Chapter 7 - "Out Of Control"
18 standard months later...
I stared at the datapad in my hand with a certain degree of perplexity and looked around me to find the quickest way to reach my destination. I didn't like doing this, but Padmé had been clear: it was my turn and there was no way to avoid it. I sighed and resigned myself to keep going with this. The sooner I did it, the sooner it'd be over.
"Blue milk... where the hell are you?" I asked myself, glancing around to find what I was looking for.
The supermarket was full of people doing their shopping on this last day of the week. Some were on their own, others with their children who tried to pick up everything in their reach to put it in the cart under the eyes of their parents, half desperate, half exasperated. I was happy to be alone, in the end. I only had to follow the list Padmé had put on the datapad, pay at the cashier and I'd be done with this chore. What I wouldn't do for my wife...
My wife... It was still strange to think of Padmé as my wife even after six months of mariage. Our wedding hadn't been a big ceremony; there'd been only our friends on Gerrenthum and the two of us. But it was still one of the happiest days of my life, when Padmé became Padmé Skywalker. Well, officially she was Ami Brayden, but it meant the same; she was my wife. And saying that I was a proud husband wouldn't have been an overstatement...
The life of a married man wasn't that bad, I had to say. Meeting Padmé had put an end to nearly five years of solitude, and, making a place for her in my life hadn't been as difficult as I thought it would be. Loving had always been something that came naturally for me, to the utter despair of my teachers at the Temple, and being with Padmé was just as natural. No one, myself least of all, would have imagined that someday I would be a husband. Anakin Skywalker, former apprentice to Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, General of the Grand Army of the Republic, a happily married man... Hard to believe. But it was still the case.
I sometimes wondered what my friends at the Temple would have thought of this... Jax, Barriss... even Ferrus with whom I became, well if not friends at least comrades at the end of the war... What would they have said about my current situation? Marriage wasn't something a Jedi could afford, unless it was part of the traditions of his home planet like it had been the case for Master Ki-Adi Mundi for example. But the order was no more than a bunch of individuals now, so the code didn't really matter anymore... even if I could really imagine Obi-Wan still living according to Jedi principles.
I sometimes wondered where Obi-Wan was, if he was safe. I knew he was still alive, even though our bond wasn't as strong as it used to be when we were still master and padawan, we were still close before the rise of the Empire, and I loved to believe I would have known if something happened to him. The Force would tell me so.
I was startled out of my memories by something bumping into my legs. I looked down to see a little girl of five or so. She looked up at me, said she was sorry and continued on her way. Not long after, a woman, presumably her mother, passed near me, shouting: "Eliae, Eliae, come back here!"
I smiled inwardly and wondered how it would be when Padmé and I had children of our own. We hadn't really planned to have kids so far, but the subject sometimes popped up in conversation, and I loved this idea of a family.
I decided to keep going with my shopping. It was almost lunch time, and I had to meet Padmé at our home. She would be out of work soon, so I'd better hurry up.
Padmé had been working with me at Alrick's shop for more than a year now. My boss had a kind of cerebral attack a few months ago and, since then, he hadn't be able to work as much as before. I suggested to him that my wife could work with us, and she was now in charge of all the administrative aspect of the workshop management. I knew it was far from her original field of social work, but she seemed to get along with the job.
I quickly finished my shopping and went out of the supermarket a few minutes later. I headed to our speeder and put the bags in the trunk. Padmé and I bought this vehicle right after our wedding; things were easier since she was also working.
After a few minutes' drive, I reached our building and parked the speeder into the hangar. We were still living at my flat, mostly because we had the space to park our ship and keep it a secret still. We hadn't heard from the Empire since Padmé's arrival, and we were happy with it. But you can never be prudent enough when it comes to running away from the Imperials.
Life was almost normal, well, as normal as possible given that parts of our pasts were still secret, even from each other. Padmé and I decided right from the start that it'd be better if we didn't know everything about the other; in case we were captured, we wouldn't reveal anything of importance. She still didn't know about my past life as a Jedi. I knew I would have to tell her about my Force sensitivity if we planned to have children because there was still a possibility they would inherit abilities from me.
The delicious smell of dinner was floating in the air when I pushed open the door of the appartment. I smiled at the prospect of a good homemade meal, and I headed to the kitchen to put my bags on the table.
"I'm home!" I announced as I couldn't see Padmé in the main room.
"I'm here," she answered from our bedroom. She came into the kitchen and smiled at me. I kissed her on the cheek, and she asked, "Was everything alright with the shopping list?"
"Yes, fine. I think we have everything."
