips with his own. "Though sometimes she wears a little too much clothing for my tastes."
Padme chuckled wrapping her arms around his neck and leaning into the kiss. This day was proving to be rather nice after all...
Laughter was heard from the kitchen as Leia opened her eyes. This was not her bedroom... she noted as she took in the familiar surroundings of her living room. The holo-projector was turned off, the glass screen clear with its inactive state. She glanced around and realized Han had served as her pillow for the night, his chest rising and falling with the steady thrum of breath. He was still fast asleep, hair mussed to the side where his head had fallen against the couch, a small smile gracing his face at some lost dream.
It was a peaceful sight to her, one that warmed her heart still after nearly six months of them being together. They'd yet to share a bed in all aspects, but falling asleep in each other's arms was not a new thing for them. But every morning after still brought that slight thrill to her as she realized who she was with.
Han's arm twitched and his breath jolted slightly as he began to wake up, his eyes fluttering open sleepily.
"Morning," she whispered, her arm propped up over the edge of the couch, her head resting on it to be eye level with him.
"Mornin'," he mumbled, reaching a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose, his face twisting in an effort to wake up fully. "We fell asleep."
"Very astute, I'm proud," she rolled her eyes, ignoring the glare he shot her. "I think my parents are making breakfast."
He listened for a moment, taking in the laughter and muffled voices against the sound of shifting pans and Threepio's whining.
"Ugh, too early for that droid," he mumbled, closing his eyes and squinting his face in mock pain. She chuckled, leaning in and kissing his lips lightly. Before she could pull away and insist they take the morning by storm, Han's hand slipped around to the back of her head, holding her there. She fell further into the kiss, letting out a soft moan before that familiar tingling started in the base of skull. She glanced up, hand out, and spotted the incoming pillow with a split second's notice. The pillow went careening away from her head, making a sharp right turn into a nearby lamp, thus sending it teetering off the table to the floor.
"Jeeze, Leia," Luke mumbled, catching the lamp with the Force just before it shattered against the floor and lifting it back into position. "Get a grip."
"You threw a pillow at me!" she countered, eyes wide in anger.
"'Cause you and Han were making out on the couch!" he said loudly, gesturing to their position, half entwined, but still separated. Leia blushed, eyes narrowing, and pushed herself away from Han. Luke grinned triumphantly, arms crossed in satisfaction at winning the argument.
"Grow up, Skywalker," Mara mumbled as she walked past, hair mussed and still half asleep. She walked straight for the kitchen, intent on drinking as much caffe as possible.
Luke opened his mouth to retort when Mara held out her hand, cutting him off before he could start, not even turning to look at him.
Luke snapped his mouth shut, the previous delight at his sister's mortification gone within moments of appearing.
"She's right," Leia smirked and Luke turned back just in time to have a pillow manually thrown at his face. He didn't catch it in time and it hit him square in the face, causing him to stagger back a few steps, much to Leia's delight.
"This isn't over," he said, eyes narrowed as she stood from the couch, grabbing Han's hand and dragging him along behind her towards the kitchen. They entered, Mara already seated and nursing a cup of caffe, eyes mildly more alert.
"Oh, good, I thought I heard you three up," Padme smiled from her spot by the stove. She walked over towards the table, with the pan in her hand, ready to spoon out eggs onto the plates that lined the table.
"Yeah," Luke mumbled, running a hand through his hair and shooting a dirty look at his sister before taking a seat. Han and Leia followed, smiling in thanks as Padme dished up their breakfast.
Anakin walked over towards the table calmly with a basket of rolls, setting it down in the center of the table. Luke took a sip of his drink before choking in surprise as he spotted his father's new arm, freshly covered in skin as if the years of the metal limb had never existed. Anakin raised an eyebrow at Luke amusedly before asking, "Everything alright?"
"Dad," Luke said as soon as he caught his breath. "Your arm!"
Leia noticed the limb and her eyes widened as well, hardly daring to believe it. "It's flesh!"
"Mm,hmm," Anakin nodded, smirking lightly towards his wife. She rolled her eyes and turned to get the rest of the food, ignoring her husband's fun with this.
"Looks good," Han nodded, taking a bite of his eggs in an attempt to look cool and controlled, though he was nearly as surprised as Luke and Leia.
"Thanks," Anakin grinned, holding up his arm and inspecting it. "I like it."
Mara shook her head, finally letting out the laughter she'd been holding in since Luke began choking. "Oh, Force, Luke, your face! Oh, gods..."
Luke's expression went from the shocked and surprised one it had sat in for the duration of the conversation to narrowed eyes towards Mara.
"And why aren't you as surprised, hmm?"
"I saw him last night while you three fell asleep faster than a droid shuts down," she countered, still grinning widely as her laughter calmed down.
Luke rolled his eyes and instead took a bite of eggs, eager to just get out of the house and do something.
"Actually, Mistress Mara," Threepio cut in, having watched the spectacle from his spot by the stove the whole time. "It is physically impossible for the human species to fall asleep as fast as a droid turns off because the human mind is much more complex than the circuitry in a droid."
"Thanks, Threepio," Mara mumbled and rolled her eyes.
"Why, of course, it was my pleasure!"
Anakin shook his head and grinned at the droid's antics, never having quite grasped the idea of sarcasm.
