One Too Many
3:08 standard local time
There was only one thing to be done; unfortunately, both Obi-Wan and Anakin did it at the same time. A single, focused use of the Force would have properly redirected the explosive's trajectory, or even smothered the blast in a protective bubble – after all, Anakin was the "Chosen One" – but the combination of two such invisible impulses caught the tiny sphere midways in a tug-o-war and popped it straight through the roof, blowing rafters and insulation sky-high and sending a choking avalanche of dust and plaster down upon the entire assembly.
The shock wave knocked everyone off their feet. All except Obi-Wan, who was still standing atop the bar, 'saber raised and ready, that cocky-as-all-Soresu-hell "come at me" grin plastered all over his face. Anakin only had a half a heartbeat to feel nettled by the familiar taunting look; in the next instant he was buried beneath most the building's second story, alongside his would be captive.
A few enraged Force pushes later – to mirror the thermal detonator's devastating effects – he had cleared the rubble and managed to blow out all the remaining windows. Plus he had his choking and sneezing comrade firmly by the scruff, lightsaber pulsing close to the barve's throat. Mission accomplished.
The other mercenaries decided to adjourn the meeting, evacuating the burning and collapsing building in a disorderly riot of hearty curses and synth-leather clad limbs. Stuff was on fire everywhere, and the ceiling directly above the bar – the sagging skylight buttressed by a wheel of duramesh girders – was threatening to collapse inward.
"Master!" Anakin hoarsely yelled. "Get out of-"
Boom. The whole thing came down on their heads, and purest instinct carried him and his prisoner beneath the tumbling rubble and into the safety of the back lot just in the nick of time. With a cataclysmic thunder, the Crash Site made good on its name and fell to the ground in a fiery and disintegrating heap.
The skylight, naturally, had the perfect courtesy to fall around Obi-Wan, who brushed some ash off his already scorched and filthy tunic sleeve and then lightly vaulted to Anakin's side, adding anAtaru style triple backflip just for good measure, as though he had forgotten he was getting too old for that kind of thing.
He surveyed the smoldering wreckage of the bar. "Well," he sarcastically grumbled. "That was good."
3:47 standard local time
The Republic military naval commander sent to collect the arrested suspect was duly impressed by their Jedi powers. His brown eyes widened as he surveyed the ruins of the building, jets of flamm retardant still being poured onto the site by Vandor's civil fire brigade.
"You do that, Generals?"
"Master Kenobi did most of it," Anakin modestly replied.
Obi-Wan usually wasn't comfortable with effusive praise, but he accepted credit for the mess with impressive equanimity. Though his tactical sense did raise a worrisome question. "I'm afraid there may be legal repercussions," he said, stroking his beard. "We did interrupt a Union meeting, and Unions have a good deal of influence in the courts."
The clone plopped his helmet back over his head. "Yeah, well, the GAR's got more friends in the legislature. Don't sweat it, General, if you ask me. We'll call this a military action. Anti-terrorist operation – folks gotta realize the price of security."
Obi-Wan folded his arms. "Yes, well."
The four armed escorts led the perpetrator away in cuffs; the fire brigade captain hollered orders to his men; a steadily burgeoning crowd of lookie-loos gathered about the margins of the dramatic vignette.
"Well, all in a day's work," Anakin decided. "Time for us to go home."
Not that they could exactly stand up straight, much less walk.
"I think we better call for a taxi, master."
"Good idea," Obi-Wan concurred, running a hand through his ruffled hair. "We might have had one too many."
4:06 standard local time
By the time Artoo and Arfour brought the two Deltas down, Anakin was all but propping Obi-Wan up on his feet.
"Easy, master – just get in here…. That's right…" Somehow he managed to tumble his former mentor into the cockpit of his starfighter and strap him in.
The Jedi master mumbled some slurring string of syllables, eyes drooping closed as he sagged against the backrest.
"'You're welcome," Anakin grinned, slamming the canopy closed. "Arfour – maybe orbit a few times and then head home – slowly. We're not in a hurry."
And then he clambered into his own ship, maybe a tad less elegantly than usual, and squinted at the dizzying array of instruments and gauges imbedded in the console.
"Artoo.. did you screw around with the ship while I was busy?"
The astromech's sardonic answer did not bear translation.
"Huh." Strange. He rubbed the heels of his hands against his eyes and stifled a splitting yawn. "I dunno. Just …uh, follow Arfour. Yeah. I'm gonna meditate."
The droid blurped some ironic affirmative and lifted him off the ground, trailing casually behind the red and white Delta rising into the purple dusk just beyond.
Already the day's events seemed to be fading into the blurred margins of dreamlike memory…. He hoped Obi-Wan could recall exactly what had transpired, or their Council report was going to be a masterpiece of brevity. On the other hand, since the assignment had ended in a big explosion, that probably wasn't a bad thing. The sky was luminous blue and lavendar and glowing orange, a soporific and dizzying kaleidoscope of pretty colors bleeding into one another, just as his thoughts were doing…
He kicked his feet up on the console and leaned back, closing his eyes. "Steady as she goes, Artoo."
His mechanical navigator whistled a soft goodnight, and they flew on, leaving Vandor and the mission and all the things they never talked about - at all, ever, by unspoken mutual consent - far far behind on a distant and hazy horizon.