"Good boy," she teased me, trying to ruffle my hair.
But I was too tall, and I grabbed her hand to kiss her palm. Padmé shook her head and went back to the kitchen.
"You can put the things into the cupboards; lunch will be ready soon."
"Good wife," I replied.
She glared at me, and I smiled innocently in return. I then started to take things out of the bags. A few minutes passed in a confortable silence, and we eventually sat around the table to eat lunch. Padmé told me about her morning at the workshop, and I did the same with my trip to the supermarket. It was a daily routine, but I loved it still. It was true that I still missed the adventurous aspect of my former life, but it was better to be safe in a quiet and anonymous existence than on the run, flying from one planet to another, with no place to call home.
I didn't know that my former life was about to come back to me, like a slap in the face...
I felt something strange while I was in the living room and Padmé still in the kitchen, washing the dishes. I was reading on the couch when I felt it, a strange sensation I hadn't felt in quite awhile... A subtle change in the Force.
It was because I hadn't experienced something of the sort for a long time that I didn't identify it right away. But, after a few seconds only, I eventually put my finger on it.
Danger was coming. And it was coming fast.
I felt a rush of adrenaline flowing in my veins, and in a blink of an eye I was at the door. I closed my eyes and reached out with the Force to get a better sense of this danger. There were four of them. A small group to not arouse the attention of the inhabitants of the building. Something was off, though, something about someone who was close. A weird presence in the Force, but I couldn't tell what it was.
The group of four troopers was now heading to our building, but something was telling me there were more of them. If they were coming for me, they probably knew I used to be a Jedi, and it wasn't a group of four Stormtroopers that would stop me from escaping.
If they were coming for Padmé... There was no way I would let them reach her. They would have to kill me first.
I brought myself together and took a long calming breath. I had to think quickly but efficiently. We only had a few minutes before they reached our floor. They would probably be in the turbolift, so we had to climb up the three last levels there were between our apartment and the hangar where the ship was parked. We had to act now. We didn't have any other choice.
I paused for awhile, realizing that the Imperials were at our door and there was no way to escape them if we didn't leave right away. I also knew that I had to tell Padmé. Our lives were about to change dramatically, but we couldn't avoid it.
That was why I entered the kitchen where Padmé was still taking care of the leftovers of our lunch. She looked up at me, but, when she saw the expression on my face, her smile faded.
"Anakin, what's going on?" she asked apprehensively.
"The Imperials are here," I replied simply.
I saw Padmé turning pale for a second before her reason took over. She had the same determined expression as mine, and she said: "We have to leave now."
I nodded, and we reacted instantly. We headed to our room, Padmé towards the wardrobe and me towards the bed. I took one of the boxes under the mattress and grabbed what was hidden there: a blaster, my lightsaber and a dark and long cloak. I pushed the box back under the bed and turned around to check on Padmé.
She was dressing up, fast but efficiently. She placed a blaster in a holster at her thigh and took another one from one of the drawers of the wardrobe. She glanced up at me and said:
"Go to the door; I'm right behind you."
I hesitated at first; I didn't want to leave her side, but I knew she was right and that we had to put as much distance as we could between the Stormtroopers and us. I headed to the door, my blaster in my hands, my lightsaber kept within easy reach.
I turned back when I heard Padmé entering the main room. She was now wearing a pale blue tunic, dark blue leggings and a pair of boots. She pulled on her dark cloak and took her second blaster in hand. I had never seen her looking so strong and determined. I could have almost found it sexy, to know that my wife kept a blaster in her underwear and knew how to use it. But it was the wrong time to think of that.
Our eyes met for an instant, and, in hers, I could see a glint of fear. I felt it, too, but I was more afraid of losing her than anything else. She was the person I loved the most, the most important in my life, and I couldn't afford to lose her. I knew I couldn't keep on without her. But it wasn't the time for these sorts of negative thoughts so, I put them in the back of my mind and let the Jedi in me take control.
I exchanged a last glance with Padmé, and she nodded, telling me she was ready. I could feel the Stormtroopers; they were now in the turbolift. We really had to go.
I flattened myself against the wall near the door and checked with the Force if there was someone in the corridor. When I knew the way was clear, I activated the door that slid open silently. I went out, looked on the right, then on the left and headed to the stairs to reached the upper levels. I could hear and feel Padmé behind me. We progressed as silently as possible along the hallway.
It was not long before I heard the doors of the turbolift open. Padmé and I were just down the stairs, ready to go up. We froze in our movements and exchanged a glance; I could see panic in her eyes. We remained still until we heard one of the troopers knocking at a door, certainly ours, and shout:
"Akin and Ami Brayden? Imperial authorities, please open the door."
