Category: Romance (Anidala), Drama, Adventure.
Timeline: It is very AU, in a galactic context it might take place 5 years after the rise of the Empire.
Disclaimer: Star Wars (universe, characters...) is the property of George Lucas and I don't earn any money to write this fiction, only for my entertainment and yours, hopefully. Only the storyline of this fiction and the few characters I created are mine.
Author's note: Well, i've been reading a lot of Star Wars fanfictions lately and I eventually decided to write my own. This fiction is my first long fiction in english. Indeed, I'm French and it's the first time I start a long story in another language. i haven't found a beta reader yet so there are still some spelling and grammar mistakes in my chapters. I hope it won't annoy you, I do my best. And if someone is interested to become a betareader... Let me know! :-)
This fiction takes place in an alternative universe. Most of the important events (Clone Wars, rise of the Empire, Great Jedi Purges…) happened. Anakin and Padmé's story changes a lot though. I don't want to tell you everything about it now, to keep the little suspense I managed to create – hopefully. But you should know that Anakin is a Jedi Knight of the old order, Padmé is the former Senator of Naboo and they have never met before the events of this fiction. But I think things will get clearer with the story :-)
To finish with, this story is rated T for the moment. There's angst, drama, strong language and certain scenes of violence, however, I don't think the rating M is required for the moment. I'll see in the future.
Here's the first chapter. I hope you're gonna enjoy it and really, let me know if I should continue or not. This story takes me a lot of time, given that I have to check a couple of words or expressions to make my English as good as possible. But if I know there'll be people to read it and to review, it'll help me far beyond words.
Chapter 1 - Hidden
"Brayden, hurry up! You still have to repare propulsors on Ollander's speeder! He's coming to take it back tonight and I don't want to explain him that my mecanic is as slow as a Sluissi!"
I got my head out from under the speeder I was working on and glanced at the entrance of the workshop. The tall figure of Alrick Holden was annoyingly staring at me with his hands on his hips. I inwardly winced at his words... As slow as a Sluissi... They were famous to be slow, indeed. But it was also a sort of compliment given that Sluissi were known to be very good mecanics and very calm and patient. I sometimes wished I was as patient as they were...
"Stop staring at me like that and go back to work!" yelled the Nothoiin.
His words brought me back to reality and I quickly slid back under the speeder. I felt my boss leaving the workshop and I allowed myself a sigh. I sometimes felt like back on Tatooine when I was still working at Watto's junk shop as a slave, even my memories of that time were only blur images now. Alrick was actually more a slave trader than an employer, mostly with regard to the pittance I earned working for him.
I went back to work and quickly fixed the problem on the speeder before going out from under the vehicle. I wiped my dirty hands on my trousers and drank a couple of sips from the bottle of water I always kept around. After that little break, I took my toolbox and started working on Ollander's speeder as Alrick asked me. The day was far from over.
It actually ended a couple of hours later when Alrick decided it was time to close the shop. He nearly kicked me out, saying I had worked enough for the day and I could go home. I held back a sigh of relief and put my tools away before getting changed. I didn't even say goodbye to Alrick and left the shop without any further ado.
It was already dark when I went out of the little building. I looked up at the sky where hundreds of speeders were flying and I finally started walking to the nearest public transport stop. Alrick's shop was located in the shopping area of the town and I had almost one hour of transport to reach my flat. Well if I could call "flat" the slum I lived in...
Soon enough, I reached a turbolift and I used it to go up to the stop on the platform. When I arrived, I noticed a few people were already waiting. Two teenage girls carrying shoping bags were cheerfully talking while a rather small man was complaining about the slowness of public transports and how crowded they were during the rush hours. The person who the man was talking to was as silent as the grave and when I saw he was a Sluissi, a little smile appeared on my face and I remembered Alrick's words. Yeah, they definitely had a legendary patience. If I had been him, I would have already been pissed off and I would had told the complaining man to shut up and leave me alone.
i didn't wait long and the transport arrived pretty quickly. I got on the airbus with the other people and it started up again. I tried to find a seat in the crowded transport, I wouldn't have minded a bit of rest after this tiring day. Miraculously, I found a free seat and I hurried up to take it. The Force was with me tonight.
