Acacia and Anakin walked down the Twilight’s ramp, leaving behind a very nervous R2-D2.
“Just keep the ship prepped, okay? We might need to leave in a hurry.” Anakin called back to the nervous droid in response to R2’s latest string of whistles and beeps.
“So, where do we start?” Acacia asked, scanning the data-pad in her hand. On their way down they had the computer make a terrain map of the surrounding area and Acacia had been familiarizing herself with it for the last few minutes.
“‘To the distant cave the two must go,'” Anakin quoted as they followed the path around one of the many rock towers scattered over this side of the planet’s surface. The wind blew their capes to the right and the whistling sound that seemed to emanate from the pillars added to eerie-ness of the desolate landscape.
“Based on these scans, it looks like this side of the planet must have been the site of a battlefield. It looks like the rest of the planet is a jungle and the planet’s surface is quite a bit higher than where we are now. I don’t see any mountains or places where we would find natural caves unless we took a 3 day walk that way.” Acacia reported indicating the blot of the horizon to their right.
“What about unnatural caves?” Anakin inquired as they passed another pillar.
“Looks like an area to the south east was hit with ariel bombs. Based on the hit pattern, I’d say by something of the y-wing class. The odd thing is, there doesn’t seem to be any buildings or any other thing they could have been targeting. And based on the pattern, the area was a target. I cant tell for sure from this scan, but there might be open area beneath the surface, or what is remaining of it.” Acacia responded, holding the data-pad out for him to inspect.
“It’s a good place to start as any.” Anakin agreed after looking over the data for a moment.
Later that night, they made camp in the shelter of several pillars and a dip in the land. Anakin watched Acacia as she worked on her lightsaber form with the look of intense focus on her face. Anakin’s mind started to wander to the last minutes of their dream on the way back to Coruscant from Akori. The fight between the mysterious Jedi and Count Dooku that had preceded the words that now guided them on their quest.
“Is something wrong, Master Skywalker?” Acacia asked without looking at him as she finished the last step in her form.
Anakin thought for a moment about asking her about the mysterious Jedi, but decided instead ask about something else that was bothering him. “I can sense that there is something bothering you, Sister.” Anakin replied diplomatically, locking eyes with her as she sat across from him on the other side of the heat lantern.
Acacia looked down at the lantern, the conflict within her rising to the forefront. Brushing a stray hair back into its place she thought about what her Master had told her.
“I can’t really talk about it.” Acacia explained finally, looking back up at him.
“Why not?” Anakin inquired, her answer doing nothing to quiet his curiosity.
“It isn’t my secret to tell.” Acacia responded simply, the look on her face saying more than her words.
Over the few days they had been on this mission together, Anakin had learned a lot about his Master’s young padawan. She had been very open about her past, unless it involved her parents or her pilot. Acacia’s stories of her dealings with pirates, smugglers, and the galaxy as a whole had brought some things into perspective. And though he wondered now who’s secret it was, he decided not to pry any further at the moment. Instead, he took a risk.
“You have answered most of my questions, but haven’t asked any of your own.” Anakin observed, changing the subject. Acacia smiled, a look of relief on her face.
“I didn’t think you wanted to talk about it.” Acacia answered, looking at him inquisitively.
“There is much to tell.” Anakin replied, taking his turn to stare into the light of the lantern. Acacia just nodded, and then stood up with her lightsaber in her hand. She started her form again, but Anakin interrupted her.
“Want to try fighting a real opponent?” He asked, standing up and taking his own lightsaber off of his belt.
Acacia smiled and raised an eyebrow in an expression that looked vaguely familiar. Within seconds their swords where flying as they moved around their camp.
Cole groaned as consciousness brought with it the pain of a pounding headache. Resisting the urge to move more than his head, he tested his limbs and found to his surprise that his arm was only a little sore. The only thing that was really hurting was his head. Doing his best to go slowly, Cole sat up in the medical bed and swung his legs over the side. His head was swimming, but he was sitting up which he knew was an improvement.
“Your up.” An older man’s voice said from the doorway. Looking up, Cole saw General Kenobi walking towards him with a look of sincere concern on his face.
“Where am I?” Cole asked, putting a hand to his head and closing his eyes.
“In the medical bay of the Jedi Temple. You’ve been in and out for 3 days, the doctor says you are lucky we got to you as fast as we did.” Obi Wan replied, sitting in the chair by the bed.
“That’s Cia Sir, always right on time.” Cole observed smiling despite his headache.
“Indeed.” General Kenobi agreed with a smile of his own. “Do you feel like taking a walk? We have much to discuss.” Obi Wan added, standing up and nodding towards the door.
“I can try.” Cole responded, taking the offered hand.
Acacia opened her eyes slowly, looking at her surroundings. It took her a minute to remember where she was, but when she did she also noticed that Anakin wasn’t where he had been when she had gone to sleep. Standing up, she started picking up their gear sensing that there wasn’t any danger. Acacia smiled ruefully as her sore muscles protested the movement.
“Looks like I am not the only one who is sore from our training last night.” Anakin remarked as he shouldered his bag of gear.
“See anything of interest this morning, brother?” Acacia inquired, changing the subject.
