The sky was a little cloudy, Obi-Wan saw as he treaded lightly on the rocky plains. He could sense the death in the aftermath of the battle, the fallen corpses and machines littered the ground. Ships and fighters that were gunned down left huge puffs of smoke that trailed up to the sky. As a cold wind breezed through his Jedi cloak, Obi-Wan could only sigh at the sight.
The Battle of Skye had been hard, but the victory was worth it. The planet had been captured by a small contingent of clones, who put the planet’s people to work. While trying to run the world of Skye dry, Obi-Wan had been called to put a stop to it.
Everything had gone according to plan. The people, the S’kytri, were rescued from the work camps, and the clones’ machines that drilled into the planet’s crust for minerals, were taken apart. The losses had been great.
Sensing a presence beside him, Obi-Wan glanced over his shoulder. “Do you sense it?” he asked.
“Yes, master,” answered the young boy of seventeen standard years.
Turning around, Obi-Wan took a good look at his pupil. “Tell me what you sense.”
The long, blond bangs hid the teen’s eyes, but he didn’t hide his sad tone. “There is much pain here,” his student explained, his voice modified through the mask covering his mouth. “The people here have suffered much.”
The boy looked up, bewildered, then he closed his eyes. “And… there’s joy, relief beyond,” he spoke before he opened his eyes.
“You sound confused,” Obi-Wan noted.
His pupil nodded, gesturing to the battlefield around him. “How can there be such happiness in this? A lot of people have been hurt. People died. How can I accept that?”
“You ask a good question.” Obi-Wan shifted his boots over a patch of grass. “Yes, there is great suffering. As a Jedi, you will see that across the galaxy, more now than ever. But remember, wounds can heal,” he explained. “The natives will cry and mourn their losses, but they also have the chance to see another day. In time, they will grow stronger and live prosperous lives.”
Obi-Wan’s pupil shifted a little uncomfortably in his black Jedi robes. “But master,” he said, “how can you be so sure?”
“I can’t. As my old master would say, ‘always in motion is the future.’ It is best not to fall into absolutes when dealing with such things.” Obi-Wan gave a mirthful smile. “Still, it is best to hope.”
Silence met Obi-Wan’s explanation, but he sensed a hint of satisfaction in his pupil. He spoke, “You should check on the survivors, see how they’re doing.”
The boy nodded and went on his way before his mentor called out to him.
Stopping in place, Vader turned to his master. “Robes aren’t really good for the battlefield. You should get them changed,” Obi-Wan said, somewhat teasingly at the holes in his pupil’s worn Jedi robe.
Obi-Wan sensed his pupil’s embarrassment, despite the face mask his pupil wore, and smiled. It had been a little over a year since Vader began his tutelage under him. Then, just as now, Vader was just a young teenager, but Obi-Wan noticed a growth spurt. Vader was taller than himself and almost as tall as Anakin by now.
“Yes, master,” Vader said meekly before he went over the hill beyond the battle.
By himself, Obi-Wan stood and prepared himself to enjoy the silence and solitude. His hopes were dashed when he heard a beep from his holocomm on his gauntlet. Answering it, Obi-Wan saw the miniature a Republic trooper flicker to life. “Captain Cody, what is it?”
The captain saluted and said, “General Kenobi, Viceroy Organa is on the comm. He wishes to speak with you.”
“I’ll be there.”
Cutting of the connection, Obi-Wan sighed. “No rest for the weary,” he muttered before he went on his way, in the direction away from his pupil.
“Easy now,” Anakin said. “Keep the blade steady…”
Sitting atop the rock, he watched as the blue blade of his own lightsaber blaze through the air. The one holding his saber aloft was a young green-skinned S’kytri native. Like all of her people, she had large reptilian wings and a long tail, but they were still growing, since she was barely half the height of a regular human. She swung the weapon a bit too brazenly, but she had great control, Anakin knew.
“And stop!” he shouted after a few moments.
The S’kytri had already swung the saber down, so when she tried to stop it, her efforts were in vain. The blue blade was on its lowest setting, so when it struck the nearest rock, it bounced off it. Seeing sparks fly, the girl let out a yelp of surprise and let go of the saber. The weapon fell, stopped a mere centimeter off the ground, then flew back into Anakin’s waiting hand.