Nothing happened for a few seconds. I wondered if we should go upstairs or get rid of the troopers first. Only four of them, it'd be easy. I looked at Padmé once more. She told me by sign that she suggested shooting the Stormtroopers, and I nodded.
We went back to the corridor without any noise and held up our blasters before us. Another glance to agree on what to do and we shot towards the Stormtroopers. Two of them fell down on the ground before they could have noticed our presence. The two others reacted quickly though and grabbed their blasters and started shooting at us. We avoided their fire and, a few seconds later, the two clones left were no more. I breathed out in relief but only for a short moment as I heard the comlink of one of the troopers, apparently the leader of their group.
"Sergeant? Sergeant, do you copy? I repeat: do you copy?"
Once more, I got this odd feeling in the Force. As before, I perceived a strange presence, like someone was trying to hide his or her signature. I didn't know where it came from, and it worried me. But the message from the comlink was clear enough: backup was on its way, and we better go to the ship.
Padmé came to the same conclusion, and without a word we ran to the stairs. We climbed the three levels in a few minutes only and arrived at the last floor, out of breath. I punched the code on the keypad as Padmé was checking that no one was coming. We then crossed the transparasteel corridor leading to the hangar. There, we headed to the emplacement of the ship, and, after another code, we were in.
I entered the cockpit as Padmé was closing the access ramp. I started up the ship, and my wife joined me, sitting in the copilot's chair. Soon I could hear a clatter of feet on the duracrete ground of the hangar, and I knew the Imperials were on our heels. The motors of the ship roared, and I activated the main door of the hangar.
As soon as we flew out of the emplacement, a shower of blasts fell on us. I turned the shields on and maneuvered the ship towards the exit. Soon, we were flying in the sky of Gerrenthum. I knew air backup was coming, and we had to get out of there before they arrived.
We were gaining altitude, leaving the atmosphere, when the sensors indicated that several TIE fighters were following us. One thing was sure, Imperial communications were still very effective. Padmé saw them as well and told me: "I'm going to the gun controls to try to take them down."
I simply nodded and concentrated on the task at hand, avoided being disintegrated in space by Imperial fighters. I reached out with the Force to scan our surroundings and get a better perspective of the situation. My piloting skills came back almost instantly, [run-on] and, with the Force as my ally, I tried to escape the TIE fighters that were on our tail.
Soon, I saw laser blasts coming from our ship, aiming at our pursuers. I realized it was Padmé. She destroyed one of the fighters, but five of them were chasing us now. I knew I had to enter the coordinates for the jump to hyperspace.
I searched for a few seconds in the lists of planets I had previously entered into the nav computer and picked one. A signal indicated the shields at the back of the ship were going down due to the blasts of enemy fighters. I made the calculation to go to lightspeed. The stars around us soon turned into continuous luminous lines.
We were in hyperspace, flying away from the Imperials. We had left our life on Gerrenthum behind us without even a second thought. Our home, our friends, our job... It didn't matter anymore. We would miss them for sure. And I also knew that the truth about Padmé and I was going to be revealed. But, for now, the only thing we had in mind was fleeing, as far as possible.
We were running away again.
Hello everyone ! I know this chapter took forever to come, and I'm really sorry. Holiday time and a family reunion gave me enough time to finish this chapter that I had begun almost three months ago. I'm sorry again, but I hope you enjoyed it.
The action came in this chapter. I originally planned to write a bit about Padmé and Anakin's life on Gerrenthum, but, as I was working on this chapter, I realized it was better this way. I'm still getting used to writing action scenes; I usually write a lot of characters' thoughts and feelings, so it's still kind of new for me. Hope it wasn't a disaster.
I wanted to thank my beta reader, Redstarred191. She has the patience to clear up my chapters and to teach me proper English (well at least better than it already is), so a special thanks for you: I'm glad to work with you on this story!
Thanks again for all the reviews you left on chapter six. As usual Ambre and Joko to be here like on every chapter since the beginning of tis story, QueenYoda thank you too, I loved your review! I tryied to reply to you in private with a longer reply but it didn't work, I'm sorry!, Lady Misha, Jaspreet and Jedi Master Misty Sman-Esay thank you. I don't know why, but, since October, I don't recieve email notifications from FFnet anymore, so I don't know when people add this story to their favorites and alerts... For those of you who have done so during the past weeks, thank you very much.
I will see you for the next chapter!
Happy holidays and happy new year.