“No, but R2 did. Apparently some humanoids where spying on the ship and examining our tracks. I told him to go into orbit and send a transmission to the comm-link you programmed into the computer on our way here.” Anakin reported, scanning the horizon as they exited the campsite.
“Do you think they are following us?” Acacia asked as she to scanned the horizon.
“We will find out soon enough. R2 said that they have fast looking hunting animals, so they won’t have any trouble catching up to us.” Anakin replied absentmindedly as he took the lead heading for the barely visible landmark pillar that marked the edge of the bombed area.
“We should make the bombed area by early evening. If they are riding comnda’s, they should reach us before that.” Acacia commented, studying the data-pad map again.
“How do you know?” Anakin inquired sounding a bit skeptical.
“My parents where chased by bounty hunters on comnda’s when they where here. My father had to fight them off just before they arrived at the caves with a days head start. That was what was bothering me last night. I was born in the caves, and something about last’s nights camp felt familiar.” Acacia responded, her eyes on the horizon.
“You’ve never mentioned your parents.” Anakin said sounding a bit surprised at the revelation.
“I had another dream last night. Syfo-Dyas told me that I, that we could trust you not to tell the council.” Acacia answered hesitatingly.
“We?” Anakin asked feeling more confused than ever, in the back of his mind the memory of his own dream coming back to him.
“What do you think about the council’s interpretation of the rules against attachments?” Acacia said, the question itself bringing Anakin’s dream to the forefront of his mind.
“I don’t understand it. They say that attachments, that love, will destroy a Jedi. That it will compromise his ability to fight the pull of the Dark side of the force. And yet, I feel. . .” Anakin’s voice trailed off as he searched for the right word.
“More at peace when she is near?” Acacia suggested, looking to him for confirmation.
Anakin just nodded, keeping his eyes on their destination.
“That is what my father has always said, and it is what I have experienced in my relationship with both my parents and Cole. They are the only reason the darkness within me hasn’t claimed me before now.” Acacia explained, saying what Anakin had always felt but never known how to express.
“If it wasn’t for Padme, I would have given into my anger completely the day my mother died. She and Ahsoka are the reasons I keep fighting.” Anakin admitted, feeling a burden lift form his shoulders that he hadn’t even known was there. “I’m glad I am not the only one.” he added after a few more paces.
“You and I both.” Acacia replied sounding relieved to have talked about.
“I would like to meet your father someday. I need some advice on this whole long distance relationship thing.” Anakin commented, looking sideways at his companion in time to catch her amused smile.
“I think he would enjoy that.” Acacia answered, as she took the lead.
It was as Acacia predicted. They where about an hour’s walk from the main bombed area when the locals attacked. Jumping from behind the pillars, the humans attacked with a ferocity that seemed for a moment to overwhelm their targets. However, it was an illusion. As Anakin and Acacia ignited their lightsabers, they looked at each other and nodded. Moving methodically through the raiding party, they destroyed their attackers weapons. Frightened at the sight of the unfamiliar and seeming impossible weapons, the locals fled. 30 guns lay on the ground, broken.
Neither Anakin nor Acacia would have felt exhausted had it not been for the fact that they had been walking all day. After taking a short rest to recover from the fight, the two Jedi moved on. An hour later they where looking down the entrances the bombs had made into a dark abyss. The planet’s suns where setting behind them, so the emptiness beneath them looked bottomless. However, both common sense and the force told the two seekers otherwise. Silently handing Acacia his pack, Anakin jumped to the top of a pillar that was barely visible in the darkness. The next jump took him out of Acacia’s sight, and it took quite a bit of will power not to call out after him.
Anakin arrived at the bottom faster than he had expected, having landed in the upper branches of a tree. Jumping down and igniting his lightsaber, Anakin took a quick look around but saw nothing. Turning off his weapon, Anakin mentally focus on his companion and signaled that she should drop the bags down to him. With a few minutes of each other, both the packs and Acacia joined him in the darkness. Igniting their lightsabers, they started forward. Passing between two more pillars, they arrived in what seemed to be the main walkway. The pillars in this underground courtyard looked like they where in better shape and where placed at regular intervals. Acacia and Anakin discovered later that there where 16 pillars in all. Two sets of 8 flanking the main walkway.
Turning to their left Anakin and Acacia beheld the destination of their journey. Two sets of stone pillars away, a giant doorway stood out against the open expanse of the courtyard. Beyond it they could see a tall tree with a painting on the wall behind it. As they entered the chamber, Anakin and Acacia immediately sensed that they had arrived. Setting down their gear by the doorway, they walked in between the much smaller quartz pillars toward the tree.
Around the base of the tree was a pool of water. The platform the tree was on, reminded Acacia of something she had seen long ago though she didn’t know where. Looking up, they could see the stars through a hole a bomb had made in the chamber roof to the right of the tree. While Anakin studied the paintings on the wall behind the tree, Acacia was drawn to the tree itself. As she drew near, Acacia saw small carvings running up and down the entire trunk. Reaching out as if she was in a trance, Acacia touched the tree’s bark. Instantly, flashes of memory clouded her vision. However, she had a distant feeling that she was falling and she could hear Anakin’s muddled voice calling her name. Or was it her father?
To be continued
Read more of the Phantom Jedi here!
This post was posted in honor of Star Wars Month.