“Good job, Kharys,” he praised as he extinguished his saber, “you managed to not cut your own limb off on your first try!”
“Thanks…” the winged girl said dejectedly.
“Don’t look so glum. Most people can’t use a saber without destroying something on the first try. Trust me, I know from experience,” Anakin said with an assured smile.
They did little to assuage Kharys as she kicked a tiny rock away. “I wish I could have one of those, already. Then, I can protect my people.”
“Don’t worry, you will. But you’ll have to make one first.”
Kharys gave the human Jedi a curious look. “How do you make a laser sword?”
“First, you go undergo training for a year or so. Then, you go into a dark, scary cave, find a rock, and talk to it,” Anakin explained as if he was talking about the weather.
Kharys’ white hair flopped over one side as she tilted her head. “Are you serious?”
Before an answer could be given, footsteps drew both human and S’kytri to the rocky path. Walking down it, and clad in a tattered robe, was Vader, Obi-Wan’s other pupil. “Vader, what are you doing here?” Anakin inquired.
“I’m on my way to the S’kytri camp. What are you doing here?” Vader replied as he stood by the rock Anakin sat on.
Kharys answered, “He was showing me his laser sword. He let me even use it.”
As if his shock wasn’t obvious, Vader asked the other Jedi, “You gave her your lightsaber?”
“Is that a problem?” Anakin shot back.
“Aside from having no training, she’s just a child.”
“You’re not an adult yourself, remember?”
Despite the mask, Anakin felt Vader wince through the Force. He instantly regretted it and apologized. “Sorry. I didn’t mean it that way.”
“I know,” Vader said softly. He then cleared his throat. “Still, you gave her your saber. Master Kenobi often said that…”
“… ‘this weapon is your life,’ yes,” Anakin waved his free hand in a carefree manner. “That doesn’t mean I can’t give it away. Besides, I wanted to see how well she would do, and she did well enough, for a first-timer.”
“You don’t know it would have worked. She could have hurt herself.”
“She wouldn’t. I was watching her, after all.”
“I’m right here!” Kharys called.
The two Jedi turned to the young S’kytri. “So, you are,” Vader said with a sturdy glare. “You should head back to camp. Some will be wondering why their chief’s daughter isn’t with her people.”
When Kharys met the masked Jedi’s glare, Anakin gently told her, “Go, Kharys. We’ll join you shortly.”
Kharys turned her stare from masked Jedi to Anakin. In the end, she sighed in defeat. “Very well, master,” she said and stretched her wings.
With a flap, Kharys flew into the air, and she flapped her way to her people. Once she was out of hearing range, Vader looked to Anakin and inquired, “‘Master?’ Master Kenobi won’t like that.”
“Well, he doesn’t need to know about that bit,” Anakin said before he stood up from his rock and towered over Vader. “You know, you shouldn’t be so hard on her. She is more powerful than you realize.”
“I do, and so does Master Kenobi. Anyone a mile away can feel her power in the Force. But she hasn’t had learned everything as quickly as I have.”
Anakin wasn’t sure if that was pride, pain, or both he felt from Vader, so he remained silent. Hooking his saber back to his belt, Anakin looked to Vader with a small grin. “It will be a while before we get to the camp. How about a race?”
“I don’t think that’s nec-”
Anakin did not let Vader finish, and he rushed off with a burst of the Force, cloak flapping behind him. Soon enough, Vader did the same and sped down the rocky path after Anakin.
The race up the mountain had been a quick one. Kharys, the fastest flyer of her people, reached the refugee encampment first. Of the two Jedi racing each other, Anakin was still in the lead, and Vader, who was at first against the idea, slowly inched closer to his fellow Jedi. Within ten minutes, Anakin skidded his feet to a stop, right in front of the S’kytri camp.
“I win!” he laughed to Vader, who came in a second later.
“Technically, Kharys was here first,” Vader said as he gestured to the young S’kytri in front of them.
Anakin shook his head in faux dismay. “Always spoiling my fun,” he said jokingly.
The trio approached the entrance to the camp. The guards, a pair of barrel-chested and spear-wielding S’kytri, saluted to their chief’s daughter and the two saviors of their world. The minute they came in, they saw a few S’kytri out in the open. Most were resting in their tents, and from one, the head of a child S’kytri, younger than Kharys, poked out and shouted to the others, “They’re here! They’ve come back!”