I sighed delightedly and stretched out my legs. I rarely managed to find a place to sit down on the way back from work. Most of the time, I was sandwiched between people I didn't even know during the whole journey. But seems like it was my lucky day.
I rested my forehead against the window and looked outside absentmindedly. In the dark sky, the lights of the speeders flying from the opposite direction formed a sort of uninterrupted luminous line that hypnotised me. The trafic wasn't as important as on Coruscant but the capital was full of activity.
I had been living on Gerrenthum as Akin Brayden for almost three years now. It hadn't been easy to build this false identity but after spending two years traveling around the Galaxy to escape the Empire, I couldn't bear this any longer. I had chosen Gerrenthum for its location on the Outer Rim and had decided to start a new life there.
I had spent a few days hanging around on the poorest areas of the capital to find someone who would accept to make me false identifications. After three days and a little bit of help from the Force, I had gotten it. I wasn't sure that my former master would have approved my way of using the Force but it was a necessity for my safety.
Once I had my new identity, I had started looking for a job. I had always been rather good with mecanics - in all modesty - and I had thought that working for a repairer could be a good idea. I had finally found my job at Alrick's shop and even the pay wasn't fabulous, it was enough to pay food and the rent of my flat. As tiny as it could be, I had somewhere to live and I wasn't homeless.
Life was quite simple. Not easy, not exciting and far from what I had before the rise of the Empire. But at least I was safe. Everyday, I woke up, had breakfast, went to work until the evening and went home to have supper and sleep. I sometimes went out in a bar nearby, a nice tiny place I found a few weeks after I arrived on Gerrenthum. The staff was quite nice and above all, they had never ask questions about my past. That was my daily routine and I accepted it. I didn't have any other choice anyway.
I think the worst thing was loneliness. At first, I had been relieved to be safe and glad to not be no longer on the run. I had savoured the feeling of being able to walk on the streets among other people without having a squadron of clones after me. I hadn't lived in a proper place for more than two years and it was fabulous for me to have a place to call my own.
However, as time ran out, I realised I was on my own, totally alone. I didn't know anyone on Gerrenthum and contacting my friends would have been too dangerous. For them and for myself. At first, I had thought I would get used of the loneliness. And I did. Most of the time, I didn't even think about it. I woke up, work and started again the day after in a boring but safe routine.
I finally started talking with other people. Not Alrick, my boss wasn't really the talkative type. But at the bar I used to go after work, I met a couple of usual customers, as I was. It wasn't all about drinking to forget the misery of our lives. We just met there twice or three times a week and talk about everything and nothing. Our jobs, our lives, sometimes our family, the Empire... We were all broken in our own way but during those meetings we stocked up on human warmth and reassuring smiles.
I didn't know if I could call them my friends. Well, they were all I had on this planet but I couldn't compare my relationship with them to what I shared with my old friends and my master. I couldn't trust them enough to reveal my past, my true identity. They knew I was hiding something from them but they had never blamed me. It was a hard time for all of us in the end.
Despite their presence, I was really alone. I missed my former life, even last years of the Republic hadn't been the best. The Clone Wars, battles... But at that time, I had a home, somewhere I felt well and safe. I had friends to rely on. Everything was gone now. The Empire had taken all these things away. Everything, everyone I cared about had disappeared I even didn't know where, letting a deep hole in my life. I hated the Emperor, I hated the Empire with all my heart. I knew hatred wasn't a healthy feeling but I couldn't help it.
After long minutes, I finally arrived at my stop. I weaved through the crowd to reach the doors and I Managed to go out of the airbus. I shivered when I felt the cold wind blowing around me. The streets were crowded with a lot of people, most of them had just finished their day of work, like me. I mingled with the crowd and I wondered if I would go back to my place before meeting with the others. I decided to go straight to the bar because I was so tired that if I sat on my sofa even for a couple of minutes only, I would never get up until the next morning. So I made my way to the bar.