"Well, now that you're all awake," Padme said as she took a seat. "We can discuss yesterday's events."
"Oh, yeah," Luke nodded, taking a sip of his drink. "Han said he knows a guy that can do the investigation. Kart or Kade or something."
"Karrde," Han offered.
"Yeah," Luke nodded, "Him."
"He's a smuggler, but he also collects information, that's his passion," Han said, explaining. "He claims he's neutral, so he has no qualms about helping either side, but he's loyal and discreet. Exactly what we need."
"I see," Padme nodded slowly, not quite what she meant when she wanted to discuss things, though this needed to be discussed nonetheless. "Well, how do we contact him?"
"I have his comm number somewhere on the Falcon," Han answered. "I haven't had a chance to look yet, though. Last I heard, he was working out somewhere on Myrkr."
"Myrkr?" Anakin asked, never really having heard of the planet before.
"Inner rim," Han shrugged. "Not exactly populated, which I suppose is why he likes it. I've never been there myself though."
"I'll look it up later," Anakin waved dismissively. "We'll contact him regarding this incident."
"What I really wanted to discuss was you, though, Leia," Padme said, switching the conversation around. Leia looked up with a confused look on her face.
"Yes," Padme nodded. "Your father and I are wondering how safe you are here on Coruscant."
Leia remained silent, wondering where her parents were going with this. Her mother glanced towards her father with a silent signal for help she'd seen a thousand times growing up.
"We feel it might be necessary," Anakin said, picking up where Padme left off, "for you to maybe go off the radar for a while."
"To hide," Leia summed, putting down her fork and crossing her arms. "You want me to abandon the Republic and Naboo while I hide from some mysterious threat we know nothing about when I could be here, drawing them out of hiding."
"That's exactly why we think you should go into hiding," Padme sighed, knowing this wouldn't be easy. "Because your being here is dangerous for you."
"I can't do this," Leia shook her head. "My place is here. We are getting closer every day to finding out what this Empire wants besides the obvious. I'd lay odds it's them, and if we can get just one guy of theirs, we might be able to end this now!"
"Sometimes we must put aside our pride and do what is asked of us," Anakin said, memories of Padme's resistance to this very idea prevalent in his mind.
Leia bit her lip, knowing he'd caught her. "What's to say I won't be in danger on whatever planet I run off to?"
"We thought that maybe Han could be there," Padme smiled, glancing at Han and testing his reaction to this suggestion. Han raised his eyebrows briefly in surprise but shrugged, acquiescing to the idea.
"And Luke and Mara could run as backup support," Anakin finished. Mara froze, glancing towards Luke with the idea. She was still on the bitter side following the argument they'd had, though it had been a minor one in comparison to previous ones they'd shared. She just needed to think, to sort out why she felt so angry after this one.
"Sounds good to me," Luke shrugged.
"But what about my place in the senate?" Leia questioned. "Naboo would be without representative."
"I'm certain you could find a temporary replacement," Padme sighed. "It is possible."
"What if a major vote comes up?" Leia asked, drawing at straws. "I won't be there to argue for it."
"You know as well as I do that the only thing we have is that bill regarding easing the regulations on Casinos."
Leia bit her tongue, knowing she was caught. At least her mother was kind enough to present this as a suggestion rather than a decree by the Chancellor. She couldn't exactly refuse either one, but at least this way she was given the guise of a choice.
"Fine," she sighed. "Where am I running off to?"
"Naboo," Anakin shrugged. "You can talk with the queen in person regarding the replacement that way, as well as your need to go into hiding."
"Perhaps Pooja could help," Padme suggested, referring to Leia's cousin. "Sola was telling me a few weeks back how well the Queen favors her and her politics."
Leia sighed. That was a good idea, she and Pooja held very similar political ideals, and she was someone Leia could trust.
"I suppose we're staying in the Lake House?"
Anakin smiled, nodding. "Don't think of this as such a bad thing, Leia. This is only temporary until we can get to the bottom of this assassination attempt."
Leia glanced towards Han, wondering what his thoughts on all this were. The ex-smuggled just smiled her way though, clearly in agreement with her parents. She gave up, completely, and pushed her chair away from the table. "I'm going to pack and call Pooja."
She stalked out of the room, the distaste for this idea flooding around her in the Force.
"Well, that went well," Anakin sighed, realizing that with Padme's genetics in the mix, things could have gone a lot worse.
So I just got back from seeing Red Tails a few hours ago and I have to say I really, really enjoyed it! The dogfights were amazing and Lucas was right when he said it was as close to Episode 7 as we'd get. If you guys missed his interview on the Daily Show, I'm sure it's on YouTube. It was quite good and he gives everyone a nice scare by announcing his plans for a prequel and sequel. Now that I've seen the movie, I can kinda see where the movie lends itself to that possibility. There's no real definitive ending.
But it's worth watching! I promise. The whole time though I was comparing it to the dogfights in Stackpole's X-Wing series. I'll give you a character rundown though:
Junior = Corran
Lightning = Either Luke or Han but both of them are definitely there.
Joker = Wes
Smokey = Wedge
Deke = Dak
Colonel Bullard = Rieekan
I can't find a comparison for Easy though. But for fun let's say Sofia is Leia.