Like a swarm of locusts, the abled inhabitants of Skye left their tents and swarmed around the trio. The two Jedi were surrounded by the very people they had saved, crowding them with cries of praise.
“Thank you, heroes! Thank you so much!”
“May the Winds empower you!”
“Please, bless my newborn daughter!”
“Hail Vader! Hail the Skywalker!”
The last one brought a small irk to Anakin. The name, Skywalker, was what the natives had given him. Not that he didn’t complain, regular ‘walkers’ were looked down upon, but the name felt… off, for some reason.
Eventually, both Anakin and Vader managed to get through crowd. Kharys was not so fortunate, surrounded by her own people. Still, she managed a quick jab at Anakin. “Good luck, Skywalker!” Kharys called out before she was swarmed by her own people.
“Still, not used to that name,” Anakin said, once he and Vader were far enough from the refugees.
“I think it rather suits you,” spoke Vader as he walked with him. “You’re piloting skills did help in the battle, after all.”
“Why thank you.” While a bit surprised, Anakin took the compliment. He expected something a bit more snarky.
“… And you do keep your heads in the clouds.” And there it was. For a moment, Anakin thought Vader was going soft on him.
Still walking, the two headed for one specific tent in the camps. It was larger than the others and guarded by two Republic troopers, donned in white armor, who let the two Jedi in. What Anakin and Vader saw upon entering was a heated argument neither of them wanted to be a part of.
By the communications console, and arguing with the person on the other end, was Padme Amidala of Naboo. Her white clothes hung loftily from her body, as did her long braided hair. Her eyes pierced through Commander Tarkin, who donned the typical military uniform and had an air of superiority around him.
“… you must realize, senator,” Tarkin said, “that the people of Skye require protection more now than before. Who knows what will happen if we leave this world alone. The clones may come back with a stronger fleet and we won’t be able to retake it.”
“What I see if that these people have already suffered enough,” Padme shot back. “They’ve seen enough battle for one lifetime. Leaving the military. The soldiers have to leave.”
“That is out of the question. The military must been given control of the situation.”
“On the contrary, Commander,” Padme stepped in, “under the Senate’s rules, the military is only meant to place military control if a world is revolting or if under threat of an invading fleet. Neither case is happening here. If you have any problems, you’re free to discuss the matter with Supreme Chancellor Valorum. Until then, I expect you to keep your ships up in space.”
Tarkin frowned in defeat. “Very well, senator. We will play by your rules,” he said before the connection was cut.
Padme wearily sighed at the empty console and rubbed her temples in exasperation. Anakin approached Padme from behind and grabbed her in a big hug. He felt Padme almost jump in his arms, but she relaxed after he teasingly whispered in her ear, “You’ve been busy.”
“A bit,” Padme said, turning around to face Anakin. “A little bit of this, a little bit of that. The usual. It’s been a long day.”
“I can help ease that,” Anakin said before he pulled Padme close and kissed her on the lips.
Padme would have returned it if she didn’t notice the other Jedi in the tent. “Maybe not around other people,” she told Anakin after breaking away, then smiled at Vader. “Hello, Vader.”
Vader bowed his head. “Senator.”
Nodding back, Padme looked to the handsome face of her fiance. “What are you doing here?”
“Just checking on you,” Anakin replied as he kept his hands around Padme’s slender waist. “Like you said, it’s been a long day.”
“It has,” Vader interrupted. “Master Kenobi wanted me to check on the refugees.”
Padme parted from Anakin’s hug. “You don’t need to worry about them. They’re all fine, and I assure you they won’t worry about anyone interfering with them again.”
“So we saw.”
Hearing the slight edge, Padme rose an eyebrow. “You don’t agree?”
“No, but that’s a discussion for another time,” Vader told her. “I must go and inform Master Kenobi. You two, enjoy your… quality time.”
Vader left a slightly blushing Padme with her fiance, who put a hand on her shoulder and said, “Vader’s just being himself.You shouldn’t let that bother you.”
“It’s not just him. More people in the Senate think the same,” Padme muttered, pursing her lips at Anakin. “What do you think?”
“I think,” he said, “you’ve been working too hard.”
Before Padme could reply, Anakin had captured her lips with his again. This time, Padme did not break away.