When I came inside, I felt the usual atmosphere of the bar surrounding me. Its warmth contrasting with the coolness outside, usual noises of conversations and low musical background. I knew this place by heart now and it always brought me a sort of comfort, a guiding light in my meaningless existence. I looked around for a free table and my eyes met those of a rather tall black haired man that I recognised instantly. He waved at me and I headed to his table.
"Tallan." I greeted my friend, sitting down opposite him.
"Akin, how are you?" he asked.
"I'm fine but rather tired, Alrick made me work like a slave today." I answered whilst I was making a sign to the barmaid to order a drink.
The Twi'lek female, Andra, headed to our table and greeted me with a smile. She was the first person I met right after I found my flat, three years ago and she had always been sweet and kind of protective with me. She was only a few years older than me and she had always acted in a big sister way. It didn't bother me though. I would never admit it to anyone - as proud and as independent as I was - but it was comforting to have someone who cared about me like she did. She had never imposed herself in my life, she was only a kind look over me and I knew I could talk to her if I needed. Well, at least I would if I actually confided in her.
"What do you want to drink?" she asked.
"A beer." I answered.
"Oh, what's happening? Akin Brayden ordering a beer?" Tallan said sarcastically.
"Very funny." I retorted rolling my eyes. "I had a long day and I need to relax, there's no big deal."
"So I bring you a beer." Andra smiled to calm us down.
She headed to the bar and I turned back at Tallan. We started talking about our day, our jobs... Tallan was a taxi driver, one of the rare remaining human ones, they were mostly droids now. Tallan had told me he was once a pilot, working for a transports company. He drove ships, used for interplanetary journeys. In the early months of the Empire, his employers had been suspected of transporting illegal goods. The company had been liquidated and all the employees lost their job. At that moment, Tallan was forced to leave is home planet and moved on Gerrenthum.
He was always the one with interesting things to share about his day. I spent mine fixing stuff in the workshop and speeders had never been very talkative. Tallan's clients were, though. They were our greatest source of news on what had happened recently in the Galaxy. Our access to the Holonet was actually limited. I didn't hav a Holonet station in my flat and, even we could watch it as much as we wanted, informations were very likely restrained by imperial censorship.
That day, Tallan reported me the most recent events but nothing interesting had occured except a couple of commercial bills and some other measures restraining our already limited freedom. The Emperor had addressed a speech during a session in the Senate, reaffirming his will to stop any form of rebellion or any act commited against peace and security in the Empire. Nothing good for a fugitive like me. I wondered if there was still a bounty on my head... I should check it out some day.
Andra eventually brought my beer and we exchanged a couple of words. As she had to come back to work, I kept talking with Tallan until another person joined us.
Niala was another member of our little group. She was a Togruta from Shili and like many of us, she had been forced to leave her home world to save her life. About three years ago, a wave of protestation started arousing amongst several tribes on Shili. Togrutas were usually pacific but since the beginning of Palpatine's reign, non-human species were unfairly treated without any restrictions from the Empire, which even encouraged that kind of behaviours. Several species like Twi'lek or Togruta were even sold into slavery, mainly by the Hutt.
Indignant of the Empire's lack of reaction, some clans started to display their anger. Unfortunately, stopping any form of rebellion was one of Palpatine's priorities. Soon after the beginning of the protestations, imperial troups were sent on Shili and the protesting clans were attacked. One of those tribes was Niala's.
I remembered the day when she told me her story. I had been utterly chocked by the Empire's repression but not really surprised in the end. I had seen the raise of that totalitarian regime, throughout the Clone Wars and then when I had been hunted all around the Galaxy by imperial troups who wanted me dead or alive. I admired Those Togruta's bravery, deciding to challange the control of the Empire must have been a hard choice. As a former slave, I hated slave traders and those who permitted it to exist with all my heart. There was nothing worst than being deprived of your freedom; freedom to act, to speak, to think on your own. Being nothing but a good, not a person, an object.
It was true that I had been a slave for only five years, until Master Jinn found me on Tatooine and freed me. But I still remembered when my mum and I were still property of Gardula and she used to batter us whenever she was displeased with someting or someone. That cruelty and that sadistic contentment in her eyes. i could feel it through the Force, even at that time I didn't know I was using it. It was painful, dark and revolting.
It was my former life as a slave which allowed me to understand Niala's tribe protestation. Most of people think slavery is revolting. But you can't truely understand how much it is indeed revolting, humiliating and condamnable as long as you haven't been a slave yourself.
Hours that followed Niala's arrival were really delightful. It was always good to spend some time with my friends here, they were my light in my lonely existence, as melodramatic as it sounded. I knew I had never been totally honest with them about my past and my real identity. They knew me as Akin Brayden and they always would. I couldn't reveal them my true name was Anakin Skywalker. It would been too dangerous, for me and even for them.
As it was getting late, I started to feel the fatigue overcome me. I had a long day at work and we were talking for nearly three hours now. I glanced at my chrono and I saw it was already past midnight.
"I'm sorry but I think I should go home and get some rest..." I admitted to Tallan and Niala. "I start at dawn tomorrow and I'm not sure that Alrick would be pleased if I fell asleep under a speeder."
"Again." Tallan added jokingly.
"Hey, it's only happened once!" I retorted. "And only because you kept me up all the previous night for I know which kriffing reason."
"Language." Andra reprimanded me.
"Her voice made me start, I hadn't hear her arrived. My reflexes were slowly disintegrating because of my lack of training... I should start meditating again, really. Even i didn't like meditation that much.
"Ok, I'm leaving, nobody wants me here any longer." I stated dramatically.
"Oh, poor little thing." Tallan joked.
"Language!" Andra and Nialia said as one.
"I love you both too." I replied, flashing a silly grin at them. "Well, have a good night all, see ya."
"See ya." Niala greeted.
"Bye." Andra and Tallan added.
I waved at them and headed to the door. The cold wind outside made me shiver so I rearranged my cloak around my shoulders and started walking to the nearest public transport stop.
Streets were significantly less crowded than three hours before. Only a couple of people were there, silently heading to their destination, eyes stuck on the ground. It was an attitude that the most of people adopted around there. Those streets weren't a secure place and it was possible to meet individuals of doubtful reputation. I walked looking straight in front of me, though. But I'd always been reckless and it wasn't a bunch of rabbles that would scare me.
"Your pride, Anakin. Some day, it'll be the death of you... Or me, most likely." I imagined my former master's voice stating
Kriffing old lectures. Even after all those years I could still hear him in my head. I wondered if it was a mark of insanity... But he'd reprimanded me so many time about my recklessness or my lack of reflexions during my apprenticeship that his words would be stuck in my subconcious for the rest of my life.
I smiled at the thought of my former master. I missed him, very much. Despite our frequent arguments and disagreements, he had been my mentor for nearly a decade and had taught me everything he knew. I respected him deeply for everything he had done for me. I missed him, my old friends, my home... But sadness had already started to fade away, replaced by a sort of melancoly. A bittersweet melancoly.
I was lost in my memories when I felt a sudden surge in the Force. I froze, alert. I hadn't felt something similar for ages and my attention focused on that feeling instantly, my sens of danger had always been great. And really helpful at many occasions.
I closed my eyes and reached out with the Force to scan my surrounding. My eyes snapped open when I feel another flash of danger. But it wasn't for me. It was for someone else and the Force wanted me to follow it. As did I.
The danger came from two blocks away. I silently headed towards that direction, as fast as I could. I soon could hear blaster shots. That wasn't a good sign at all...
"I had a bad feeling about this..." I grumbled in my teeth.
But I kept running anyway. I had to follow the call of the Force as I always did. As I got closer to where the danger emanated, I recognised the sound of imperial blasters. A very bad feeling indeed...
I turned at the corner of a street and I stopped abruptly, rooted to the spot with surprise - and maybe with fear - by what I saw before me.
"For Force's sake..." I thought, speechless.